La’o Hamutuk OilWeb (from 2008 and earlier)
2002-4: Australian Parliament actions
Updated March 2017
This page contains information and documents relating to Australian parliamentary debate and ratification of the Sunrise International Unitization Agreement and the Timor Sea Treaty. The sections below are in approximate chronological order.
In June 2003, the parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties asked for and received the following submissions in relations to the Sunrise International Unitization Agreement:
From East Timorese organizations:
From Australia supporters of East Timor (all PDF):
From other Australians (all PDF):
The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties held a one-day hearing in Canberra on 23 June 2003. Several MPs questioned the government forcefully as to whether Australia was playing fair by East Timor. In July 2003, the Australian parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties issued Report 53, which recommended that Australia ratify the IUA.
The rush begins
On the night of 9 March 2004, the Howard government informed Parliament that the Sunrise IUA was to be ratified the following day, under an expedited process. An implementation bill, together with an explanatory memorandum, were submitted to parliament for urgent action.
The Maritime Union of Australia passed a resolution condemning the government's efforts to rush the IUA through parliament.
Senate Economics Committee actions
The Australian Senate re-opened the Sunrise IUA for public comment during one week in mid-March, 2004. They received submissions from La'o Hamutuk, Oxfam, the Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Australians for a Free East Timor, Woodside Petroleum, Annette Madvig, Stanley Stork, Janet Hunt and Alan Taylor.
The new Melbourne-based Timor Sea Justice Campaign prepared a fact sheet, and testified at the Senate Economics Committee public hearing on 22 March. On the day of the hearing, East Timor's government protested that Australia is Undermining 'Greater Sunrise' Development.
Senate debate on the Sunrise IUA took longer than expected, due to opposition from the smaller parties. The issue was bitterly debated on the Senate floor on 23, 24 and 25 March, and finally passed on 29 March. On 26 March, Prime Minister Alkatiri voiced concerns over ALP support for the International Unitisation Agreement bill.
On 31 March, East Timor's government vigorously protested the ratification, as well as Australia's release of new offshore areas in contested territory for exploration contracts: Timor-Leste Protests Unlawful Exploitation of its Resources.
Delayed until 2007
Timor-Leste did not submit the IUA to its Parliament for ratification until February 2007, at the same time as the CMATS Treaty. Australia's Parliament conducted another inquiry at that time covering CMATS and the IUA, and issued another report. Both agreements were ratified by both countries and came into force concurrently, on 23 February 2007. This website has another page discussing developments since then.
Timor Sea Treaty (TST)
In June 2002, The Australian Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties asked people and organizations to make submissions (testimony) regarding the proposed treaties, which were received as follows.
From East Timorese organizations
From solidarity groups and activists in Australia
From international solidarity groups
From oil companies
From Australian state governments
From legal "experts"
Other Australian organizations
Other Australian individuals
Hansard (transcripts) of hearings of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties on the Timor Sea Treaty
The Australian government has compiled a Treaty Information Kit with detailed general information about how a treaty becomes law in Australia, many useful links, and related information.
The Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties reported on 11 November 2002, recommending the prompt approval of the Timor Sea Treaty. Although East Timor ratified it the following month, Australia did not ratify until March 2003.
During 1999-2000, the Australian Parliament also conducted hearings and issued a report (PDF).
Hansard (transcripts) of floor debates provided by the Australian Parliament
The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)