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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 28

(Question No. 4404)


Mr Burr asked the Minister for ForeignAffairs, upon notice, on 20 August 1986:

1. In which nations does Australia have a resident Ambassador or High Commissioner.

2. What are the names of each of those Ambassadors and High Commissioners.

3. When (a) did they arrive at their current posts and (b) might they be expected to leave those posts in the ordinary course of events.

4. What is the most widely used (a) spoken and (b) written language in each nation where Ambassadors and High Commissioners are currently posted.

5. Of those Ambassadors and High Commissioners who have been in their current posts for more than 12 months, which ones are (a) completely fluent, (b) generally fluent, (c) not fluent in the spoken and written language of the nation in which they are resident.

6. Of those who are not fluent, what is the reason for this situation.

7. Will he henceforth require all Ambassadors and High Commissioners to be completely fluent in the most widely used language of the nation in which they are resident by the end of the first 12 months of the posting; if not, why not.


Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

1. Australia has Ambassadors and High Commissioners resident in a total of 72 nations.

2. See attached list, column 2.

3. (a) see attached list, column 3 (b) Ambassadors and High Commissioners generally serve in their positions for three years, but may on occasions be extended beyond that period.

4. (a) and (b) Column 5 of the attached table shows the most widely spoken and written languages in the countries in which Ambassadors and High Commissioners are posted. In some countries there is more than one major official language e.g. Canada. This is indicated in the table. In many nations a major European language is widely used in commerce, education, or administration, and this has been indicated in the list by including the relevant language in brackets.

5. The attached table shows the level of proficiency of all Ambassadors and High Commissioners. Those who are completely fluent in the main non-English language of the country, or another widely used non-English language, are indicated by two asterisks; those who are generally fluent, that is, who have a working proficiency, are indicated by one asterisk.

6. It is not expected that Heads of Mission with heavy work loads should become generally fluent in a language in part time study. With many difficult languages this stage could barely be reached in 12 months of full time study. For a Head of Mission to be fluent it would in most cases have been necessary for her or him to have studied the language at an earlier stage of their career.

7. One of the factors taken into account in selection of Ambassadors and High Commissioners is the requirement for a language other than English to ensure effective operation in their country of posting. There are, however, many qualities required of a Head of Mission other than the ability to speak the main non-English language of the country of appointment. Thus, language ability is not the only factor taken into account in selecting Heads of Missions to serve in a particular country.

While it is possible to acquire a reasonable facility in many languages within six months of full time study, in other cases much longer periods of intensive study, reaching up to three years, are required. The relative priorities of Ambassadors or High Commissioners and the pressure of staff and monetary resources seldom permit this.

Only by a program over many years of learning languages at junior level can it be reasonably assured that there will be a pool of officers with wide language coverage from which Ambassadors and High Commissioners can be chosen who speak the local language. Within the constraints of available resources, the Department of Foreign Affairs is following this course of action.

HEADS OF MISSION-AT 2 DECEMBER 1986

Post

1

Name of HOM

2

Date

arrived

3

Language/s used at

country of posting

4

Fluency in

languages

other than

English

listed in 4

** fluent

* working

proficiency

5

Addis Ababa

J. P. C. Sheppard

4.6.85

Amaric (English)

Algiers

C. G. O'Hanlon

13.7.86

Arabic (French)

(**)

Amman

T. J. Goggin

15.12.85

Arabic (English)

Ankara

P. F. Peters

3.5.84

Turkish (English)

*

Apia

A. P. Godfrey-Smith

5.6.84

Samoan/English

Athens

D. J. Kingsmill

29.8.84

Greek (English) (French)

*(**)

Baghdad

W. R. M. Steele

24.7.86

Arabic

Bangkok

R. J. Smith

23.5.85

Thai (English)

Beijing

R. G. Garnaut

21.11.85

Mandarin

Belgrade

J. H. A. Hoyle

3.10.84

Serbo-Croatian/Slovenian/Macedonian (Serbo-Croation)

*

Berlin

D. W. Witheford

14.6.85

German

*

Berne

D. A. Townsend

31.8.85

German/French

*/*

Bonn

C. R. Ashwin

26.10.82

German (English)

**

Brasilia

W. E. Weemaes

28.6.85

Portuguese

**

Brunei

J. M. Starey

5.2.84

Malay (English)

