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

Media Release

FA81 - 2 July 2003

Diplomatic Appointment – Ambassador To Denmark

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Matthew Peek as Australia’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark, with concurrent accreditation to the Kingdom of Norway and the Republic of Iceland.  He will replace Dr Malcolm Leader who has been Ambassador since September 2000 and is expected to take up his appointment in September 2003.

Australia enjoys warm and friendly relations with Denmark, characterised by strong people-to-people ties, thanks to a significant Danish community in Australia.  Our two countries have long-standing trade and investment links and a history of like-minded cooperation on a wide range of international issues, including disarmament and arms control, human rights and support for the multilateral trading system.  Australia was pleased to be able to re-open its Embassy in Copenhagen in September 2000.

The bilateral trade and investment relationship is important to both countries, with Denmark currently enjoying a significant surplus in our merchandise trade.  Denmark is Australia’s 33rd largest trading partner, with two-way merchandise trade worth $867 million last year.  The Danish market offers Australia expanding export opportunities in new areas such as wine, computer parts and educational services.

Australia also enjoys warm and friendly relations with Norway and Iceland. We share common views with both countries across a wide range of international issues and we value our close cooperation with both countries.  With Norway in particular, we have shared interests in Antarctic affairs, in the Middle East peace process and in peace-keeping more generally.  In 2002, there were more than 3000 full-time Norwegian students undertaking tertiary studies in Australia, making Australia one of the top destinations for Norwegian students overseas.  Australian educational and tourist links with both Denmark and Norway are underpinned by bilateral Working Holiday Maker Agreements.  Australia and Norway also recently signed a bilateral health Agreement to provide Australians and Norwegians with reciprocal access to public health facilities while travelling or staying in each other’s country.

Mr  Peek, a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is currently Chief of Protocol.  He has also held the positions of Assistant Secretary, Strategic Policy and Intelligence Branch (1996-98); Assistant Secretary, Economic Organisations Branch (1990-91); Acting Assistant Secretary, Staffing and Organisations Branch (1983-84); and Director, Staffing, Language Training and Head of Mission Section (1982-83).

Overseas, Mr Peek served as Minister at the Australian Embassy in Paris and concurrently as Permanent Delegate to UNESCO (1999-2003); Ambassador to Chile with concurrent accreditation to Peru and Bolivia (1991-95); Counsellor in Pretoria (1988-89); Deputy High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur (1985-88); First Secretary in Tel Aviv (1977-79) and Third, Second and later First Secretary in Geneva (1972-75).

Educated at the Australian National University, Mr Peek holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Politics.  He is married with three children.

Media enquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500, Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555