Since 2007 until his current appointment as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Mr Quinlan was the Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Defence, and National Security.
Mr Quinlan joined the then Department of Foreign Affairs in 1973 and has served in several senior positions in the Department in Canberra including First Assistant Secretary, Consular, Public Diplomacy and Parliamentary Affairs Division (2007) and First Assistant Secretary, Americas and Europe Division (2000-01). He was Head of the Australian Delegation to the Law of the Sea Preparatory Commission from 1987 until 1988.
Mr Quinlan's overseas assignments have been as Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy Washington DC (2005-07); High Commissioner to Singapore (2001-05); First Secretary, Australian Mission to the United Nations, New York (1981-85); Australian Deputy Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Paris (1979-81); and Second Secretary in Dublin (1974-77). He was attached to the Economic Development Institute, World Bank in Washington D.C. (1984).
Mr Quinlan also served as Chief of Staff to the Minister for Trade (1993-94) and to the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology (1994-96).
Mr Quinlan was educated at the University of Newcastle and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours. He also holds the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (Hon DLitt Newc, 2007).