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Jose Ramos-Horta visits New College

Thursday 18 September, 2014
by Jonathan Billingham
The Former President of Timor-Leste advocates for a compassionate future relationship

New College was privileged to have His Excellency Professor José Ramos-Horta GCL AC as the guest speaker at a Formal Dinner on Monday, 8th September 2014. Ramos-Horta is a Former President & Prime Minister of Timor Leste, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and most recently the United Nations' special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau.

Professor Ramos-Horta’s visit to New College was a special event organised in partnership with UNSW, Law and the Diplomacy Training Program (DTP). The DTP was an initiative of Professor Garth Nettheim and José Ramos-Horta. Together they founded the organisation at UNSW in 1989 while Ramos-Horta was still in exile and working as a diplomat advocating for Timor Leste’s independence from its then occupier, Indonesia.

Over 70 guests from the Diplomacy Training Program and UNSW, Law joined together with members of the New College community to hear from the special guest speaker. This was the first time New Collegians have had the opportunity to listen to a former President of a foreign nation speaking at a Formal Dinner. Professor Ramos-Horta’s address was titled Recalibration of the relationship between Timor-Leste and Australia. In this he discussed the current context in which Timor-Leste is seeking membership of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) before going on to consider historical and ongoing relations between Timor-Leste and Australia.

The Former President offered his own views for why it makes moral, economic and construction feasibility sense to process oil and gas reserves from the Timor Sea in Timor-Leste rather than on offshore processing facilities and in Australia. Ramos-Horta, who has spent his life advocating for the people of Timor-Leste, shared that countries like Australia and Timor-Leste must be led by a vision that is full of mercy, compassion and hope.

New Collegians had an opportunity to ask Professor Ramos-Horta questions following his address, which was being filmed by several television crews. As always, New Collegians asked intelligent and probing questions demonstrating their inertest and understanding of life outside the College walls.