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

Media Release

13 October 2006 

Diplomatic Appointment: High Commissioner To Tonga

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Bruce Hunt as Australia's High Commissioner to the Kingdom of Tonga.  Mr Hunt will succeed Colin Hill who has been High Commissioner since April 2003.  Mr Hunt is expected to take up his  appointment in November 2006.

Australia and Tonga enjoy a warm and constructive relationship. We work well together on a range of regional issues.  Australia highly values the commitment Tonga has made to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) through the deployment of its police, military and civilian personnel.

Australia is Tonga’s main source of development assistance, and is a significant bilateral trading partner with strong financial sector links. Australia is assisting Tonga in its progress towards political reform through support for the National Committee on Political Reform. We are also supporting the Tongan Government’s economic and public sector reform efforts.

Australia’s total aid allocation for 2006-07 to Tonga is $13.4 million, of which $9.2 million is direct bilateral aid. In recent years, programs have been conducted in the areas of economic and public sector reform, including Customs, tourismfisheries,healthmanagement,community development,the environment and solid waste management.Australia also has an active Defence Cooperation Program with Tonga.

Mr Hunt is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with extensive experience in South Pacific issues.  He has twice served as the Director of the Papua New Guinea Section in the department (1990-1994 and 2000-2002).  In addition to a posting as First Secretary in the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby (1985-1987) he has also served as Chief Negotiator with the Bougainville Peace Monitoring Group (1999). 

Mr Hunt was a member of the Solomon Islands Taskforce in 2003 which oversaw the deployment of the RAMSI contingent to the Solomon Islands. Most recently in the department he headed the Pacific Bilateral Section.  Overseas, he has served in Tel Aviv, Harare, Bonn and San Francisco.  He has also served as Acting Head of Mission in Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Cyprus on short term missions.

Educated at Macquarie University, Mr Hunt holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in history and a Diploma of Education.  He also holds a PhD in history from the University of New England.  He is a fellow of the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies at the Australian Defence College.


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

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