MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER







FA147

17 December 1996

DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENT: HIGH COMMISSIONER TO MALTA

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Colin Willis as Australian High Commissioner to the Republic of Malta.

Mr Willis will replace Mr Christopher Freeman, who has been High Commissioner since November 1993.

Australia and Malta share close ties of friendship. With the Maltese community in Australia numbering around 180,000, many Maltese have relatives or friends who now live in this country. In recent years these strong links have been reinforced through high-level visits from both countries. Malta's former Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister both visited Australia in November 1995 and the current Prime Minister, Dr Alfred Sant, visited as Leader of the Opposition in 1994.

The traditional people-to-people links have provided a strong foundation on which to develop co-operation on issues of international importance and to foster expanding bilateral trade links. Two-way trade between the two countries has increased fourfold over the last three years and Australia has recently been active in the marine and telecommunications sectors and continues to do well in its exports of dairy products and textiles.

Mr Willis is a senior career of ficer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He joined the then Department of External Affairs in 1967, and apart from appointments in the Department in Canberra, he has served in Australian missions in Tokyo (twice), Buenos Aires and the Australian Permanent Mission to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva.

Mr Willis is a graduate of the University of Sydney.