23 July 2019


23 July 2019


Cr Fraser – I am very pleased to report on a very active quarter by the Mornington Peninsula Friends of Lospalos, which has, of course, its reciprocal friends in Lospalos – Friends of Mornington Peninsula.

The committee has met regularly over the quarter and, in conjunction with the Shire’s Library week event in May, conducted an outstanding book launch of Professor Clinton Fernandes’ new book ‘Island off the Coast of Asia” – a detailed analysis of Australian foreign policy particularly in its tortured relationship with Indonesia and East Timor. Professor Fernandes and barrister and former ACT Attorney General Bernard Collaery gave outstanding talks on these relations, the Timor Sea negotiations and the operation of Australian terrorism legislation in the pending prosecution of Witness K in the ACT Magistrates Court.

The evening concluded with an extensive Q & A and was attended by over 80 including our Mayor, Cr Morris and our CEO John Baker. The Friends extend their grateful thanks to the council staff, our own councillor support staff, and the Mornington Hallkeepers.

The Mayor, Chair of the Friends Xiao Li attended a reception at Parliament House in June, hosted by incoming Timor Leste Consul General for Victoria Peter McMullin, for the outgoing Timor Leste Ambassador, the personable Abel Gutteres who launched a history of the Friends groups. His next task will involve Timor Leste accredited carbon offset projects. The function was attended by Mayors and Chairpersons from the Local Government Friendship Groups, many medical practitioners and surgeons who undertake regular voluntary medical and surgical work in Timor Leste.

I am pleased to also report that the visiting Mornington Peninsula Specs for Lospalos Incorporated optometry team safely arrived in Dili yesterday with some $30,000 of optometry equipment weighing more than 80kg donated by the profession on the Mornington Peninsula and some 1,000 spectacles donated by Specsavers and Lions to prescribe and fit in a clinic to be conducted over five days at the Lospalos Hospital in Centro Lospalos. The Lautem District Administrator Zeferino Dos Santos Sequeira is to lead the opening of the clinic in Lospalos at 9.00 am on Thursday.

The team is being led by Specsavers Rosebud senior optometrist Colleen Hammond and includes our former mayors and councilors Tim Rodgers and Graham Pittock, Harry Pittock and David and Patricia Ball. All are volunteers paying their own way.

Today will have been a busy day for the team in Dili with meetings arranged with senior medical staff at the Dili Hospital, the National Eye Centre and the head of the Canossian Order of Nuns in Timor Leste Madre Guilhermina Marcal FdCC – who is a political figure in her own right – and the British Consul Tracey Morgan

And on a side note – the team are also taking to Lospalos a Sky Hydrant provided by Rotary Dromana for demonstrating its potential to provide clean safe drinking water.

Some $1,900 has been raised from private donations for the SPECS project and special thanks need to be extended to Collen Hammond and the volunteer team and our own Council management and councillor support – Simone Borthwick and also Randal Mathison.  Samuel Soares First Secretary Timor Leste Embassy in Canberra in making the arrangements facilitating the clinic, “on the ground” in Lospalos and to the Embassy in securing customs clearance for the equipment.

It has been a very substantial logistical and volunteer project and with great possibility of this becoming an annual clinic.

The Friends’ Committee are awaiting details of three projects from towns outlying Lospalos and a further project – rebuilding a school room burnt out by the Indonesians at outlying Leuro – which the visiting election observer team were taken to see in May last year – may also evolve into a major project requiring partnering with other likeminded domestic agencies. Some limited Commonwealth Grant funding may become available to assist with these projects and may require restructuring of the Friends.