This week the tiny nation of East Timor found itself caught up in the vicissitudes of Australia’s domestic politics. In her first policy speech as prime minister, Julia Gillard proclaimed the country’s interest in a regional solution to an apparently regional problem. She announced a plan to create a regional hub for processing refugees on East Timor as a means of deterring mainly Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers from paying criminal syndicates for passage to Australia.
The Prime Minister stated she had discussed the issue with East Timor’s president Jose Ramos-Horta. She had, however, neglected to include East Timor’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao in the discussion, who then allowed his own party to join in a unanimous condemnation of the plan in parliament (considering the only thing Timorese politicians seem to agree on is their lack of love for Australia, there was probably never a big chance of the plan going anywhere anyway.)