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"The crux of the problem is that bad laws and bad treaties remain so until changed and no deal can overcome that fact. The original Evans-Alatas 'Timor Gap' Treaty was flawed and discredited. The May 2002 'Timor Sea' Treaty was similarly flawed by Canberra's overbearing insistence on 'Annexe E' ;  thereby locking the very new East Timor administration into conceeding 82% of Greater Sunrise to Australia at a time when they  had no room to negotiate either royalties or confirmed borders. The real way forward is, to coin a now popular phrase, "truth in government". We are obliged by international law to negotiate with fairness, equity and in good faith with our neighbours. Let's get on with it while there is still time." Jefferson Lee, Timor Sea Campaign officer, Australia East Timor Association (NSW) & member, Timor Sea Justice Coalition Sydney


Subject:  A response to SMH editorial 9/8/04
"Timor solution not in the law books"



Author:

Jefferson Lee,

Special Projects & Timor Sea Campaign officer, AETA Sydney, NSW
Member, TSJC Sydney, NSW

PO Box 703 Leichhardt, NSW 2040
Home phone: (02) 9519-4788 or
Mobile (0425) 20-1638
Email: jefferson.lee@bigpond.com


Australia East Timor Association (NSW) - Sydney
AETA events / About AETA:
http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/aeta.html

Timor Sea Justice Coalition (TSJC) - Sydney
Home:
http://www.TimorSeaJustice.org




This letter was written prior to the talks between Foreign Ministers Jose Ramos Horta (Timor Leste) & Alexander Downer (Australia) on 11th of August 2004.
It is a response to the Sydney Morning Herald editorial "Timor solution not in the law books"




Letters to the Editor,
The Sydney Morning Herald

Submitted Tuesday 10th August 2004.


Editor,

Your editorial lead "Timor solution not in the law books" (Herald  August 9) is commendable in that it offers what appears to be a practical compromise that either major political party in government in Canberra after the next election could willingly grasp. 

On the surface Australia would salvage its conscience and prevent East Timor becoming an economic "basket case" by guaranteeing them a much greater share of (Greater Sunrise) gas royalties. Presumably in return the East Timorese Parliament would expedite the ratification of the Unitisation (of Greater Sunrise) and forgive Australia's tardiness on maritime boundaries  on the specious grounds of a historically-based Indonesian challenge to the detriment of our bilateral mutual interests. 

As Laurie Brereton discovered in his recent visit to East Timor, the deliberate delaying and uncertainty over maritime boundaries is regarded unanimously by the Timorese people as a form of foreign occupation and a denial of the same sovereignty that Australia professed so much to support from 1999 onwards. Remember even John Howard took pride in attending the May 2002 ceremonies marking the world's newest nation. 

Has the focus on more recent expeditions to Afghanistan and Iraq collectively blinded us to Timorese sensitivities? As Kirsty Sword-Gusmao testified in Sydney last week, Xanana himself would sooner see East Timor denied all royalties by an unfavourable but fair decision of an International arbitrator  than to have Australian negotiators bog down indefinitely the maritime border issue - regardless of carrot and stick financial inducements offered  to buy complicity. 

The crux of the problem is that bad laws and bad treaties remain so until changed and no deal can overcome that fact. The original Evans-Alatas 'Timor Gap' Treaty was flawed and discredited. The May 2002 'Timor Sea' Treaty was similarly flawed by Canberra's overbearing insistence on 'Annexe E' ;  thereby locking the very new East Timor administration into conceeding 82% of Greater Sunrise to Australia at a time when they  had no room to negotiate either royalties or confirmed borders. 

The real way forward is, to coin a now popular phrase, "truth in government". We are obliged by international law to negotiate with fairness, equity and in good faith with our neighbours. Let's get on with it while there is still time. 

Jefferson Lee, 
Annandale


Home phone: (02) 9519-4788 or  mobile (0425) 20-1638

Email: jefferson.lee@bigpond.com



About the Australia East Timor Association (AETA)

The Sydney Branch was formed in 1992. 

The Sydney Branch brings out a monthly email diary of coming events available to anyone upon request: jefferson.lee@bigpond.com
An edited version focusing on East Timor (& possibly Indonesia) events appears at: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/aeta.html

The Sydney Branch meets the 4th Wednesday of the month at:
6.30pm, Room 318, 3rd Level (behind Students Assoc Office), UTS Tower Bldg, Broadway, Sydney
Details: Stephen Langford
Phone: (02) 9331-5986

Sydney AETA executive email contacts:

AETA Secretary for membership and monthly meetings:
Stephen Langford: (02) 9331-5986
Postal address: c/- PO Box 751, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010

Special Projects & Timor Sea Campaign:
Jefferson Lee: (02) 9519-4788
Postal address: c/- PO Box 703, Leichhardt, 2040

Timor Assistance Coordinator:
Alix Mandelson: alixmandelson@bigpond.com

Treasurer:
Brendan Doyle: brendanfish@bigpond.com


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