Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Portugal

Media release

29 May 2012

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced that Ms Anne Plunkett will be Australia's next Ambassador to Portugal. The Ambassador to Portugal also has non-resident accreditation to Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe.

Ms Plunkett is expected to take up her appointment at the end of this year. She will replace Mr Patrick Lawless who has been Ambassador since August 2009.

Australia and Portugal enjoy a strong and productive relationship based on shared values and interests and underpinned by strong people-to-people links. Commencing with the arrival of Portuguese migrants in Fremantle in the 1950s, there are now around 40,000 people in the Portuguese community in Australia.

Australia's bilateral relationship with Portugal has strengthened over recent years and Australia was pleased to welcome President Cavaco Silva earlier this month.

Australia and Portugal share a commitment to multilateral forums. We are working together in the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) to rebuild Afghanistan.

In Europe, Portugal is a strong supporter of Australia's enhanced engagement with the EU. Portugal and Australia have worked closely in expanding Australia's engagement with the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP).

A common interest in the future of East Timor is a key element in the bilateral relationship. As the two largest donor countries, Australia and Portugal work closely to ensure long-term stability in East Timor and share a coordinated approach to development assistance. Portugal's membership of the United Nations Security Council (2011-2012) is timely as the UN considers its future involvement in East Timor.

Two-way trade between Australia and Portugal was A$153 million in 2010-11 with the balance in Portugal's favour due mainly to passenger motor vehicle and cork manufactures.

Ms Plunkett is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who has held the position of Assistant Secretary, Protocol Branch and Chief of Protocol, from November 2009 until December 2011.

Ms Plunkett served overseas as Australian Ambassador to Ireland with non-resident accreditation to the Holy See, and Deputy Head of Mission to Fiji with earlier postings to New Delhi, Tanzania and Honolulu.

Ms Plunkett holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours from the University of New England. She is married with three children and is learning Portuguese.

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