Overseas agricultural staff profiles

Mr Tom Black

Counsellor (Agriculture) — Bangkok

Mr Tom Black commenced his appointment as Counsellor (Agriculture) in Bangkok, in January 2013.

A key focus of his work is on developing new opportunities for Australian agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports in ASEAN member countries including in the Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam markets as well as maintaining and improving existing market access. He closely monitors ASEAN agricultural policies so Australia can react quickly to changes in policy or administrative procedures which could have an impact on our export markets. Mr Black is also working to build awareness and understanding of Australia’s biosecurity system, and our food production system including our food safety arrangements through SE Asia.

Mr Black has a Bachelor of Science degree and has worked in the agricultural portfolio for more than 10 years. He has primarily focused on market access and trade issues during that time and most recently was Director of the Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam team of the Trade and Market Access Division. Mr Black has been involved in both bilateral and plurilateral Free Trade Agreement negotiations. Mr Black has also worked in the area of Food Regulation and was previously a ministerial adviser.

Email Tom Black
Phone: +66 2 344 6511
Fax: +66 2 344 6580

Australian Embassy, Thailand

Dr Rob Williams

Counsellor (Agriculture - Technical) — Beijing

Dr Williams was appointed Counsellor (Agriculture) in Beijing in January 2012.

A key focus of Dr Williams’ work is on progressing technical market access issues, promoting Australia's interests in China, facilitating trade and pursuing Australia’s agri-food trade policy objectives. Dr Williams organises and takes part in regional visits and bilateral discussions. He works closely with the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the China-based offices of Austrade, and Australian agricultural industry groups.

Dr Williams has degrees in science and veterinary science, and a Masters in veterinary public health management. Dr Williams has worked across the Department in various roles, including managing areas in biosecurity, facilitating exports and in domestic animal health programs including emergency disease preparedness. Dr Williams spent three years in the US in the role of Counsellor (Agriculture).

Email Dr Rob Williams
Phone: +86 10 5140 4155
Fax: +86 10 6532 5779

Australian Embassy, China (People's Republic of)

Dr Anna Somerville

Counsellor (Agriculture – Policy) — Beijing

Dr Anna Somerville took up the position of Counsellor (Agriculture) to Beijing in December 2012.

Her role is to further the bilateral agricultural, fisheries and forestry relationship with China and improve trade for Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports. The role involves analysing and reporting on Chinese agricultural and trade policy developments and representing Australia’s interests in the sector.

Dr Somerville has worked on agricultural trade issues and rural innovation policy for DAFF for many years and was most recently responsible for the agricultural bilateral relationship with Japan and the Republic of Korea. Her experience also includes working on a range of multilateral trade and environment negotiations for DAFF. Prior to working for DAFF, Dr Somerville held positions in environment protection for the Australian Government. She holds a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from the Australian National University.

Email: Anna Somerville
Phone: +86 10 5140 4212
Fax: +86 10 6532 5779

Australian Embassy, China (People's Republic of)

Mr Russell Phillips

Minister–Counsellor (Agriculture) – Brussels

Mr Russell Phillips was appointed Minister–Counsellor (Agriculture) Brussels in November 2011.

Key areas of focus for Mr Phillips involve maintaining and improving market access for Australia’s agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food exports to the European Union (EU). In particular, Mr Phillips provides analysis, reporting and advocacy on European agricultural policies and trade issues, including the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy; the use of export subsidies by the EU; the EU sugar regime and wine industry arrangements; the development of forest accreditation systems; and ensuring the smooth functioning of tariff quota arrangements which affect Australian exports of dairy, beef and sheep–meat products. He is also the Australian delegate to the International Grains Council and the International Sugar Organization.

Prior to his appointment he was the Executive Manager, Biosecurity Strategic Projects Division. He has worked on rural and regional issues in the Department of Transport, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as well as in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Mr Phillips has worked in the department for the last six years and has tertiary qualifications in economics, computing and applied finance.

Email Russell Phillips
Phone: +32 2 286 0513
Fax: +32 2 230 6802

Australian Embassy to Belgium and Luxembourg and Australian Mission to the European Union

Dr Tony Wigg

Consul-Agriculture (Middle East) - Dubai

Dr Wigg represents Australia on policy and technical issues relating to agricultural exports and works closely with government agencies and agricultural and industry groups in the region to build and maintain strong bilateral relations.  This work covers countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Dr Wigg is a veterinarian with a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery degree.  He has over 20 years work experience in Canberra and regional office roles with the Department.  This has included food and animal export operations, animal quarantine and national verification auditing.  Prior to his appointment Dr Wigg was an Area Technical Manager based in the Adelaide regional office.  He was actively involved in meat inspection reform process to develop the Australian Meat Inspection System and the audit management system being used for its verification.

