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

Media Release

5 June 2007

Diplomatic Appointment: High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago

Philip Kentwell is to be Australia’s new High Commissioner to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Mr Kentwell will also hold non-resident accreditation to 13 other Caribbean countries. He will replace John Michell who has been High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago since May 2004. Mr Kentwell is expected to take up his appointment in June 2007.

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the Caribbean’s fastest growing economies, with its energy sector accounting for over 40 per cent of GDP, about 90 per cent of exports, and around half of government revenues. Australia’s global resource company, BHP Billiton, is a major oil producer in Trinidad and Tobago

The Australia-Trinidad and Tobago bilateral relationship is underpinned by our growing commercial ties, sporting links and joint membership of the Commonwealth – factors which also link Australia to most other members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) group of countries. Eleven Carribbean countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, are Commonwealth members. 

Since the opening of the Australian High Commission in Port of Spain in 2004 there has been a pleasing increase in technology-based commercial links between Australia and Trinidad and Tobago, culminating in August 2006 with the announcement that Trinidad and Tobago would purchase two Australian fast ferries for the inter-island service between Trinidad and Tobago.

The Caribbean’s hosting of the 2007 Cricket World Cup has been a significant demonstration of the close sporting ties between Australia and the Caribbean. These have been further enhanced by the Australian Sports Outreach Programme (ASOP), which was launched in the Caribbean in June 2006. The ASOP, run by the Australian Sports Commission, is designed to increase physical activity participation at junior levels and to provide advice on basic coaching education and club administration procedures. It also offers an effective vehicle for addressing broader community issues such as HIV/AIDS awareness, non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes), youth leadership and personal development. Prime Minister Howard announced the five year $10 million programme, which is aimed predominantly at Commonwealth member countries in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific regions, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2005.

Mr Kentwell was most recently Director, Administration and Logistics Unit of the Department’s APEC 2007 Task Force. In Canberra, Mr Kentwell worked in Corporate Management Division and as Director, Finance Services and Finance Management Section.

Overseas Mr Kentwell has served as Minister and Consul-General, Tokyo, First Secretary, Phnom Penh, and as First Secretary, at both Amman and Honiara.

Mr Kentwell graduated from the Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan and also attended Sophia University, Tokyo and the University of Newcastle, New South Wales. Mr Kentwell will be accompanied by his spouse.

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

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