**

Brussels

H. D. Anderson AO OBE

10.1.83

Flemish/French (English)

*/**

Budapest

O. J. Cordell

2.5.85

Hungarian (German)

(*)

Buenos Aires

K. R. Douglas-Scott

20.4.85

Spanish

*

Cairo

K. H. Rogers

11.8.84

Arabic (English) (French)

Caracas

R. G. Starr

7.5.85

Spanish

*

Colombo

R. L. Cotton

23.4.85

Sinhala (English)

Copenhagen

A. F. Dingle

12.10.83

Danish (English)

Damascus

R. A. Burns

17.3.84

Arabic (French)

(*)

Dar-Es-Salaam

G. K. Miller

31.1.85

Swahile (English)

Dhaka

S. J. D. Boyd

8.9.86

Bengali (English)

Dublin

F. W. S. Milne MBE

(arrives 3.12.86)

English/Irish

Hanoi

I. S. Lincoln

16.1.86

Vietnamese (French)

(**)

Horare

C. A. Edwards

22.4.84

Shona/English

Honiara

M. J. Gaylard

22.8.85

S.I Pidgin (English)

Islamabad

I. G. Bowden

3.5.84

Urdu (English)

Jakarta

W. L. Morrison

28.4.85

Indonesian (English)

*

Kathmandu

D. K. Johnstone

23.6.86

Nepalese (English)

Kingston

M. A. S. Landale

1.12.84

English

Kuala Lumpur

D. W. Evans

1.2.84

Malay (English)

**

Lagos

R. H. Wyndham

30.5.86

English

Lisbon

B. W. Woodberry

12.12.84

Portuguese

**

London

A. R. Parsons AO

19.1.84

English

Lusaka

E. J. L. Ride

10.10.86

English

Madrid

H. A. Jenkins

18.6.86

Spanish

*

Malta

N. R. Smith

14.2.84

Maltese/English

Manila

R. R. Fernandez

22.11.82

Filipino/English

Mexico City

J. P. McCarthy

25.3.85

Spanish (English)

*

Moscow

E. R. Pocock

21.3.84

Russian

Nairobi

D. S. Campbell

23.5.86

Swahili/English

Nauru

J. G. Powys

24.1.86

Nauruan (English)

New Delhi

G. B. Feakes AO

17.7.84

Hindi (English)

Nicosia

D. B. Wadham

18.10.85

Greek (English)

**

Nuku' Alofa

B. D. B. Smith

6.3.84

Tongan (English)

Ottawa

R. S. Laurie

1.5.85

English/French

*

Paris

P. C. J. Curtis

17.8.82

French

**

Port Louis

I. L. James

10.8.86

French (English)

*

Port Moresby

M. J. Wilson

23.11.84

Tok Pisin/English

*

Port Vila

G. L. Urwin

18.2.85

Bislama (English)

Pretoria

R. N. Birch

10.12.84

English/Afrikaans

Rangoon

G. L. Lamb

20.11.86

Burmese (English)

Riyadh

A. D. Brown

22.2.84

Arabic (English)

Rome

D. G. Nutter

7.6.85

Italian

*

Santiago

W. K. Flanagan

13.9.83

Spanish (French)

*(**)

Seoul

L. L. Jospeh

2.4.84

Korean

Singapore

W. P. J. Handmer

22.12.83

English/Mandarin

*

Stockholm

M. R. McGovern

5.12.83

Swedish (English)

Suva

J. A. Piper

1.7.86

Fijian/Hindi (English)

Tarawa

W. C. Rowe MBE

8.4.85

Kiribati (English)

Tehran

J. L. Lander

22.7.85

Farsi

Tel Aviv

R. S. Merrillees

15.12.83

Hebrew/English/Arabic

The Hague

G. J. Price MBE

13.6.84

Dutch (English)

Tokyo

W. G. T. Miller

26.8.86

Japanese

Vienna

J. R. Kelso

13.5.84

German (English)

Vientiane

J. B. Campbell

7.6.84

Lao (French)

(*)

Warsaw

M. W. Hughes

25.2.85

Polish

Washington

F. R. Dalrymple

24.6.85

English

Wellington

L. R. Johnson

22.5.84

English