The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia

Media Release


FA 65 19 July 1996



I have today announced the appointment of Mr John Spender, QC, as Australian Ambassador to the French Republic.

Mr Spender will replace Mr Alan Brown, who has been Ambassador since August 1993.

France occupies a major position in the world: it is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, one of the G7 group of nations, a key member of the European Union and a member of NATO. It has the fourth largest Gross National Product (in US dollar terms) of any country in the world.

Mr Spender' s appointment comes at a time when we are in the process of reinvigorating our bilateral relations with France following the end of French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. France is an important partner in the South Pacific region and is a prominent provider of development assistance to the Pacific Island states.

Australia and France also enjoy very good trade and investment ties, which have been growing strongly in recent years. There are now almost 200 subsidiaries of French companies in Australia employing close to 40,000 Australians. Of particular note was the acquisition last year by the French insurance group, AXA, of a significant stake in National Mutual which it intends to use as a vehicle for its expansion into the Asian insurance market. A number of French companies have chosen to establish their Regional Headquarters and Regional Management Operations in Australia while a growing number of large Australian companies are represented in France.

In addition, Australia and France have also collaborated successfully on a number of multilateral issues such as Antarctica and chemical weapons. Our cultural ties are strong with a number of valuable programs initiated under the Australia/France Agreement on Cultural and Scientific Cooperation. All of this engenders confidence for our future relations.

Mr Spender practised as a barrister in Sydney, from 1961 to 1980, being appointed QC in 1974. He is a member of the Bars of New South Wales, most of the Australian States, the ACT, England and Hong Kong. From 1980 to 1990 he was a Federal Member of Parliament for North Sydney. Among a number of appointments held in the Shadow Ministry were Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs 1987-89. He was Co-Leader with former US Presidents Ford and Carter of an international Monitoring Team on the Panama elections in 1989. In 1990 he resumed practice as a barrister and was an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW from August 1994 to August 1995.

Mr Spender is a graduate of Yale University in the USA, and studied law at Gray' s Inn, London.


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