Subject: AAP: East Timorese urge Australia not to ratify Timor Sea Treaty

Australian Assosiated Press October 4, 2002

East Timorese urge Australia not to ratify Timor Sea Treaty

By Rod McGuirk

East Timorese private sector groups today urged the federal government not to ratify the new Timor Sea Treaty.

Leaders of the East Timor National NGO Forum, Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring Analysis and Independent Information Centre for the Timor Sea flew to Darwin to address the Federal Parliament Treaties Committee.

The committee is hearing submissions on the treaty, due to be ratified next month, which will carve up energy resource revenue from the so-called Timor Gap.

Phillips Petroleum has set the November deadline so it can build a pipeline from its Bayu-Undan gas field to Darwin.

The East Timorese leaders argued that the treaty must be tied to new maritime boundaries struck upon a stated legal basis.

And they criticised Canberra's decision not to allow the International Court of Justice to rule where the new boundaries between the two countries should lie.

"Australia government and East Timor should agree and put it in the treaty ... that the two countries will settle maritime boundaries with a clear mechanism, with a time frame and with a clear principle of law that they are going to apply," institution spokesman Adriano Nascimento said.

"You're demonstrating your civilisation, your democratic country and we want to follow this.

"You have already demonstrated in our country by sending troops, by humanitarian acts.

"We would like you to demonstrate (civilisation and democracy) in this case."

Australia has agreed to discuss new maritime boundaries but maintains that the previous boundary, which follows the deepest point off a huge continental shelf, was fair.

East Timor maintains that modern precedents in maritime law would put the boundary midway between the two countries.

The new treaty, which uses the boundaries set in the original treaty with Indonesia, states that it will not prejudice future boundary negotiations.

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