Arthur Sinodinos, born in Newcastle, New South Wales to Greek immigrant parents, has now been named as Australia’s next ambassador to the US.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently offered Sinodinos the US ambassadorship, which is considered to be Australia’s most important diplomatic posting. It was a job the bank director had previously turned down in 2005.
“You don’t get offered a job like this too many times, and I thought now was the time to take it,” Sinodinos, 62, said in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
His father was a member of the left-aligned Seaman’s Union, which during Sinodinos’ early years, campaigned against the United States’ intervention in Vietnam.
His mother recalled stories of the Greek Civil War of the 1940s, where Communist insurgents would knock on the door of their family home at night. Sinodinos has said that this helped him form his early political views.
Sinodinos graduated from the University of Newcastle in 1979 with a Bachelor of Commerce with Honours. He then entered the Australian Public Service as a graduate recruit, working within the Department of Finance, before working in the Department of the Treasury between 1980 and 1987 and again between 1989 and 1995.
He served as chief of staff to the then-Prime Minister of Australia John Howard from 1997 to 2006, after serving with him previously from 1987 to 1989 when he was Opposition Leader, rejoining him in 1995. As a close confidant of the Prime Minister, Sinodinos was widely regarded as one of the most powerful people in the country.
Sinodinos left his position as prime ministerial chief of staff to become a director with the investment bank Goldman Sachs JBWere.
Asked for his thoughts on US President Donald Trump, Sinodinos says: “I think he’s been a strong president. He’s worked very hard to keep his promises, and that is important if you want to be a respected politician.”
But the newly-named Ambassador is aware he cannot put all of Australia’s eggs in the Trump basket. Sinodinos’s four-year term begins in January of 2020, just as the next presidential campaign is heating up. He will have to ensure Australia is also well-positioned to engage with a possible Democrat in the White House.
“Australia and the US have an enduring relationship regardless of who is in government,” Sinodinos says. “We are a rising middle power, and I want to ensure our voice is heard.”