Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media release

22 January 2008

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to the Philippines

I have confirmed the appointment of Mr Rod Smith as Australia’s new Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines. He will replace Mr Tony Hely who has been Ambassador since March 2005. Mr Smith is expected to take up his appointment in March 2008.

Australia and the Philippines enjoy longstanding and close relations. These have been further strengthened in recent years based on increased cooperation on issues such as counter-terrorism, development cooperation and trade and investment.

The Philippines and Australia also share many common interests and values demonstrated by our close cooperation in regional affairs such as APEC, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference, East Asia Summit and as members of the Cairns Group.

Australia is a significant development partner for the Philippines with the Australian Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines in 2007-08 estimated at $100 million. Assistance is focused on assisting the Philippines in three areas: economic growth; education; and national stability and human security.

Our defence relationship also continues to expand. Australia is a significant external source of training assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Australia and the Philippines signed a Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) during the state visit to Australia of Philippines President Gloria Arroyo in May 2007.

The Philippines is an important economic partner given total two-way merchandise trade of $1.75 billion in 2006. Both countries consider there to be significant potential for growth, particularly within the Philippine minerals and energy sector where Australia’s minerals and petroleum resources industry is showing increased interest. Both countries are also presently involved in negotiations towards an ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (ASEAN-ANZ FTA).

Rod Smith is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He was most recently First Assistant Secretary, Consular, Public Diplomacy and Parliamentary Affairs Division, a position he held from 2004 until 2007.

Overseas, Mr Smith has served as Counsellor, Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York (1998-2001) and First Secretary, Australian Embassy, Seoul (1989-92). In Canberra, Mr Smith has held a range of positions including Assistant Secretary, Consular Branch (2002-04), Assistant Secretary, International Organisations Branch (2001-02), Director, APEC Trade Facilitation Section (1995-98) and Director, Nuclear Affairs Section (1994-95).

Mr Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Australian National University. He was awarded the Public Service Medal in January 2007 for outstanding public service in leading Australia’s consular service. Mr Smith is married with two children.

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