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

Media release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
Saturday, 02 September 2000

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Cambodia

I have today announced the appointment of Ms Louise Hand as Australian Ambassador to Cambodia.

Ms Hand will replace Dr Malcolm Leader, who has been Ambassador since October 1997. Australia maintains good relations with the Royal Government of Cambodia. This year we are celebrating 45 years of diplomatic relations. The Australian people have always held a strong and warm interest in Cambodia's development. After more than 20 years of conflict, Australia has been able to play an important role in the reconstruction and national reconciliation process in Cambodia.

In the lead-up to the 1998 elections, Australia as co-founder and member of the "Friends of Cambodia" Group, actively encouraged an improvement in the human rights situation. Australia welcomed the formation of a new Government in November 1998 and its accession to ASEAN in April 1999. 1 visited Cambodia in May this year and encouraged the Cambodian Government to capitalise on this period of political stability to continue with its reform agenda.

Australia is currently the second largest bilateral donor to Cambodia after Japan. Estimated total aid flows for 2000/01 are A$37.9 million, a slight increase on the previous year. This assistance is intended to contribute to sustainable, broad-based development and encourage a lasting commitment to the reform process under way in Cambodia. Our aid program has always been dependent on the Cambodian Government's adherence to the commitments it has made in regard to human rights, good governance and the principles of the Palis Peace Accords. Australia resumed a small program of defence cooperation in July 1999. Continued political stability is likely to improve commercial opportunities for Australian business in Cambodia.

Ms Hand, a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is currently Assistant Secretary, Arms Control and Disarmament Branch. Her overseas assignments have been as Deputy, Australian Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva (199598), and Third and Second Secretary, Australian Permanent Mission to the UN in Vienna (1986-89).

In Canberra, Ms Hand has been Director, Ministerial and Executive Liaison Section (1999), Director, Business Affairs Unit (September 1993), and Executive Assistant to the Secretary (May 1992).

Educated at the University of Queensland, Ms Hand holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts degree and Master Qualifying, in English Literature. She is fluent in French and is married with two children.

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