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Diplomatic appointment: Ambassador to the Netherlands.

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I have today announced the appointment of Stephen Brady as Australia’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Australian Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), based in The Hague.

Mr Brady will replace Peter Hussin who has been Ambassador since January 2001. Mr Brady is expected to take up his appointment in March 2004.

Australia enjoys friendly and productive relations with the Netherlands across the full range of our interests. The Netherlands is an important dialogue partner for Australia on international security and trade policy matters, as well as on European Union policy developments, and on regional issues involving the Asia Pacific, where there remain significant Dutch interests.

Dutch commercial interests in Australia are substantial, reflecting the Dutch business community’s recognition of Australia's economic strength and regional advantages. Australian commercial interests in the Netherlands have grown in response to the development of export markets in the Netherlands, an economy of comparable size to Australia's. The Netherlands is Australia's eighth-largest source of foreign investment, and fourth largest source of foreign direct investment. The Netherlands is the seventh-largest destination of Australian foreign investment.

As a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), Australia works with the OPCW to ensure the destruction of existing chemical weapons and to counter the potential threat flowing from their proliferation. Australia supports the efforts of the OPCW to ensure the effective implementation of all CWC obligations, particularly those which constitute the verification machinery.

Mr Brady is a career officer who joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1982. He has worked in the International Division of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, where he was seconded as Foreign Policy Adviser to the Leader of the Opposition and shadow Foreign Ministers. In 1990, he served as Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Dublin. From September 1991 to April 1996, Mr Brady was Director of State Visits in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. In May 1996, he was seconded from DFAT, as a Senior Adviser in the Office of the Prime Minister.

From December 1998 to January 2003, Mr Brady was Australian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Sweden and to the Republics of Finland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. He also served as non-resident Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark, the Kingdom of Norway and the Republic of Iceland prior to the re-opening of our Embassy in Copenhagen. Since May 2003, Mr Brady has been on secondment from DFAT as Senior Adviser (Government) to the Prime Minister.

Mr Brady is a graduate of the Australian National University and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in International Relations. He will be accompanied by his partner.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 mob 0419 206 890 Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

Media releases and speeches are available from DFAT via the internet.