BA (Hons) MP
11 March 1996 – 3 December 2007
|Preceded by||Gareth Evans|
|Succeeded by||Stephen Smith|
|Born||9 September 1951 |
Adelaide, South Australia
|Political party||Liberal Party of Australia|
|Spouse||Nicola (née Robinson)|
Alexander John Gosse Downer, MP (born 9 September 1951) is a conservative Australian politician who was Foreign Minister of Australia from March 1996 to December 2007, the longest serving in Australian history. The prefix The Honourable or The Honorable (abbreviated to " The Hon A Member of Parliament, or MP, is a representative elected by the voters to a Parliament. In the Government of Australia, the Minister for Foreign Affairs is responsible for overseeing the international diplomacy section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Events 1425 BC - Thutmose III, Pharaoh of Egypt, dies (according to the Low Chronology of the 18th Dynasty Year 1996 ( MCMXCVI) was a Leap year starting on Monday (link will display full 1996 Gregorian calendar) Events 1800 - War of the Second Coalition: Battle of Hohenlinden, French Year 2007 ( MMVII) was a Common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. Gareth John Evans, AO, QC (born 5 September 1944) Australian politician served as Attorney-General and Foreign Minister Stephen Francis Smith (born 12 December 1955) is the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Division of Mayo is an Australian Electoral Division located in the hills east of Adelaide, South Australia and currently includes the towns of Events 1000 - Battle of Svolder, Viking Age. 1379 - Treaty of Neuberg, splitting the Austrian Year 1951 ( MCMLI) was a Common year starting on Monday. Events of 1951 January Adelaide is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of South Australia, and is the fifth largest city in Australia with a South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country The Liberal Party of Australia is an Australian political party. A Member of Parliament, or MP, is a representative elected by the voters to a Parliament. Events 1000 - Battle of Svolder, Viking Age. 1379 - Treaty of Neuberg, splitting the Austrian Year 1951 ( MCMLI) was a Common year starting on Monday. Events of 1951 January For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Australia topics. In the Government of Australia, the Minister for Foreign Affairs is responsible for overseeing the international diplomacy section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and He was also the leader of the federal Opposition for eight months from 1994 to 1995, the shortest serving in Liberal Party history. The Liberal Party of Australia is an Australian political party.
Downer was born in Adelaide, South Australia, into one of the state's prominent established political families. Adelaide is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of South Australia, and is the fifth largest city in Australia with a South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country AlexanderDownerjpg|thumb|upright|Alexander Downer Jr in 2006]] The Downer family has played a significant role in the South Australian and Australian political His father, Sir Alexander "Alick" Downer, also reached cabinet rank in federal politics, then was High Commissioner in London from 1964 to 1972. Sir Alexander Russell Downer KBE (7 April 1910 - 30 March 1981 Australian politician generally known as Alec Downer, was born in Adelaide, a High Commissioner is the title of various high-ranking special executive positions held by a commission of appointment London ( ˈlʌndən is the capital and largest urban area in the United Kingdom. His grandfather, Sir John Downer, was twice Premier of South Australia and a Senator in the first federal Parliament in 1901. Sir John William Downer, KCMG ( 6 July 1843 – 2 August 1915) was the Premier of South Australia from 16 June His mother, Lady Downer (née Mary Gosse), is descended from early immigrants to South Australia. Downer is married to Nicky (née Nicola Robinson) who is a leading identity in the arts community and received an Order of Australia for her service to the arts in 2005. They have four children, Georgina, Olivia, Edward, and Henrietta. Downer is related via the Gosse family to Edmund Gosse a famed English literary critic. Edmund William Gosse ( September 21, 1849 &ndash May 16, 1928) was an English Poet, author and critic the son of Philip  Downer is fluent in French.
