Public Forum – Justice in the Timor Sea: Whose Oil is it?


Australian Institute of International Affairs, SA Branch
Australia-East Timor Friendship Association, SA Inc.

supported by

United Nations Association of Australia SA Division Inc.
Australian West Papua Association SA (Inc.)
Kathleen Lumley College, University of Adelaide


Public Forum

Justice in the Timor Sea: Whose Oil is It?

Guest Speakers:

Dr Michael Sullivan
School of Political and International Studies, Flinders University

Ms Janelle Saffin
Senior Legal and Security Advisor
Office of the Prime Minister, Timor Leste
Former Member of the Australian House of Representatives

Mr Andrew (Andy) Alcock
Ordem de Timor-Leste Medalha
Information Officer:
Australia East Timor Friendship Association (SA) Inc

6.00 pm for 6.30 pm start
(Nibbles and drinks provided)

Thursday 11 December 2014

The Common Room
Kathleen Lumley College, University of Adelaide.
51 Finniss Street (opposite The British Hotel) North Adelaide

Ample on-street parking is available on the Mackinnon Parade side of the College. Gates are at 51 Finniss Street and 120 Mackinnon Parade.

For Further Information contact Bob Hanney, Secretary AETFA SA: PH 08 8344 3511;               0469 359199; Email:

OR Andy Alcock, AETFA SA Information Officer: PH 08 8371 0480; 0457 827014;                      Email:



Australia halved the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA – the old “Timor Gap”) with Indonesia in 1989 while Timor was being subjugated.

Australia shamelessly withdrew from the maritime jurisdiction of both the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in March 2002, just two months before East Timor’s independence, thus forcing the Timorese to negotiate with Australia without an international umpire.

Australia has shamelessly received billions of dollars in tax revenue from the disputed area Laminaria-Corallina since September 1999, more than the total of all assistance Australia has ever given to East Timor.

Through the Timor Gap Treaty Australia still get 10% of the old JPDA even though it lies 100% on Timor’s side of half-way. With all processing done in Darwin, Australia shamelessly gets all the jobs.

In Timor Sea disputes Australia still clings to defunct Continental Shelf principles, while the rest of the world determines maritime boundary disputes on the basis of the median line. (And so does Australia when any other nation except Timor is involved, e.g. New Zealand.)

After claiming 82% of yet another field, Greater Sunrise, which is far closer to Timor than to Australia, Australia finally agreed in 2006 to split the resources 50/50 with the Timorese on condition that Timor did not raise the issue of maritime boundaries until 2056.

The lack of a maritime boundary reduces stability and security and Timor Leste, trying to get on its feet.

A decade ago, Australia took advantage of a nascent East Timor to negotiate a remarkable treaty that short-changed the second poorest country in Asia out of tens of billions of dollars in gas and oil revenue. That included alleged spying on East Timor negotiators to get an upper hand.

When East Timor learnt of Australia’s espionage last year, they sought to renegotiate the treaty. What happened next was shocking. Australian agents raided the home of a former intelligence agent and seized his passport preventing him from travelling to the The Hague to provide his evidence.

The International Court of Justice has slammed the Australian Government’s actions.
Without international pressure, history may well repeat itself during this next round of negotiations.

On the Human Development Index out of 187:

Timor Leste ranks at 134; Australia’s rank is 2 (with Norway No. 1)