Council stands tall

The Leichhardt Council last night passed a resolution calling on the Australian Government to "immediately commence negotiations on permanent maritime boundaries with Timor-Leste using a median line approach."

This local council, in Sydney NSW, has a long and distinguished record of support for the people and Government of Timor-Leste both prior to independence and since 2001 when the Council approved the establishment of a friendship relationship between Leichhardt and Maliana.

In introducing the resolution it was noted that this resolution would provide the Council and the community with "the opportunity to advocate to our Australian Government to resume negotiations to establish maritime boundaries, and to ensure that Timor-Leste is treated fairly in the Timor Sea."

Here is the resolution that was approved:

That Council:

1.    call on the Australian Government to immediately commence negotiations on permanent maritime boundaries with Timor-Leste using a median line approach;

2.    call on the Australian Government to resubmit to the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, so that the boundaries can be settled by and independent body if necessary;

3.    write to the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to inform them of this resolution

4.    contact other local councils in NSW to join with Leichhardt Council and its community in calling on the Australian Government to recognize fair dealing with Timor-Leste and commence negotiations on fair maritime boundaries.
 

Congratulations to Leichhardt Council for this support.

Here is the information shared before the resolution was passed:

Background

Leichhardt Council has a long and distinguished record of support for the people and Government of Timor-Leste – both prior to independence and since 2001 when Council approved the establishment of a friendship relationship between Leichhardt and Maliana.

The first friendship agreement was signed on behalf of the people of Maliana by Xanana Gusmao when he came to Sydney to receive the Sydney Peace Prize.

In light of this relationship, it is appropriate for Council to take a position on matters of importance to Timor-Leste peoples and Australia.

It is time Australia entered into good faith discussions with East Timor (Timor-Leste) to finally agree on maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea.

The Australian government has delayed negotiations on setting fair permanent maritime boundaries with Timor-Leste.

In doing this they have also failed to agree to submit to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, as provided for by the United Nations Convention on the law of the sea.

East Timor has sought for years to renegotiate the treaty governing oil and gas revenue sharing arrangements that was signed with Australia in 2002 – The Timor Sea treaty, believing that when they signed it that Australia would carry out those renegotiations in good faith, as close neighbor and friend.

In 2002 Australia amended its acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and other judicial settlement options, stating that it would accept the jurisdiction of the Court, except where disputes involve maritime boundary delimitation or disputes concerning the exploitation of an area in dispute or adjacent to an area in dispute (amongst other exceptions).

The gas field issue and maritime boundaries has therefore carried on for years, with the Australian Government refusing to negotiate permanent boundaries.

Existing productive oil and gas fields are approaching the end of their lifespan, leaving East Timor vulnerable to an economic disaster as it relies on oil and gas income for about 90 per cent of its budget revenues and needs.

If maritime boundaries were set in accordance with the median and International Law and the median boundary approach, the significant fields of gas located both inside and

outside the treaty zone of co-operation would belong to Timor-Leste as part of its exclusive economic zone.

One such field – the Greater Sunrise Field – located just 150 kilometres from Timor’s shore, may generate some $40 billion for Timor-Leste.

Another such field – Laminaria Corallina - has yielded $2 billion in taxes and royalties for Australia since 1999, all of which would have gone to Timor-Leste if the maritime boundaries were set in accordance with International Law.

This proposed resolution provides Leichhardt Council and its community with the opportunity to advocate to our Australian Government to resume negotiations to establish maritime boundaries, and ensure that Timor-Leste is treated fairly in the Timor Sea. 

More information on the Council's relationship with Timor-Leste is on their website here.