25 July 1997



I have today announced the appointment of Mr Robert Laurie, a senior career officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as Australian High Commissioner to India.

Mr Laurie will replace Mr Darren Gribble, who has been High Commissioner since March 1994.

The Australia-India relationship is long-standing and friendly. Since coming to of fice we have given a high priority to making the relationship stronger and more diverse. This policy was given substantial impetus through Australia India - New Horizons, a major promotion in India which I launched last October. The Deputy Prime Minister and other Government Ministers were also very actively involved in New Horizons which has been followed by the declaration of 1997 as the Year of South Asia. We clearly recognise India as part of our region with a growing interest in an engagement with the Asia Pacific.

We attach special importance to expanding commercial ties with India, and trade and investment links are growing strongly. Our exports to India in 1996 were valued at around $1.2 billion and are expected to double over the next five years. Australia is the seventh largest foreign investor in India and has sign)ficant opportunities for growth as the Indian Government continues the process of economic reform.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of India's independence. Its celebration is a reminder of how much we share with India and its strength as a democracy, including a free press, well-established institutions of government and an independent judicial system. My visit this week to India was part of this celebration to build on our growing bilateral relationship.

Mr Laurie commenced work with the then Department of External Affairs in 1958. He was Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi from 1969-1971. He has been Australian Ambassador to Burma (1975-77), Ambassador to Poland (1977-80), High Commissioner to Canada (1985-89) and High Commissioner to New Zealand (1989-92). In Canberra his senior departmental positions have included Assistant Secretary, Information Branch (1973-74), Assistant Secretary, Europe Branch (1980-81), First Assistant Secretary, Europe, Americas and New Zealand Division (1981-83) and First Assistant Secretary, Europe, Americas, North Asia Division (1983-85). Since February 1993 Mr Laurie has been First Assistant Secretary, South Pactfic, Africa and Middle East Division.

Mr Laurie is expected to take up his appointment in October 1997.


For further information contact: Innes Willox, Minister's Office, 06 277 7500