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Media release

20 July, 2009

Diplomatic appointment - Ambassador to Austria

Today I announce the appointment of Mr Michael Potts as Australia's Ambassador to the Republic of Austria and Permanent Representative to International Organisations with headquarters in Vienna. Mr Potts replaces Mr Peter Shannon who has been Ambassador since July 2006. He is expected to take up his appointment in August 2009. 

Vienna is the centre for multilateral activity in nuclear non-proliferation and the safe and secure application of civil nuclear technology. Mr Potts will be Australia's Governor on the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Permanent Representative to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) Preparatory Commission.  

Australia is a strong supporter of the efforts of the IAEA to strengthen the international nuclear safeguards system and an active promoter of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Mr Potts will advance Australia's interests in a number of other multilateral bodies based in Vienna including export control regimes for sensitive technologies.  

Mr Potts will be accredited to the United Nations Office in Vienna which includes the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Narcotics Control Board. Australia supports the efforts of both offices to reduce the production, trafficking and consumption of illicit narcotics.  

Australia and Austria enjoy good bilateral relations, characterised by cooperation on the bilateral, European and multilateral front. Social and cultural links also underpin the relationship.  

Mr Potts was most recently First Assistant Secretary in the International Organisations and Legal Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and part time Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues, a position he held from January 2007 until June 2009.  

He served as High Commissioner in Port Moresby (2003-06) and prior to that held the position of First Assistant Secretary, International Division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2001 to 2002.  

From 1999-2001, Mr Potts was First Assistant Secretary, International Organisations and Legal Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  He has also held the positions of Assistant Secretary, Trade Policy Issues and Industrials Branch (1998-99); Assistant Secretary, Mainland South-East Asia Branch (1997-98) and Assistant Secretary, ASEAN Bilateral Branch (1994-97). 

Mr Potts has also served as Ambassador in Hanoi (1991-94); Counsellor, Australian Mission to the United Nations in New York (1985-88) and Acting High Commissioner in Lusaka (1980-83). He also had postings in Madrid (1973-76), Vientiane (1977-79) and Dar es Salaam (1980). Mr Potts holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with First Class Honours in History from the University of Sydney. He speaks Spanish and has an understanding of French, Lao and Vietnamese.  He is married.


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