Appointment of Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consuls-General

Today I announce new appointments of Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consuls-General, who will advance Australia’s interests abroad.  

Our diplomats drive opportunities for closer cooperation, support Australians overseas and help uphold the norms and rules that underpin peace and prosperity.

I am pleased to announce the following appointments:

I thank outgoing ambassadors, high commissioners and consuls-general for their contributions to advancing Australia’s interests in these countries during their respective tenures.

Man charged over alleged visa breach 

An Eritrean born man is expected to appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court tomorrow (9 December, 2023) for allegedly failing to comply with a curfew.

The AFP arrested and charged the man, 36, late tonight (Friday, 8 December, 2023) after locating him in Melbourne’s inner west.

It will be alleged the man breached conditions of his Commonwealth visa early on 8 December, 2023, by failing to observe his residential curfew obligations.

The man has been charged with one count of fail to comply with a curfew condition, contrary to section 76C(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). This offence carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a $93,900 fine.


The Senate inquiry into the FOI system has reported today and recommends an urgent investigation into the deep dysfunction within the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner as identified by former FOI Commissioner Hardiman. 

The report finds the FOI scheme is not fit for purpose and is creating serious barriers to access to information. 

The 15 recommendations of the committee are designed to speed up access to information by: 

  • Substantially increasing resources to the FOI system to remove historic backlogs
  • Abolishing the pointless and time-wasting internal review process
  • Simplifying and streamlining the independent merits review process overseen by the FOI Commissioner, and 
  • Allowing those seeking information to rapidly access the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to force the release of documents 

These are realistic and achievable reforms that when adopted will provide essential accountability and transparency to the workings of the Commonwealth government.

Greens Senator and Committee member David Shoebridge said: 

“The degree of dysfunction the committee observed at the most senior levels of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner was disturbing.

“The majority report calls for an urgent and independent review of the workplace behaviour matters within the OAIC that were raised by former FOI Commissioner Hardiman to address the dysfunction.

“It is hard to understand how the Attorney General thought it prudent to appoint two fresh statutory office holders to the OAIC without first addressing the extensive management and organisational failings we observed.

“These are credible, achievable and important reforms that will help turn around the mess that is FOI in 2023.

“Simplifying procedure, speeding up decisions and a serious investment in resources underpin these recommendations.

“I want to put on record the gratitude of my party, The Greens, for the courage and tenacity shown by Mr Hardiman in both his work as FOI Commissioner and his evidence to the Committee,” Senator Shoebridge said.

Australian statement on Russian cyber targeting of democratic processes

The Australian Government joins the United Kingdom and other international partners in expressing serious concerns about attempts to use cyber operations to interfere with democratic processes.

The UK has disclosed that a unit within Russia’s Federal Security Service’s (FSB) Centre 18, known as Star Blizzard, has been responsible for cyber operations targeting a range of political entities and democratic institutions with the intent to interfere with democratic processes in the UK.

The UK assesses that this is part of a broader pattern of malicious cyber activity conducted by Russian Intelligence Services attempting to interfere in democratic processes in the UK and beyond.

Attempts to use cyber to interfere in democratic processes are unacceptable and must stop.

Australia calls on all countries – including Russia – to act responsibly in cyberspace.

The Australian Government is investing in protecting our public institutions and strengthening our national cyber security defences, including through the 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy.

We will continue to work with international partners to promote international law and the norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace and hold states to account if they act contrary to these international obligations and expectations.


The Greens say new OECD data showing Australia’s most disadvantaged school students falling further behind their more privileged peers should be the wake-up call Labor needs to finally deliver full funding to public schools.

The 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, the first published since 2018, reveals a growing gap between socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged students in mathematics performance, a worrying sign that inequity is increasingly baked in to the school system.

Some of the report’s key findings include:

  • The average performance of Australian students across reading, mathematics and science continues to trend downwards
  • Advantaged students outperformed their disadvantaged peers by 101 points in mathematics, higher than the OECD average of 93 and a rise of 20 points since 2018
  • The gap between the highest performing students and the weakest students widened in mathematics and science
  • 61% of school principals reported their capacity to provide instruction was hindered by a lack of teaching staff, a 44% jump from 2018

Greens spokesperson on Education (Primary and Secondary) Senator Penny Allman-Payne said:

“The PISA report reveals that not only is the average performance of Australian students continuing to trend downwards, Australia’s school system is increasingly unequal, with the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students widening over the past four years.

