Australia’s relationship with Timor-Leste will be examined in a new parliamentary inquiry.
The Foreign Affairs sub-committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade will investigate several issues including, bilateral relations, aid, economic issues, defence cooperation and cultural and scientific links.
Sub-committee chair Mr Nick Champion MP said it was timely to conduct a broad review of Australia’s relationship with its “important neighbour”.
“Now that the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force is withdrawing from the country, an examination of Australia’s role in future support and development of Timor-Leste will be of value in informing Australia’s foreign policy,” he said.
“Australia is providing assistance to create new institutions and to support social development and reduce poverty.”
Australia is Timor-Leste’s largest development partner and in 2012-13 is budgeted to provide $127.1 million.
Australia has been closely involved with the development of Timor-Leste since its independence from Indonesia in 2002, and provides significant ongoing support to its population of 1.1 million.
Federal parliamentarians have from time to time visited Timor-Leste as part of parliamentary delegations, the most recent being in November 2011, and to observe elections in March and April 2012.
However, the last comprehensive inquiry into Australia’s relationship with Timor-Leste was in 2000.
The sub-committee will receive written submissions until 28 March 2013 after which it will commence public hearings.
Contributions are welcome and encouraged from organisations and individuals.