State Visit by Timor-Leste Ambassador H.E Abel Guterres

Kirsty Sword-Cusmao, Steve Bracks AC, Abel Guterres

An invitation from Mr Peter McMullin (Honorary Consul of Timor-Leste in Victoria) arrived for a member of the GVFS to attend a reception to be held at Queens Hall Parliament House on the occasion of a State visit by Timor-leste Ambassador to Australia, H.E Abel Guterres.

A fitting location to hear the story of Ablel’s fight for the right to ‘self-determination’ for the people of Timor-Leste. 

Peter McMullin

Steve Bracks AC, former Premier of Victoria and long time active supporter retold the story of Abel, a refugee from the Indonesian invasion arriving in Darwin in 1975 in a ‘commandeered’ aircraft with no English language and nothing but the clothes he stood in. A man who became an activist, lobbyist, Consul General and Ambassador for his country.

The years following saw Indonesia withdraw with devastating consequences, a vote for Independence, an agreement re the maritime boundary and equally important the establishing of ‘friendship relationships’ between Australia and Timor-Leste based on location. 

The reception was also a chance to launch the publication ‘Friends Across The Timor Sea’. Really beautiful bound books in both English and Tetun, sharing the stories of friendship between the two countries. Congratulations to all involved on this project. In the words of Abel,

“I have been consistently humbled by how many Australians want to walk alongside the Timorese people in our journey through independence to development.”

Ambassador H.E Abel Guterres

As he steps down from this position after the long battle and the many triumphs, we wish him well and I am confident we can agree that we will continue to ‘walk’ in solidarity alongside our neighbouring friends.

Julie Whelan

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