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

Media Release

FA86 - 17 June 2004

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Zimbabwe

I have today announced the appointment of Jonathan Sheppard as Australia's Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe with concurrent accreditation to Malawi and Zambia.

Mr Sheppard will replace Jonathan Brown who served as High Commissioner from May 2001 and Ambassador since December 2003. Mr Sheppard is expected to take up his appointment in July 2004.

Australia has long been a strong supporter of the Zimbabwean people, including through their struggle for independence prior to 1980. Australia has had diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe since independence and both countries maintain missions in each other's capitals. Before Zimbabwe's withdrawal from the Commonwealth in December 2003, Australia was deeply engaged in the Commonwealth's efforts to encourage the Zimbabwe Government to implement urgently needed political and economic reforms. The Embassy provides an important avenue for Australia to engage Zimbabwe on these matters.

Consular services to Australian tourists are provided from the Australian Embassy in Harare. Australia is a major donor of humanitarian food aid to Zimbabwe and has supplied over $50 million in food assistance throughout southern Africa since March 2002.

Mr Sheppard is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently Director, New Zealand Section. He has served as Ambassador to Ethiopia (1985-87); as Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (1992-95); and in Australian missions in Thailand and South Africa. In 1978-1982 he was seconded to the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Cooperation (Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat) in Suva, Fiji, as Deputy Director and Interim Director. In 1996-2002 he was attached to the Commonwealth Secretariat in London as Director of the Political Affairs Division.

Mr Sheppard holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with First Class Honours in History from the University of Queensland and a Graduate Diploma in Management from the University of Southern Queensland. He is married with four children.

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

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