Australia agrees play fair over Timor Sea reserves

Contributed by Ugly

There may be some hope for justice after all.  At least it seems so, when it comes to the standoff over oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.

This is a valuable resource near Timor-Leste (East Timor), which is much needed to meet the small nation’s energy needs and to fund a way out from economic under development. Unfortunately, Australia has been trying to take it away for decades, arguing that the waters where this resource is located falls into Australian territory.

From the Timorese point of view, this is bullying by a much bigger neighbor. The reserves are clearly much Closer to Timor-Leste.

Refusing to be bullied, the tiny nation has been waging a long campaign to see this turned around. The strategy has been to take the matter to international forums, while continuing to work for dialogue and negotiate a reasonable settlement with Australia.

The Australian government has finally agreed on a new maritime boundary, as well as arrangements that would see the sharing of billions of dollars from the Greater Sunrise reserves. The agreement was reached at talks in The Hague.

Xanana Gusmao, the hero of East Timor’s struggle for independence and leader of his country’s delegation in the talks, described it as an “historic agreement that marks the beginning of a new era in Timor-Leste’s [East Timor’s] friendship with Australia”.

He said it will “help us achieve our dream of full sovereignty and to finally settle our maritime boundaries with Australia”.

The full extent of the agreement is not known yet and there are still some details to work out. Nevertheless, some progress has been made.

Most Australians would be behind a fair outcome and expect the Australian government to do the right thing. We have a responsibility to our neighbours to make sure this is exactly what happens.



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