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State Lunch in honour of His Excellency Dr José Ramos-Horta, President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Government House


Dhawura nguna Dhawaru Ngunnawal
Yanggu ngalawiri dhunimanyin Ngunnawalwari dhawurawari.
Nginggada Dindi wanggiralidjinyin.

This is Ngunnawal Country. 
Today we are all meeting together on this Ngunnawal Country. 
We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Elders. 

  • His Excellency Dr José Ramos-Horta, President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
  • The Honourable Richard Marles MP, Deputy Prime Minister, representing the Prime Minister
  • Senator Andrew McLachlan CSC, Deputy President of the Senate, representing the President of the Senate
  • Senator the Honourable Simon Birmingham, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, representing the Leader of the Opposition
  • His Excellency Dr Ali Kraishan, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Her Excellency Ms Inês Maria De Almeida, Ambassador of Timor-Leste
  • Justice Jacqueline Gleeson, Justice of the High Court of Australia, representing the Chief Justice of Australia
  • Air Marshal Robert Chipman AM CSC, Chief of Air Force, representing the Chief of the Defence Force
  • Mr Rod Brazier, First Assistant Secretary, International Division, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, representing the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Ms Suzy Wilson-Uilelea, Deputy Head of Mission, representing the Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste
  • Members of the President's delegation
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Your Excellency, it is a delight to welcome you back to Australia, especially so soon after Foreign Minister Wong’s visit to Timor-Leste.

It was an honour this morning to host a formal welcome to Australia on your first official visit since your election as President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

As you know, Linda and I had the pleasure of visiting Timor-Leste in May and attending your inauguration.

Your Excellency, you said to me then that your role as President would be to advocate for Timor-Leste’s priorities.

Given your long and sustained campaign for Timor-Leste’s independence and your previous roles as President, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the role of President is one for which you are eminently qualified.

The fact that you are here today, so soon in your term as President and with a very busy schedule, demonstrates the energy and commitment you have brought to the role. It is also testament to the importance of our bilateral relationship.

Your Excellency, I was struck when I visited Dili earlier this year by the many things that unite our two countries.

It is not just our geography and the fact that we share the Timor Sea.

It is our long history of cooperation and supporting each other, beginning during World War 2 and continuing through Timor’s journey to independence to the present day.

We are also united by the bonds of friendship and mutual respect between our peoples, and a shared commitment to democracy and human rights.

In 2008, after you were wounded in Dili and evacuated to Darwin for emergency medical treatment, you said that that the blood running through your body is now also Australian.

Thank you for saying that. It was a statement that resonated strongly with the Australian people.

In a way that few others have, you have lived and breathed the close relationship between Timor-Leste and Australia.

While my personal experiences cannot match yours, I am proud to say that I played a small role in Timor-Leste's journey to independence and have always admired the people of Timor-Leste for their strength of spirit and generosity.

Our respective governments are committed to strengthening the relationship between our two countries and expanding our economic, development, diplomatic and security cooperation.

The Defence Cooperation Agreement that Deputy Prime Minister Marles and Minister Meno signed here in Canberra yesterday is an example of how our governments are working together to expand our cooperation.

Other initiatives, such as the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme, are deepening our people-to-people links and strengthen the connection between our communities.

Your Excellency, I know that while you are here in Australia you will be meeting a range of Australians from different walks of life.

I have no doubt all will share a commitment to helping you and your fellow citizens build an even stronger and more prosperous Timor-Leste.

On behalf of the Australian people, Linda and I wish you every success for your visit.

I am confident that your presence here will accelerate the strengthening of our relationship.

Again, Your Excellency – welcome back to Australia.