Wednesday, 28 November 2018 10:38

CANBERRA AND DILI CLOSER THAN EVER

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Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Anne Ruston, visit Timor-Leste. Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Anne Ruston, visit Timor-Leste.

Australia and Timor-Leste’s enduring relationship has been further strengthened following an Australian ministerial visit.

Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Anne Ruston, travelled to Timor-Leste to engage in government-to-government dialogue and see first-hand the benefits of Australia’s partnership with its neighbour.

“The Morrison Government is committed to developing even stronger ties between Canberra and Dili,” Minister Ruston said.

“I had extremely productive discussions with President Francisco “Lu’Olo” Guterres, Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak and Foreign Minister Dionisio Babo Soares.

“Together, we also announced that Timor-Leste has been invited to join the Pacific Labour Scheme.”

Minister Ruston said it was inspiring to witness Australian and Timorese collaboration, including support for improved access to clean water and the reconstruction of rural roads.

“The visit allowed me to reaffirm Australia’s strong commitment to Timor-Leste’s development, including its social and economic aspirations,” Minister Ruston said.

“Our initiatives are game changers for the local community. Australian development support created over 2,000 jobs and improved services to 140,000 Timorese last financial year alone.”

Amongst other activities, Minister Ruston announced $400,000 for a new water research project in Becora, saving locals from spending four hours each day to collect water.

The delegation also met returned Timorese seasonal workers who have benefited from labour mobility opportunities in Australia, bringing the skills they acquired to their local employment.

In terms of development relationship - Australia is the largest bilateral donor to Timor with over 90 million in development assistance for 2018-19. Development assistance from Australia focus on three strategic areas: economy, people and society.

Some key programs include the seasonal workers program and the newly announced inclusion of Timor-Leste in the expanded Pacific Labour Scheme (labour mobility program that allows Timorese to work for a longer amount of time in Australia - up to three years - and in a wider range of jobs than under the seasonal workers program).

Australia Also working on basic services, including through support for PNDS to support community-led infrastructure development, as well as programs on ending violence against women, disability inclusion, basic health services.

The Australian development aids also support to agricultural workers (farmers) to help improve quality and yield of crops, and to help them access markets for economic gain.

Support for infrastructure (support for the Roads for Development program to improve access to markets, schools, clinics etc) - also recently announced new infrastructure initiatives to provide funding for infrastructure projects that are critical to development needs, to provide capital for private sector businesses and to provide support for regulatory reform (these new initiatives were announced last week in Papua New Guinea by the Aus Prime Minister, foreign minister and minister Ruston.

Australia Still give capacity building support through national and international advisers under the Governance for Development program.

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