MEDIA RELEASE

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Alexander Downer


FA154

16 December 1997

DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENT: AMBASSADOR TO THE REPUBLIC OF HUNGARY

I have today announced the appointment of Dr Mark Higgie as Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. Dr Higgie will replace Mr Patrick Robertson, who has been Ambassador since November 1995.

Australia and Hungary enjoy friendly and constructive relations based on growing commercial links and enriched by a migrant community of some 30,000.

Several large Australian companies such as Coca-Cola Amatil, Transcom Gas Technologies, Cochlear and Rhodes Mining are already active in the Hungarian market. There are over 30 Australian joint ventures in Hungary and there is potential for future cooperation in small to medium-sized enterprises, in sectors such as food and beverages, medical technology, telecommunications and information technology.

Dr Higgie joined the Department of Foreign Affairs as a career diplomat in 1984. From 1985 to 1987 he served in the Australian Embassy in Belgrade. He was then seconded to the Office of National Assessments in Canberra as an assessments officer on Soviet/East European affairs for the period 1987 to 1988. From 1988 to 1989 Dr Higgie was the Senior Policy Adviser to the Federal Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs. He then held a number of senior positions in the Department and undertook a further secondment to the Office of National Assessments. From 1992 to 1995, he served as First Secretary, later Counsellor, in the Australian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Vienna. Dr Higgie is currently Director of the Japan Section in Canberra.

Dr Higgie has a BA (Hons- Politics/Russian) and PhD (Soviet/East European Politics) from the Australian National University. He is married and has two daughters.

Dr Higgie is expected to take up his appointment in April 1998.