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Peter Tesch

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Diplomat and Strategic Thinker

Peter reckons he is proof that you can graduate from university with an Arts degree in foreign languages and still earn a living.  That’s borne out by his impressive career spanning more than 35 years in the Australian federal public service, from which he retired in August 2022 as a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Defence.

After graduating from the University of Queensland with a combined Honours degree in German and Russian, Peter joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1987. 

Posted Australian Embassy to Moscow (1989-1991) , Peter had a front-row seat during the attempted military coup against President Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991. He also had two years learning how and what Russian Government and its people think.

Peter then served on the personal staff of the Federal Minister for Trade from 1993 to 1994, gaining valuable insights into policymaking and the machinery of Australian government at the federal level.

Aged 31, he became the youngest ambassador in Australian history when he was sent to the newly independent Republic of Kazakhstan (1997 to 1999).  He was Deputy Permanent Representative in the Australian Mission to the United Nations in New York (2002-2005), Ambassador to Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein (2009-2013), and topped out his diplomatic career as Ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2016 to 2019.  He memorably hosted Mikhail Gorbachev at a Melbourne Cup reception coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917.  Before calling the race, Peter presented Gorbachev with an Akubra hat, which ‘Gorby’ treasured until his death in August 2022.

Peter’s ambassadorial positions, particularly his last two in Germany and Russia, provided Peter with a wonderful opportunity to see the way in which European countries and their respective governments interact, initiate international business opportunities and their respective attitudes to Australia, both politically and commercially. These insights are powerful tools that Australian businesses need to understand if they are to be successful or maintain their positions in an ever-changing Europe.

The war in Ukraine, the Russian sanctions and the implications for Australia’s international businesses are Peter’s area of expertise. How can Australia prosper in this environment?

After his Foreign Affairs roles Peter moved to Defence Department.

Peter was centrally involved in the development and implementation of strategy and policy governing the Australian Defence Force’s operations and activities to protect and advance Australia’s security interests.

Following the launch in September 2021 of the AUKUS partnership with the United Kingdom and the United States of America, Peter was the Australian lead for AUKUS Advanced Capabilities, focusing on generating warfighting advantages for our respective militaries in areas including hypersonics, underseas warfare, artificial intelligence, and quantum sensing.  Furthermore, he led his group in devising policy frameworks to support the growth of sovereign Australian defence industry capability – a goal to which he remains committed in his post-public service life.

AUKUS is going to be an important source of Australian defence contracting for many years. Any companies that want to be part of this growth sector need to hear Peter’s thoughts and his advice for success.

Peter is an engaging and authoritative communicator.  He adapts readily to his audience and has won plaudits for his wit, open-ness, and willingness to engage honestly with domestic and international audiences, whether it be in private briefings or public presentations.


Peter is based in Southern NSW and is represented by Robert Joske Management.


Robert Joske Management Pty Ltd

Tel: + 61 2 93281444

Mob: + 61 412 211 510


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