“Only 1.3% of public schools in Australia receive their bare minimum funding. Meanwhile, 98% of private schools are overfunded by governments, and they continue to charge ever-growing private fees, compounding the inequity.

“In the decade since Gonski, combined recurrent funding from Commonwealth, state and territory governments to Independent schools increased 34.04%, while spending on Catholic schools grew 31.17%. Spending on public schools only increased 16.92%.

“First Nations kids, kids in regional, rural and remote areas, neurodivergent and disabled kids, kids experiencing poverty and housing insecurity – when our governments make the choice to leave our public system underfunded, this is who they’re choosing to abandon.

“Labor and the Coalition’s collective failure means we do not have the sector-blind, needs-based funding system that Gonski proposed and all governments signed on to. What we have is the opposite of that: a sector-based, needs-blind Frankenstein stitched together with dodgy deals and caveats.

“With the new National School Reform Agreement and bilateral deals to be negotiated in coming months, and Labor in power federally and across the mainland, this is an historic opportunity to end a decade of false dawns and broken promises and deliver 100% SRS funding to every public school by January 2025.”


Documents obtained by Greens Senator David Shoebridge have revealed how the Future Fund has invested more than $600 million in public funds in global weapons companies. 

The documents, current to 31 October 2023, show the Future Fund has direct holdings in 30 weapons and aerospace companies including Thales, Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems.

Remarkably the Fund’s board has invested nearly half a million dollars into the Israel-based Elbit Systems despite the Future Fund being banned from investing in Elbit System since at least 2021 due to ‘exclusions related to military weapons-related Conventions or Treaties ratified by Australia’.

Greens Defence Spokesperson, Senator David Shoebridge said: 

“The Albanese Government needs to introduce mandatory ethical investment rules for the Future Fund and that must absolutely include a prohibition on investing in weapon manufacturers. 

“Elbit Systems is meant to be excluded from the Future Fund’s investment choices because of exclusions related to military weapons-related Conventions and Treaties ratified by Australia. 

“The Future Fund’s board needs to explain how it continues to invest in Elbit Systems despite the publicly announced direction it gave to withdraw those funds because of Australia’s international legal obligations.

“Elbit Systems is also deeply implicated in the current destruction in Gaza where a suite of its weapons are deployed from artillery pieces to drones. 

“The majority of Australians want peace and justice, not just in Palestine, but around the world, yet the country’s wealth is instead being funnelled into companies that fuel violence.

“The Future Fund is meant to benefit future generations. That rings very hollow when they are investing in companies making equipment that ends future generations.”

Greens Finance spokesperson, Senator Barbara Pocock said:

“We’ve been looking at some of the investments the Future Fund has been making through an ethical lens and found some very questionable products including fossil fuel ventures, gambling and now this, weapons manufacturing that could be contributing to the deaths of innocent civilians.

“I think many Australians would be deeply distressed to find out that our sovereign wealth fund, our money, is being used in a variety of ways that conflict with basic moral and ethical principles. 

“We need to review the investment guidelines that govern the Future Fund and put some restrictions in place so that Australians can live with a clear conscience, knowing that our investments are making the world a better place and not the opposite.”


The Greens have today written to Commonwealth, state and territory education ministers to urge them to fully fund public schools, after PISA results published overnight revealed a growing gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students.

Read the letter here

Greens spokesperson on Education (Primary & Secondary) Senator Penny Allman-Payne said:

“The single biggest determinant of an Australian child’s school performance is their socioeconomic status. This is unacceptable in a wealthy country that professes to value fairness.

“The PISA data shows that in the lowest socioeconomic quartile, only 40% of students are reaching the national proficiency standard in science and reading, while less than a third hit that mark in mathematics. Among the most affluent students, around three-quarters of them are at or above the standard.

