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

Media Release

FA139 - 13 October 2004 

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Thailand

I have today announced the appointment of Bill Paterson PSM as Australia’s Ambassador to Thailand.  Mr Paterson will replace Miles Kupa who has been Ambassador since November 2000.  Mr Paterson is expected to take up his  appointment in January 2005.

Australia's relations with Thailand are at a high point, following the visit to Australia in July 2004 of Prime Minister Thaksin and nine of his Cabinet Ministers, the joint meeting of Prime Ministers and Ministers from both countries and the signature of the historic Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement.  TAFTA represents a watershed in bilateral relations, will further strengthen trade and investment flows and links Australia with South East Asia’s second largest and fastest growing economy.

Bilateral relations are close and mature and span close cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism, transnational crime, defence, education, civil aviation and tourism.  The extent and mutual value of such cooperation was underlined, for example, by the joint service of our forces in East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq, and Thailand’s close cooperation with Australia in the fight against terrorism, narcotics and people smuggling.  This cooperation is set to expand following the signature of TAFTA and a treaty-level Agreement on Bilateral Cooperation.

People-to-people exchanges between the two countries are also significant, with Australia being the preferred destination for Thais studying abroad.  In 2003, some 50,000 Thais visited or studied in Australia, while 300,000 Australians visited Thailand. 

Mr Paterson is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently First Assistant Secretary, South and South-East Asia Division. He has been closely involved in international strategic and security policy, politico-military affairs, intelligence and regional issues as a senior government official.  He was head of the Australian Government’s Iraq Task Force (2002-03) and Head of the Anti-Terrorism Task Force following the events of September 11, 2001.

Mr Paterson served as Chief of Staff and Principal Adviser to the Foreign Minister (2000) and as Assistant Secretary for Asia, APEC and Trade policy in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (1998-99) during both the Asian financial crisis and the East Timor Crisis.  Mr Paterson has also worked on global issues for the Office of National Assessments.

Overseas, Mr Paterson has served in Dhaka, Baghdad, Vienna, Washington and Tokyo.  He has also served on the Boards of the Fulbright Commission, the Centre for American Studies and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

Mr Paterson was educated at the University of Melbourne and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours.  He was awarded the Public Service Medal in the 2004 Australia Day Honours List.  He is married with three children.

Media inquiries:  Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500/Julie McDonald (DFAT)) 02 6261 1555

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