The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

Media Release

FA072 - 3 July 2006

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Denmark

I have today announced the appointment of Ms Sharyn Minahan as Australia's Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark, with concurrent accreditation to the Kingdom of Norway and the Republic of Iceland.  Ms Minahan will replace Mr Matthew Peek who has been Ambassador since September 2003.  She is expected to take up her appointment in September 2006.

Australia enjoys strong bilateral relations with Denmark. Our two countries have long-standing trade and investment links.  Australia and Denmark share a history of like-minded cooperation on a wide range of international issues, including disarmament and arms control, human rights and support for the multilateral trading system.  Both countries are making significant contributions to the security and reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan and to the international fight against terrorism.  Bilateral links have been enhanced by the marriage in 2004 of Australian born Mary Donaldson to HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. 

Denmark is Australia's 33rd largest trading partner, with two-way merchandise trade worth $1.13 billion last year.  The Danish market offers Australia expanding export opportunities in  wine, computer parts and educational services.  Denmark is an increasingly important destination for investment with an Australian company now having a majority stake in the Copenhagen Airport. 

Australia also enjoys good relations with Norway and Iceland.  We share common a dialogue on many international issues.  With Norway in particular, we have shared interests in Antarctic affairs, in the Middle East peace process,  in peace-keeping and more generally in Norway's peace making initiatives (such as in Sri Lanka).  Norway is also making an important contribution to NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.  In 2005, more than 3300 Norwegian students were undertaking tertiary studies in Australia, making Norway the third leading European source country for overseas students here.  Australian educational  and tourist links with both Denmark and Norway are underpinned by bilateral Working Holiday Maker Agreements.  Australia has bilateral Social Security Agreements with both countries and a bilateral Health Agreement with Norway.

Ms Minahan is currently Director, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at the New South Wales State Office, a position she has held since September 2004.  Prior to this Ms Minahan was Ambassador of Australia to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay (2000-04).  She was promoted to the Senior Executive Service in April 2000.

Overseas Ms Minahan has served as Charge d'Affaires, Australian Embassy, Buenos Aires (1995-96), First Secretary, later Counsellor, Australian Embassy, Madrid (1988-92), Second Secretary, later First Secretary, Australian Embassy, Paris (1981-85), Third Secretary, Australian Embassy, Santiago de Chile (1976-77) and Third Secretary, Australian Embassy, Mexico City (1975).  She has also held a number of positions in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra including Director, Canada, Latin America and Caribbean Section (1997-2000), and Director, Trade Liaison Section (1995-97). 

Ms Minahan holds a Bachelor of Arts (Double Honours) degree from the University of New South Wales, a Graduate Diploma in Public Law from the Australian National University, a Graduate Diploma in Counselling from the University of Canberra, and is a Graduate of the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, Paris.  She speaks Spanish and French.

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


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