MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER


 

FA55

5 May 1998

Diplomatic Appointmient: High Commissioner to South Africa

I have today announced the appointment of Mr David Connolly as Australian High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa. Mr Connolly will replace Mr lan Porter who has been High Commissioner since September 1995.

Australia has a long-standing relationship with South Africa, where it has been represented diplomatically in Pretoria since 1946. The relationship has assumed considerable additional breadth and depth since the historic inauguration of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in May 1994. There have been a number of high level visits between Australia and South Africa - including that by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mr Tim Fischer in July 1997. Other ties which bind the two countries closely include membership of the Cairns and Valdivia groups, the IOR-ARC, disarmament initiatives and strong sporting, trade, defence and cultural links.

Australia has given support valued at $36 million to help the GNU's Development Programme launched in 1994 to redress long standing social injustices caused by Apartheid.

Australia is also assisting with human resource development and the democratisation process through the Capacity Building Programme which was expanded in 1997 by the Joint Ministerial Commission to include transport, infrastructure, telecommunications, information technology and the economic and industry sectors.

South Africa is one of Australia's fastest growing markets with annual two-way trade valued at $1.5 billion. Australian investment in South Africa in 1995/96 was $88 million with $381 million worth of South. African investment in Australia.

Mr Connolly was formerly a career officer in the Australian Diplomatic Service. Between 1965 and 1973 he served in Sri Lanka, the Australian Mission to the UN in New York and in Israel. Elected to the Australian Parliament in May 1974, he was chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and a member of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee. Mr Connolly was a shadow minister for the Environment & the Arts, Public Administration, Aboriginal Affairs, Privatisation and Administrative Services, Social Security and Retirement Income. He served on the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and as a trustee of the CPA Educational Trust Fund. In 1982 he was Prime Minister Fraser's Special Envoy to Africa prior to the Melbourne CHOGM and in 1993 co-founded the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum. Mr Connolly is a member of the Australia-Southern Africa Business Council.

On retiring from Parliament in 1996 Mr Connolly joined the Australian legal firm Phillips Fox. He is currently Director, Superannuation and Government Relations for Phillips Fox Actuaries and Consultants. In 1996 the Commonwealth Secretariat appointed him a consultant to the South African Parliament to assist its Public Service and Administration Committee review the public sector transformation programme. He is on the Board of Australian Legal Resources International, the Advisory Board of Livestock Genetics Australia Ltd and Chairman of the Ministerial Advisory Group on Oceans Policy. Mr Connolly is a graduate of the Universities of Sydney and Ceylon. In 1986 he completed the Senior Managers in Government Programme at the J F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard USA and is an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Society of Accountants. David and Monique Connolly married in Sri Lanka in 1968 and have three adult children.

Mr Connolly is expected to take up his appointment in June 1998.


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