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

Media Release

23 November 2006

Diplomatic Appointment: High Commissioner To Papua New Guinea

I have today announced the appointment of Chris Moraitis as Australia's next High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea. Mr Moraitis will replace Michael Potts, who has been High Commissioner since March 2003.  Mr Moraitis is expected to take up his appointment in December 2006.

Australia’s relationship with Papua New Guinea is one of our most important and is underpinned by our geographical proximity, shared history and people-to-people links.  It is a broad relationship, encompassing shared economic, security and cultural interests. 

Australia is committed to assisting Papua New Guinea to address its development challenges.  We are Papua New Guinea’s largest development cooperation partner, with our $330 million aid program representing close to 80 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s total donor support.  Australia is also providing substantial assistance through the Enhanced Cooperation Program (ECP), under which Australian officials are working in PNG government agencies to strengthen capacity and assist the PNG Government to pursue its development agenda. 

Our bilateral trade relationship is strong, with Australia selling a wider range of goods to PNG than any other country.  Two-way trade is valued at around $3.7 billion annually, making PNG our 21st largest trading partner.  Australia is the number one destination for Papua New Guinea’s exports, as well as the primary source of imports and foreign direct investment. 

Mr Moraitis was most recently the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Senior Legal Adviser, a position he held since November 2002.  He has held several positions in the department in Canberra including Assistant Secretary, Staffing Branch (2001‑2002), Director, East Timor Taskforce (1999-2001), Executive Officer, Human Rights Section (1993-94) and Desk Officer, Chemical Weapons Convention Taskforce (1991-93).  From 1994 to 1995 Mr Moraitis served as an Adviser to the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Gareth Evans QC.  He joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as a Graduate Trainee in 1989.

Overseas, Mr Moraitis has served as Counsellor, Australian Embassy, Paris (1996-99), First Secretary, Australian Embassy, Madrid (1995), and Third Secretary, Australian Mission to the United Nations and Conference on Disarmament in Geneva (1990-91).

Mr Moraitis was born in Melbourne in 1962.  He holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees with honours from the University of Melbourne, and a Master of International Law degree from the Australian National University.  He was admitted to practise in Victoria as a Barrister and Solicitor in 1988.  Mr Moraitis speaks Greek, Italian, French, Portuguese and Spanish.  He is married and has one daughter.

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

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