Response to Response

On August 12 an article by Stephen Grenville was posted on "the interpreter", entitled Timor Gap: A response to Senator Xenophon.

I commented on the original Xenophon article in a previous blog post called Get on with it.

Grenville’s article rolls out what I believe is the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade traditional position on the issue of Timor-Leste’s maritime boundaries.  It is no surprise that Mr. Grenville used to work for DFAT

My old friend Janelle Saffin has shared a comment with TIMFO that she has submitted to "the interpreter" regarding the Grenville article.  Janelle has been kind enough to join us from time to time at the Timor Sea Justice Forum. As usual she is straight to the point.

She responds to Grenville's article saying:

"The issue is not about the money, but about respecting a neighbour's sovereignty and drawing borders that are based on law.  Even if Timor-Leste cannot spend all the money as both Stephen (author) and Neil in his comments section say, my question is "what has this got to do with the law of the sea?"  Answer, nothing at all.  Also Neil, all spendingis accounted for, going up on a publicly accessible portal.  

"Stephen claims it is all about geography; well no, it is actually all about law.  My views have been consistent over the years, are not new, but ones borne of research, and knowledge of our fraught history and the law of the sea.  In the same way the author's are consistent with DFAT's view, which has been consistently wrong footed, regarding East Timor and Indonesia and the law in this area.  

"The 1972 Seabed Boundary Agreement between Australia and Indonesia itself recognises that a third party was missing and that party was Timor-Leste.  Minister Fairbairn in his submission to our Cabinet in 1965 argued that we needed to adopt the median line principle, warning that we would end up in confrontation with our neighbour.  The median line is not as the author says, something that the judicial decision makers came up with, being too hard for them to decide between the continental shelf and the equidistant principle.  They simply applied the law on the median line, first articulated in the Convention on the Continental Shelf 1958 and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, both of which Australia embraced, then chucked out the umpire when they realised they had to negotiate with Timor-Leste, something that was not part of the original Timor Sea script.

"If history has successive Australian Governments captive, as it does, the elected representatives need to unshackle the Government.  This issue will dog Australia and will not go away.  When Australia gave de jure recognition to Indonesia's unlawful occupation of East Timor so we could negotiate over the Timor Sea, that dogged us too.  That never went away and this is part of that unfinished business." 

Janelle Saffin Senior Legal Advisor Timor-Leste

We have a blog post on "chucking out the umpire" called The Carve Out.

There is another blog to come on this because the DFAT position can be countered on every point.

Thanks to Janelle for her clear response to the response.