Mr Ian Kemish

Adjunct Associate Professor

School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences


Adjunct Associate Professor Ian Kemish AM is a former senior Australian diplomat and company executive with interest and expertise in the history of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and in Australia’s engagement with those regions. He divides his time between UQ, writing, personal philanthropy, business advisory work and the not-for-profit sector. Ian originally graduated with Honours in modern Southeast Asian history from the University of Queensland. Ian received a UQ Alumni Excellence Award in 2014.

At UQ, in addition to his adjunct role, Ian serves as the Chair of the Vice Chancellor’s ChangeMakers Alumni Engagement Initiative. He also personally supports a number of scholarships at the university. He and his wife Roxanne Martens sponsor an enduring scholarship for a female Australian indigenous student, and Ian is also a co-founder and ongoing supporter of an annual Berlin residency for UQ humanities graduate students to study in the German capital.

Ian’s 25-year 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, supporting companies to improve their sustainability and community development outcomes in the Indo-Pacific.

Mr. Kemish is an independent strategic adviser to a number of private and public sector clients. He is also a Distinguished Advisor at the ANU's National Security College, an Industry Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute, and a Director of the Australia-Indonesia Centre at Monash University. He is Chairman of the not-for-profit Kokoda Track Foundation, a director of 3rd Space, which provides services to the homeless in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, and a Business Champion of the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan.

Ian is a Fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Research Interests

  • History of Papua New Guinea, including the building of an oral history collection on the PNG Independence era.
  • Modern history of South East Asia and the Pacific
  • History of the Australian consular service
  • German history and politics

Research Impacts

Adjunct Professor Kemish has a focus on the modern history of Southeast Asia and the Pacific and Australia’s engagement with these regions. This includes a focus on Papua New Guinea, including the building of an oral history collection on the PNG Independence era. This primary record is available via an accessible website to stimulate public interest, including in PNG, in the country's recent history.

Ian writes regularly on current development and international security issues in the Indo-Pacific region for a variety of publications, supporting public discussion on themes of direct interest to Australia. He supports UQ International Development as it works to engage with major development and humanitarian issues in the Indo-Pacific.

Ian's book The Consul will be published on 19 July 2022. It focuses on the recent history of Australia's consular service and its adaptation to the imperatives of the early 21st century - growing traveller numbers, increased expectations, terrorism, arbitrary detention and health threats. These are matters of considerable current interest inluding in the context of abritrary detentions, the war in Ukraine and the resumption of international travel.


View all Publications


Book Chapter

  • Roach, Jeff and Kemish, Ian (2005). Bali bombings: A whole of government response. Tourism in Turbulent Times: Towards Safe Experiences for Visitors. (pp. 277-289) London, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780080457321

Journal Article

Other Outputs