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Paul Madden

British Ambassador to Japan

Part of UK in Australia

1st September 2013

Australia votes

Paul Madden at Rooty Hill RSL

Australia goes to the polls on 7 September. The key battleground is the sprawling suburbs of West Sydney, which contain 10% of Australia’s population and a number of marginal seats.

I spent Saturday there to get a feel for the campaign on the ground. You quickly pick up the electoral buzz from the campaign posters sprouting all over the area.

I visited Rooty Hill RSL (Returned Services League) which earlier in the week had hosted the final of three televised debates between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Travelling around a number of constituencies I met candidates and election workers from both main parties. I sat in on a meeting with African community leaders and visited a campaign phone-bank where dozens of volunteers were calling undecided voters.

Both Labor and the Liberals are quite similar to their British Labour and Conservative counterparts, and have strong ties with them. But the electoral system here means that there are some significant differences in the campaign strategy.

Australia has compulsory voting, so unlike the UK you don’t have to focus on making sure your supporters turn up to vote. And the transferable vote system makes the voting process much more complicated, particularly in the Senate where the many competing parties make complex deals on the order in which their preferences will transfer.

As often happens in the UK, the biggest issue in the campaign seems to be the economy. Whichever party wins, they will have to tackle public spending challenges as the mining boom slows. The final few days of the campaign promise to be exciting.

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.