Good gathering for Timor Leste meeting
MORE than 60 people gathered at the Delatite Hotel recently to hear the Honorary Consul for Timor-Leste, Rae Kingsbury, present the Timor Sea Justice Campaign.
The event was organised by Friends of Venilale (FoV), Mansfield’s Friendship Town in TimorLeste, and raised funds for community projects there.
A special guest was the FoV liaison officer, Georgina Sarmento, who is part way through a two-month visit to Mansfield.
Several members of Friends of Lacluta came from Wangaratta to support the event.
Ms Kingsbury explained t he background to the dispute between Australia and Timor-Leste that is cur- rently before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
At issue is a document called a Certain Maritime Agreement in the Timor Sea, or the CMATS Treaty, signed in 2006.
“This treaty establishes the sea border between Australia and TimorLeste and, more importantly, the right to access billions of dollars worth of oil and gas reserves,” Ms Kingsbury said.
“During the negotiations for the treaty, Australia used spies disguised as AusAID workmen to bug TimorLeste’s cabinet room,” she said.
“Australia negotiated in bad faith with our tiny, impoverished neighbor, and exploited this advantage to obtain treaty terms which are very much in Australia’s favor,” Ms Kingsbury said.
According to Ms Kingsbury the CMATS Treaty establishes a temporary border which, contrary to the provisions of the Law of the Sea, gives extra territory to Australia.
“If the treaty remains in force, no permanent border will be established until 2056, by which time all the known resources will be long gone,” Ms Kingsbury explained.
Part of the area is the Timor Trough, a strategically important deepwater channel in which submarines can travel undetected.
China is eying resources throughout South-East Asia and is showing interest in the Timor Sea.
“When Timor-Leste decided to challenge the unfair CMATS Treaty in the International Court of Justice, the Australian government sent ASIO officers to raid the office of Timor- Leste’s Australian lawyer, Bernard Collaery, and seize the documents he was planning to use in court,” Ms Kingsbury said.
“Again, Australia acted in bad faith and gained an unfair advantage.
“Timor-Leste is asking Australia to negotiate a new, fair and permanent border - this would restore the friendship between our two countries.”
Ms Kingsbury explained that people who are concerned about this manifest injustice should write to federal MPs, senators and ministers such as Attorney-General George Brandis.
They can also join the Timor Sea Justice Campaign at www. timorseajustice.com, or follow it on Facebook.
The chair of FoV, David Foster, thanked Ms Kingsbury for her talk.
OPEN OUR EARS: Mansfield mayor, Ray Robinson, with the guest speaker the Honorary Consul for Timor-Leste, Rae Kingsbury.