Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia

Media Release

17 JUNE 1996


We are delighted to announce that the new headquarters building in Canberra for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be called The R. G Casey Building, after Richard Casey, Australia's Minister for External Affairs from 1951 to 1960 and Australia's Governor General from 1965 to 1969.

It is particularly appropriate that this building, as the permanent home of the Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade Department, should be named after one of the most prominent figures in Australia's diplomatic history. Richard Casey is still Australia's longest serving Foreign Minister and was a seminal influence in many of the great advances in Australian foreign policy.

It was Richard Casey who, perhaps more than anyone, pioneered Australia's modern relationship with our Asian neighbours. As he put it, "Australia's own special role lies in South East Asia and consequently our foreign policy is largely but not exclusively concerned with that region."

Richard Casey's statement not only set the general pattern of Australia's relationships with our region but also ensured that Colombo Plan initiatives and United Nations programs brought real economic benefits to countries throughout the region. He also forged strong security tics with key partners in Asia and established the Antarctic Treat.

Richard Casey's most substantial achievement was that successive Australian Governments have followed in the tradition of engagement with our region which he set in train. Australian Governments, both Coalition and Labor, have followed Richard Casey's lead and energetically pursued Australia's interests in the region throughout this period.

Today, despite a radically different Asia Pacific landscape and the vast changes of 40 years of history, Richard Casey's words find new meaning in this Government's continued commitment to Asia as our highest foreign policy priority.

The spirit of this Government's commitment to advance Australia's national interests by developing deep links with countries of the region and by fostering genuine regional cooperation is captured in a book Richard Casey wrote on Asia, which significantly was called Friends and Neighbours.

It was a studied reflection on Australia's place in the region which is Australia's neighbourhood which drew upon his extensive experience in diplomacy and foreign policy.

Richard Casey's distinguished career effectively began when he was the first overseas appointment made by the (then) Department of External Affairs when in 1924 he was named as Liaison Officer -that is, a senior diplomatic official- with the British Cabinet Office. Then in 1939 he became the Australian Minister in Washington, the first such Australian appointment to any country.

The then Department of External Affairs was accommodated at its modest beginnings in West Block in the 1930s and then moved to the Administrative Building in the 1950s, expanding to occupy all of that building in the 1980s. Almost all the staff of the of Department Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, as well as Austrade, will now be accommodated permanent headquarters in the R G Casey Building. The move of Departmental staff to the building will be completed in November 1996.

The R G Casey Building is close to Parliament House, flanked by Brisbane Avenue and the extended Sydney Avenue and is a distinctive addition to the buildings of national significance in Canberra. Design features such as the terracotta tiled pitched roofs, articulated facades and a plinth of panels around the base of the structure combine to create a modern office building which is nevertheless in sympathy with the older residential areas and buildings in the vicinity

The R G Casey Building, which is owned by the Domestic Property Group of the Department of Administrative Services, has a gross floorspace of 75,832 square metres and net office space of 47,232 square metres. It was designed by Harry Leong, Principal Architect, Works Australia, with the fitout design by Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn and project management by Project Coordination (Australia) Proprietary Limited. The construction of the building was carried out by Concrete Constructions Group Ltd. and the fit-out by John Holland Construction and Engineering Pty Ltd.