The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
6 June 2001

Diplomatic Appointment: Consul-General in New Caledonia

I have today announced the appointment of Mrs Denise Fisher as Consul-General of Australia in Noumea, with jurisdiction in New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna.  Mrs Fisher will succeed Ms Sally Mansfield, who has been Consul-General since October 1998.

Bilateral ties between Australia and New Caledonia have broadened and strengthened in recent years.  Australia welcomes the opportunities, created by the 1998 Noumea Accord, for New Caledonia to assume greater responsibility for its dealings with its neighbours in the Pacific, including its observer membership of the Pacific Islands Forum from 1999.  I last visited New Caledonia in December 1999 and Australia's Minister for the Arts, Peter McGauran, attended the VIIIth Festival of the Pacific Arts held in Noumea in October 2000.  New Caledonia's first President, Jean Leques, made official visits to Australia in February 2000 for the Forum Economic Ministers' Meeting and the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

New Caledonia is a significant export market, with Australian exports in 1999-2000 totalling $200 million.  With the exploitation of more of New Caledonia's world-class nickel deposits on the rise, opportunities for greater bilateral trade and investment over the next decade are strong.  Australia also works closely with the civilian and military French authorities in New Caledonia in providing regional natural disaster relief through the FRANZ Accord.  

Noumea is also the headquarters of the Pacific Community (SPC), the oldest and largest regional organisation which brings together 27 states and territories and makes a considerable contribution to enhancing the wellbeing of the people of all Pacific island countries, and to sustainable economic development within the region.

Mrs Fisher is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and most recently served as Australia's High Commissioner to Zimbabwe.  She has also served as Counsellor in Washington (1992-95), and in Kuala Lumpur (1987-92), New Delhi (1982-85) and Nairobi (1977-80).

In Canberra, Mrs Fisher has headed the Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Section (1995-98) and worked in the UN Political and New Zealand Sections.

Mrs Fisher has a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in French language and literature from the Australian National University, a Diploma of Education from the Canberra College of Advanced Education and a Masters degree in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC.  Mrs Fisher is married with three sons.

Media inquiries:
Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 62777 500
Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 2534

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