I have today announced the appointment of Keith Gardner as Australia's
Ambassador to the Kingdom of Nepal. Mr Gardner will replace Crispin
Conroy who has been Ambassador since December 1999.
Australia has enjoyed a strong relationship with Nepal and close
people-to-people links since diplomatic relations were established
in 1960. Australia opened a resident diplomatic mission in Kathmandu
Two-way trade is small but growing. Australian exports comprise
mainly metals, food and beverages, machinery, spare parts and services
in the fields of telecommunications, education, tourism and aviation.
A major hydroelectric project in Nepal involving Australian interests
is under consideration and an Australian firm, Note Printing Australia,
recently won a $3 million contract to produce 10 rupee polymer bank
notes for Nepal's Central Bank. Australia is assisting Nepal in
its bid for accession to the World Trade Organisation.
Australia's development cooperation program is helping Nepal meet
its poverty alleviation and development aspirations. Current areas
of assistance include natural resource management, human resource
development and community health assistance including vitamin A
supplementation and HIV-AIDS awareness. In-country volunteer activity
includes the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program.
Australia also has significant consular interests in Nepal, with
about 10,000 Australians visiting Nepal each year.
Mr Gardner is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade. Since joining the Department in 1981, he has
held a range of positions in Canberra, including Director, Australia-India
Council and Deputy Director, India and South Asia Section. He also
served as Director of the Department's Northern Territory Office
in Darwin from 1997 to 2000. He is currently Director of the Consular
Mr Gardner has had diplomatic assignments in Kingston (1990-92),
Beijing (1987-90), Warsaw (1985-87) and New Delhi (1982-84).
Born in Adelaide in 1955, Mr Gardner was educated at the South
Australian Institute of Technology and holds a Bachelor's degree
in Chemistry. He is married with two sons.
He is expected to take up his appointment in December 2002.
Media enquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / Julie
McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555