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Near Neighbours: Timor-Leste

Listen to Near Neighbours: Timor-Leste

It has been fifteen years since Indonesia relinquished control of East Timor and the Australian-led intervention supported the successful quest for self-determination. Following the independence ballot, in 2002 Timor-Leste emerged as the first sovereign nation state of the twenty-first century.

Since then, the relationship between Australia and Timor-Leste has been close, with strong trade partnerships and extensive aid programs, but it has also been shadowed by disputes. The contested ownership of Timor Sea oil and gas reserves and scandals over Australian spying on its near neighbour has, at times, tested the friendship. How strong is the Australia/Timor-Leste relationship? When will permanent maritime boundaries be established? And how is Timor-Leste faring as an independent nation?

For our final Fifth Estate of 2014, Sally Warhaft is joined by Timor-Leste’s Goodwill Ambassador for Education Dr Kirsty Sword Gusmão and former Premier of Victoria Steve Bracks, now special advisor to the prime minister of Timor-Leste.


Portrait of Steve Bracks

Steve Bracks

Steve Bracks was Premier of Victoria for almost eight years, winning successive elections with large majorities. As Premier, Steve started rebuilding Victoria’s services and infrastructure while maintaining strong budgets and a growing economy. He now advises the Timor-Leste prime minister and several leading Australian finance and service sector corporations.

Portrait of Kirsty Sword Gusmao

Kirsty Sword Gusmao

Kirsty has lived in Timor-Leste since October, 1999 and is the founder and chairwoman of the Alola Foundation which she established in 2001 to address the needs of Timorese women and their families. The Xanana Gusmão Reading Room was established in the same year and Kirsty continues as the patron and chair of this library now housed in the Sentru Kulturál Xanana in Dili. She is the Goodwill Ambassador for Education for Timor-Leste.

Portrait of Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.

Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.

The Fifth Estate

The important stories of the day – off the front pages.

Sally Warhaft hosts a dizzying array of guests from the worlds of politics, culture, international relations and beyond, in a witty and revealing analysis of current affairs.