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

Media Release

FA19 - 5 March 2003

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Burma

I have today announced the appointment of Paul Grigson as Australia's Ambassador to Burma.  Mr Grigson will replace Trevor Wilson who has been Ambassador since May 2000 and is expected to take up his appointment in June 2003.

The Government has been active bilaterally and multilaterally in efforts to promote political reform and respect for human rights in Burma.  Our Embassy in Rangoon maintains contact with all parties, including the National League for Democracy, about the importance of an early start to substantive political dialogue to achieve genuine national reconciliation.

In the area of human rights, the Government's Human Rights Initiative is being expanded in 2003.  The Government will undertake a three-year program in Burma focused on practical approaches to human rights issues and the rights of women and children in particular.  Given Burma's severe humanitarian situation, Australia has also taken an active role in providing humanitarian assistance, particularly on health problems.

As Burma is the source of a significant proportion of heroin entering Australia, the Government attaches high priority to supporting anti-narcotics activities there and pursue this goal both through international cooperation and in conjunction with the relevant authorities. 

Mr Grigson is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  He is currently Assistant Secretary, Maritime South-East Asia Branch, and has worked in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Overseas, Mr Grigson held the position of Chargé d'Affaires in Phnom Penh (Jul-Oct 2000), Chief Negotiator, International Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville (Mar-Jun 2000) and Deputy Head of Mission in Phnom Penh (1993-94).

He has qualifications from the University of Queensland, the Australian National University and the Securities Institute of Australia.

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