Bega Valley Shire Council has unanimously carried a motion on East Timor maritime boundaries that says
1. That Council call on the Australian Federal Government to immediately commence negotiations with the Timor Leste Government on permanent maritime boundaries, using a median line approach.
2. That Council 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 an independent body if necessary.
East Timor, the youngest and one of the poorest countries in Asia, lies about 610 kilometres northwest of the Australian city of Darwin and Australia has played a prominent role in the young republic's history.
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and thousands of deaths resulted. Following the Declaration of Independence Australia has led international support for East Timor during its first 10 years of independence, and has been one of the largest bilateral donors of development assistance, but also by providing a leadership role to ensure security and stability in the country.
Australia led the military force that helped stabilize the country after it gained independence from Indonesia in 1999 and has been a major source of aid since.
On 1 October 2015, at the International Peace Institute in New York Former President of Timor Leste, Dr José Ramos-Horta, stated:
“We share the Timor Sea between Timor Leste and Australia. We have 368 miles; there is an overlap of 200 miles. We would agree on a maritime boundary by following the international practice of median line determination”.
Australia’s support of 1.2 million people of Timor Leste by agreeing to a maritime boarder between our two coastlines would permit Timor Leste to share lucrative oil fields
Bega Valley Shire Council's relationship with Timor Leste
The Bega Valley Shire Council has a friendship relationship with the sub-district of Barique-Natarbora (Manatuto District) in Timor Leste. It was signed in 2004 by the District Administrator, Mr Elvino Bonaparte de Rego, Mr Rui Gomes, the Sub-District Administrator and the Mayor of Bega Valley Shire Council, Mr David Hede.
The Bega Valley Advocates for Timor Leste, founded twelve years ago, has regularly celebrated Timor Leste’s Independence Day with the Bega Valley Shire Council, with a flag raising ceremony in Littleton Gardens and a presentation of the group’s Annual Report.
The advocates have supported the Sub- District of Natarbora for 11 years. They began with the re-building of the agricultural college destroyed by Indonesian forces. Bega Valley Shire Council contributed $4,000 to assist with teacher training and local advocates have provided vocational resources and books in the Tetum Language.
We need to support the people of Timor Leste, who supported the Australian soldiers after the invasion of Timor by the Japanese during World War II. The Timor Leste people were punished for providing that support. At the same time, Australia needs to be a good friend and natural ally to Timor Leste to assist in ensuring a future for the Timor Leste people free of poverty and hunger.
Cr Liz Seckold