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Australia is to open a full consulate in Phuket, Canberra announced today (May 12).
Details of when the consulate, staffed by Australian diplomats, will open, where it will be or how big it will be, have not yet been announced.
The statement said: “The Australian Government will commit A$98.3 million (B2.65 billion) to open five new overseas missions in consultation with host governments.
“In a major expansion of Australia’s overseas diplomatic network, new posts will be established in Doha, Qatar; Buka, Bougainville, Papua New Guinea; Makassar, Indonesia; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; and Phuket, Thailand.
“This is the single largest expansion of Australia’s diplomatic network in forty years.
“These new missions will advance trade and investment opportunities for Australia and provide Australians with a greater level of consular assistance when travelling and working overseas.”
The official budget paper states that the new consulate is part of “the measure Expanding Australia’s Diplomatic Footprint… A consulate in Phuket will help manage Australia’s significant consular load [in Thailand].”
A full consulate was long a cherished aim of former honorary consul Larry Cunningham, who lobbied long and hard for it, but was not to achieve a result before he retired from the post.
Mr Cunningham could not immediately be reached for comment but his successor as honorary consul, Canadian legal adviser Michelle Hawryluk, asked today what her role will be when the consulate opens in Phuket, told The Phuket News, “I have no idea. I’ll probably go back to being an ordinary citizen.”