Email Tony Wigg
Phone: +971 4 508 7187
Fax: +971 4 355 0719

Australian Consulate-General in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Mr Dean Merrilees

Minister–Counsellor (Agriculture) – Jakarta

In April 2013 Mr Merrilees commenced a new role as Minister–Counsellor (Agriculture) in Jakarta.

Prior to commencing his posting, Mr Merrilees was the Assistant Secretary of Food Exports Branch in Food Division within the Australian Government Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). In this role he led a team responsible for the delivery of export certification services for meat, organic and non–prescribed goods.

Mr Merrilees has previously held a number of senior positions within DAFF with responsibilities for animal export operations, technical market access for meat, dairy and seafood products, export certification reform and animal and plant health policy.

Mr Merrilees has a strong background in agricultural trade having spent three and a half years as Minister–Counsellor (Agriculture) in Washington DC.

He was the government representative for Plant Health Australia and the National Consultative Committee for Animal Welfare, and was also a Director of Animal Health Australia. Dean has also worked at Federal and State level (in Queensland and Tasmania) in the administration and delivery of a range of state and national rural adjustment programs.

Email Dean Merrilees
Phone: +62 21 2550 5324
Fax: +62 21 521 3322

Australian Embassy, Jakarta

Dr Laura Timmins

Counsellor (Agriculture) - Jakarta

Dr Laura Timmins was appointed Counsellor (Agriculture) in Jakarta from January 2014. 

Dr Timmins will work to maintain, enhance and develop new market access opportunities for Australian agriculture, fishery, forestry and food products in Indonesia. She also aims to advance Australia’s agricultural trade interests, through working to improve cooperation and communication with Indonesian government agencies and industry, and monitor and report on Indonesian agricultural policies. Dr Timmins will also work to prevent illegal fishing in Australia's northern waters, promote more sustainable fishing in the region and encourage trade in timber and wood products from legally harvested and sustainably managed forests.

Dr Timmins has previously held a number of positions within the Department of Agriculture with responsibilities for live animal export operations and technical market access negotiations for meat, animal by-products, dairy and seafood.

Prior to joining the Department Dr Timmins worked both in private and public veterinary practice and with sheep and cattle producers in her role as a livestock production vet. Dr Timmins has also worked in Papua New Guinea as production manager for a large cattle property.

Dr Timmins has a Veterinary degree from the University of Queensland, a Masters degree in Business Administration (Agribusiness) from The University of New England and a Masters in International Law from the Australian National University.  

Email Laura Timmins
Phone: +62 21 2550 5455
Fax: +6221 2550 5504

Australian Embassy, Jakarta

Ms Slava Zeman

Counsellor (Agriculture) — New Delhi

Mrs Slava Zeman was appointed Counsellor (Agriculture) in New Delhi in January 2012.

Mrs Zeman will work to maintain, enhance and develop new market access opportunities for Australian agriculture, fishery, forestry and food products in India. She also aims to advance Australia’s agricultural trade interests, through working to improve cooperation and communication with Indian government agencies and industry, and monitoring and reporting on India’s agricultural policies. Mrs Zeman will facilitate DAFF’s input into negotiations of the Australia – India Free Trade Agreement.

Mrs Zeman has graduate and postgraduate degrees in chemical engineering, applied science and business administration and more than 25 years experience working with food and agricultural industries. Before joining DAFF, she worked in food / meat industry. At DAFF, she worked in the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service / Biosecurity and was responsible for technical market access negotiations for dairy, fish, egg, organic and meat exports and for imported food policy. Mrs Zeman also worked for the National Food Authority (now Food Standards Australia New Zealand).

Email Slava Zeman
Phone: +91 11 4149 4354
Fax: +91 11 2688 7492

Australian High Commission, India

Mr Matthew Worrell

Minister—Counsellor (Agriculture) – Rome (FAO) & Paris (OECD)

Mr Matthew Worrell was appointed Minister Counsellor (Agriculture) in July 2012. He is based in Rome, Italy.

