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

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
FA135 / 18 September 2001

Diplomatic Appointment: Consul-General in Hong Kong

I have today announced the appointment of Mr David O'Leary as Consul-General for Australia in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China.  Mr O'Leary will also serve as Australia's representative to the Macau SAR and will replace Mr Bill Tweddell who has been Consul-General since July 1999. He is expected to take up his appointment in January 2002.

Australia has important and enduring interests in Hong Kong.  The Australian Government supports strongly Hong Kong's 'high degree of autonomy' under Chinese sovereignty, as provided for by Hong Kong's quasi-constitution, the Basic Law.  Open and accountable government and economic systems, the rule of law and civil society will continue to be the key to Hong Kong's success as a major international city and business centre.

Australia's economic interests in Hong Kong are both substantial and diverse.  Hong Kong is Australia's ninth largest export destination, our 13th largest trading partner and our fourth largest source of investment.  In addition, it is our sixth largest services export market and our sixth largest source of services imports.  Hong Kong is a valued partner in APEC, the WTO and other multilateral forums.

Hong Kong is also Australia's leading business base in Asia.  Some 45,000 Australians live and work in Hong Kong and more than 350 Australian companies operate there. A further 1000 companies have representative offices. Australian business activities in Hong Kong range from banking, accounting, legal, engineering and information technology services to retail and general trading.  The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong is among the largest in Hong Kong and is the largest Australian chamber overseas.

People-to-people links are also strong.  In 2000 there were nearly 20,000 Hong Kong students studying in Australia, making Hong Kong the second largest source of overseas students.  More than 150,000 Hong Kong tourists visited Australia during 1999-2000.

Mr O'Leary is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He was Consul-General in New Caledonia (1987-89) and has served as Deputy High Commissioner in India (1981-83) and Third and later Second Secretary in Belgium with accreditation to the European Communities (1970-73). He was also seconded to the Conference on International Economic Cooperation in Paris (1976-77)

In Canberra, Mr O'Leary's positions have included Assistant Secretary in East Asia Branch, Consular Branch, Trade Development Branch, International Organisations Branch, Personnel Branch and South Pacific Branch.  He has also headed the Law of the Sea and Antarctica Section and the Policy Planning Unit.  Mr O'Leary was recently promoted to the position of First Assistant Secretary.

Educated at Monash University in Melbourne, Mr O'Leary holds a Bachelor of Economics degree with honours.  He is married with two children.

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

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