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Paul Madden

British Ambassador to Japan

Part of UK in Australia

8th January 2012

Christmas in summer, New Year’s Eve in Sydney

Well it wasn’t quite a barbie on the beach: we still felt it wouldn’t be Christmas without roast turkey and all the trim, but it was nice to spend Christmas afternoon relaxing in the sunshine. In some ways Australian Christmas is quite similar to British ones, with parties and carol services. But it’s also the summer holiday, so everything seems to close down for several weeks, and many people head out of Canberra for the coast. It means the year has a quite different shape from that in the UK, with the two main holidays both coming at the same time. In Britain we tend to have two peaks to look forward to – Christmas in December, and summer holidays in August.

We were up in Sydney for the New Year. It must be one of the most spectacular locations in the world to mark the occasion. The 12 minute firework display in the harbour, with its iconic bridge and Opera House was stunning.  Apparently it cost over $6million dollars to stage, but I’m sure the millions of happy revellers felt it was money well spent, and no doubt the event generated many times that in revenue for the local economy. Sydney seemed full of British tourists escaping for a bit of winter sunshine. This is also the season when natural disasters tend to occur in Australia, so our consular team were geared up to respond to any emergencies over the holiday, though fortunately there were no major incidents.

As my parents were visiting, we took the opportunity to look up a distant Australian branch of the family. My step Grandfather’s brother emigrated to Australia from Wales in the very early years of the last century with a couple of shillings in his pocket. He worked as a hand on a cattle station, then a sugar cane plantation, and went back to Europe to fight in the First World War, before making a career in the timber industry in Queensland. We had a really enjoyable lunch with his son, and three grandchildren and their partners – all successful professionals of around my age. Over the last century, the family had lived the Australian story. It was really good to see them and to feel yet another personal connection with this great country.

1 comment on “Christmas in summer, New Year’s Eve in Sydney

  1. Delighted to hear your parents are still active and able to enjoy Australia with you. All best wishes to Dot and Tony!

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About Paul Madden

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017. He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia…

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017.

He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia until February 2015. Prior to this he was British High Commissioner in Singapore from 2007-2011.

A career diplomat, he was previously Managing Director at UK Trade and Investment (2004-2006), responsible for co-ordinating and
implementing international trade development strategies to support
companies across a wide range of business sectors.

As Assistant Director of Information at the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office (2003-2004) he was responsible for public diplomacy policy,
including managing the FCO funding of the BBC World Service, the British
Council and the Chevening Scholarships programme. He led the team
responsible for the award-winning UK pavilion at the Aichi Expo in Japan

He was Deputy High Commissioner in Singapore from 2000-2003 and has
also served in Washington (1996-2000) and Tokyo (1988-92). Between
1992-96 he worked on EU enlargement and Environmental issues at the FCO
in London.

Before joining FCO he worked at the Department of Trade and Industry
(1980-87) on a range of industrial sectors and trade policy, including
two years as a minister’s Private Secretary.

He has an MA in Economic Geography from Cambridge University, an MBA
from Durham University, studied Japanese at London University’s School
of Oriental and African Studies, and is a Fellow of the Royal
Geographical Society. His first book, Raffles: Lessons in Business
Leadership, was published in 2003.

Married to Sarah, with three children, he was born in 1959, in Devon.