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

Media Release

8 August 2007

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Zimbabwe

John Courtney is to be Australia’s new Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe.  Mr Courtney will replace Jonathan Sheppard who has served as Ambassador since July 2004.  Mr Courtney is expected to take up his appointment in October 2007.

Australia has a long history of engagement in Zimbabwe, including through its struggle for independence prior to 1980, and has had diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe since independence.  Australia is a strong supporter of the Zimbabwean people, and the Australian Embassy provides an important avenue through which this commitment is demonstrated.

Australia has provided more than $10.7 million since July 2005 in humanitarian support for Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable people, and to support organisations promoting human rights and good governance

Mr Courtney is currently Director of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Section in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  Overseas his assignments have included Consul-General in Guangzhou (1999-2002), Counsellor in Beijing (1991-94), and First Secretary in Kuala Lumpur (1982-85).  Mr Courtney has also served in a range of other posts in Asia and in the Middle East. 

In Canberra, Mr Courtney was Director, China General and Mongolia Section (1998‑99), Director, Indonesia Section (1996-97) and Director, Speechwriting Section (1995-96). 

Mr Courtney holds a BA LLB from the University of Western Australia and a Graduate Diploma in Public Administration from the University of Canberra.  Mr Courtney is married.  He speaks Mandarin.

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

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