Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media release

8 February 2008

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to The Netherlands

I have confirmed the appointment of Ms Lydia Morton as Australia’s new Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Australian Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) based in The Hague. She will replace Mr Stephen Brady who has been Ambassador since March 2004. Ms Morton is expected to take up her appointment in March 2008.

Australia enjoys warm bilateral relations with the Netherlands, based on a solid affinity of views on many international issues and strong people to people contacts. Australia and the Netherlands are working together closely in Afghanistan. Nearly 1000 Australian troops are based in Oruzgan Province as part of the Dutch-led Provincial Reconstruction Team. This close partnership between the two countries is achieving important progress in the vital task of bringing stability and reconstruction to Afghanistan which remains at risk of again becoming a failed state and terrorist haven. The Netherlands is also an important partner for Australia in the European Union.

Australia and the Netherlands are bound by strong commercial ties. Australian commercial interests in the Netherlands have grown in response to the development of export markets in the Netherlands, an economy of comparable size to Australia's. The Netherlands and Australia are each other’s fourth largest source of direct foreign investment.

As a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), Australia supports the efforts of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to ensure the verifiable destruction of existing chemical weapons and to prevent dual-use and other toxic chemicals from being used to make new chemical weapons. Australia works with the OPCW and other member countries to promote full and effective implementation of all CWC obligations, particularly those which constitute its verification regime.

Australia shares with the Netherlands a strong commitment to the international rule of law. The Australian Embassy plays an active role in international organisations based in the Hague, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

Ms Morton is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently heading a corporate review project. Overseas, Ms Morton has served as Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy, Beijing (2000-03), Counsellor, Australian Embassy, Paris (1994-97), Counsellor, Australian Embassy, Seoul (1988-90) and Third Secretary, Australian Embassy, Brussels (1974-77).

Ms Morton has held a range of positions in Canberra including First Assistant Secretary, International Legal and Organisations Division (2005-06), First Assistant Secretary, North Asia Division (2004-05), Assistant Secretary, East Asia Branch (1999-2000) and Assistant Secretary, Diplomatic Security Branch (1998-99).

Ms Morton holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the Australian National University and a Bachelor of Arts (Chinese) degree from the University of Melbourne. She speaks French, German and Chinese. Ms Morton will be accompanied on posting by her husband.

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