The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP


Media Release

FA74 / 20 May 2002

Diplomatic Appointment: First Ambassador to East Timor

Australia today announced the appointment of James Batley as Australian Ambassador to East Timor. Mr Batley will be Australia's first Ambassador to an independent East Timor.

The Australian people have long held a special affinity with East Timor. Its arrival on the world stage as an independent nation marks a special moment for our two nations. Australia looks forward to seeing our neighbour take its place in the international and regional communities.

The coming of independence heralds a new phase in Australia's relationship with East Timor. East Timor will face significant challenges as it strives for prosperity for its people and works to establish the institutions and governance systems of nationhood. Australia will remain committed to East Timor and to helping the new nation reach its stable, democratic and peaceful potential.

Australia and its people have done much to assist East Timor on its path to independence. We led the deployment of INTERFET and have made a substantial contribution to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), including to the UNTAET peacekeeping force and civilian police. Australia has been and will continue to be a strong advocate for East Timor in international fora. Our significant aid program of $150 million over four years from 2000-01, which is focused on governance, education, health, water supply and sanitation and rural development, has made a substantial contribution to preparing the people of East Timor for independence and the challenges beyond.

East Timor's independence will allow our two nations to build on the already strong ties of friendship between us and to develop the partnerships, including the community and business links, that will add further depth to our post-independence relationship.

Mr Batley's appointment as Australia's first ambassador to East Timor marks the culmination of his three year assignment, which will conclude shortly. As Australia's first Consul in our re-established Consulate in Dili, Mr Batley was on the ground in East Timor during the difficult period in the lead up to the August 1999 ballot. He was redesignated as Australian Representative to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor following the independence vote. The close and productive nature of Australia's bilateral relationship with East Timor as it assumes its independence is testament to Mr Batley's efforts.

Mr Batley is a career Foreign Service officer who joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1984. He served at the Australian High Commissions in Port Vila and Port Moresby, the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and as High Commissioner to Solomon Islands from 1997-99. He was born in Sydney in 1958 and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from Sydney University.

Media inquiries: Lyndall Sachs (Departmental) 6261 1555


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