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

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Media Release

FA127 - 5 September 2002

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Ireland

I have today announced the appointment of Senator the Hon. Dr John Herron as Australia's Ambassador to Ireland with concurrent accreditation to the Holy See.

Senator Herron will replace the Hon Robert Halverson, OBE who has been Ambassador since January 1999 and is expected to take up his appointment in January 2003.

Australia enjoys long-standing, friendly relations with Ireland based on extensive historical and cultural ties. The relationship has been further reinforced in recent years by regular, high-level visits including Sir William Deane's visit to Ireland in April 1999, the first by an Australian Governor General; the Irish President Mary McAleese's visit to Australia in September 1998, her first State visit after becoming President; and visits to Australia since 2000 by the Irish Prime Minister Mr Bertie Ahern, Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney and Foreign Minister, Mr Brian Cowen.

Irish influences in Australian society are evident in art, literature, and in many other areas of public life. Historically, the Irish have made up one of the largest group of migrants to Australia with approximately 30% of Australians claiming Irish ancestry in the 1986 census. The rapid growth in the number of young Irish people taking up working holiday visas under the reciprocal scheme with Australia is helping both to boost tourism and maintain these traditional people-to-people links.

Australia and Ireland are close friends and like-minded allies on many issues of international importance. Australia's trade with Ireland is modest but growing rapidly. Australia's development of an important niche market in Ireland for wine is a pointer to the potential for further deepening of the economic relationship.

Senator Herron entered Federal Parliament in 1990 and served as Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (1996-01). He was also Chairman of the Senate Community Affairs Committee and Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Minister for Health (1994-96).

Senator Herron has also served as President of the Queensland Liberal Party (1980-83 and 2001-02). He was Queensland Branch President of the Australian Medical Association (1989) and served as Queensland Chairman of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Australian Association of Surgeons.

Educated at the University of Queensland, Senator Herron holds a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery. After Registrar training at Royal Brisbane and Princess Alexandra Hospitals, Senator Herron obtained his Edinburgh and London Surgical Fellowships. He was appointed Research Fellow to the Queensland Melanoma Project at Princess Alexandra Hospital and became a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. He was senior surgeon at the Mater Hospital prior to entering the Senate.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) +61 02 6277 7500 / Julie McDonald (Departmental) +61 02 6261 1555


 

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