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

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
10 January 2001

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Italy

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Murray Alexander Cobban as Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Italy. He is expected to take up his appointment in April 2001.

Mr Cobban will replace Mr Rory Steele, who has been Ambassador since January 1997.

Australia and Italy enjoy a friendly and cooperative relationship, largely based on strong trade and migration links. We share similar views on many global issues, including human rights and disarmament. Italy is a major economy and a key member state of the European Union.  It is also a significant participant in the main international economic and financial groupings and a strong contributor to the UN.

An estimated one million people in Australia claim Italian descent, with almost a quarter of them born in Italy, creating a wide network of people to people contacts and cultural links. Italy is an important export destination for Australia - it is our second largest market in Europe and our twelfth largest market worldwide.

Mr Cobban is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently First Assistant Secretary, Market Development Division.  He has been First Assistant Secretary, Americas and Europe Division and has served as Minister and Deputy Head of Mission, Jakarta (1995-98), Consul-General, Honolulu (1993-95) and Minister and Deputy Head of Mission, Bangkok (1990-92), at the Commonwealth Secretariat (1984-88) and in the Delegation to the OECD (1977-81).  Mr Cobban joined the Department of Trade in 1968 where he held positions in a range of trade policy and marketing divisions.

Born in Sydney in 1947, Mr Cobban was educated at the Australian National University and holds a Bachelor of Economics degree. He is married with one son.

Media Contacts:
Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 /
Nicole Guihot (Departmental) 02 6261 1555


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