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

Media Release

FA134 - 29 October 2003

Diplomatic Appointment: High Commissioner to Solomon Islands

I have today announced the appointment of Patrick Cole as Australia’s High Commissioner to Solomon Islands. Mr Cole will replace Robert Davis who has been High Commissioner since July 2001. He is expected to take up his appointment in December 2003.

Australia has been at the forefront of the international community’s efforts to help Solomon Islands address the serious challenges to law and order and economic stability over the past few years. The Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), deployed on 24 July 2003 at the request of the Solomon Islands’ Government, is a major undertaking reflecting Australia’s preparedness to help a close friend and regional partner. RAMSI has made significant progress in addressing the key challenges to the Solomon Islands Government’s ability to govern and in helping stabilise its budget. More broadly, our bilateral relations with Solomon Islands include shared regional and strategic interests, a substantial development assistance program and long-standing people-to-people and commercial links.

Solomon Islands is also the headquarters of the Forum Fisheries Agency, an important regional organisation with 17 members including Australia. The agency has made a strong contribution to the management, conservation and utilisation of Pacific fisheries resources by consolidating technical capacities and common approaches to fisheries issues.

Mr Cole is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, rejoining the department in 2003 after serving since 1998 as Assistant Secretary responsible for Pacific affairs in the International Division of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. After joining the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1979, Mr Cole served in Australian diplomatic missions in Rangoon (1979-1982), Stockholm (1986-1989) and Geneva (1992-1996), in the latter as Deputy Head of the Australian Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament during the negotiation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In DFAT in Canberra, he has served in a range of positions, including Director, New Zealand Section (1996-1998).

Mr Cole holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours in History from Macquarie University and a Graduate Diploma in International Law from the Australian National University. He is married with three children.

Media enquiries: Chris Kenny (Minister’s office) (02) 6277 7500 - Lyndall Sachs (Departmental) (02) 6261 1555

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