Federal agriculture minister Joe Ludwig has appointed senior DAFF officer Dean Merrilees to fill a newly created agricultural specialist role in the Australian Embassy in Indonesia.
The minister announced the decision to appoint an additional senior agricultural representative in Jakarta at last week’s Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association annual conference.
The new position is at Minister-Counsellor (Agriculture) level at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and is specific to the agriculture, fisheries and foresty portfolio.
A departmental spokesperson said the appointment reflected the new focus on the Asian century and the increasing importance of Australia’s agricultural relationship with Indonesia.
Mr Merrilees will be responsible, under the Head of Mission, for managing DAFF’s portfolio interests in Australia’s relationship with Indonesia.
DAFF already has one specialist agriculture position in the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. However, since that position was established, the work focus has significantly broadened.
"In particular, over the past 18 months there has been a stronger focus on horticulture exports, meat exports and the live animal trade," the spokesperson said.
"The last year has also seen the initiation of negotiations for the Indonesia – Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). In this context, an additional senior agriculture expert position is appropriate.
“The Minister-Counsellor (Agriculture) in Jakarta will have a strong focus on the trade relationship and on market access issues.
“The role will look to strengthen Australia’s agricultural relationship with the Indonesian parliament and government agencies.
“The position will be involved in the negotiation of future cooperation with the Indonesian Government and implementation of agricultural elements.”
Mr Merrilees will commence in Jakarta in early April.
He is currently a senior officer within DAFF.
Prior to pre-posting preparation, Mr Merrilees was Assistant Secretary, Food Exports Branch within the department. In this role he led a team responsible for the delivery of export certification services for meat, organic and non-prescribed goods.