Avatar photo

Paul Madden

British Ambassador to Japan

Part of UK in Australia

17th November 2014

David Cameron visits Australia for Brisbane G20 Summit

You always look forward to your Prime Minister visiting the country you’re posted in, even though it means a lot of extra work for the whole team. David Cameron has just been back in Australia for the second time.

Prime Ministers David Cameron and Tony Abbott
Prime Ministers David Cameron and Tony Abbott

He began his official bilateral visit on Friday with a stroll around Sydney’s beautiful harbour with PM Tony Abbott with whom he gets on very well. Some of the Australian media described it as a “Bromance”. Then onto the new Barangaroo development in Sydney’s CBD to address a business breakfast on Infrastructure, together with Tony Abbott and NSW Premier Mike Baird. Corporate leaders heard how the UK is now the fastest growing economy in G7 and the PM set out our ambitious infrastructure plans.

In Canberra he addressed the Australian Parliament, only the second British PM ever to do so. It was a powerful speech focused on the values we share, and with some nice touches of humour, including a reference to the now famous Australian diplomatic technique of “shirtfronting”. All the MPs and Senators I spoke to afterwards were very complimentary, and the speech was described by The Australian newspaper as “A modern milestone in the relationship”. The PM also used the speech to announce tougher measures to tackle the threat of foreign terrorists. And he announced that Australian citizens who are frequent travellers to the UK will now have access to the E-gates at Heathrow and Gatwick, which I know will be welcomed by many, particularly in the business community.

At the Australian War Memorial, the PM laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier, saw a new plaque gifted by the UK to commemorate Australian WW1 VCs, and attended PM Abbott’s Official Lunch in his honour. The shared sacrifices he had talked about in his speech were reflected by the presence of a number of Australian WW2 Veterans and by an enormous Lancaster Bomber “G for George” which hung overhead in the museum part of the Memorial where we lunched.

Then we flew up to Brisbane, once again in PM Abbott’s official jet, to attend the G20 Summit. Brisbane was sweltering in 40 degree heat. Many residents had gone away for the weekend to avoid the hassle, but there were still plenty lining the roads to spot all the world leaders whizzing past in their motorcades. The High Commission team found it fun being at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Summit venue: they would suddenly turn round and see Obama, Xi or Merkel going past. The PM had formal bilaterals with several leaders and shorter meetings with many others. There were many plaudits for Australia’s efficient organisation and PM Abbott’s strong chairmanship. PM Cameron described the Summit as “purposeful and successful” and said it would make a real contribution to jobs and growth in Britain and the world.

So, a hectic few days, which left our teams in Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane exhausted. But it was great to be part of an important international meeting and to celebrate the extraordinarily close relationship between Britain and Australia. As the PM put it in his Parliamentary speech: “It feels like visiting family”.

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.