MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER


FA 58

1 June 1999

Diplomatic Appointment: High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Doug Chester, as Australia's next High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam.

Mr Chester will replace Mr Neal Davis, who has been High Commissioner since September 1995. He is expected to take up his appointment in October 1999.

Since the establishment of our mission in Brunei Darussalam in 1983, Australia's bilateral relationship with Brunei has developed in a broad range of areas, including trade and investment, education, defence cooperation, aviation, sporting, cultural and environmental links. The Australia/Brunei Darussalam Business Council, established in 1994 has helped develop the bilateral commercial relationship.

In addition, Brunei's membership of a number of regional and global organisations of importance to Australia provides a basis for regular political, trade and security dialogue. These organisations include ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), APEC, BIMP-EAGA (a sub-Regional growth area involving Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Indonesia) and the Commonwealth. Brunei will host APEC in the year 2000 and this will provide the opportunity for a large number of high level meetings and become a focus of Australia-Brunei relations in the period immediately ahead.

People-to-people links continue to develop. Australia is considered an appealing tourist destination and a quality education provider for Bruneians. Sporting links are being enhanced through the Australian Sports Commission's assistance to Bruneian athletes in their preparations for the South East Asian Games to be held in Brunei in August 1999. Defence cooperation is also expanding, assisted through regular joint training exercises, the participation of Bruneians in Australian training courses and the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation.

Mr Chester, an experienced officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, joined the Public Service in 1979. In 1990 he transferred to DFAT from the then Department of Industry, Science and Tourism. From 1990-91 he worked in the Intellectual Property Branch, Trade Negotiations Division, and was a Director in that Branch during 1992-93. He served as Counsellor-Commercial in Washington between 1994-96. He held the positions of Assistant Secretary, Agriculture Branch, for a short period and then Assistant Secretary, World Trade Organisation Branch (1996-97). Mr Chester has been Assistant Secretary responsible for Staffing since October 1997.

Mr Chester was born in Bairnsdale, Victoria, in 1952 and has a BSc (Hons) degree from ANU. He is married to Lyn with a son and a daughter.


For further information:  Department - Tony Melville 02 6261 1555

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