Page 2167 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005
program of development is now more secure. The motion has perhaps lost some of its momentum but it has not lost its relevance. Negotiations will continue, both for finalisation of the interim agreement and for the final determination of maritime boundaries.
It is fundamentally important that the Australian government, present and future, continues to conduct negotiations in good faith with our nearest neighbour and the most recent entrant to the world community. It remains fundamentally important that the people of East Timor, with whom the Canberra community is building a profound and meaningful relationship of cooperation and mutual respect, can see our support for their cause and for the future development of their nation, their economy and their society.
On 7 June 2004 the ACT Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope, travelled to East Timor to sign a friendship agreement with Mr Ruben Joao Braz de Carvalho, the district administrator of Dili. The agreement sought to formalise the relationship of friendship and mutual respect between the two communities—the Canberra community and the Dili community of Timor-Leste.
A commitment to “practical exchanges designed to deepen friendship and promote goodwill” between our communities sets us on the path to a culturally, socially and historically important relationship with the people of Timor-Leste. This relationship has been demonstrated in a number of practical and ongoing ways, particularly in educational activities. A collaborative agreement was signed between the CIT and the Dili Institute of Technology in November 2003 which provides very practical advice and support for the development of vocational education and training facilities and services in Dili.
The Canberra Friends of Dili have also been instrumental in facilitating and encouraging youth sporting projects between the two communities. Currently, an Australian youth ambassador for development, a sponsored volunteer from the Canberra Friends of Dili, is working with the Dili district administration in developing a school exchange program. This relationship has already extended beyond social and cultural ties to the provision of real practical support for building sustainable infrastructure. This relationship encourages us all to engage in meaningful debate about the future of this newly independent nation and about the role we can play in supporting our friends in Dili and beyond.
The precursor to the current negotiations between East Timor and the Australian government about maritime boundaries, and thus control over oil and gas deposits in the Timor Sea, was an Australian withdrawal from the maritime jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. Two months before East Timorese independence on 25 March 2002, the Howard government’s decision to withdraw suddenly and in secret both flouted our commitment to international dispute resolution and robbed the East Timorese of the ability to seek international arbitration of the maritime boundary dispute.
Catholic bishop Hilton Deakin has been reported as saying:
The way in which our governments have behaved in the past in ignoring jurisdictions by withdrawing from them, redefining boundaries and redefining