Senate debates

Wednesday, 10 May 2023


Gyngell, Mr Allan, AO

3:55 pm

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate—

(a) gives thanks for the life and service to the nation of Allan Gyngell AO, who passed away in May 2023;

(b) recognises Mr Gyngell's remarkable contribution to Australia's engagement with the world, having offered sage advice, both official and unofficial, to the Australian Government for decades and as the definitive historian of Australian foreign policy;

(c) acknowledges Mr Gyngell's long and distinguished career in Australian international affairs, which included:

(i) appointments as National President of the Australian Institute of International Affairs 2017-23, and Director-General of the Office of National Assessments 2009-13, as well as the founding Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy for six years from 2003, and an honorary professor at the Australian National University, and

(ii) service as Senior International Adviser to Prime Minister Paul Keating from 1993-96, and previously in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, including as First Assistant Secretary International 1991-93, having begun his foreign policy career as an officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where he served as a diplomat in Rangoon (1970-72), Singapore (1973-76) and Washington (1981-84);

(d) notes Mr Gyngell was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2009 for his services to international relations;

(e) observes Mr Gyngell always promoted respectful and informed national discussion on Australia's foreign policy, and had the intellectual and personal courage to provide frank advice and analysis;

(f) values Mr Gyngell's contribution as a mentor to many Australian diplomats and foreign policy analysts, which ensures his legacy lives on in all of those whose lives and careers were touched by his leadership and quiet wisdom; and

(g) offers its deepest condolences to Mr Gyngell's family and to his friends.

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Leave granted.

I thank Senator Wong for the accommodation. I wish to associate myself and the coalition with the remarks of Senator Wong in her speech during the senators' statements today. That, of course, is complementary to the motion being moved. We offer our deep and sincere condolences at the passing of Allan Gyngell AO. Remembered as a giant and one of the finest minds in foreign and strategic policy, Allan devoted a lifetime of service to Australia. From his thoughtful, probing, and principled stances throughout his career, whether in postings across Rangoon, Singapore and Washington, his service in Canberra, his service in the office of Prime Minister Keating, or his work as Director-General of the Office of National Assessments, Allan Gyngell always put Australian interests first with a principled approach.

Before his appointment to the ONA, he was a founding executive director of the Lowy Institute for international policy, also serving as a found board member of China Matters and, later, an honorary professor at the Australian National University. Most recently, he was the immediate past president of the Australian Institute of International Affairs. His roles as diplomat, senior policy advisor, director-general, founding executive, president, honorary professor and author put into perspective his extraordinary contribution, but that should not be abbreviated to titles. His knowledge and quiet wisdom influenced strategic and foreign relations of Australian governments for decades.

In public policy, many participate, some contribute, and a few are both skilled and fortunate enough to be able to make a difference. Allan Gyngell made a difference to Australia's engagement with the world. It is a testament to his skills, his principles and his approach. He has rightly been recognised by many. It is right that this chamber also recognise him and his contribution to our foreign and strategic policy. His vision has left a lasting legacy. We thank Allan Gyngell for his service and pay our respects to his wife, Catherine, his loved ones, his family, his friends and all who knew him.

Question agreed to.