FA 128
31 October 1996


I have today announced the appointment of Mr Rory Steele as Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Italy.

Mr Steele will replace Mr Lance Joseph, who has been Ambassador since September 1993.

Australia and Italy enjoy a friendly and cooperative relationship, largely based on trade and migration links. We share similar views on many global issues including human rights and disarmament. Some 800,000 Australians claim Italian ancestry, creating a wide network of people to people contacts and cultural links. Italy is also important to Australia as an export destination - it is our largest market in Continental Europe and our thirteenth largest market overall. Australia's major bilateral agreements with Italy include double taxation, economic and commercial cooperation, science and technology, reciprocal social security and health care and film co-production. A Memorandum of Understanding covering Defence Industry Relationships was signed in 1995.

Mr Steele will also take up the position of Australian Permanent Representative to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, a Specialised Agency of the United Nations which is based in Rome. Australia, as a major food producer and agricultural trading nation, was a founding member of the FAO and has supported the work of the Organisation in its roles as an international forum on food issues and as a collector and disseminator of information about agriculture, fisheries and forest industries. Mr Steele will be seeking to maintain Australia's reputation as a supplier of agricultural products and technology and as a participant in the work of the FAO in areas such as agricultural trade, fisheries management, genetic resources,
pesticide use and sustainable development.

Mr Steele joined the Department of External Affairs in 1969. He previously lived in Italy from 1954-55, and again from 1964-65 when he taught at the Liceo Scientifico Mercalli in Naples. After overseas postings in Australian missions in Accra, Seoul, Cairo and Geneva, he was Ambassador in Baghdad (1986-88). In Canberra his assignments have included Assistant Secretary, Strategic Assessments Branch (1991-95) and Head of Secretariat, Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (1995-96).

Mr Steele was born in Perth in 1943. In 1966 he graduated from the University of Oxford with an honours degree in Modern Languages, majoring in Italian. In 1989 he attended the Royal College of Defence Studies, London.