Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson today leave for Dili in Timor-Leste for the inauguration of President-elect Francisco Guterres.
President-elect Guterres was elected in March and will take office on Saturday, May 20.
Mr Gunner said the inauguration will be an important first step in forging a close relationship with the new President of our closest neighbour.
“The Northern Territory and Timor-Leste have always maintained a close relationship and will continue to do so into the future,” Mr Gunner said.
“Member for Katherine Sandra Nelson will attend with me.
“Sandra is the first Timorese-born Member for Parliament in Australian history, which highlights the diversity we have in the Territory and will add strength to the existing relationship between the Territory and Timor-Leste.
“There is an estimated 5000 Portuguese-Timorese and around 100 East Timorese born residents in the Territory, predominantly in Darwin. Many still have links through families and businesses in Timor-Leste.
“Timor-Leste is our closest neighbour with growing trade, culture and people-to-people links. The Northern Territory receives over 50 per cent of all of Timor-Leste’s trade with Australia, with exports to Timor-Leste in 2015-16 totalling $9 million.
“The “Seasonal Worker” bi-lateral agreement has been of great value for local farmers in Katherine. Currently there are 18 workers from Timor living and working in Katherine as part of the program.
“This visit will be a great opportunity to engage with senior government and business leaders to strengthen government, trade, investment and community ties.”
Mr Gunner will attend a dinner hosted by the former President Mr Taur Matan Ruak, and will also visit the Territory-supported Senai NT English Language Centre.
“The Territory Government is helping to increase Timorese workers’ English language skills in order to boost the number of Timorese who are able to participate in the Australian Government’s seasonal workers’ program,” he said.
Travel costs: airfares: $2293.08, accommodation: $941.10. Total: $3234.18.