MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER



FA135

29 November 1996

DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENT: SINGAPORE

I am pleased to announce today the appointment of Mr Murray McLean OAM as Australian High Commissioner to the Republic of Singapore.

Mr McLean will succeed Mr Ted Delofski, the High Commissioner since October 1993, and will take up his appointment early next year.

Australia and Singapore enjoy a close and long standing bilateral relationship which has become more productive, diverse and mutually beneficial than ever before.

Australia and Singapore are now engaged in significant cooperation and.dialogue on major regional and global economic, political and security issues, including: APEC, WTO, ASEAN Regional Forum, prospects for closer AFTA-CER linkages, and cooperation in developing linkages in the Indian Ocean region. Australia was an early and firm supporter of Singapore's bid to host the initial World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, which Singapore will host this month. Singapore supports Australia's bid to join the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process.

Australia recently hosted the inaugural Singapore Australia Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC), a biennial ministerial-level forum that underscores the value Australia and Singapore place on our bilateral relationship and cooperation in regional fore. The JMC was a most successful meeting being the major institutional outcome of the January 1996 Declaration on a New Partnership, endorsed by the Coalition Government when it came to office.

We have strong shared interests on regional security issues. Our extensive defence cooperation encompasses valued bilateral ties and the Five Powers Defence Arrangements - including increased Singapore participation in armed forces training and exercise opportunities in Australia.

Our expanding links have been assisted by historical ties, common interests in enhanced regional economic cooperation, and well-established (and increasing) commercial exchanges. In 1995-96, total trade between Singapore and Australia amounted to around $6.2 billion and total two-way investment has reached nearly $12 billion according to the most recent figures. The Singapore Australia Business Alliance Forum (SABAF) comprising senior business figures from both countries, supported by the Governments has been established to help build commercial alliances between our two countries, especially in third markets.

Mr McLean, a senior career officer and an Asian specialist, joined the Department in 1970. He has served in Australian overseas missions in Hong Kong, Beijing (twice) and Washington. He was Australian Consul-General in Shanghai from 1987 to 1992. Since then he has been Assistant Secretary, East Asia Branch in the Department in Canberra, during which time he has acted as First Assistant Secretary, North Asia Division for extended periods.

Mr McLean, who speaks fluent Chinese, is a graduate of the University of Melbourne and was awarded the OAM in 1991.