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

Media Release

FA83 - 4 July 2003

Diplomatic Appointment – Ambassador to Israel

I have today announced the appointment of Tim George as Australia’s Ambassador to the State of Israel.  He will replace Ross Burns who has been Ambassador since July 2001.  Mr George is expected to take up his appointment in September 2003.

Australia's relations with Israel have historically been close and characterised by a positive and constructive approach to issues of mutual interest.  Australia was one of the first countries to recognise the State of Israel in 1949 and to establish diplomatic relations.  Our approach reflects strong political sympathy and a fundamental commitment to Israel’s right to live in peace within secure and recognised borders.  Australia has consistently supported efforts to find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will satisfy the essential needs of both parties. Australia is looking for ways to make a practical contibution in the context of the Roadmap to Peace. 

Australia’s active Jewish community takes a keen interest in our relations with Israel and is doing much to encourage the development of bilateral ties.  Our business community also increasingly recognises  the potential benefit to Australia of closer economic and scientific cooperation with Israel.   Similarly, potential exists for Israel to take a more active commercial interest in Australia as a base to expand its trade in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr George, a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is currently Australia’s Ambassador to Spain and Andorra.  He previously held the positions of Assistant Secretary, Europe Branch (1998-2000) and Assistant Secretary, South Asia and Indian Ocean Branch (1997-98).

Overseas, Mr George has served as Deputy High Commissioner in Wellington (1994-97) and Deputy High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur (1992-94).  He has also served in Bangkok, Santiago de Chile, Moscow and Suva.

Educated at the University of Adelaide, Mr George holds a Bachelor of Laws degree with Honours.  He is married with two sons.

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