Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media Release

24 August, 2009

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Portugal

Mr Patrick Lawless is to be Australia’s new Ambassador to the Portuguese Republic succeeding Mr Luke Williams who has been Ambassador since July 2006. Mr Lawless takes up the position this month.

Australia and Portugal enjoy a strong and productive partnership based on shared values and interests, and underpinned by strong people-to-people links. Commencing with the arrival of Portuguese migrants in Freemantle in the 1950s, there are now some 15,000 people in Australia who claim Portuguese descent.
A shared interest in the future of East Timor is a key element in bilateral relationship between Australia and Portugal. As the two largest donor countries, Australia and Portugal are like minded in placing importance on continuing to work closely and cooperatively to ensure longterm stability in East Timor, and a coordinated approach to development assistance.

Australia and Portugal share a commitment to dealing with the challenges presented by threats to international security. In this context both Australia, and Portugal as a member of NATO, are contributing to efforts to rebuild Afghanistan. Australia and Portugal are also active in global antiproliferation efforts, including through the Proliferation Security Initiative.

As a member of the EU Portugal is a useful and cooperative partner for Australia. Its ongoing support will be important in implementing the objectives of the Australia - EU Partnership Framework and securing the early conclusion of an Australia-EU Comprehensive Air Services Agreement. Launched in Paris in October 2008, the Australia-EU Partnership Framework provides a platform of broad principles and a flexible action plan of practical cooperation between Australia and the EU.

In 2008 total two-way trade amounted to A$189 million. The balance of trade is in Portugal’s favour, due mainly to passenger motor vehicle sales, which accounted for about a third of Australia’s total imports from Portugal. Australia rates as Portugal’s 58th import source, with exports to Portugal standing at A$25 million in 2008.

Mr Lawless, a career officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has been Ambassador to Poland, and Deputy Head of Mission in Moscow and in Pretoria. He has held several senior positions in the Department and has been an adviser in the Trade Minister’s Office (1993) and speechwriter for the Foreign Minister and Trade Minister (1992-93).

He speaks Portuguese and is a graduate of the University of NSW and the London School of Economics.

Media inquiries: Mr Smith's office 02 6277 7500 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555