Seventh woman on the secretaries board with DFAT top appointment

By Stephen Easton

July 20, 2016

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced Frances Adamson as the next head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as widely expected.

Frances_Adamson_(2)Her five-year term begins on Friday, bringing to an end a brief stint as the PM’s top adviser on international affairs that followed her return from China last year. Adamson (pictured) served as ambassador to the People’s Republic between 2011 and 2015.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said she was “pleased to note Ms Adamson is the first woman to hold this prestigious position” in a statement on Thursday.

Turnbull released a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming the choice of Adamson — which was leaked to the media during caretaker period — and praising some of her other career highlights:

“She has also served in the Australian Consulate-General in Hong Kong, as Representative to the Australian Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei and in the Australian High Commission in London. She was Chief of Staff to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and then the Minister for Defence from 2009 to 2010.

She has had a distinguished career as a diplomat and brings a depth of experience and understanding of international affairs to this position. I congratulate Ms Adamson on her appointment.”

For those watching the march of women into the upper levels of the Australian Public Service, Adamson brings the number of female secretaries up to seven out of 18, after Heather Smith was appointed to lead the Department of Communications and the Arts in January.

Peter Varghese, the former DFAT secretary who stepped down just before the election, has retired from the public service and is now chancellor of the University of Queensland.

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