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Wednesday, 29 September 1999
Page: 11025


Mrs Crosio asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 12 August 1999:

(1) When did Australia first establish an embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark.

(2) Did the Howard Government close the Australian Embassy in Denmark; if so, (a) when and (b) why.

(3) Did the Danish Government issue an official response to the Commonwealth's decision to close its embassy in Copenhagen at the time: if so, what was it.

(4) Will the Howard Government re-establish an Australia Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark; is so (a) when, (b) why and (c) what circumstances have changed since the embassy was first closed.

(5) At the time of its closing, (a) what was the address of the Australian Embassy in Copenhagen, (b) what was the total annual running cost, including staff salaries, of operating the mission and (c) how many staff were employed at the embassy.

(6) At the time of its closing, did the Commonwealth rent or own the building in which the embassy was located.

(7) If the Commonwealth owned the building, did it sell it once the embassy was closed; is so, (a) for what price was it sold, in Australian dollars.

(8) If the Commonwealth maintained ownership in the event it decided to re-open the embassy at a later date, has it been rented throughout the period since it was closed; it sos (a) by whom and (b) for what annual rent in Australian dollars; if not, why not.

(9) If the building that housed the embassy was sold when the mission was closed, has the Commonwealth decided where it would locate a new embassy; if so where; if not, (a) how long before a site is located and (b) when will a new Australian Embassy be opened in Denmark.

(10) Will the Commonwealth purchase or rent a new building for its new embassy in Denmark; if it has purchased a new building, (a) for what sum, in Australian dollars, was it purchased and (b) from whom; if it will rent a building, (c) for what sum, in Australian dollars, and (d) from whom.

(11) Before the embassy was closed, was the residence of the former Australian Ambassador located at the same site; if not, (a) where was it located and (b) did the Commonwealth sell it when the mission was closed; if so, for what price was it sold, in Australian dollars; if it maintained ownership of the residence, has it been rented throughout the period since the embassy was closed; if so, by whom and for what annual rent, in Australian dollars; if not, why not.

(12) If the residence of the former Australian Ambassador to Denmark was sold when the mission was closed, has the Commonwealth decided where it will locate the new Ambassador's residence; if so, where will it be locate; if not, how long before a site is located.

(13) Will the Commonwealth purchase or rent a new residence for the new Australian Ambassador to Denmark; if it has purchased the building, (a) for what sum, in Australian dollars, was it purchased and (b) from whom; if it will be renting a building, (c) for what sum, in Australian dollars, and (d) from whom.

(14) What will be the estimated cost of completely refitting both (a) the new Australian Embassy in Denmark and (b) the residence of the new Australian Ambassador to Denmark in order to bring both buildings up to the standard required for an Australian Embassy and Ambassador's residence.

(15) How many staff will be employed at the new Australian embassy in Denmark.

(16) Was the decision to close the mission ill considered; if not, why not.

(17) Does closure and subsequent re-opening of the Australian Embassy in Denmark portray Australia's foreign policy in Europe, particularly in relation to Scandinavia, as unplanned, haphazard, thoughtless and undermine Australia's credibility in dealing with nations in that region; if not, why not.

(18) Has he decided upon the new Australian Ambassador to Denmark; if so, who; if not, (a) when will he make a decision and (b) will he rule out announcing a former liberal or national party State or federal member of parliament or Senator as the new Australian Ambassador to Denmark; if not, why not.


Mr Downer (Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) November 1970, when the Consulate-General in Copenhagen was raised to the status of an Embassy.

(2) Yes.

(a) May 1997.

(b) Australian Government budgetary pressures at the time.

(3) Yes. The Danish Government expressed its regrets and disappointment about the decision to close the Embassy, but conveyed its wish to continue developing close and friendly ties between Australia and Denmark.

(4) Yes.

(a) It is expected that an Embassy will be re-opened around May 2000.

(b) The decision to re-open was made in light of Australia's growing trade interests in Denmark, the Australian Government's commitment to boost bilateral relations with Denmark and to enhance our ability to represent Australia's interests within the European Union and Scandinavia.

(c) In addition to the reasons provided in (4) (b) above, the budgetary pressures which impelled the closure are no longer applicable.

(5) (a) Kristianigade 2 1, DK 2 1 00, Copenhagen, Denmark.

(b) The total running cost, including staff salaries was $1,885,216.

(c) The Embassy employed S Australian based Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) staff, 9 locally engaged DFAT staff, 3 locally engaged Austrade staff and 3 locally engaged Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs staff.

(6) The Chancery was Commonwealth owned.

(7) As the building was Commonwealth owned, this question should be directed to my colleague the Minister for Finance.

(8) As the building was Commonwealth owned, this question should be directed to my colleague the Minister for Finance.

(9) No.

(a) A decision on this matter has not been made.

(b) It is expected that an Embassy will be re-opened around May 2000.

(10) A decision on this matter has not been made.

(11) No.

(a) Solbakkevej 23, GentoRe, Copenhagen Denmark.

(b) As the building was Commonwealth owned, this question should be directed to my colleague the Minister for Finance.

(12) No. A decision on where the new Ambassador's Residence will be located is yet to be made.

(13) It is likely that the Commonwealth will rent a residence for the Ambassador when the post is opened. This decision will be taken following market analysis after the post is opened.

(14) Such costs can only be established following selection of appropriate premises.

(15) Preliminary planning is for the Embassy to have 3 Australian based DFAT staff and 5 locally engaged DFAT staff.

(16) No. The decision to close the Embassy was appropriate in the prevailing circumstances.

(17) No. The Australian Government has continued to pursue its interests effectively, and to maintain close, friendly and cooperative relations with Europe and Scandinavia.

(18) No.

(a) and (b) I will not speculate about fixture appointments. Standard practice is that issue press releases on all Head of Mission appointments when it is appropriate to do so. When the Government makes a decision on an appointment to Copenhagen, it will be announced in the usual way.