Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1759 ..
MR PRATT (continuing):
However, we should not rest on our laurels. The Australian community and the Australian government should continue to provide the resources to assist INGOs to go forth and help that place rebuild. Oxfam Community Aid Abroad are undertaking a wide range of infrastructure programs, rebuilding up to 69 schools in Bobonaro, Oecussi, Kovalima and Liquica. So we have a strong presence there. Care Australia is undertaking a range of emergency aid programs across a wide range of villages in the west and the north of the country. I hope that we are able to continue this effort. East Timor has been devastated, and as a developed nation we have a moral obligation to help bring peace and to help in the development of civil society. Our presence is going to be needed for quite some time.
I congratulate the ACT government on pushing on with the Canberra-Dili sister city arrangement. If we can set that up in such a way that we assist Dili in its rebuilding process-that is, if we give more than what we take in that relationship-it will demonstrate to the rest of Australia the practical way in which we as a developed nation assist those in trouble to get back on their feet. I would hope that other nations emulate us in helping the development of civil society. This is very important.
Xanana Gusmao is a hero, as is Ramos Horta and the East Timorese people, who were quite prepared to bravely push up to those obstructing the referendum. We all wish them extremely well. It was great to see my colleague Mrs Cross get over there and check things out. We will be applauding as the East Timorese go through their independence celebrations in the next couple of days.
MR BERRY (5.39): I rise to echo the views many have expressed in this place in support of East Timor. But I mostly want to acknowledge the work that many people in the ACT community have contributed to the long struggle of this emerging country.
I recall in my earlier life bumping into Jose Ramos Horta in the Trades and Labour Council when he was building on the campaign to support East Timor. The Trades and Labour Council in the ACT led the debate for many years in the ACT, and they did a lot of the hard yards. They established a couple of pickets. I remember a picket outside the Indonesian Embassy. Pickets are not generally popular things, but this one was pretty popular because it was for a good cause. The picketers planted hundreds of crucifixes, which was an affront to the Indonesian government-and it was intended to be. The issue had to be pressed hard if any progress was to be made. That was many years ago, but the Trades and Labour Council, often vilified for many things, played a major role in the campaign in this country and in the ACT.
This developed further in later years, with a permanent protest embassy located near the Indonesian Embassy. That was supported by members of the labour council, the labour council executive and all their affiliates over those years. It is always a bit of a struggle to sustain those things, because the labour council also has the interests of working people in the territory to be concerned about. To put additional resources into those sorts of things is always difficult, but it was a welcome contribution to that major struggle.
The last protest I went to, at which there were some potential confrontation with the local authorities, was the most moving, with the laying out of shoes. Members will know that when there are massacres shoes are often the leftovers from the carnage. This protest was