Frances Adamson named SA governor

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday May 19, 2021

Frances Adamson
Frances Adamson (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Outgoing Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Frances Adamson has been appointed as South Australia’s 36th governor.

Adamson will leave DFAT on June 25, after five years as secretary, and will commence in her new role in October.

Foreign affairs minister Marise Payne on Wednesday paid tribute to her top bureaucrat, describing her as ‘one of Australia’s most accomplished and respected public servants and diplomats’.

Payne said Adamson’s oversight of the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper was ‘instrumental’ in guiding Australia’s foreign policy agenda. Other achievements include leading the implementation of the Pacific Step-up, enhancing engagement in Southeast Asia, and leading a reorientation of the aid program towards regional recovery from COVID-19.

“Under her leadership, the department has undertaken the largest consular operation in DFAT’s history in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. During this critical time, Ms Adamson’s support to her staff, including those posted overseas, has enabled them to provide continuing assistance to Australians abroad,” Payne said.

“Within the department, Ms Adamson has championed ambitious internal reform, including a highly successful Women in Leadership Program, and a strengthened focus on diversity and inclusion. Her intellect and experience are respected across government, business and the broader community.”

Read more: ‘We’ve done what we’re here to do’: Frances Adamson on the APS’ crisis response

Trade minister Dan Tehan said Adamson has served Australia with distinction.

“She has been an inspiration to many and her valued counsel will be missed. I congratulate Ms Adamson on her career and wish her all the best in the future,” he said.

Labor has also congratulated the senior mandarin on her appointment.

“Ms Adamson is one of Australia’s most accomplished diplomats and has served successive governments through a period of intense change with distinction — always equipped with calm, considered and astute advice,” senator Penny Wong said in a statement.

“Under her leadership she rightly oversaw an expansion of women representing Australia as heads of our missions around the world. I have had many dealings with Ms Adamson, including at Senate Estimates, where I have always found her to demonstrate profound respect for the institutions of our democracy.

“We wish her the best in her new role, and I look forward to seeing more of her in our hometown of Adelaide.”

SA Premier Steven Marshall announced Adamson’s new role on Wednesday, noting that she would replace Hieu Van Le.

Adamson was DFAT’s first female secretary. Her past roles include serving overseas as ambassador to China, as Australia’s representative to the Australian Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei, and as deputy high commissioner in London.

She has also served as international adviser to former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, and as chief of staff to former foreign affairs and defence minister Stephen Smith.

Read more: The many hurdles of new DFAT boss Frances Adamson


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