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Australian Labor Party national policy on Timor Sea Treaty

Adopted 31 January 2004

Labor warmly welcomes the progress achieved by East Timor in working to build the foundations for a viable, self-sustaining, independent and sovereign state. Labor considers that Australia should continue to assist East Timor in building an independent future. Australia should be comprehensively engaged in supporting sustainable development in East Timor and the creation of democratic institutions, effective law enforcement and modern defence forces. Labor strongly supports the future development of a wide range of institutional and people-to-people ties between Australia and East Timor.

Labor recognises that the people of ET have the right to secure internationally recognised borders with all neighbouring countries. A future Labor Government will negotiate in good faith with the Government of East Timor in full accordance with international law and all its applications, including the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. In Government Labor will do all things reasonably practicable to achieve a negotiated settlement within 3-5 years. The conclusion of the maritime boundary should be based on the joint aspirations of both countries.

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Resolution passed by the Victorian State Conference of the Australian Labor Party

Adopted 18th May 2003 at the Melbourne Town Hall.

The State Conference of the Australian Labor Party

Recognizing that

The Timor Sea Treaty was signed by Prime Ministers Mari Alkatiri and John Howard on May 20th 2002.

Following its ratification by the Parliaments of both countries The Treaty entered into force on 2nd April 2003.

The Treaty provides for the sharing of petroleum production and taxation rights between Timor-Leste and Australia in one part of the Timor Sea which lies on Timor-Leste's side of the median line between the two countries.

Under the terms of the Treaty, Timor-Leste will receive 90 per cent of production and taxation rights, and Australia 10 per cent. Timor-Leste also gains administrative control over the Treaty area through the creation of a new Timor Sea Designated Authority. However the treaty will also bring even more significant economic benefits to Australia, both from upstream revenue and from the proposed location of gas processing facilities in Darwin.

The first major development in the Treaty area will be the Bayu-Undan development. The gas development of Bayu-Undan is estimated to bring total revenues to Timor-Leste, over the 17 year life of the field, of US $3 billion.

The Treaty, despite having defects, due to its history, provides a clear legal, environmental and occupational health and safety framework for petroleum investment in one part of the Timor Sea which will encourage investment, to bring petroleum fields into production.

The government of Timor-Leste is of the view however that the Treaty does not provide a permanent or comprehensive framework. According to Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, 'A permanent framework can only be provided by permanent maritime boundaries, which unfortunately Timor-Leste does not yet have.'

The Timor Sea Treaty is signed by both parties without prejudice to the negotiation of permanent sea-bed boundaries.

The (Victorian) State Conference of the Australian Labor Party

bulletRecognises that the people of East Timor have the right to secure, internationally recognised borders with all neighbouring countries, and calls on the Howard government to respond to initiatives by the government of Timor-Leste to begin discussions on this issue.
bulletDeplores the action of the Howard government in removing Australia from the International Court of Justice for the purpose of international boundary determination.
bulletCommits a future Labor Government to immediately enter into serious negotiations in good faith with the Government of Timor-Leste about permanent seabed boundaries based on current international law.
bulletImmediately return Australia to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice for the purpose of adjudicating international boundaries.

The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (Lao Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua D. Alberto Ricardo, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
email: 
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