FA 2 - 7 January 2000

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Israel

I have today announced the appointment of Dr Richard William Rigby as Australian Ambassador to the State of Israel.

Dr Rigby replaces Ian Wilcock who has been Ambassador since May 1997.

Australia has a long history of friendship with Israel, based on extensive people-to-people links, shared political and social values and deep historical connections. The Government is committed to maintaining and broadening this friendship, including by continuing our strong support for Israel in the international arena.

Australia's trade relationship with Israel has grown solidly in recent years, passing half a billion dollars for the first time in 1998. We look forward to heightened bilateral cooperation, especially in high technology industries associated with telecommunications, information technology, agriculture and biotechnology. The past two years have seen an unprecedented number of business delegations in both directions and we look forward to a continuation of that trend. The Government will continue to promote Australia as an attractive destination for investment and as a competitive centre for regional business headquarters for Israeli companies.

Australia is fundamentally committed to Israel's right to live in peace and security with its neighbours. It has welcomed the resumption of progress towards the negotiation of a just, enduring and comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East, based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 425, the principle of land for peace and the Oslo Declaration of Principles concluded between Israel and the Palestinian Liberalisation Organisation in 1993.

Dr Rigby will also have responsibility for the conduct of Australia's relations with the Palestinian Authority.

Dr Rigby is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He joined the Department in 1975 and subsequently served as Third and Second Secretary in Tokyo (1976-80) and as First Secretary in Beijing (1981-84). In 1985 Dr Rigby was Acting Deputy Chief, Current Intelligence, ONA and then served in London as First Secretary (1985-1988). Returning to DFAT in 1988, Dr Rigby served as Counsellor in Beijing (1989-91). From 1991 to 1993 he was Director, Indochina Section and was then promoted to Assistant Secretary, South/Southeast Asia Branch in 1993. Dr Rigby served as Consul General in Shanghai (1994-98). He is currently Assistant Secretary, North East Asia Branch.

Dr Rigby was born in Melbourne in 1948 and has a PhD in Far Eastern History and an Honours degree in History from the Australian National University. He is married with three children.

Media Enquiries: Departmental - Julie McDonald(02) 6261 1555

Local Date: Tuesday, 07-Jan-2014 10:35:13 EST