Downer was educated at Geelong Grammar School in Australia, then in England (while his father was High Commissioner) at Radley College between 1964 and 1970, and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Geelong Church of England Grammar School is a independent, Anglican, Co-educational, boarding and Day school. England is a Country which is part of the United Kingdom. Its inhabitants account for more than 83% of the total UK population whilst its mainland Radley College ( St Peter's College Radley) is a famous English public school situated on the edge of the village of Radley near Newcastle University is a leading research intensive University located in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north-east of England. From 1975 to 1976, he worked as an economist for the Bank of New South Wales, before entering the Australian Diplomatic Service, where he served until 1982. This article is about the bank For the defunct airline see Western Pacific Airlines.  During Downer's time in the foreign service, some of it was spent at a diplomatic posting in Brussels, where he undertook a French language training course. Brussels (Bruxelles pronounced; Brussel pronounced) officially the Brussels Capital-Region, is He then worked as an advisor to the then Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser and subsequent Leader of the Federal Opposition Andrew Peacock. The Liberal Party of Australia is an Australian political party. John Malcolm Fraser, AC, CH (born 21 May 1930 is an Australian Liberal politician who was the 22nd Prime Minister of Australia. Andrew Sharp Peacock AC (born 13 February 1939 is a former Australian Liberal politician  From 1983 to 1984, he also served as the Executive Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce.  In 1984, he was elected to the federal Parliament as Liberal member for Mayo, in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. The Division of Mayo is an Australian Electoral Division located in the hills east of Adelaide, South Australia and currently includes the towns of The Adelaide Hills are part of the Mount Lofty Ranges, east of the city of Adelaide in the state of South Australia. South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country He has held this seat ever since.
The Liberals were in opposition from 1983 to 1996, and Downer held a number of positions on the Opposition front bench from 1987 onwards. In 1993, he became Shadow Treasurer. When the Liberals unexpectedly lost the 1993 elections to Paul Keating, Downer began to be talked of as a possible leader, and in May 1994 he succeeded Dr John Hewson as leader of the Liberal party after defeating him in a leadership ballot. Paul John Keating (born 18 January 1944 was the 24th Prime Minister of Australia, from 1991 to 1996 For the English soldier and regicide see John Hewson (regicide.
As Liberal leader, Downer initially attracted record levels of public support. Then aged 43, he was perceived as a fresh-faced alternative to a government in its twelfth year of power. His support base was quickly eroded, however, by a series of embarrassing public blunders, the most famous of which occurred at a formal dinner. Promoting the Liberal party slogan "The Things That Matter", Downer then joked that the party's domestic violence policy would accordingly be named the "things that batter", referring to abusive husbands. In January 1995 he resigned as Leader, and John Howard was elected to replace him. See also Howard Government John Winston Howard AC (born 26 July 1939 was the 25th Prime Minister of Australia from 11 March With a tenure of just over eight months, Downer is to date the shortest-serving leader of the federal Liberal Party. He is also the only federal Liberal leader never to lead the party into an election.
Downer was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs when the Howard government was elected in March 1996, a position he held until December 3, 2007. See also Howard Government John Winston Howard AC (born 26 July 1939 was the 25th Prime Minister of Australia from 11 March He became the longest serving Foreign Minister of Australia on 20 December 2004. Events 69 - Vespasian, formerly a general under Nero, enters Rome to claim the title of Emperor. "MMIV" redirects here For the Modest Mouse album see " Baron von Bullshit Rides Again "
One of Downer's earliest initiatives as foreign minister was to work with New Zealand to broker a peace agreement in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, which ended a long running civil conflict.
In 1996 Downer took the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to the United Nations General Assembly where it was embraced by most members of the world body. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT bans all nuclear explosions in all environments for military or civilian purposes Pakistan, India and North Korea were among those who failed to ratify the treaty and went ahead in developing nuclear weapons capability. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan began focusing on nuclear development in January 1972 under the leadership of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali The Nuclear Command Authority (NCA of India is the nodal agency for all command control and operational decisions regarding India's nuclear weapon stockpile North Korea claims to possess Nuclear weapons and the CIA asserts that it has a substantial arsenal of Chemical weapons. In 1999, the US Senate rejected ratification of the treaty. Downer stated
However, subsequent policies of the Howard government, including export of uranium to India, and general support for the unilateralist approach of the Bush Administration have been seen as undermining the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty 
In 1999, Downer played a key role in assisting the United Nations to hold a referendum in East Timor and in negotiating the entry of the INTERFET peace keeping force into East Timor. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ( NPT or NNPT) is a Treaty to limit the spread The International Force for East Timor (INTERFET was a multinational Peacekeeping taskforce mandated by the United Nations to address the humanitarian and security East Timor, also known as Timor-Leste (officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste) is a country in Southeast Asia.  This intervention has been attributed by Osama Bin Laden as provoking a fatwā on Australia and Australian interests. Osama bin Laden, with some spelling variations is the name used in English to refer to (أسامة بن محمد بن عوض بن لادن born 10 March A fatwā (فتوى plural fatāwā فتاوى in the Islamic faith is a religious opinion on Islamic law issued by an For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Australia topics.    