Mr Worrell represents Australia’s interests at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and relevant agriculture committees of the Organisation for Economic Co–operation and Development (OECD).

As Australia’s Alternate Permanent Representative to the FAO, Mr Worrell promotes Australia’s priorities on agriculture and food issues, such as food security, standard–setting and regulatory work, as well as on fisheries and forestry issues. He represents Australia’s interests in the major FAO governance and policy committee negotiations.

In the OECD, Mr Worrell represents Australia on committees relating to agriculture and fisheries. The OECD brings together the governments committed to democracy and the market economy and provides an opportunity for governments to compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and coordinate domestic and international policies.

Mr Worrell also represents Australia’s interest in bilateral engagements on agricultural issues with Italy.

Mr Worrell holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics and a Master of Public Policy and has had a number of positions with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, including General Manager, Research & Development and Food Security. Immediately prior to his appointment, Mr Worrell led the taskforce developing Australia’s first National Food Plan, and headed up the secretariat that supported the Independent Review into Australia’s Livestock Export Trade.

As well as working at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for 10 years, Mr Worrell has worked at the Western Australian Department of the Treasury and Finance, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the New South Wales Department of Agriculture.

Email Matthew Worrell
Phone: +3906 8527 2376
Fax: +3906 8527 2346

Australian Embassy, Italy

Australian Delegation to OECD, France

Ms Joanne Pearce

Counsellor (Agriculture) — Seoul

Joanne Pearce was appointed Counsellor (Agriculture) in Seoul in December 2010.

A key focus of Ms Pearce's work will be to improve market access for portfolio industries and to increase Australia's agricultural trade interests in Korea and Taiwan. Of particular importance is the finalisation and subesequent implementation of the Australia-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Responsibility for agricultural issues relating to Mongolia also lie with the Counsellor (Agriculture), Seoul position.

Ms Pearce has a Bachelor of Science degree and a Graduate Diploma in Management Sciences. She has worked in the agricultural portfolio for more than 15 years, primarily in the areas of quarantine, biosecurity and fisheries. Ms Pearce most recently managed the Asia, Sub-continent and Middle East team of the Plant Biosecurity (Horticulture) branch and in that role had responsibility for horticultural market access issues for both exports and imports. Prior to that she worked on domestic fisheries issues for a period of three years from 2006-2008. From 2001-2005, Ms Pearce was the National Manager for the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy and East Timor programs of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.

Email: Joanne Pearce
Phone: +822 2003 0188
Fax: +822 722 6491

Australian Embassy, Korea (Republic of)

Mr Paul Ross

Minister-Counsellor (Agriculture) — Tokyo

Paul Ross started his posting as Minister-Counsellor (Agriculture) in Tokyo in July 2012. His role is to further the agricultural relationship with Japan and to maintain and improve market access for Australia's agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports.  He is responsible for analysing and reporting on Japanese agricultural policy and trade developments and to advocate for Australia's interests. A key priority for Mr Ross is to support Australia's efforts in negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Japan.
Mr Ross has worked for DAFF for many years and has considerable experience in international agricultural issues. Before his appointment he was Assistant Secretary of the Bilateral Trade Branch responsible for Europe, the Americas, South and South East Asia and the Pacific. He previously had a posting to Rome as Counsellor (Agriculture) from 1999-2002. He has a Bachelor of Economics degree.

Email: Paul Ross
Phone: +831 5232 4021
Fax: +831 5232 4029

Australian Embassy, Japan

Dr Chris Parker

Minister-Counsellor (Agriculture) — Washington

Dr Chris Parker was appointed Minister Counsellor (Agriculture) Washington, D.C in July 2011.

Dr Parker will work to maintain and to advance Australia’s agricultural trade with the United States (US) of America, with a particular focus on market access for Australian agricultural products and US agriculture policy, as well as building relations to advance common interests of both countries in international fora.

Chris studied as a veterinarian and holds a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery. He worked for a number of years in mixed veterinary practice in rural Australia and has extensive practical farming experience having operated a family farming and grazing property for 11 years before his move to Canberra. He has worked as a senior political adviser before joining the Department in 2006 where he has held a number of roles dealing with biosecurity service delivery and broader departmental policy, including multilateral trade policy.

Email: Chris Parker
Phone: +331 4059 3370
Fax: +331 4059 3394

Australian Embassy, United States of America