Page 2171 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005

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Mr Speaker, the motion is made up of four elements. Paragraph (1) says that we should reassert the importance to the city of Canberra of the friendship relationship with the district of Dili and, in the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, with the people of Timor-Leste. It is interesting that the word “reassert” is used. Its use would suggest that things had gone off the boil and that the people of Canberra do not know or are not interested in the friendship relationship with the district of Dili. I do not believe that is the case. If it is the case, then that is the fault of the government. The government is responsible for administering this agreement with the district of Dili and, if the government has not been doing its job, Mr Gentleman should be thanked for bringing it to the attention of the Assembly. “Reassert” is an interesting word to use, Mr Speaker.

I note that Mr Gentleman said that the Chief Minister visited East Timor. We helped them with their embassy, we have a CIT agreement with them and there has been some sporting cooperation, but it would be interesting to hear from one of the ministers on exactly what we have done and what we intend to do in the future to work on the relationship with the district of Dili.

I am sure that Mr Gentleman really wanted to talk about what the federal government is doing. Of course, we do not have control over the federal government and international negotiations. So this is another one of the Trojan horse motions that the Labor Party move all the time when they want to kick the federal government. That is politics and we get used to it. But, Mr Gentleman, issues like the Totalcare workers losing their jobs are probably more relevant to you and certainly more relevant to them.

MR SPEAKER: Not very relevant for this debate, though.

MR SMYTH: That is an interesting point, Mr Speaker. You make comparisons for the purpose of context.

Paragraph (2) of the motion notes the progress made in talks last week between the Australian government and the government of Timor-Leste over maritime boundaries and Timor Sea resources last week. Obviously, the member modified his original motion but, according to reports, it would seem that both Australia and Timor-Leste are happy with the progress of the negotiations. At least that is what Prime Minister Alkatiri of East Timor has been saying and what his foreign minister has been saying. So I think it is worth noting the progress that has been made. It is also worth noting in this place what has been said in relation to the federal government and the government of Timor-Leste. Ramos Horta said that we are on the threshold of a new era in bilateral relations and Mr Alkatiri said that he is satisfied with the deal. So I thank Mr Gentleman for bringing paragraph (2) to the notice of this place.

Paragraph (3) (a) refers to recognising that the development of the Timor Sea resources has the potential to contribute significantly to Timor-Leste’s development and economic self-sufficiency. I think we all recognise and agree with that. Paragraph (3) (b) notes that industrial development will provide an economic future for Timor-Leste, guaranteeing skills and income for the nation’s people. I think we all recognise that as true.

Paragraph (3) (c) refers to the importance of sovereignty to Timor-Leste in the negotiation of a permanent maritime boundary. In saying that, Mr Gentleman is implying

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