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Australia and Timor-Leste: Illustrating the benefits of the ‘New Deal’

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Timorese Finance Minister, Emilia Pires, met with Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr and AusAID officials in Canberra last week to review Australia’s development assistance program with Timor-Leste. They also discussed implementation of the ‘New Deal’ for engagement in fragile states.

Minister Pires has been Finance Minister since 2007 and is responsible for Timor-Leste’s Office for Donor Effectiveness. In these roles, she has become a vocal advocate for sustainable development both in Timor-Leste and elsewhere. In 2010, Minister Pires was elected Chair of the g7+. The g7+ is an international grouping of 18 countries that have come together to give voice to the unique challenges faced by fragile and conflict affected states. More recently, Minister Pires was appointed by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons tasked with identifying a new set of international development benchmarks to replace the Millennium Development Goals framework from 2015.

Minister Pires has been instrumental in advocating for a fresh approach to working with international donors to overcome poverty and under-development. As part of her leadership of the g7+, Minister Pires has championed a new way for international development known as the New Deal to help fragile and conflict affected countries take charge of their own future. The New Deal calls for recipient governments to take greater control of development in their country and for donor assistance to align behind local priorities. ‘It’s about ending the monologue to us, and starting the dialogue with us,’ said Minister Pires.

Australia and Timor-Leste were among the first countries in the world to sign up to the New Deal at the High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan last year. Under the agreement, Australia is supporting Timor-Leste’s own development objectives as outlined in its Strategic Development Plan 2011–2030. This has placed Timorese priorities at the heart of Australia’s aid program with Timor-Leste.

Minister Pires praised Australia for its commitment to aligning its aid program behind Timor-Leste’s priorities. ‘Australia has been a remarkable donor is supporting Timor-Leste and the New Deal,’ said Minister Pires.

The New Deal places country-led and owned decisions, complemented by targeted and helpful support of partners, at the forefront of development solutions. This is making international aid more effective by reducing waste and overlap and supporting host-countries to deliver better services to the poor.

‘By working closely together to address Timor-Leste’s needs, our joint efforts are focused on achieving a common goal,’ said Minister Pires.

Australia’s Development Assistance Partnership with Timor-Leste

Australia remains Timor-Leste’s biggest aid partner. With the UN mission and the International Stabilisation Force withdrawing from the country, Australia’s development partnership is taking on greater prominence. Looking ahead, Australia has committed to:

  • assisting Timor-Leste reach its goal of rehabilitating all rural roads by 2015, creating some 52,000 jobs by 2016 and bringing opportunities to the rural poor

  • supporting Timor-Leste’s target of providing 75 per cent of the rural population with access to a safe water supply by 2015

  • seeking to provide quality basic education to 93 per cent of 6–14 year olds and reducing the drop-out rate to five per cent by 2015.

Australia is proud to partner with Timor-Leste to pioneer the New Deal. While there remains more work to do, we are pleased we have the right model in place to give the Timorese government the support it needs to generate positive change for its people.

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Australia’s aid program with Timor-Leste