Not Waiting

We should hear about the decision of the Conciliation Commission in response to Australia's challenge to its existence in the next two or three weeks.

But I am not waiting for this. 

Whatever decision is made by the five commissioners will not be a decision about the merits of Timor's position or about where a boundary between our two countries would be drawn. 

It will be a technical decision about the suitability of the commission to hear the issue based on the relevant articles of the Untied Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS].

The fact is that regardless of the upcoming decision there is still an unresolved  dispute with our neighbour.

It remains a source of bitterness, is unnecessary, reflects poorly on Australia and could be resolved now by our Government. Fan of Labor or not, had Labor made it over the line in the July election we would already be in direct negotiations with the Government of East Timor to establish the maritime border between our two countries.

It is possible and it will happen, sooner or later. But sooner would be much better.

JB Contrasting.jpeg

It is deeply disappointing to me that our Government is so determined to avoid this UN process when we are so vocal about the value of UNCLOS as a mechanism to solve maritime disputes in the South China Sea. There is a clear and uncomfortable contrast in the language applied to the two disputes shown in the picture here. I have written before on why it is in Australia's national interests to enter into negotiations with Timor and one reason is to leave this hypocritical double standard behind.

Now is the time to ramp up our efforts rather than playing wait and see. You will be hearing more from the Timor Sea Justice Forum and the Timor Sea Justice Campaign in the coming weeks. I recommend to you the new crowd funding campaign being undertaken by our friends in the TSJC to support the advocacy work. We encourage you to ask your local member what their position is on establishing the maritime border with East Timor. Information about  a range of activities over the remaining months of 2016 coming soon.