27 March 1997

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Gregory Wood as Australian High Commissioner to Canada.

Mr Wood will replace Mr Frank Murray, who has been High Commissioner since July 1993.

Overall, Australia and Canada enjoy a close and long-standing bilateral relationship. We share a wide range of common values and traditions and foreign and domestic policy objectives. The two countries cooperate on many regional and global issues. We work closely together in many international fore, especially the United Nations, APEC, the Commonwealth and the Cairns Group of Fair Traders.

This year will be important in the context of the bilateral relationship as Canada is chairing APEC and will be hosting a series of Ministerial meetings culminating in the APEC Leaders Summit in Vancouver in November.

Canada is among Australia's top 15 export markets and trading partners. In 1996, Australian exports to Canada grew by seven per cent to reach a value of A$1.30 billion. Imports from Canada were valued at A$1.45 billion. At least 100 Australian companies are active in the Canadian market covering interests in mining, brewing, transportation and packaging. There is scope for substantial growth in two-way trade, investment, joint ventures and strategic alliances in areas such as mining and energy, processed food and beverages, information technology and telecommunications.

Mr Wood is a career public servant. His most recent position was Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He oversaw the International, Security and Resources Group, which was responsible for advising the Prime Minister on foreign and trade policy, defence, security and intelligence, environment, forests and resources issues. Other areas in Prime Minister and Cabinet for which he has held responsibility include constitutional issues and the proposals for an Australian Republic, indigenous affairs and multicultural affairs. He has been a member of the Administrative Review Council.

Mr Wood previously held senior positions in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the former Department of Trade, both in Australia and overseas. He headed the Americas and Europe Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade between 1989 and 1993 and the North Asia Division in 1994. He was appointed Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1994. His career has included extensive experience in international trade policy and trade negotiations.

Mr Wood was First Secretary in the Australian High Commission in London between 1970 and 1973 and Minister (Commercial) in the Australian Embassy, Washington, between 1985 and 1989.

He is a graduate of the University of Sydney.

Mr Wood is expected to take up his appointment in late May 1997. He will be accompanied by his wife Maria