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

Media Release

FA007 - 13 January 2006

Diplomatic Appointment: High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam

I have today announced the appointment of Dr Ruth Adler as Australia's High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam. Dr Adler will replace Mr Christian Bennett, who has been High Commissioner since February 2004. She is expected to take up her appointment in February 2006.

Since the establishment of our mission in Brunei Darussalam in 1983, Australia's bilateral relationship with Brunei has developed, with strong links in trade and investment, education, and aviation, and on sporting, cultural and environmental issues. His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei undertook his first official visit to Australia in February 2005. People-to-people links have also been boosted through expanded direct air services as a result of the March 2004 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on new bilateral air services arrangements. Royal Brunei Airlines now flies direct to four Australian cities.

Defence cooperation is growing, assisted by regular joint training exercises and the May 1999 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation. In February 2005 Australia and Brunei signed an MOU on Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism. Australia and Brunei are also partners in APEC; the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF); the ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand free trade agreement negotiations; BIMP-EAGA (a sub-Regional growth area involving Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Indonesia in which the Northern Territory is a development partner)and the Commonwealth.

Economic ties between Australia and Brunei have grown steadily in recent years. Australia is the largest export destination for Brunei's crude oil (accounting for some 20% of Brunei's oil exports). At the same time, Australia is becoming an increasingly popular destination for Bruneian students, which now number over 700. Likewise, Australian polymer note technology has also recently been introduced sucessfully in the manufacture of Brunei's currency. Australia and Brunei are also currently working together to develop a joint halal brand which will aim to target niche food export markets.

Dr Adler is a senior staff member of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and until December 2005 was Assistant Secretary, Staff Development and Post Issues Branch, a position she held from September 2003. In Canberra Dr Adler has held various positions in the department, including Assistant Secretary, Market Development, Business Liaison and Regional Trade Policy Branch (May-September 2003); Assistant Secretary, Trade and Economic Analysis Branch (2002-03); and Director, Regional and Bilateral Trade Policy Section (2000-02).

Overseas Dr Adler has served as First Secretary (then Counsellor) and Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy, Mexico City (1998-2000) and Third Secretary (then Second Secretary), Australian Embassy, Manila (1991-94). Dr Adler joined the department as a graduate trainee in 1990.

Dr Adler was born in Melbourne. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of New South Wales, a Graduate Diploma in Foreign Affairs and Trade from the Australian National University and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in History/Latin American Studies from La Trobe University. She is married with two children.

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

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