A very interesting couple of weeks have passed. On the 11th of April we heard that East Timor had given notice to the Australia that they had initiated Compulsory Conciliation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS]. It is shameful that the Timorese have to go to such lengths to encourage Australia to come to the table and talk on the issue of maritime boundaries.
Then on the 29th of April we held a special event in Sydney featuring H.E. Xanana Gusmão where he talked about the "Wall of Silence", the refusal of the current Government of Australia to engage with East Timor to negotiate. For many of us that event confirmed our campaign as necessary and reinvigorated our passion for this cause.
On Monday the 2nd of May we heard that Australia had responded to the initiation of Compulsory Conciliation by appointing their two conciliators to the five person panel that is to consider the current impasse and try to bring the parties together. That was in the nick of time since the 21 day deadline for the appointment was on that very day.
Then, just when we might have had some hope that the Commission might offer a way forward, the thinking of the Government, expressed by the Head of DFAT in a Senate Estimates hearing on Friday the 6th of May, brought a dose of reality. Mr Peter Varghese, said "we don't believe there is any basis to revisit the arrangements."
It seems that the Government of Australia has no intention of participating in this Conciliation process to find an amicable solution on maritime boundaries. Most likely they will have their top taxpayer funded lawyers working overtime to get out of it.
We hope that the Compulsory Conciliation can break the impasse but from this response it is clear that the pressure for change must remain and intensify. When the Head of DFAT trots out lines about how generous things are we can be sure - they don't get it!
And then of course on Sunday our Australian Federal Election was confirmed to be held on the 2nd of July. Please ask your local member and candidates what their position is on East Timor. This is an important time for us to send a message that for us this issue matters and that it is now time to right the wrong and draw the line in the Timor Sea. We have some materials that might help you in our Come on Aussie page.
Finally please come to our meeting on Wednesday the 11th of May if you are in Sydney so that together we can set out our next steps and continue to support our close neighbours in this issue.