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

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Media Release

FA142 - 2 October 2002

Diplomatic Appointment: High Commissioner to PNG

I have today announced the appointment of Michael Potts as Australia's next High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea.

Mr Potts will replace Nick Warner, who has been High Commissioner since September 1999. Mr Potts is expected to take up his appointment in March 2003.

Australia and Papua New Guinea enjoy a close and wide-ranging relationship based on mutual cooperation, shared history and extensive people-to-people links. This cooperation covers areas as diverse as major investment projects, defence assistance, shared commitment to regional security, the Bougainville peace process and cultural, social and sporting associations. In 2003, we also remember and commemorate our shared achievements during World War II, when our two countries continued to fight desperate and historic battles together - at Wau and on the Huon Peninsula - having earlier turned the tide of the war along the Kokoda Track.

Australia stands ready to assist Prime Minister Somare's Government in the implementation of important economic, political and defence reforms. These will lay the foundations for sustainable development and increased health and prosperity for Papua New Guinea's citizens. Papua New Guinea is Australia's largest development cooperation partner, receiving more than $350 million in 2002-03. Australia is Papua New Guinea's principal trading partner, while PNG is this country's 21st ranked partner.

Mr Potts is a senior career officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently First Assistant Secretary, International Division (PM&C). Other positions he has held include First Assistant Secretary, International Organisations and Legal Division (1999-01), Assistant Secretary, Trade Policy Issues and Industrials Branch (1998-99), Assistant Secretary, Mainland South-East Asia Branch (1997-98), Assistant Secretary, ASEAN Bilateral Branch (1994-97), Director, Policy Coordination Section (1989-91), Director, Central and Southern Africa Section (1988), Director, Papua New Guinea Section (1984) and Director, New Zealand Section (1984).

Mr Potts has also served as Ambassador in Hanoi (1991-94), Counsellor, Australian Mission to the United Nations in New York (1985-88), Acting High Commissioner in Lusaka (1980-83), First Secretary in Dar es Salaam (1980), Second and First Secretary in Vientiane (1977-79) and Third and Second Secretary in Madrid (1973-76).

Educated at the University of Sydney, Mr Potts holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with First Class Honours in History. He is married.

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


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