Subject: Canberra to seek sister-city relationship with Dili

Canberra Plans for Sister City Relationship with Dili

To all Candidates for the ACT Election [in Australia]

Dear Candidate

I understand that the Chief Minister, Mr Gary Humphries has made a commitment that the Liberal party, if elected, will inaugurate a sister city relationship with Dili, the soon to be capital of the independent republic of Timor Lorosa'e. Many residents of the ACT will welcome this commitment, as there is much goodwill here toward the people of Timor and a desire to assist in the rebuilding of the country.

However, I believe that there is another model of cooperation that would best suit the needs of Dili in the present circumstances. The sister city concept may have a degree of formality and a commercial element that is perhaps not yet appropriate. A model of cooperation which may better fit the current circumstances is the Friendship City Program which have been adopted by a number of Victorian city councils and by some councils in New South Wales and Queensland.

Attached is background information on the Friendship City Programs established between these councils and various towns and districts in Timor Lorosa’e. I have gathered this information on various trips to Melbourne. I was very inspired by the work that the Melbourne councils and their residents are putting in on their projects and I believe that there is much the same level of community support and good will in Canberra, provided a framework could be established to channel it into appropriate activities.

I have contacted staff from six councils, Port Phillip, Darebin, Moreland, Yarra Mornington Peninsula and Casey, and have had e-mail and telephone contact with some others. The projects of the various councils are in different stages of development and their approaches are somewhat different, but all adhere to a Statement of Principles for Victorian Local Governments Working in East Timor signed by Xanana Gusmau and representatives of the local government sector in May 2000.

I have also spoken with people from Kangaroo Valley who have a district to district relationship with the town of Remexio. Kangaroo Valley is a community of about 600 people who have worked tirelessly to build up their relationship with their partner district. They are involved in small-scale projects aimed at making a difference to the daily lives of people in their own district and in their partner community.

The friendship city concept is different to that of ‘sister cities’. It is essentially a series of grass roots people to people initiatives, for which the city or shire council provides an administrative framework and contributes its expertise in areas such as urban planning and services.

I feel that the ACT Government, which has many of the functions of local government, has the capacity to offer a great deal to such a relationship and that it could effectively be established during the life of the new ACT Government.

There are already community groups in Canberra which provide support to various small-scale projects to assist the people of Timor Lorosa'e to reconstruct their country and these could form the nucleus of a friendship city program.

I would be happy to assist in contacting some of these groups to canvass their views on this matter.

Although I am currently standing as an ACT Greens candidate for Ginninderra I am writing to you as a ratepayer of Canberra to seek your support on this issue.

I believe such a program deserves bipartisan support from all members of the ACT government. I believe that such a program could be inaugurated next year to coincide with the declaration of independence of the republic of Timor Lorosa'e and I would be happy to assist in any way possible to promote the initiative. If you would like to discuss this matter further or would like any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me on (02) 6254 1671 or via e-mail at

Yours sincerely,

(Mrs) Patricia Woodcroft-Lee

27 September 2001



Canberra Liberals


Date: Monday, September 24, 2001
Author: Gary Humphries


The Canberra Liberals would seek a sister-city relationship with the East Timor capital of Dili if re-elected on October 20, ACT Chief Minister, Gary Humphries, said today.

The idea of twinning was informally raised with Dili officials in August and has been welcomed by key players, including Jose Ramos-Horta, Fretilin Secretary-General Mari Alkatiri and the Dili District Administrator, Ruben de Carvalho.

“This would be an humanitarian relationship designed to provide practical assistance to develop services in the East Timorese capital following the traumatic path to independence,” Mr Humphries said.

“We envisage staff exchanges to build skills in areas such as municipal administration, urban services, health and education. We would provide on the job training for East Timorese officials in Canberra while ACT public servants could visit Dili to help train staff.

“Problem solving and on-going training could also be provided via the Internet and video-conferencing.

“The ACT may also donate equipment that may no longer be needed here but which would find a ready use in Dili. I would also like to see the ACT Government develop a register of organisations and businesses in Canberra willing to donate goods and services. These could then be matched with requests for help from Dili.

“If supported by the Assembly, the new sister city relationship would be funded from within existing budgets.

“Dili would be Canberra’s third sister city after the Japanese city of Nara and the Chinese capital, Beijing. I think it highly appropriate that all three cities are Asian.

“Our sister city relationships with Nara and Beijing have been beneficial to the social, cultural and economic life of Canberra. A relationship with Dili would enable us, an affluent and stable city, to provide real and meaningful assistance over an extended period to a brave and tenacious city that has endured so much trauma and terror over recent years,” Mr Humphries said.


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