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

Media Release

FA182 - 18 December 2004

Diplomatic Appointment: Consul-General in Chicago

I have today announced the appointment of Bob Charles as Consul-General of Australia in Chicago.  The previous Consul-General was Ron Harvey, CVO, AM. Mr Charles is expected to take up his appointment in March 2005.

Since it was reopened in 2001, the Australian Consulate General in Chicago has enhanced Australia's profile as well as forged new links with a wide range of decision-makers in the US Midwest.  It supports Australian business in identifying, developing and utilising trade and investment opportunities in a region that generates nearly one-third of the United States’ gross domestic product.  Chicago itself is a major financial, industrial and cultural centre of the United States.  Its economy is highly diverse, with particularly strong manufacturing, education, research, transportation and communication sectors.  Promoting the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement, which enters into force on 1 January 2005, has been an important post priority in 2004.  The Consulate-General continues its work in expanding economic ties, broadening people-to-people links and promoting Australian art and culture in Chicago and its environs.  It also provides consular and passport services to Australian travellers and expatriates throughout the 11 Midwest states for which it is responsible. 

Mr Charles served as a Member of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Australia representing La Trobe from 1990-2004.  During this time he served on a number of Parliamentary Committees including as Chair, Joint Statutory Committee on Public Accounts & Audit (1997-2004), Chair, Joint Select Committee on the Republic Referendum (1999), Member, Government Committee on Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Sub-Committee on Rural Education (1996-98), Member Sub Committee on Steel Industry (1996-97), Deputy-Chair, House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training (1990-96), Member, House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry, Science & Technology (1993-96).

He has also held a number of private sector positions including Chairman and Managing Director of Robert E Charles Constructions Pty Ltd (1973-94), Managing Director, Fischer and Porter Pty Ltd (1970-73), International Marketing Manager - Fischer and Porter Co. USA, (1965-70) and Trainee/Foreman/Supervisor, United States Steel (1958-65).

Mr Charles was born in 1936 in Covington, Kentucky, USA.  He holds a BSME from Purdue University, USA, and is a chartered professional engineer.  Mr Charles has been a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia since 1991.  He is married and has three children.

Media Inquiries: Mr Downer's office 02 6277 7500 - DFAT Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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