Wed, 21 June 2017
Submarine oil and gas reserves in what is known as the Timor Gap has been an issue since the Portugese controlled Timor Leste, and is believed to be behind the invasion of Timor Leste by Indonesia in 1975. The legality of agreements between Australia and Indonesia over the sharing of resources in the Timor Sea have been questioned since Timorese independence was achieved in 1999.
The Australian government refused to UN rulings on the sea boundaries. In 2016 Timor Leste launched proceedings for compulsory conciliation.
Australia and Timor Leste are currently negotiating in thee Conciliation Commission for permanent maritime boundaries, but given Australia's record, supporters of Timor Leste are not confident of a fair outcome for Timor, and the Commision itself says the process will be 'protracted'.
A delegation of the Timor Sea Justice Alliance approached Senators on June 13 to raise the issue in Parliament, and if a fair decision is not arrived at by the time of the Commission's deadline on September 17, to initiate a Senate enquiry.
(Graphic; Foreign Minister Gareth Evans celebrates the now contested Timor Gap 'treaty' with Indonesia's Ali Alitas with champagne in 1989)