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

Media Release

FA13 - 25 February 2003

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Austria

I have today announced the appointment of Deborah Stokes as Australia's Ambassador to the Republic of Austria and Permanent Representative to international organisations with headquarters in Vienna. She will have concurrent accreditation as Ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia, the Slovak Republic and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ms Stokes replaces Max Hughes who has been Ambassador since March 2000 and is expected to take up her appointment in early June.

Vienna is a hub of multilateral activity in respect of nuclear non-proliferation and the safe and secure application of civil nuclear technology. Ms Stokes will be Australia's Governor on the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Permanent Representative to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) Preparatory Commission. Australia is a strong supporter of the efforts of the IAEA to strengthen the international nuclear safeguards system and an active promoter of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Ms Stokes will advance Australia's interests in a number of other multilateral bodies based in Vienna including export control regimes for sensitive technologies. Ms Stokes will be accredited to the United Nations office in Vienna which encompasses the UN Office on Drugs and Crimeand the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs. Australia supports the efforts of the UN Drug Control Program to reduce the production, trafficking and consumption of illicit narcotics.

Australia and Austria enjoy good relations, characterised by cooperation on a range of bilateral, European and multilateral issues. Social and cultural links also underpin the relationship. Australia's relations with Slovenia, Slovakia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are supported by strong community links in Australia. Ms Stokes will continue to develop relations with these countries.

Ms Stokes is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently Minister and Deputy Head of Mission in Tokyo. Ms Stokes was formerly First Assistant Secretary, International Security Division with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (1998-99). Prior to that, in the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), she was Deputy Director-General, Corporate Development Division (1995-98) and Assistant Director-General, Development Issues and Corporate Policy Branch (1994-95).

Her previous postings include three years in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York (1989-1992). She was also Third Secretary in Rangoon with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (1984-86).

Educated at the University of Adelaide and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, Ms Stokes holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours and a Masters degree in Development Studies. She is married.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) +61 02 6277 7500 / Julie McDonald (Departmental) +61 02 6261 155