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

Media Release

4 October 2007

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to East Timor

Mr Peter Heyward is to be Australia’s new Ambassador to East Timor. Mr Heyward will replace Ms Margaret Twomey who has been Ambassador since August 2004 and is expected to take up his appointment in January 2008.

Mr Heyward’s appointment comes at a significant time in East Timor’s development, following presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year, and the inauguration of Prime Minister Gusmao’s new Government on 8 August 2007.

As a close neighbour and good friend, Australia will remain at the forefront of international support to East Timor. At the request of the East Timorese Government, Australia is currently leading the International Stabilisation Force which supports the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) in maintaining security following the violence of April/May 2006.

Australia and East Timor have recently enhanced their cooperation over the Timor Sea with the entry into force in February 2007 of two new treaties that will enable the development of substantial resources for the benefit of both countries.

Australia’s bilateral development assistance and defence and police cooperation programs will continue to assist the Government and people of East Timor to build a secure and prosperous future. Australia will deliver an enhanced package of development assistance to East Timor, worth an estimated $214 million over the next four years. Australia’s assistance will focus on the justice sector, economic development and management, technical and vocational education and the delivery of basic services (health, water and sanitation) particularly to rural areas.

Since July 2005, Mr Heyward has been Australia’s Ambassador to Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela. Other overseas service has included serving as Counsellor, Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva (2000-02) and as First Secretary, later Counsellor, in Buenos Aires (1993-96). In Canberra, Mr Heyward has held a range of positions including Assistant Secretary, Environment Branch in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2002-04), Director, Human Rights and Indigenous Issues Section (1998-2000) and Director, Refugees, Immigration and Asylum Section (1996‑98). He has also worked in the Climate Change and Biodiversity Section (1991-92) and the Antarctic Section (1989-91).

Mr Heyward was born in Brighton, UK in 1955, he holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tasmania and speaks Portuguese and Spanish. Mr Heyward is married and has two adult children.

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

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