Biography

Adjunct Professor Ian Kemish is a former senior Australian diplomat with interest and expertise in the history of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and in Australia’s engagement with those regions. He originally graduated with Honours in modern Southeast Asian history from the University of Queensland. Ian’s Government career included service as High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Ambassador to Germany, Head of the Prime Minister’s International division and DFAT’s Southeast Asia Division. He was awarded membership of the Order of Australia for his role, as Chair of the Government’s International Emergency Task Force, in leading the response to the 2002 Bali bombings. Mr. Kemish moved to the private sector in 2013, leading to a role as Chief Sustainability Officer with Newcrest Mining Limited. This involved elevating environmental and social performance for one of the world’s largest international gold mining companies. He retired from this position in early 2020. Ian received a UQ Alumni Excellence Award in 2014.

Research Interests

Modern history of Southeast Asia and the Pacific and Australia’s engagement with these regions - with a focus on Papua New Guinea, including the building of an oral history collection on the PNG Independence era.

Ian is a co-founder and ongoing supporter of an annual Berlin residency for UQ humanities graduate students to study in the German capital. He also chairs the partnership framework between UQ and Newcrest Mining Limited, which covers support for technology and innovation research, engagement with the Sustainable Minerals Institute, Engineering faculty. Newcrest is a major partner in UQ’s COVID-19 vaccine development work.

Other Activities and Service

Mr. Kemish is a Director of the Australia-Indonesia Centre at Monash University, a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute of International Affairs, and an Honorary Fellow at Deakin University. He is Chairman of the not-for-profit Kokoda Track Foundation, Vice President of the Australia-PNG Business Council, and a Business Champion of the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan.

PNG History makers tell their story.