Today there was a peaceful demonstration in Dili calling on the Australian Government to negotiate a maritime boundary with East Timor. More are planned in Dili and a big one is coming up in Melbourne next month.

Last week at a Symposium on Maritime Boundaries in the Timor Sea we learned that the Government of Timor-Leste has officially requested Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to engage on this issue.

The week before last the Australian Labor Party announced a policy to negotiate maritime boundaries with Timor-Leste and to submit itself to third party arbitration or adjudication if mutual agreement was not achieved.

Hallelujah, the years of bipartisan policy to not engage are over.

It has certainly been a good start to the year.

But will it change anything?

My hope is that Mr. Turnbull, a strong advocate for International Law and the role of courts to resolve maritime boundary disputes, will lead on this issue when he responds to the Government of Timor-Leste.

And he will respond - I am told that as a matter of protocol he must.

But East Timor will be wary. And they should be. The Government of East Timor suspended court cases, at Australia's request, to allow for "talks" once before and their expectations were not met. They were disappointed.

A charming response will not be enough. The Timorese will expect something substantive and will not look kindly on delaying tactics.

Interesting times.

We supporters need to keep pressing. Inertia takes a lot of energy to overcome.