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Speech in Darwin post Timor withdrawal

Hon. Mark Burton

Speech in Darwin post Timor withdrawal

Australia and New Zealand are rivals of long-standing. There is nothing more fierce than competition between our two nations-especially on the sports field-and certainly there is no one we'd rather beat than each other.

But we know that here, in our region of the world, we rely first and foremost on each other. Yes we are separate, independent, sovereign nations, and no we don't always agree. But when facing danger, there's no better nation for us to have along side than Australia.

The friendship, camaraderie, and support Australians and Kiwis offer each other is nowhere more demonstrated that when service men and women serve together, shoulder to shoulder, in times of trouble or conflict. Since WW I, our nations have, time and again, come together as a fighting force to be reckoned with.

East Timor has seen the service men and women of our two nations continue-and indeed live up to-the highest standards of this tradition.

Australia remains our most important and valued defence partner. Our combined efforts in Timor Leste confirm that we continue to share a common commitment to the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific. The Timor Leste mission underlines the ability of the ADF and NZDF to work together effectively in an operational environment.

In many of our meetings, Ministers and Defence planners alike will talk about concepts such as inter-operability, capability, and cooperation. The acid test however-what really matters-is what happens when these concepts and ideas, are put to the test.

Both nations passed with flying colours.

Yes, New Zealand and Australia have complementary assets, skills and capabilities but you know that our willingness to work together, support each other, has been the essential factor in the success of the ET mission

The spirit of ANZAC continues-built on mutual respect, and earned the hard way.

As Senator Hill, Minister of Defence, said to me in September, New Zealand and Australia may be entering a new chapter in defence structure, but ours is by no means a new relationship. Indeed, "our military ties.are as strong as ever."

Australia and New Zealand have never worked more closely together, both from an operational standpoint and in our shared responsibility for our region.

Mercifully, our nations' casualties in East Timor were few in number. But it is nonetheless a harsh reminder to all our people that deployments such as this do not come without real danger. It is appropriate today that we remember your colleagues and comrades who gave their lives in the service of their country.

I acknowledge the leading role the ADF has played in Timor Leste, both in terms of peacekeeping operations and also in developing and training the F-FDTL. The ADF and NZDF will continue to work together closely in developing and training the F-FDTL.

We are the fiercest of rivals, and the closest of friends. I bring you the New Zealand Government's congratulations. To all the Australia and New Zealand Defence Force personnel who have served in Timor Leste over the past three years, we applaud you. Your record is exemplary and your professionalism and dedication is something that both our nations are proud of.

Note: East Timor is now officially referred to as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste or Timor Leste. Likewise, the ETDF should be referred to as the Falintil Force of the Defence of Timor Leste or F-FTDL.


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