THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Australia's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
TUESDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2014
The Abbott Government must immediately respond to reports saying it has decided to recall Mike Rann as Australia's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in favour of former Liberal leader, Alexander Downer.
It is understood Mr Rann's term is not due to expire for around 18 months. If the reports are accurate, the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, needs to explain why she would so abruptly install Alexander Downer as High Commissioner - other than the fact he is a member of the Liberal party.
In a clear sign of how controversial such a blatantly political move would be, it is reported the Abbott Government is seeking to keep its decision secret until after the March 2014 state election in South Australia.
The previous Labor Government inherited Liberal appointments like Amanda Vanstone as Ambassador to Italy, who were given the opportunity to finish their terms. Labor also appointed former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson as Ambassador to NATO and Tim Fischer as Ambassador to the Holy See.
Today's reports follow the Abbott Government's decision to cancel former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks' appointment as New York Consul-General, in favour of Howard Government minister, Nick Minchin. Cancelling Bracks' appointment was the Abbott Government's first decision after the election of September 7, 2013.