Subject: Australian Business, Political Delegation Visits East Timor

Australian Business, Political Delegation Visits East Timor

May 27, 2009: 04:22 AM ET

DILI (AFP)--The chief minister of Australia's Northern Territory visited East Timor Wednesday with the largest foreign delegation to visit the tiny country since it won independence from Indonesia in 2002.

A 60-strong group from Darwin, including business people and education professionals, accompanied Chief Minister Paul Henderson and Darwin city Mayor Graeme Sawyer on the trip, designed to boost ties between the rapidly growing northern Australian port and its closest offshore neighbor.

"What this shows is the strength or the friendship and the relationship between the people of Darwin and the people of East Timor," Henderson told reporters after meeting Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres in Dili.

"I'm very confident that the trade and investment links will grow, tourism will grow, and the relationship between the governments of the Northern Territory of Australia and Timor-Leste will continue to strengthen into the future."

Henderson said the Northern Territory had agreed to host Timorese civil servants on internships to "help build capacity" in the fledgling nation.

Guterres said the internships "will make a valuable contribution to building the capacity of our civil service to meet the demands of our growing nation."

East Timor was occupied by the Indonesian military for 24 years until 1999, when it voted to break away in a referendum marked by violence and the arrival of Australian-led international peacekeepers.

President Jose Ramos-Horta told the U.N. Security Council in February that the nation would be able to maintain double-digit growth in 2009 despite the global financial meltdown.

For revenue, East Timor is heavily reliant on its large offshore oil and gas reserves, from which it has banked close to $5 billion since 2005.

But with global oil prices declining, the government is keen to develop other streams of income, including tourism.

So far this year, projects have begun for building the nation's first mall and a five-star resort complex, complete with a 27-hole golf course.

The Australian delegation wasn't expected to discuss ongoing negotiations between East Timor and Australia's Woodside Petroleum (WPL.AU) over how to tap the massive Sunrise natural gas field in the Timor Sea.

Negotiations have reportedly hit a snag over whether to pump the gas to an onshore processing facility in East Timor or through a 450-kilometer pipeline to Darwin.

Northern Territory News (Australia)

May 29, 2009 Friday

Timorese get tips on NT bureaucracy


EAST Timor's public servants are going to work for the Territory Government to learn how to build a bureaucracy.

Idalina Maria has been with East Timor's education department for eight years, but is looking forward to seeing what she can learn from the Territory.

``What we know is we will learn about being in a different civil service,'' she said.

``I think it will be very good to learn.''

Ms Maria will be one of 10 East Timorese public servants to start work in the Territory in July.

Chief Minister Paul Henderson agreed to the internship program in a ministerial forum with East Timor's acting prime minister Jose Luis Guterres.

Mr Guterres said the public servants would return to East Timor with training from the NT public service.

``Australia and East Timor, we are neighbours forever,'' he said.

``It is our duty to improve that relationship. Improve in areas of trade, investment and sport.''

Mr Henderson said these internship program would strengthen the relationship with East Timor.

``Building these people to people links will benefit both our people,'' he said.

``Trade will grow. Tourism will grow.''

Mr Henderson also agreed to hold these ministerial conferences twice a year.

Back to May Menu
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu