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Community Building Essential for Nation Building, says East Timor's President

Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão (

Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão (

Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

Allow me to say that there seams to be a factor that slightly delays the implementation of the good faith programs of the Australian cities. This factor is the lack of better organization on the part of the Timorese counterparts at district level. To overcome this, I believe that when people have an occupation that allows them to provide for their families, the social dimension of human nature will emerge instinctively and lead people to help and organise others less privileged.

I am of the opinion that we could look into the possibility of holding a meeting in Dili between the representatives of the Australian cities with their partners in the districts of Timor-Leste and, together establish a programmatic vision taking into account the relations and needs of each place and / or community.

Only a collective perception of, on one hand, what is being pledged and, on the other hand, what needs to be met, can induce the efforts of those who are less bold. This is the way ties between the communities can be felt in practice by all the population and not merely by some people or groups.

Obviously, this type of partnership also contemplates the entrepreneurial sector, which will not operate merely based on a share or benefit distribution but, above all, will dignify human relations and strengthen the feelings of solidarity and friendship between Peoples and, concurrently, between governments and nations.

In relation to State Governments, as in here as well as from Victoria to the Northern Territory, there are magnificent examples of solidarity. In a spirit of continuity of this commitment, I have brought with me concrete examples of situations where solidarity can be directed to achieve concrete results:

We have two vocational schools, in Dili, one, informal and the other, formal, receiving however some adults in non formal technical training.

I visited the two sites and found, that they lack necessary technical equipment to provide adequate training. I have the list of these needs if a good samaritan can help.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Among us are distinguished individuals from the Asia Society Australasia Centre, such as Mr. Richard Woolcott and Hugh Morgan, AC. We also have with us Mr. Benjamin Chow, Chairman of the Council for Multicultural Affairs and Mr. Bill Farmer, Secretary from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.

Here, today, I wish to appeal to the sensibility of the Australian authorities, in particular to the Prime Minister, of the difficult problem of East Timorese residing in Australia, whose status of asylum seekers is no longer relevant given that Timor-Leste is now free, democratic and peaceful country. However, I believe there is a need to consider a new status for them with the possibility of being allowed to a welcome stay in Australia.

In my point of view, one thousand and six hundred Timorese living in Australia will not incur great hardship on the Australian economy. The Timor Sea Agreement signed between Canberra and Dili, will bring lateral benefits of great proportions to Australia.

These 1600 Timorese in Timor-Leste will not cause a drain to our economy, as it still lacks a basis to develop. These 1600 Timorese will merely constitute another 1600 mouths that we are unable to feed, dozens of more families that we are unable to shelter. This is the heart of the problem from which I appeal to the goodwill and generosity of the Australian people, and the States where the Timorese live and above all the Federal Government to consider this issue within the spirit of mutual understanding and co-operation.

Thank you.