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Murray McLean

Murray McLean is a former Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. He focuses on China, Japan, and associated regional issues. Murray spent 42 years as an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade until his retirement in 2012. Much of his career has been spent on the formulation of Australian policy towards Asia, with a particular focus on China, Japan and Korea. A fluent Chinese speaker, he studied Chinese language at the University of Hong Kong prior to his posting to Australia’s then newly-established Embassy in Beijing in 1973. He has served at the Australian Embassy in Beijing (twice) and in Shanghai as Consul General from 1987-1992. He also served in the Australian Embassy in Washington and as Australia’s High Commissioner to Singapore. In Canberra he was the Head of East Asia Branch and North Asia Division in DFAT. From 2002-2004, he served as a special ministerial envoy on North Korean nuclear matters visiting North Korea on several occasions. He was appointed as a Deputy Secretary in early 2004. In 2004 he was posted as Australia’s Ambassador to Japan where he remained for almost seven years until August 2011.

Following his retirement from DFAT in 2012, Murray became the Chair of the Australia Japan Foundation and a Member of the Board of the Australia Japan Business Cooperation Committee. He served as a special advisor on the preparation of the White Paper on "Australia in the Asian Century" during 2012 and is a Vice Chancellor’s Professorial fellow at Monash University. He is also Chairman of his family company Dunmore McLean Pty Ltd.

Mr. McLean was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in 2013 for distinguished service to the advancement of Australia’s diplomatic, trade and cultural relationships in Asia and for significant leadership and co-ordination roles in the Australian, international and local communities in Japan, following the earthquakes and tsunami of 11 March 2011. In 1991, Mr. McLean was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his services to international relations, particularly as Australia’s Consul General in Shanghai.

He graduated as a B.A. (Hons) from the University of Melbourne in 1969.

Murray’s position was supported by the Lowy Institute’s Engaging Asia Project which was established with the financial support of the Australian Government.

Articles by Murray McLean (5)

  • Abe's mandate: The strategic dimension

    As discussed in part 1 of this post, Prime Minister Abe is likely to make the economy his first post-election priority. He wants to pull the economy out of recession and set the basis for long-term growth. But he cannot ignore national security.
  • Abe's mandate: The economic imperative

    As predicted, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-Komeito coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scored an easy victory in Japan's Lower House election on Sunday. For Abe it was a vital win on a shrewd, strategic gamble. The LDP under Abe's leadership was judged the only viable option by an electorate craving political stability and economic prosperity.
  • Australia in Asia: Who is our best friend?

    When Australians were asked to nominate 'Australia's best friend in Asia' in the 2014 Lowy Institute Poll, 31% placed China and 28% placed Japan in a statistical dead heat, far ahead of Singapore, Indonesia, India and South Korea. The response 'don't know' made sense to 11% of those asked. Australians were once accustomed to lofty epithets like 'great and powerful friends' when referring to the US or the UK.