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Australia Appoints Former Ambassador to Afghanistan for Counter-Terrorism

Australia has announced the appointment of the country’s next Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism.

“Today I announce the appointment of Mr. Richard Feakes as Australia’s next Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism,” Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a statement on May. 25.

“Australia’s Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism is responsible for leading our international engagement on counter-terrorism, including at international fora and works closely with domestic agencies on counter-terrorism issues.

“Terrorism is a global challenge, and working closely with our international partners in the region and beyond is critical to safeguarding Australia, our people and our interests from the harms of terrorism and violent extremism.

The role of the Office of the Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism includes building and maintaining international links by leading negotiations on counter-terrorism cooperation and holding regular consultations with partner countries, coordinating efforts to ensure Australia’s effective implementation of its obligations under United Nations counter-terrorism instruments, and managing the listing of individuals and organisations under Australia’s terrorist asset freezing regime, etc., according to the website of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Epoch Times Photo
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks during a press conference after a joint meeting with her French counterpart at Quai dOrsay in Paris, on Jan. 30, 2023. (Stephane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images)

The Australian Government maintains information about groups that are proscribed as terrorist organisations under the Australian Criminal Code. If a group is listed as a “terrorist organisation” it is an offence to:

  • direct the activities of the organisation
  • recruit persons to the organisation
  • receive training from or provide training to the organisation
  • receive funds from or make available funds to the organisation
  • provide support or resources to the organisation

Former Ambassador to Afghanistan

Feakes will also sit on the Commonwealth Joint Counter-Terrorism Board and the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee. The son of a diplomat, Feakes was ‘introduced to diplomacy at a young age’. He lived with his family in France, Cambodia, Malaysia, and India.

“Mr Feakes is a career diplomat with extensive counter‑terrorism experience. He most recently served as Commonwealth Deputy Counter-Terrorism Coordinator within the Department of Home Affairs. His previous diplomatic roles include Australian Ambassador to Afghanistan and postings to Iraq and Papua New Guinea,” Wong said.

Feakes previously held strategic and national security positions in Canberra, including as Assistant Secretary for Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and as Senior Adviser for Asia Pacific issues within the Prime Minister’s Department.

“I was always interested in doing that sort of work, in visiting other countries, in learning about other cultures,” Feames said in a case study of 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

Epoch Times Photo
Richard Feakes. (Nathan Fulton/DFAT)

During his time in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, in 2016-2017, Feames tried to get out of his office every day despite the potential security challenges.

“There is no real typical day,” he said. “The best way to understand the complexity of Afghanistan is to speak to as many people as possible.”

The former ambassador was also passionate about keeping Australians safe.

“I think Australia and Australians, we take seriously our responsibility to support a country like Afghanistan––and many other countries as well––for security, and to build stability and provide livelihoods,” he said then.

“What happens in a place like Afghanistan can have direct implications for Australians at home and elsewhere… From time to time, Australians need our assistance overseas for consular support.”

Asked about the best day he had in the country, Feames recalled him travelling for the first time to Tarin Kot in Uruzgan Province, where the Taliban was active.

“It was a day that was…filled for me with some emotion, thinking about the sacrifice and commitment and bravery of Australian Defence Force personnel, so that was at once a very good day, but at the same time, a rather emotional and poignant day,” he said.

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