I will travel to Dili, Timor-Leste between 19-21 September as part of Australia’s recognition of the 20th anniversary of the deployment of the International Force East Timor (INTERFET).
The anniversary is an opportunity to honour the role of the INTERFET mission in restoring peace and paving the way for an independent, sovereign and economically sustainable Timor-Leste.
It is a privilege to join the Timor-Leste Government, the people of Timor-Leste and INTERFET veterans to mark 20 years of this historic deployment.
I look forward to meeting veterans and serving ADF members who served with the INTERFET mission with Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Darren Chester, at a 20th Anniversary reception on board the HMAS Choules, which is in Dili to mark the commemorations.
My first visit to Timor Leste as Defence Minister will also provide an opportunity for formal discussions with the Timorese Government on deepening our close engagement in maritime, training and peacekeeping domains.
I will visit Hera Naval Base near Dili, which will be upgraded through the maritime security package announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, to ensure it is ready to receive the two Guardian-class Patrol Boats that Australia will gift in 2023.
My visit also coincides with the conclusion of Exercise Hari’i Hamutuk – a month-long annual engineering and skills exercise.
This year Australian and Timorese Sappers worked side-by side to improve their skills in construction, infrastructure development and equipment maintenance skills through projects around the nation’s capital.
Meaning ‘build together’ in Tetum, Hari’i Hamutuk is emblematic of the future of Australia-Timorese defence cooperation, focused on practical cooperation to support the growth of Timor-Leste’s defence capability.