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

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
FA148 / 27 September 2001

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Lebanon

I have today announced the appointment of Ms Stephanie Anna Shwabsky as Australian Ambassador to Lebanon.  Ms Shwabsky will replace Mr John Fennessy, who has been Ambassador since April 1999.   Ms Shwabsky is expected to take up her appointment in February, 2002.

Australia has a long and close relationship with Lebanon, reflecting the deep community links that exist between our two countries.  The Lebanese community in Australia, which numbers more than 300,000, has made a profound and positive contribution to Australian society.

The re-opening of Australia's Embassy in 1995 signalled Australia's confidence in the future of Lebanon.  Mr Ruddock's visit to Lebanon in January 2001 and my visit in April 2001, together with the visits to Australia by the Lebanese Minister for Transport and Public Works, Mr Najib Mikati, in March 2001 and by a delegation of members of the Lebanese Parliament in August 2001, have further strengthened bilateral relations.

Ms Shwabsky is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission, Dili.  She transferred into the Department in 1982 from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet where she had been employed since 1974.   She has served as Second Secretary, Bonn (1984-87), First Secretary and Deputy Head of Mission, Hanoi (1987-89), Deputy Head of Mission, Dhaka (1990-92), First Secretary, Deputy Head of Mission, Colombo (1993-94), Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission, Nairobi (1994), and Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy Phnom Penh, Cambodia (1996-99).

In Canberra Ms Shwabsky has worked in the Southern Africa Section as Director (1989-90), Cambodia Task Force (1994-96) and in the East Timor Section (1999).  She has also served as a United Nations International Polling Station Officer for the Cambodian Election in May 1993, United Nations Observer for the 1994 South African Election and as a Member of the Australian Observer Delegation, East Timor Popular Consultation, August 1999.

Ms Shwabsky has a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours from Sydney University.

Media contacts: (Ministerial) Matt Francis (02) 6277 7500, (Departmental) Julie McDonald (02) 6261-1555

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