PM Transcripts - Prime Ministers of Australia

Secretary - Department of Defence

Prime Minister - Howard, John

Media Release - 02 November 2006

I am pleased to announce the appointment of a new Secretary of the Department of Defence following the retirement of the current Secretary, Mr Richard (Ric) Smith AO.

It was with regret that I learned of Mr Ric Smith's decision that he wishes to retire as Secretary of the Department of Defence in December. Mr Smith has worked in the Australian Public Service for more than 37 years and has made an outstanding contribution to policy development, particularly in the area of foreign affairs and defence. He has served as Australia's Ambassador in Jakarta (2001-02) and in Beijing (1996-2000). I particularly wish to thank him for his excellent stewardship of the Department of Defence since 2002. He has filled this difficult role with great distinction.

I wish him and his wife, Jan, all the best for the future. I have no doubt that he will enjoy a long and happy retirement.

Following Mr Smith's decision, it is necessary to appoint a new Secretary of the Department of Defence. I have today appointed Mr Nick Warner to that position to take effect on 04 December 2006 for a period of three years.

Since July 2005 Mr Warner has been my Senior Adviser (International) responsible, among other things, for policy advice across the broad range of Defence issues. Prior to joining my Office he was a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He has held many senior positions in the Department including in a number of key overseas posts. He was High Commissioner in Port Moresby (1999-2003) and Ambassador in Tehran (1994-97). He served as the Special Coordinator to the Solomon Islands, oversighting the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands from 2003-04. He also headed the Emergency Response Team in Baghdad which secured the release of Mr Douglas Wood.

Mr Warner will bring extensive and practical experience to the position and will provide strong and considered leadership to the Department of Defence.