PM Transcripts - Prime Ministers of Australia

Diplomatic Appointment and Appointment of Secretaries of the Department of Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Prime Minister - Gillard, Julia

Media release - 17 September 2012

Perth

Following the appointment of The Hon Brendan Nelson as the Director of the Australian War Memorial, Mr Duncan Lewis AO DSC CSC has been nominated as Ambassador to Belgium, the European Union and Luxembourg. He will, subject to normal processes being completed, also be Australia's Ambassador to NATO.

Dr Nelson, as a former Minister for Defence, was a strong and experienced hand as our Ambassador to NATO. At this stage of Australia's involvement in Afghanistan it is important that we continue to have that strength and experience in our NATO representation.

Mr Lewis has had a distinguished career in both the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Public Service prior to being appointed as Secretary to the Department of Defence and brings considerable experience and expertise to his new role. I welcome his continued service to the Commonwealth.

Mr Lewis will leave the Department of Defence on 10 October 2012 to prepare to take up his new appointment.

Following a report from the Secretary of my Department, as required by the Public Service Act 1999, Mr Dennis Richardson AO will be appointed as Secretary of the Department of Defence with effect from 18 October 2012. Mr Richardson was Australia's Ambassador to the United States between 2005 and 2009 and was Director-General of ASIO between 1996 and 2005. He has been the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade since December 2009.

Mr Peter Varghese AO will be appointed as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Mr Varghese is currently Australia's High Commissioner to India. Mr Varghese was previously Director-General of the Office of National Assessments. He has also served as Australia's High Commissioner to Malaysia and as a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He will take up his appointment as Secretary on 3 December 2012.

I congratulate Mr Richardson and Mr Varghese on their appointments.

The appointments of Mr Richardson and Mr Varghese will be for terms of five years.