The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP


Media Release

FA10 / 25 January 2002

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Vietnam

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Joe Thwaites as Australia's Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.  He will replace Mr Michael Mann who has been Ambassador since June 1998.  Mr Thwaites is expected to take up his appointment in June 2002.

Australia has a long-standing, warm and diverse relationship with Vietnam.  In recent years, relations have broadened into new areas such as law enforcement and defence cooperation.  Vietnam is Australia's third-largest aid recipient and 18th largest trading partner, with two-way trade totalling over A$2.9 billion in 2000-2001.  Australia also values its cooperative and constructive relations with Vietnam in regional forums such as APEC and ASEAN, and welcomes Vietnam's progress towards accession to the WTO.

People-to-people links between our two countries are strong.  Some 200,000 Australians of Vietnamese origin make a significant and positive contribution to Australian society and 4500-5000 Vietnamese students study in Australia each year - four times more than in any other country, also making education our biggest export earner with Vietnam. 

Mr Thwaites is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently First Assistant Secretary, CHOGM Task Force.  He was Assistant Secretary in Pacific Islands Branch (1998-01) and previously headed the Middle East and Africa Branch (1998), Staff Planning and Development Branch (1997-98), Corporate Evaluation Branch (1996-97), New Zealand and Papua New Guinea Branch (1994-95) and Americas Branch (1989).  In 1988-89, he was Senior Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Gareth Evans.

Overseas, Mr Thwaites served as High Commissioner to Zimbabwe (1990-93) with concurrent accreditation to Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.  He was previously posted to the Australian Mission to the United Nations, New York (1982-85), and to the Australian High Commission, New Delhi (1976-78).

Educated at Melbourne University and the Australian National University, Mr Thwaites holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours in Politics/History and a Master of International Law.  He is married with two children.


Local Date: Tuesday, 07-Jan-2014 10:30:53 EST


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