David Irvine (diplomat)

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David Irvine
David Irvine DGS ASIO.jpg
12th Director-General of Security
In office
30 March 2009 – 14 September 2014
Prime MinisterKevin Rudd
Julia Gillard
Tony Abbott
Preceded byPaul O'Sullivan
Succeeded byDuncan Lewis
10th Director-General of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service
In office
1 March 2003 – 27 March 2009
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Kevin Rudd
Preceded byAllan Taylor
Succeeded byNick Warner
Personal details
Born(1947-01-10)10 January 1947
Perth, Western Australia
Died30 March 2022(2022-03-30) (aged 75)
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Alma materUniversity of Western Australia

David Taylor Irvine, AO (10 January 1947 – 30 March 2022) was an Australian diplomat who, from March 2009 to September 2014, was the Director-General of Security, the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). Prior to his appointment to ASIO, he was Director-General of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) from 2003 to 2009.[1] In 2017 he was unexpectedly appointed Chair of the Foreign Investment Review Board despite having no professional investment or business experience.[2]

Education and career[edit]

Irvine was born in Perth, Western Australia,[3] and studied at Hale School and the University of Western Australia, graduating with honours in Elizabethan history. He worked as a journalist in Perth, and joined the Department of External Affairs (the Australian foreign service) in 1970, and serving as a diplomat in Rome (1970–1973) later in Jakarta (1976–1980). Other diplomatic appointments included postings as a Counsellor (later Minister) in Beijing (1982–1986) and Minister in Jakarta (1988–1990).[4] In 1996 to 1999 Irvine served as Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea,[5] and was Australian Ambassador to China from 2000 to 2003.[1]

Irvine wrote two books about Indonesia: a 1990 English translation of Bisma: Warrior Priest of the Mahabharata by Satyagraha Hurip,[6] and Leather Gods & Wooden Heroes: Java's Classical Wayang (1996; about Indonesian Wayang shadow puppets).[7]

Irvine died in Canberra on 30 March 2022 after a period of illness and a stroke, aged 75.[8]


Irvine was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in June 2005.[9]


  1. ^ a b McDonald, Hamish: Puppet-master now pulling the strings at ASIS, The Age, 20 February 2003.
  2. ^ FIRB Chair Appointment, FIRB, Treasurer, 10 April 2017
  3. ^ Appointment of Director-General, ASIS, Minister for Foreign Affairs, 23 December 2002.
  4. ^ Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Statement of Service, Appointments and Biographies Tenth Edition, October 1995. p. 197.
  5. ^ Evans, Gareth (9 December 1995). "Diplomatic Appointment: High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea" (Press release). Australian Government. Archived from the original on 18 September 2012.
  6. ^ Bisma : warrior priest of the Mahabharata / Satyagraha Hurip ; translated from the Indonesian by David Irvine, National Library of Australia, 1990.
  7. ^ Leather gods & wooden heroes : Java's classical wayang / David Irvine, National Library of Australia, 1996.
  8. ^ "FIRB chairman David Irvine dies after battling illness". 31 March 2022.. Sarah Basford Canales and Harley Dennett, 'David Irvine, a spy boss and 'giant of the public service' who steered many PMs, dies at 75, The Canberra Times, 31 March 2022.
  9. ^ Australian Honours
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea
Succeeded by
Preceded by Australian Ambassador to China
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Director-General of the
Australian Secret Intelligence Service

Succeeded by
Preceded by Director-General of Security
Succeeded by