In 2003, Downer has signed an agreement over the gas and oil reserves in the Timor Gap. Oil reserves are the estimated quantities of Crude oil that are claimed to be recoverable under existing Economic and operating conditions The Timor Gap is often used to refer to an area of ocean between Timor, Indonesia and Australia.  An agreement which has been criticised by some opposition parties and other critics, including a bipartisan letter of reproach from 50 members of the United States Congress, as being unfair to East Timor     as the gas reserves are closer to East Timor than Australia but are claimed by Australia on the basis of a treaty with General Suharto, in 1989. The United States Congress is the bicameral Legislature of the federal government of the United States of America, consisting of two houses Suharto, also spelled Soeharto (June 8 1921 &ndash January 27 2008 was an Indonesian military leader and the second President of Indonesia, holding 
As Minister for Foreign Affairs, Downer played a role in the diplomatic dispute known as the Tampa affair in 2001 in which Australia denied permission for the MV Tampa to dock at Christmas Island having picked up a number of asylum seekers trying to get to Australia by boat. The MV Tampa is a Norwegian Cargo ship. In August 2001 under Captain Arne Rinnan, a diplomatic dispute brewed between Australia Downer also played a role in the subsequent negotiation of the "Pacific Solution" in which Australia held asylum seekers off-shore in foreign jurisdictions. The Pacific Solution was the name given to the Australian government policy ( 2001 - 2007) of transporting Asylum seekers to detention camps on
In 2003 Downer was accused of not passing on intelligence reports he received before the 2002 Bali bombings. The 2002 Bali bombings occurred on 12 October 2002 in the tourist district of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali. He countered that the warnings were not specific enough to warrant their further release to the Australian public. 
Downer supported Australia's participation the Iraq war. The Iraq War, also known as the Second Gulf War, the Occupation of Iraq, or the War in Iraq, is an ongoing Military campaign He argued that Iraq, the Middle East and the world would be better off without the regime of Saddam Hussein and he defended the claim that weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq. A weapon of mass destruction ( WMD) is a weapon which can kill large numbers of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures (e For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Iraq topics.   
In August 2006, it was claimed by a former weapons inspector Dr John Gee, that Downer had in 2004 suppressed information that the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was fundamentally flawed. North Korea is the commonly used short form name for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (or DPRK) a State located in East Asia, The Taepodong-2 (TD-2 also spelled as Taep'o-dong 2) ( Korean: 대포동 2호 is a designation used to indicate a   
In March 2006 said the Australian Government opposed selling uranium to India. Downer is quoted as saying "Australia had no plans to change a policy which rules out uranium sales to countries like India which have not signed the UN's nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ( NPT or NNPT) is a Treaty to limit the spread " Following the conclusion of the US-India nuclear agreement the Australian Government said it would export uranium to civil nuclear facilities in India subject to several conditions one of which was the conclusion of a bilateral safeguards agreement.
In April 2006 he appeared before the Cole Inquiry regarding the Iraq oil for food scandal and testified that he was ignorant of the kickbacks paid to the Iraq government, despite claims by the Opposition Labor Party that several warnings that had been received by his department from various sources. The Cole Inquiry, formally the Inquiry into certain Australian companies in relation to the UN Oil-For-Food Programme was a Royal Commission set up by the
In July 2006 it was claimed that six months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Downer had argued that participating in the invasion would be commercially beneficial for Australia. Downer expressed concern that the war might lead to America taking all of Australia's wheat market. 
