The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Media release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
Friday, 18 August 2000

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to the French Republic

I have today announced the appointment of Mr William Norman Fisher as Australia's Ambassador to the French Republic.

Mr Fisher will replace Mr John Michael Spender QC, who has been Ambassador since October 1996. He is expected to take up his appointment in November 2000.

Mr Fisher's appointment comes at a time when we are pursuing new directions in our relationship with France. A permanent member of the UN Security Council, one of the G7 group of nations, a key member of the European Union and NATO, and a Pacific neighbour, France is a country of considerable importance to Australia. The strong relationship between the two countries is characterised by cooperation on a broad range of bilateral and multilateral interests.

Australia and France enjoy very good trade and investment ties which have been growing strongly in recent years. There are now more than 215 subsidiaries of French companies in Australia, a number of which have chosen to establish their regional operations here, including the insurance company, AXA. Airbus Industries are also active in Australia maintaining contracts to the value of more than $500 million with Australian companies to supply aircraft parts.

Australia welcomes on-going French involvement in the Asia-Pacific and values France's contribution to regional stability and development. The strategic dialogue between the two countries has, in the past year, been strengthened by the addition of politico-military discussions. Australia and France continue to collaborate successfully on multilateral issues including Antarctica and arms control issues.

Mr Fisher is a career diplomat and is currently Australia's Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand. His other overseas appointments have been as Ambassador to Israel (1990-93), Consul-General in Honolulu (1983-87), Charge d'Affaires in Tehran (1982-83), Consul-General in Vila (1978-80), Consul-General in Nournea (1975-78), Second and First Secretary in Vientiane (1972-73) and Third and Second Secretary in Geneva (1969-71).

In Canberra, Mr Fisher was First Assistant Secretary, Consular Programs and Security Division (1995-96), First Assistant Secretary, International Organisations and Legal Division (1994-95), Principal Adviser, Americas and Europe Division (1989-90), Assistant Secretary, Defence Branch of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (1987-88) and Head, South Pacific Section (1980-81). He also worked in the OECD/EC Section, the PNG Section and as Executive Officer Diplomatic Staff (1974-75).

Mr Fisher was born in Canberra in 1946 and is married with one child. He holds a Bachelor of Economics with honours from the Australian National University.

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