Caroline Kennedy named new nominee for US ambassador to Australia

Caroline Kennedy has been chosen as the US's next ambassador to Australia. Picture: Shutterstock
Caroline Kennedy has been chosen as the US's next ambassador to Australia. Picture: Shutterstock

The daughter of former American president John F Kennedy has been nominated as the next US ambassador to Australia.

Caroline Kennedy has been announced as Joe Biden's pick to take up the diplomatic position in Canberra in a raft of diplomatic roles announced by the White House on Thursday morning, Australian time.

If confirmed by the US Senate, she would be the 27th person to hold the position that is seen by Democrats as an important one for the Biden administration due to increasing significance of the Indo-Pacific in US economic and foreign policy.

Ms Kennedy, 63, is JFK's oldest child and is the only surviving member of the former president's immediate family.

She has previously served as the US ambassador to Japan between 2013 and 2017.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese welcomed the appointment of Ms Kennedy and said he was looking forward to an incoming Labor government working with her on climate change as an important national security issue in the Indo-Pacific region.

"They're our most important ally, but in addition to that, we have a lot of work to do in the future - a lot of work on climate change where President Biden's vision is similar to the vision that I have," Mr Albanese told reporters on Thursday.

The US embassy in Canberra took the opportunity to highlight the significance that the Biden administration has placed on Australia and the Indo-Pacific region.

"We are excited that President Biden has nominated Caroline Kennedy to be the next US Ambassador to Australia," a spokeperson for the embassy said.

"Her nomination underscores the importance President Biden places on the relationship between our two countries and the close bonds we share.

"Pending confirmation by the US Senate, we look forward to welcoming Ambassador-designate Kennedy to Australia."

Rumours had been circulating for months Ms Kennedy would be appointed to the diplomatic position, after reports were made about the posting.

At the time, the US embassy said they could not comment on the matter but were confident the new ambassador would be "superb".

The role of US ambassador to Australia has been left vacant since former ambassador Arthur Culvahouse, appointed by former president Donald Trump, resigned from the position in January.

Ms Kennedy was a vocal supporter and donor to President Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign.

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In an editorial in the Boston Globe endorsing Biden for President, Ms Kennedy gave high praise for his previous role as Vice-President under Barack Obama.

"[Biden] radiated American optimism and generosity of spirit. He made clear that America would stand by our allies, and that we were committed to keeping the region peaceful and prosperous," the editorial said.

"He delivered tough messages as well, but he did it in private, with skill and respect."

The ambassador role would only become official once confirmed by the US senate.

While the posting has yet to be finalised, research fellow at RMIT University's Social and Global Studies Centre Dr Emma Shortis said the pick of Ms Kennedy to the role would strengthen ties between the two countries.

"In a sense, the appointment would not be surprising because it's setting out Biden's foreign policy, which we saw during his first foray on the international stage at the G7 and announcing his agenda around China," she said.

"Putting Caroline Kennedy in the role says a lot about Biden's priority in the Asia-Pacific region and his approach.

"This is a continuity of the [US government's] approach to China."

Dr Shortis said one of the reasons behind the new ambassador selection could be the close connection between the Bidens and Kennedys.

"There is a deep unity between them for a number of reasons," she said.

"Biden has talked a lot of their shared Catholic-Irish heritage and has kind of always seen himself as an heir to the Kennedys and the lost promise and grief of the Kennedy era."

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This story Caroline Kennedy nominated as new US ambassador first appeared on The Canberra Times.