14 September 2015


Moved Cr Rodgers seconded Cr Fraser – That the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council:

  1. Calls on the Australian government to immediately commence negotiations on permanent maritime boundaries with Timor-Leste, using a median line approach;
  2. Calls on the Australian government to resubmit to the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, so that the boundaries can be settled by an independent body if necessary;
  3. Resolves to write to the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to inform them of this resolution.

The Timor Sea Treaty following the restoration of independence in Timor-Leste in May 2002 did not settle the maritime boundaries between Australia and Timor-Leste. If these boundaries were set in accordance with International Law, the significant fields of gas located outside the treaty zone of co-operation would belong to Timor-Leste as part of its exclusive economic zone.


If so, one such field – the Greater Sunrise Field – located just 150 km from Timor’s shore may generate some $40 billion for Timor-Leste. Yet another such field – Laminaria Corallina – has yielded $2 billion in taxes and royalties for Australia since 1999 – all of which would flow to Timor-Leste if the maritime boundaries were set in accordance with International Law.


However, immediately prior to the restoration of independence in Timor-Leste, the Australia government withdrew recognition of the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.


Even a minor adjustment of these maritime boundaries in accordance with International Law would shift billions of dollars of potential revenue from Australia to Timor-Leste.


Yet Australia refuses to negotiate a permanent maritime boundary with Timor-Leste placing in jeopardy its legacy in, and friendship with, Timor-Leste.


This Council has a long and distinguished record of support for the people and government of Timor-Leste since 2002 when Council approved the establishment of a friendship relationship between the Mornington Peninsula Shire and the sub district of Los Palos. Council also recognized the work of the Friends of Los Palos Community Committeee.


In 2004 the Committee and Council agreed to the establishment of a section 86 Committee of Council with powers delegated by Council which recognized the valuable contribution by the Mornington Peninsula community in aiding the community of Los Palos in Timor-Leste, within its resources, to bring about long term change in both an economic, environmental and social context.


On a visit to the Shire in 2014 by two senior administrators from the District of Lautem and Los Palos, Council by letters under seal confirmed its ongoing friendship and committed the Shire to collaborating with the Timorese district management of Lautem and sharing our knowledge, skills and experiences to support the decentralized process and the establishment of new district municipalities.


In December 2014 at the invitation of the Timor-Leste government, Council signed a Municipal Agreement formalizing a long relationship with the Timor–Leste government and the people of Lautem and Los Palos.


This proposed resolution provides the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and its community with the opportunity to press their Australian government to resume negotiations to establish maritime boundaries, and give Timor-Leste a fair share of the Timor Sea.