58 Facts About Alexander Downer


Alexander John Gosse Downer was born on 9 September 1951 and is an Australian former politician and diplomat who was leader of the Liberal Party from 1994 to 1995, Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1996 to 2007, and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 2014 to 2018.


Alexander Downer served as an advisor to Liberal leaders Malcolm Fraser and Andrew Peacock.


Alexander Downer was elected to parliament at the 1984 federal election, winning the Division of Mayo in South Australia.


Alexander Downer was added to the opposition frontbench in 1987.


Alexander Downer successfully challenged him for the leadership in May 1994, thus becoming Leader of the Opposition.


Alexander Downer initially had high approval ratings, but after a series of gaffes resigned the leadership in January 1995 and was replaced by John Howard.


Alexander Downer was the first Liberal leader to fail to lead the party to an election, and remains the shortest-serving leader in party history.

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Alexander Downer served until the government's defeat in 2007, making him the longest-serving foreign minister in Australian history.


Alexander Downer left politics in 2008, and was named Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Cyprus.


Alexander Downer held that post until 2014, when he was appointed High Commissioner to the United Kingdom by the Abbott government.


The Alexander Downer family has a long history in South Australian politics.


Alexander Downer's father was Minister for Immigration in the Menzies government and later served as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.


Alexander Downer was born on 9 September 1951 in Adelaide, South Australia, when the family were living in the Adelaide Hills home built by his father, Arbury Park.


Alexander Downer is the third of four children born to Sir Alexander "Alick" Downer and Mary Downer ; he has three sisters.


Alexander Downer was educated at Geelong Grammar School in Australia, then in England at Radley College between 1964 and 1970.


Alexander Downer subsequently completed a Bachelor of Arts in politics and economics at Newcastle University in Newcastle upon Tyne.


Alexander Downer then worked as an adviser to the then Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser and subsequent Leader of the Federal Opposition Andrew Peacock.


Alexander Downer held this seat until his resignation from Parliament in 2008.


Alexander Downer held a number of positions on the opposition front bench from 1987 onwards.


In May 1994 Alexander Downer succeeded Hewson as Liberal party leader after defeating him in a leadership spill which Hewson initiated.


Alexander Downer was the first Parliamentary leader of the Federal Liberal party to come from South Australia.


Alexander Downer found it difficult to handle the gulf between monarchists and republicans in his own party but resolved the dispute by promising to establish a constitutional convention to consider the issue.


Alexander Downer pledged his support to Howard and said he would "kneecap" anyone who undermined Howard's second attempt at winning the prime ministership.


Alexander Downer is, alongside Brendan Nelson, one of two federal Liberal leaders never to lead the party into an election.


Alexander Downer became the longest-serving Foreign Minister of Australia on 20 December 2004.

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In 1996, Alexander Downer took the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to the United Nations General Assembly where it was embraced by most members of the world body.


In 1999, Alexander Downer assisted the United Nations to hold a referendum in East Timor and in negotiating the entry of the INTERFET peace keeping force into East Timor.


In 2003, ASIS installed listening devices in the Palace of Government in Dili, East Timor, and later Alexander Downer signed a controversial agreement with the government of East Timor for mining of gas and oil reserves in the Timor Gap.


Alexander Downer played a role in the subsequent negotiation of the "Pacific Solution" in which Australia held asylum seekers off-shore in foreign jurisdictions.


In 2003, Alexander Downer was accused of not passing on intelligence reports he received before the 2002 Bali bombings.


Alexander Downer countered that the warnings were not specific enough to warrant their further release to the Australian public.


Alexander Downer argued that Iraq, the Middle East and the world would be better off without the regime of Saddam Hussein and he defended the claim that weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq.


The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade under Alexander Downer was accused by Chinese diplomat and defector Chen Yonglin of closely collaborating with the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, even to the extent of "giving suggestions to the Chinese Government on how to handle difficult political cases".


Alexander Downer was accused of pursuing an unduly strong pro-China policy and failing to address human rights violations adequately.


In March 2006, Alexander Downer said the Australian Government opposed selling uranium to India.


The Cole inquiry made it clear Alexander Downer had been unaware of the kickbacks.


In July 2006, it was claimed that six months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Alexander Downer had argued that participating in the invasion would be commercially beneficial for Australia.


Alexander Downer expressed concern that the war might lead to America taking all of Australia's wheat market.


Alexander Downer later told the US he wanted both released if they were not to be charged.


Alexander Downer negotiated the 2006 Lombok Treaty to put security relations between the two countries on a stable footing, built bilateral co-operation to fight terrorism, people smuggling and illegal fishing.


In September 2007, on the sidelines of the 2007 APEC Conference in Sydney, Alexander Downer indicated that Australia planned to launch bilateral ministerial-level security talks with the People's Republic of China.


Alexander Downer subsequently resigned from Parliament on 14 July 2008 and took a consulting job with Woodside Energy.


Alexander Downer was the vice chairman at Carnegie Mellon University, South Australia.


Also in 2008, Alexander Downer discussed the possibility of working as a United Nations envoy to Cyprus with the UN Secretary-General to help revive the peace process.


Alexander Downer resigned in February 2014 to take up the post of Australia's High Commissioner in London where he replaced former South Australian Labor premier, Mike Rann.

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Alexander Downer told The Australian in a 28 April 2018 interview that "nothing [Papadopoulos] said in their meeting indicated Trump himself had been conspiring with the Russians to collect information on Hillary Clinton".


Alexander Downer remained as High Commissioner until 27 April 2018 when he was succeeded by George Brandis.


Alexander Downer has said that Huawei should not be considered a potential national security risk.


Alexander Downer's comments are at odds with an October 2012 US congressional panel's findings that have deemed Huawei a security threat to the US and other nations.


In 2017, it was announced that Alexander Downer would join UK think tank Policy Exchange as Chair of Trustees.


In June 2018, Alexander Downer became the Executive Chairman of the International School of Government at King's College, London.


Alexander Downer is a non-executive director of CQS and of Yellow Cake plc.


In 2019 and 2020, Alexander Downer wrote regular columns for the Australian Financial Review.


In 2021, Alexander Downer joined ASX-listed mining company Ironbark Zinc as non-executive director.


Alexander Downer was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in the 2013 Australia Day Honours.


Alexander Downer is married to Nicky, who is a prominent figure in the arts community and was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2005 for her service to the arts.


Alexander Downer is an enthusiast of V8 car racing and holds a CAMS racing licence.


Alexander Downer was portrayed by Richard Binsley in the 2020 miniseries The Comey Rule and Francis Greenslade in the 2014 film Schapelle.