Former police chief gets plum diplomatic post

Tony Negus with Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier in 2014. AAP/Alan Porritt

Tony Abbott is appointing the former chief of the Australian Federal Police, Tony Negus, as Australia’s new high commissioner to Canada.

Meanwhile, career diplomat Paul Grigson is being sent as ambassador to the sensitive post of Jakarta.

The two appointments are still being processed and have not yet been announced.

Negus was AFP commissioner from 2009 until September. He stepped down after a five-year term and a law enforcement career of more than three decades.

When it was announced he was leaving the force, Negus said he was “very proud of the domestic and international relationships that the AFP has developed during my term, with co-operation in fighting both terrorism and transnational crime at an all-time high”.

It is believed that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had put up the option of a diplomatic appointment to Ottawa.

Abbott is personally very close to the Conservative Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, making a visit there mid-year on his way to Washington. The two share similar stances on climate change and a range of other issues.

Grigson is a deputy secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

He has previously served as ambassador to Thailand between 2008 and 2010. Between 1997 and 2000 he was a senior adviser in the international division in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

He was ambassador to Burma in 2003-04; chief negotiator, Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville in 2000; and deputy head of mission in Phnom Penh in 1993-95. He will replace another career officer, Greg Moriarty.

Indonesia is always a priority post because of the importance and delicate nature of the relationship with our near neighbour but has been particularly challenging in recent times.

The Indonesians were unhappy about the Abbott government’s policy of turning back boats. Many aspects of the relationship were in deep freeze for an extended period in the wake of the revelation of Australia’s monitoring the phones of key Indonesian figures. A new protocol had to be concluded to get things back to normal.

Recently, the Indonesians called in Moriarty after Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced tough restrictions on settling refugees from there.