“Labor is in power federally and across the mainland. There has never been a better time to end a decade of delay and false dawns and finally deliver on the Gonski vision of a truly sector-blind and needs-based funding model.

“With education ministers meeting on Monday we urge them to seriously consider the PISA report and agree to fully fund public schools at the start of the next National School Reform Agreement, in January 2025.”

Targeted sanctions in response to human rights violations in Russia

Today, Australia has imposed Magnitsky-style targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on three Federal Security Service agents involved in the poisoning of prominent Russian opposition figure and pro-democracy activist, Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Australia has also imposed targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on ten individuals, including a Russian Deputy Minister, who are linked to the politically motivated arrest, trial and sentencing of Mr Kara-Murza.

A long-time critic of President Putin’s repressive regime, Mr Kara-Murza was subjected to two near-fatal poisoning attempts in 2015 and 2017. He was later sentenced to 25 years in prison under Russia’s draconian laws which prohibit criticism of the Russian Armed Forces.

Those responsible for Russia’s appalling crackdown on civil society, human rights defenders, independent journalists, opposition figures and minority groups must be held to account.

Today’s announcement builds on our existing actions. This includes sanctions on individuals involved in the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, and Australia’s statements in key multilateral forums, such as the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.

Australia calls on Russia to comply with its human rights obligations under international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. We also call for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Kara-Murza and all other detained political activists.

$22 Billion Agri-Crisis: Murray Darling Basin Plan Threatens Food Production

Food and fibre production worth more than $22 billion per year is now at great risk following changes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan, which were rushed through Parliament last week. 

It’s been nothing less than a return to the bad old days early in the development of the Basin Plan under the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments, when irrigators and river communities were facing savage reductions in the water they could use to grow 40% of Australia’s food and fibre. 

After already giving up more than 2000 gigalitres per year of water to the Plan—the equivalent of more than four Sydney Harbours—irrigators and their communities are about to be asked to give up another 700 gigalitres through buybacks. 

Buybacks have already devastated communities in the Basin, from Dirranbandi to Shepparton to Waikerie and everywhere in between. Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts have visited communities across the Basin and seen this devastation for themselves; there is no denying it. 

Desperate irrigators have left the system, leaving those who have remained to pick up the water delivery costs, which do not fall with the loss of farmers and their properties. The loss of food production in these areas means processors and packing sheds – the big employers in the basin—are left with no choice but to stand down workers. This forces more people out of Basin communities to look for work, and with less people needing their services, institutions like banks and schools also close down. It’s a vicious cycle, and every Australian will feel it as their grocery bills skyrocket. 

And where does most of this water recovered for the environment go? Down into South Australia’s Lower Lakes, where about 1000 gigaliters just evaporate into the air every year. These are not natural freshwater lakes; before the barrages were built near the Murray mouth in the 1930s, they were saltwater lakes, and seawater penetrated inland as far as Swan Reach, 250km upstream. 

Labor and the Greens did a very dirty deal to get this bill hastily passed, a deal also involving the Jacqui Lambie Network and newly-independent senator David Van. We don’t know what favours were traded, but it’s a fair bet they’re not in the interests of Australia. 

Visit by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will welcome Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Hon James Marape MP, to Australia on 7 December 2023 for an official visit.

Connected through our shared maritime border and joined through our rich cultures and history, Australia and Papua New Guinea have a close and longstanding partnership underpinned by mutual respect and trust.

The Prime Ministers will meet in Canberra to discuss the enduring security partnership and broader issues impacting on Papua New Guinea, Australia and the Pacific.

As near neighbours, our economic, trade, defence and security interests are deeply connected. Australia and Papua New Guinea have a proud history of working together in the region.

This visit will continue to strengthen the partnership between Prime Ministers, who last met at APEC in San Francisco in November, following the Prime Minister’s visit to Port Moresby and Wewak in January.

Prime Minister Albanese said:

“I am delighted to welcome Prime Minister Marape to Australia.

“Australia and Papua New Guinea’s partnership represents our shared priorities across a range of areas, including economic development, security, climate resilience and sport.

“Australia’s relationship with Papua New Guinea is special; we hold common history, values, and an enduring bond as neighbours, partners and friends.”