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

Media Release

FA51 - 10 April 2004

Diplomatic Appointment: High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago

I have today announced the appointment of John Michell as Australia's High Commissioner to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Mr Michell will hold non-resident accreditation to the Caribbean (except Cuba) and will replace Winfred Peppinck who has been High Commissioner to Barbados since April 2001. Mr Michell is expected to take up his appointment in May 2004.

I announced in July 2003 the decision to move our representation from Barbados to Trinidad and Tobago as part of a review of Australia's diplomatic network. Trinidad and Tobago is the Caribbean's main industrialising country and the change supports Australia's promising trade and investment interests in the Caribbean, which are set to expand further with the commercial development of oil and gas resources.

A key priority for Australia in the Caribbean is the Commonwealth. Including Trinidad and Tobago, eleven of Port of Spain's accreditations are Commonwealth members with which we share cultural, historical, legal, political and sporting links. This relationship continues to play an important role in Australia's foreign policy. Cricket is an enduring link.

Testimony to the vitality of our Commonwealth-based links with the Caribbean is the Australian Caribbean Sports Development Program (ACCDP). Prime Minister John Howard announced the nine-year $1.5 million program at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 1997. The ACCDP is run by the Australian Sports Commission and provides active assistance to Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean to access and develop community-based sport. The program gives special emphasis to children, women and people with disabilities with an overall objective of building community health, cohesion and interaction through sport.

Australia has important multilateral interests in the Caribbean and we share similar views on many multilateral issues. Although each of the Caribbean nations is small in global terms, their combined voting power lends CARICOM, the regional organisation, an impressive voice in international institutions.

Mr Michell is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and served as Deputy Head of Mission in Dili, East Timor (2001-03). He has also served as political adviser to the Solomon Islands Ceasefire/Peace Monitoring Council (August-December 2000); Chief Negotiator for the Australian-led Peace Monitoring Group on Bougainville (September-December 1999); and Deputy High Commissioner in Honiara, Solomon Islands, (1995-98).

In Canberra, Mr Michell's placements have included Director, Australian-Indonesia Institute; Deputy Director, Papua New Guinea Section; and Executive Officer, East Asia Branch.

Mr Michell holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in International Relations from Deakin University.


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

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