PM Transcripts - Prime Ministers of Australia

Dr Ashton Calvert AC

Prime Minister - Howard, John

Media Release - 02 December 2004

Dr Ashton Calvert has informed me that he wishes to retire as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on 4 January 2005.

I take this opportunity on behalf of the Government to thank Dr Calvert for his distinguished contribution to the Australian Public Service over the last 34 years. He leaves the public service with the gratitude of the Government and the respect of his departmental colleagues.

Dr Calvert has played an important role in the development and conduct of Australian foreign policy.

For the last six and a half years he has served with distinction as Secretary during a period of exceptional challenge and achievement in Australia's external policy. Notable contributions include managing the Department's role in East Timor matters, the negotiation of counter-terrorism agreements with regional partners, representing Australia in the trilateral security dialogue with the United States and Japan and playing a key role in the Government's ambitious trade policy agenda.

Through virtually this whole period he has played a central role in the work of the National Security Committee of Cabinet, which has overseen the Government's foreign and security policy during these often difficult years.

I have always found Dr Calvert to be a person of total loyalty and commitment to Australia's best interests in the areas of foreign policy and trade. He has brought rigour and professionalism to his duties as Secretary of the Department.

I wish him, and his wife Mikie, all the very best for the future.

The new Secretary of DFAT is to be Mr Michael L'Estrange, who has been the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom since August 2000, where he has won wide praise in deepening even more the already very close bilateral relationship between Australia and the United Kingdom.

He will bring to his new position considerable experience in government, including as former Head of the Cabinet Policy Unit and Secretary to Cabinet.

Mr L'Estrange will take up his position for four years from 24 January 2005. Mr Doug Chester will act as Secretary from 4-23 January 2005.