Lord Luce, President of ROSL, announced today on behalf of the organisations’ Central Council, that the Honourable Alexander Downer AC will be the next Chairman of the Royal Over-Seas League.
Lord Luce said “I am delighted to welcome Alexander Downer as our next Chairman to succeed Sir David Brewer after he stands down at the AGM in May 2019. Mr Downer is a most distinguished Australian public servant whose career has covered politics, diplomacy and the Commonwealth. He was Australia's longest serving Foreign Minister and recently retired as High Commissioner to the UK. His extensive experience and skills will be invaluable at this exciting time in the organisation’s long history.”
Mr Downer said: “I am delighted and honoured to take on the role of Chairman of ROSL. This is an historic organisation which helps to bind the peoples of the Commonwealth together. As a citizen of the Commonwealth, I am enthusiastic about the work ROSL has done to promote the arts internationally, to help people suffering from disadvantage and to provide a home away from home for many in London. This work is particularly valuable at a time when so much internationally and within our own countries is going through substantial change and uncertainty”
Downer was born in Adelaide, the son of Sir Alick Downer and the grandson of Sir John Downer. After periods working for the Bank of New South Wales and with the diplomatic service, he was appointed Executive Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in 1983. He also served as an advisor to Liberal leaders Malcolm Fraser and Andrew Peacock. Downer was elected to parliament at the 1984 federal election, winning the Division of Mayo in South Australia. He was added to the opposition frontbench in 1987.
After the Coalition lost the 1993 election, John Hewson's position as leader of the Liberal Party came into question. Downer successfully challenged for the leadership in May 1994, thus becoming Leader of the Opposition. He resigned the leadership in January 1995 and was replaced by John Howard. When the Howard Government came to power in 1996, Downer was made Minister for Foreign Affairs. He served until the government's defeat in 2007, making him the longest-serving foreign minister in Australian history. Downer left politics in 2008, and was subsequently named Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Cyprus. He held that post until 2014, when he was appointed High Commissioner to the United Kingdom by the Abbott Government, four decades after his father had filled the same post.
Alexander Downer will attend the 67th ROSL Annual Music Competition Gold Medal Final on Thursday 30 May at the Southbank Centre.