As Foreign Affairs Minister, Downer supported the United States Government's incarceration of two Australian citizens, David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, in the Guantanamo Bay detention center. David Matthew Hicks (born 7 August 1975 is an Australian who undertook combat training in Al Qaeda -linked camps and served with the ruling Taliban Mamdouh Habib (ممدوح حبيب is an Egyptian born Australian Muslim best known for his Extrajudicial detention in the Guantanamo Bay The Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp is a controversial United States Detention center operated by Joint Task Force Guantanamo since 2002 in Guantanamo  Habib was eventually released without charge. Following a plea bargain, Hicks was sentenced in 2007, by the military commission, for providing material support for terrorism, and was returned to Australia to serve the remaining nine months of his sentence, which expired in December 2007. A plea bargain (also plea agreement, plea deal or copping a plea) is an agreement in a Criminal case whereby the Prosecutor offers A military tribunal is a kind of Military Court designed to try members of enemy forces during Wartime operating outside the scope of conventional As of May 2008, Hicks is the only one of the 517 foreign terror suspects held at Guantanamo to be convicted. 
A major challenge for Downer was handling relations with Australia's most important neighbour, Indonesia. The Republic of Indonesia ( (Republik Indonesia is a Country in Southeast Asia. Downer negotiated the 2006 Lombok Treaty to put security relations between the two countries on a stable footing, built bilateral co-operation to fight terrorism, people smuggling and illegal fishing. One of the recent difficulties which erupted between Australia and Indonesia was when Australia accepted a boatload of asylum seekers from Indonesia's Papua province in March 2006. 
In September 2007, on the sidelines of the 2007 APEC in Sydney, Downer indicated that Australia plans to launch bilateral ministerial-level security talks with the People's Republic of China. Talk People's Republic of China) PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA ARTICLE GUIDELINES Downer also stated, "China is a good partner of Australia. Whatever the differences there are between us in terms of our political systems, human rights issues, China is a very important part of the strategic architecture, the security architecture of the Asia-Pacific region and it's important we have good forums to discuss any issues of that kind with them. " 
In 2005 Australian members of the spiritual group Falun Gong launched action against Downer in the ACT Supreme Court alleging that his department has unfairly limited their freedom of expression. Falun Gong ( or Falun Dafa is a spiritual practice founded in China by Li Hongzhi （李洪志） in 1992  
Following the Howard government's defeat at the 2007 Australian election, Downer declined to serve on the Opposition frontbench, amid widespread speculation that he would resign his seat and seek new employment. He was criticised for missing a Parliamentary vote to play golf  He has considered a position working as a United Nations envoy to Cyprus. The United Nations ( UN) is an International organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in International law, International security Cyprus (Κύπρος transliterated: Kýpros,; Kıbrıs officially the Republic of Cyprus (Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία Kypriakī́ Dīmokratía 
A longtime supporter of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy Downer has played a leading role opposing moves to replace the Queen with an Australian head of state. Australians for Constitutional Monarchy ( ACM) is a group that aims to preserve Australia's current Constitutional monarchy, with Elizabeth II as For the ship see RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Context States headed by Elizabeth II Republicanism in Australia is a movement to change Australia 's status as a Constitutional monarchy to a Republican form of government 
In 2008, Downer discussed the possibility of working as a United Nations envoy to Cyprus with the UN Secretary General to help revive the peace process.  Stephen Smith, the current Australian Foreign Minister, stated that the Rudd government supports the potential appointment. Stephen Francis Smith (born 12 December 1955) is the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs.  He also informed colleagues in May that he would considering staying in politics with a view to becoming shadow treasurer under either Brendan Nelson or Malcolm Turnbull. Brendan John Nelson, MP (born 19 August 1958 is an Australian politician and former Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Australia, as leader Malcolm Bligh Turnbull (born 24 October 1954 is an Australian politician the current Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament, and parliamentary 
|Party political offices|
Dr John Hewson
|Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia|
|Foreign Minister of Australia|
|Parliament of Australia|
|Member for Mayo|