Bill Farmer (public servant)

William John "Bill" Farmer AO (born 10 June 1947) is a retired senior Australian public servant and policymaker, best known for his time as Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and for his career in the Australian diplomatic service.

Bill Farmer

Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
In office
26 November 2001  July 2005
Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
In office
5 February 1998  26 November 2005
Secretary of the Department of Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
In office
30 January 2001  26 November 2001
Personal details
Born
William John Farmer

(1947-06-10) 10 June 1947
Bishop's Castle, England
NationalityAustralian
Spouse(s)Elaine Farmer[1][2]
Alma materUniversity of Sydney
London School of Economics
OccupationPublic servant

Background and early life

Bill Farmer graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours and from the London School of Economics with a Master of Science in Economics.[3]

Career

Farmer started his public service career in the Department of External Affairs in 1969.[4][5] His early Australian Public Service roles saw him serving in Cairo, London and Suva.[6] He was Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations in New York 1984-1987; Australian Ambassador to Mexico, the Central American Republics and Cuba 1987-1989; Australian High Commissioner in Papua New Guinea 1993-1995 and in Malaysia 1996-1997; and Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 1997-1998.

Between 1998 and 2005, Farmer was secretary of the Australian immigration department. The department was first known as the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs when he was appointed, and later called the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.[3] In 2001, he also held the concurrent appointment of secretary of the short-lived Department of Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.[7]

In 2005 Farmer was appointed Australia's ambassador to Indonesia, replacing David Ritchie.[8] Media saw Farmer's appointment as "something of a reward... after service to the Howard government through many immigration controversies".[9] However, in the post his initial appointment was extended under the Labor government by two years.[10] While in Jakarta, Farmer assisted in negotiations to return a group of 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers to Indonesia after they were apprehended by the Australian Customs vessel Oceanic Viking.[10] He also helped to send Australian-funded relief aid to victims of the 2009 Sumatra earthquakes.[11]

Farmer retired in 2010.[12][13] In retirement, he headed an independent review of Australia's live animal export trade,[14] tasked in June 2011 to examine the facilities, treatment and handling of livestock in Indonesia.[15] Farmer made 14 recommendations, including that live animal exporters should be required to ensure their "supply chains" comply with international animal welfare standards.[16] He also served on the High-Level Review of the Australian Aid program 2010-2011, and chaired an Independent Review of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. He was Senior Advisor for the Australia/PNG Kokoda Initiative 2014-2016.

Awards

In 2003 Farmer was awarded the Centenary Medal and in June 2005 was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to the community through contributions to Australia's international relations and to major public policy development including domestic security, border systems, immigration, multicultural affairs and Indigenous service delivery.[17][18] He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

References

  1. Fitzpatrick, Stephen (30 August 2008). "Blessed be this spouse". The Australian. News Corp Australia.
  2. Fitzpatrick, Stephen (29 August 2008), "Marrying roles as cleric and envoy's wife", The Australian, News Corp Australia
  3. Mr Bill Farmer AO: Ambassador to Indonesia, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, archived from the original on 27 January 2014
  4. "Wrong head rolls in Immigration". The Age. Melbourne, Victoria. 12 July 2005. p. 12.
  5. Flitton, Daniel (16 January 2010). "Bureaucratic heavyweights from Class of '69". The Age. Fairfax Media. p. 3. Archived from the original on 31 January 2015.
  6. Anjaiah, Veeramalla (11 July 2005). "Howard names Bill Farmer as new envoy to RI". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 31 January 2015.
  7. Department of Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. "Annual Report 2000–01". Australian Government. Archived from the original on 15 December 2002.
  8. "Immigration head resigns", ABC Premium News, Australian Broadcasting Commission, 10 July 2005
  9. Sheridan, Greg (12 July 2010). "Greg Moriarty the best man possible for Indonesia envoy". The Australian. News Ltd.
  10. Flitton, Daniel (5 July 2010). "Jakarta envoy leaves post". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 30 January 2015.
  11. "A`lian envoy helps to send off relief aid for W Sumatra". Antara News. 29 October 2009. Archived from the original on 31 January 2015.
  12. Khalik, Abdul; Siagian, Sabam (3 July 2010). "Bill Farmer: Career prepared me for Indonesian assignment". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012.
  13. Kawilarang, Renne R.A (20 April 2010). "Indonesia, a great place for Aussie diplomats". Viva News. Archived from the original on 27 January 2014.
  14. Kirk, Alexandra (13 June 2011). "Former ambassador to Indonesia heads live animal export review". Australian Broadcasting Commission. Archived from the original on 29 June 2014.
  15. Wright, Shane; Mercer, Daniel (13 June 2011). "Former envoy to review live trade". The West Australian. Archived from the original on 31 January 2015.
  16. Rout, Milanda (21 October 2011). "Tracking for all animal exports to end cruelty after Farmer review". The Australian. News Corp. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  17. Search Australian Honours: FARMER, William John
  18. "Queen's honour for Immigration secretary", ABC Premium News, Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 13 June 2005
Government offices
Preceded by
Helen Williams
Secretary of the
Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

1998 – 2001
Succeeded by
Himself
as Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
Preceded by
Himself
as Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
Secretary of the
Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs

2001 - 2005
Succeeded by
Andrew Metcalfe
New title
Department established
Secretary of the Department of Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
2001
Department abolished
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John McCarthy
Australian Ambassador to Mexico
1987 – 1989
Succeeded by
Keith Baker
Preceded by
Allan Taylor
Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea
1993 – 1995
Succeeded by
David Irvine
Preceded by
John Dauth
Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia
1996 – 1997
Succeeded by
Bob Cotton
Preceded by
David Ritchie
Australian Ambassador to Indonesia
2005 – 2010
Succeeded by
Greg Moriarty
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