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

Media Release

23 October 2006

Diplomatic Appointment: High Commissioner to Samoa

I have today announced the appointment of Matt Anderson as Australia’s High Commissioner to the Independent State of Samoa.  Mr Anderson will replace Phillip Allars who has been High Commissioner since January 2004.  He is expected to take up his appointment in January 2007.

Australia’s relations with Samoa are close and long-standing, embracing development assistance, trade and investment, defence cooperation and strong people-to-people links forged by the sizeable Samoan community resident in Australia.

Australia’s total aid flow to Samoa in 2005-06 is expected to be $21.5million, of which $13 million is bilateral aid and $8.5 is provided through regional and other initiatives.   In support of Samoa’s development strategy, Australia contributes to public sector administration, opportunities for employment and investment, enhancing law and justice, education, health and the management of primary resources. The Australia Defence Cooperation Program with Samoa centres on the Pacific Patrol Boat project.  Australia has provided the Samoan Police Service with a patrol boat, the MV Nafanua, and assistance worth $2million in 2005-06, including training exercises, infrastructure development and in-country maritime and technical advisers..

Samoa enjoys a balance of trade surplus with Australia.  Total bilateral trade was worth AUD$118 million in 2005.  Australia’s merchandise imports were worth AUD$85 million in 2005 while Samoa’s merchandise exports to Australia were worth AUD$33 million.

The relationship has been further reinforced by high-level visits between Australia and Samoa.  In April 2006, I visited Samoa.  The Prime Minister, Mr Howard, led the Australian delegation to the 35th Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Apia in 2004 and then Parliamentary Secretary for Trade, Ms De-Anne Kelly also visited in 2004.  A large parliamentary delegation visited Samoa for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's 36 the Presiding Officers and Clerks Conference in July 2005 and delegations from the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade and the Australian Parliament Pacific Friendship Group visited Samoa in 2003.

Along with other Pacific nations, Samoa and Australia are working constructively to address issues of regional concern within the Pacific Islands Forum.  Samoa makes a valuable contribution to  the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands and plays a strong and positive role in the Forum more generally.

Mr Anderson is currently Director, Media Liaison Section and Spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Overseas, he was Counsellor in Port Moresby from 2003 to 2005; Chief Negotiator, Peace Monitoring Group, Bougainville in 2001 and 2002; and Third and Second Secretary in Cape Town from 1997 to 2000.  In Canberra, Mr Anderson has worked in a range of bilateral and multilateral areas. He joined the Department in 1995 after serving as a commissioned officer in the Australian Defence Force. Mr Anderson holds a Masters Degree from Monash University, an Arts Degree from Deakin University and is a Graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon. He is married with three children.

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

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