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

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
8 February 2001

Diplomatic appointment: Consul-General in Ho Chi Minh City

I have today announced the appointment of Stephen Charles Henningham as Australia's Consul-General in Ho Chi Minh City.

Dr Henningham will replace Ms Lisa Filipetto, who has been Consul-General since June 1997. He is expected to take up his appointment in June 2001.

Australia's bilateral relationship with Vietnam is economically, strategically and politically firm and close. Nearly 200,000 Australians are of Vietnamese descent. Two-way trade is increasing rapidly, exceeding $2 billion in the financial 1999-2000. More than 100 Australian companies are registered in Vietnam and total Australian investment in 2000 exceeded $1 billion. Four times as many Vietnamese study in Australia than in any other country. An Australian university was last year granted a licence to operate Vietnam's first fully foreign-owned tertiary institution in Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnam is the third-largest recipient of Australian development assistance. The recently opened My Thuan Bridge, linking the Mekong Delta to Ho Chi Minh City, is Australia's largest-ever development assistance infrastructure project. There is growing cooperation in law enforcement in areas such as narcotics trafficking and people smuggling. The bilateral defence relationship continues to develop in areas beneficial to both countries and the region.

Dr Henningham is at present Chief Negotiator in the Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville. He has previously served overseas as Deputy High Commissioner in Port Moresby (1997-2000) and as Vice-Consul and Deputy Head of Post in Noumea (1982-85).

In Canberra, Dr Henningham has served as Director, South Pacific Bilateral Section (1995-97), and an analyst in the Office of National Assessments (South Pacific, 1986-88, and Western Europe for a brief period in 1995). He has also devoted several years to academic work in history and politics, primarily at the Australian National University.

Educated at the University of New South Wales and the Australian National University, Dr Henningham holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours in History and a Doctorate in Philosophy in South Asian History. He is married with three children.

Media inquiries: 

Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 62777 500/
Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 2534/

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