Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

State Luncheon: East Timor President Xanana Gusmao


State Luncheon for East Timor President Xanana Gusmao

Speech
Prime Minister Helen Clark

It is a genuine pleasure to welcome Xanana Gusmao to New Zealand as the first president of independent East Timor.

President Gusmao first came to New Zealand in June 2000, less than a year after his release from prison in Indonesia and less than a year after the traumatic events which followed the vote of the East Timorese people for independence.

Xanana Gusmao's life has been one of extraordinary courage, dedication, and sacrifice in the cause of the independence of his country. In our sheltered lives in peaceful New Zealand, we can scarcely imagine the conditions he endured from the time of the invasion of East Timor in late 1975.

Xanana Gusmao was one of those who went to the hills to begin the fight back. For seventeen years, he and his fellow fighters lived a precarious existence, battling numerically superior occupying forces. Then in 1992 he was captured and sentenced to life imprisonment. He spent the next seven years in gaol, emerging as a free man when East Timor was enabled to determine its own destiny. In the first presidential elections in April this year Xanana Gusmao was elected to lead his country. It was a privilege for me to be able to attend East Timor's independence ceremony in May and see Xanana Gusmao take up the reins of office.

What I most admire about Xanana Gusmao is his capacity to forgive. He has been a leading force for reconciliation between East Timor and Indonesia, and with those who fled across the border to West Timor in 1999. After the hardship he endured in the long struggle for freedom, this spirit of forgiveness is inspirational.

With formal independence in May this year, a new chapter opened in the history of East Timor.

Over the previous two and a half years, the country was assisted by a large United Nations presence, which many nations, including New Zealand were proud to be part of. We have helped with peacekeeping, and with establishing the East Timor police, customs, and prison service. We also began a small aid programme.

Now the United Nations military presence is winding down, and New Zealand peacekeepers will leave in November as part of that process.

But what is important is that New Zealand and a wide range of other nations continue to assist East Timor on its long road to development. East Timor's economy is under-developed and its people live on some of the lowest incomes on earth. They deserve our support.

The focus of New Zealand's development assistance budget on poverty eradication fits East Timor's needs well. The recent World Summit on Sustainable Development also points the way for donor countries to focus on basic education, primary healthcare, clean water and sanitation, and economic development which is sustainable and not environmentally destructive. Timor's resources include its land, its fisheries, and the oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea. It also has a capacity for eco-tourism which I hope in time New Zealanders will be able to enjoy.

Next week East Timor will be formally accepted as a member of the United Nations. What for many years appeared a distant dream will become reality. It has come at a very high cost for many East Timorese who lost their lives, and for those like today's President who spent many of the prime years of their lives as subsistence fighters or prisoners.

Looking back on these years we will also always remember the undaunted spirit of Jose Ramos Horta, who tirelessly advocated for a free and independent Timor in the world's capitals and at the United Nations, and who, along with Bishop Carlos Bello, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Now independent East Timor's capital, Dili, is the closest Asian capital to New Zealand. That and recent history which has seen many New Zealanders play a part in East Timor's rebuilding draw us together as close neighbours and friends.

For the families of the five New Zealand servicemen whose loved ones never came home from deployment, East Timor will have a special place in their hearts and ours.

New Zealand looks forward to working with East Timor in many ways, in support of its development; as a fellow regional member of the United Nations; and as a partner in the South West Pacific dialogue. We also welcomed East Timor as an observer at the Pacific Island Forum in Suva this year.

President Gusmao, we are pleased to have you as our guest in New Zealand and look forward to a long and friendly relationship with you and the government and people of East Timor.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Yesterday’s Big Parliamentary Air Kiss To China

In order to obtain support from the two major parties, Act Party deputy leader Brooke Van Velden twice had to soften the language of her parliamentary motion yesterday condemning China’s persecution of the Uighurs. The key word “genocide” was deleted. Evidently, the kind of resolution passed by a conservative government in the UK proved to be far too tough for a centre-left Labour government and a centre-right National opposition to countenance. Yesterday, the two major parties were united in their fear of retribution from China... More>>

 

Government: Fair Pay Agreements To Improve Pay And Conditions For Essential Workers

The Government is delivering on its pre-election commitment to implement Fair Pay Agreements which will improve wages and conditions, as well as help support our economic recovery, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today. More>>

ALSO:

Public Services: Government Sets Pay And Workforce Expectations For The Public Sector

The Government’s Workforce Policy Statement issued today sets out its expectations for pay and employment relations in the Public Sector, the Minister of Finance and Minister for the Public Service say. “New Zealand has had an exceptionally successful ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: Budget 2021 Reprioritises Nearly $1 Billion

Hon Grant Robertson Deputy Prime Minister Minister of Finance The Government’s strong pandemic response and the better than expected economic recovery means not all the money allocated in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund has been spent, ... More>>

ALSO:


PM: Statement On The Speaker And Annual Review Debate

“The serious issue of alleged sexual assault and harassment at Parliament was poorly managed and inappropriately politicised last night. The tone of the debate did not reflect well on Parliament as a whole,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. ... More>>

Parliament: Mallard Fails To Give Taxpayers A Straight Answer

Trevor Mallard has confirmed he is unfit to be Parliament’s Speaker by failing to answer several important questions relating to the false rape accusation saga that cost taxpayers more than $330,000, Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says. ... More>>

Local Government: Independent Review To Explore Future

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says an independent review of local government will explore how councils can maintain and improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders in the communities they serve long into the future. More>>

ALSO:

PM Ardern And PM Morrison: Commencement Of Two-Way Quarantine-Free Travel Between Australia And New Zealand

Joint Statement by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern Commencement of two-way quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand Today, Australia and New Zealand have fulfilled their commitment to establish two-way quarantine free ... More>>

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels