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2002-4: Australian Parliament actions

Updated March 2017

This page contains information and documents relating to Australian parliamentary debate and ratification of the Sunrise International Unitization Agreement and the Timor Sea Treaty. The sections below are in approximate chronological order.

 

Sunrise International Unitization Agreement (IUA)

Text of the IUA. (PDF)   Australian government's National Interest Analysis.

 

Contents:

bullet

Submissions to Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, July 2003

bullet

Committee Hearings and report

bullet

House ratification, 10 March 2004

bullet

Submissions to Senate Economics Committee and report

bullet

Senate ratification, 29 March 2004

 

JSCT Submissions

In June 2003, the parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties asked for and received the following submissions in relations to the Sunrise International Unitization Agreement:

From East Timorese organizations:

bulletEast Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis (La'o Hamutuk) (also PDF)
bulletEast Timor Independent Information Centre for the Timor Sea (CIITT) (also PDF)

From Australia supporters of East Timor (all PDF):

bulletGlobal Exchange (Brian Haverhand)
bulletOxfam Community Aid Abroad (James Ensor)
bulletAustralians for A Free East Timor (Rob Wesley-Smith)
bulletAustralia East Timor Association (Andrew McNaughtan)
bulletMr Mathew Coffey
bulletGA McKee and Associates Pty Ltd

From other Australians (all PDF):

bulletPhillips Fox (Pat Brazil)
bulletAustralian Patriot Movement
bulletMr Robert Peters
bulletNorthern Territory Government (Chief Minister Clare Martin)

JSCT Hearing and Report

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties held a one-day hearing in Canberra on 23 June 2003. Several MPs questioned the government forcefully as to whether Australia was playing fair by East Timor. In July 2003, the Australian parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties issued Report 53, which recommended that Australia ratify the IUA.

The rush begins

On the night of 9 March 2004, the Howard government informed Parliament that the Sunrise IUA was to be ratified the following day, under an expedited process. An implementation bill, together with an explanatory memorandum, were submitted to parliament for urgent action.

Although the House of Representatives approved the bill on 10 March 2004, opposition from some Senators delayed action in that Chamber. The IUA was referred to the Senate Economics Committee.

The Maritime Union of Australia passed a resolution condemning the government's efforts to rush the IUA through parliament.

Senate Economics Committee actions

The Australian Senate re-opened the Sunrise IUA for public comment during one week in mid-March, 2004. They received submissions from La'o Hamutuk, Oxfam, the Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Australians for a Free East Timor, Woodside Petroleum, Annette Madvig, Stanley Stork, Janet Hunt and Alan Taylor.

The new Melbourne-based Timor Sea Justice Campaign prepared a fact sheet, and testified at the Senate Economics Committee public hearing on 22 March. On the day of the hearing, East Timor's government protested that Australia is Undermining 'Greater Sunrise' Development.

The following day, the Committee submitted a report to the Senate with dissents from the Greens and Australian Democrats.

Ratification

Senate debate on the Sunrise IUA took longer than expected, due to opposition from the smaller parties. The issue was bitterly debated on the Senate floor on 23, 24 and 25 March, and finally passed on 29 March. On 26 March, Prime Minister Alkatiri voiced concerns over ALP support for the International Unitisation Agreement bill.

On 31 March, East Timor's government vigorously protested the ratification, as well as Australia's release of new offshore areas in contested territory for exploration contracts: Timor-Leste Protests Unlawful Exploitation of its Resources.

Delayed until 2007

Timor-Leste did not submit the IUA to its Parliament for ratification until February 2007, at the same time as the CMATS Treaty. Australia's Parliament conducted another inquiry at that time covering CMATS and the IUA, and issued another report. Both agreements were ratified by both countries and came into force concurrently, on 23 February 2007. This website has another page discussing developments since then.

horizontal rule

Timor Sea Treaty (TST)

Text of the Timor Sea Treaty. Australian government's National Interest Analysis.

 

Contents:

bullet

Submissions to Committee

bullet

Committee Hearings

bullet

Committee report

bullet

Floor debate and ratification

Submissions

In June 2002, The Australian Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties asked people and organizations to make submissions (testimony) regarding the proposed treaties, which were received as follows.

From East Timorese organizations
bullet

East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)  (PDF)

bullet

East Timor Independent Information Centre for the Timor Sea (CIITT)  (PDF)

bullet

East Timor National NGO Forum   PDF

bullet

Labour Advocacy Institute of East Timor (same submission also made by Partido Democràtico)

From solidarity groups and activists in Australia

bullet

Dr Tim Anderson (Aidwatch)

bullet

Australians for a Free East Timor (Rob Wesley-Smith)

bullet

Australian East Timor Association (Brendan Doyle)

bullet

Australian Public Policy Research Network

bullet

Progressive Labour Party

bullet

Mr Stephen Langford (Australia-East Timor Association, New South Wales), who added a supplement

bullet

Australia East Timor Association (Andrew McNaughtan)

bullet

Uniting Church in Australia and a Supplement 

bullet

Mr Quinton Temby

bullet

Oxfam Community Aid Abroad

bullet

Union Aid Abroad (Apheda)

bullet

Mr Matthew Coffey 

bullet

Mr Peter Jones

bullet

Australian Council of Trade Unions

bullet

Geoffrey A. McKee, Petroleum engineer

From international solidarity groups

bullet

East Timor Action Network (ETAN)/US  (PDF)

bullet

Tokyo East Timor Association

bullet

Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor  (PDF)

bullet

Vrij Oost Timor (Netherlands)

From oil companies
bullet

Nexen Petroleum Australia

bullet

Woodside Australian Energy

bullet

Phillips Petroleum Australia

bullet

BP Australia

bullet

Shell Development Australia

bullet

Multiplex Construction 

bulletPetroTimor, represented by Deacons
bulletPetroTimor/Deacons reply to submission of Patrick Brazil
bulletJohn Imle, consultant to PetroTimor (regarding a pipeline to East Timor)

From Australian state governments
bullet

NSW Government 

bullet

NT Government 

bullet

Queensland Government

bullet

Hon John D Fischer MLC (WA)

From legal "experts"
bullet

Phillips Fox (Mr. Patrick Brazil).  The Committee held a hearing on this submission alone.

bullet

Mr Dean Bialek 

bullet

Mr Robert King  (PDF)

Other Australian organizations
bullet

Australian Patriot Movement (opposes giving any resources to East Timor)

bullet

Job Link Joondalup Region Inc (wants jobs for Aboriginal Australians)

bullet

Kimberley Professional Fisherman's Association (opposes treaty because it infringes on fishing rights)

bullet

Australian Maritime Officers Union 

Other Australian individuals
bullet

Mr John Severino

bullet

Ms Joan Simpson

bullet

Adjunct Associate Professor Vivian Louis Forbes 

bullet

Mr William Alford Fisher 

bullet

Ms Susan Harris 

bullet

Mr Bryan Havenhand 

bullet

Mr J Eric Gassy 

bullet

Mr Mervyn Murchie 

bullet

Mr Brian T Manning 

bullet

Ms Toni Pollard 

bullet

Ms Melva Truchanas 

bullet

Mr Tim Thorne 

bullet

Mr Jordi Robert-Ribes

bullet

Ms Jenny Stephens

bullet

Mr Robert Peters 

bullet

Mr Aidan Ash

bullet

Ms Margaret Pollock

bullet

Mr Lawrence De Costa

bullet

Ms Catherine Smith

bullet

Ms Cynthia O'Keefe

bullet

Ms Anna McCormack

bullet

Miss Maryellen Flynn

bullet

Mr Dominic Amato

bullet

Mrs Valsa Mathew

bullet

Ms Helen McCauley

bullet

Mr Steven Aubrey

bullet

Mr Jonathan Peter

bullet

Sr. Sheila Quonoey

bullet

Barbara Symons

bullet

Constance Ewald

bullet

Ann Marshall

bullet

Mr Don Stokes

bullet

Merrilyn Gates

bulletMs Sally McGushin
bulletMr Lindsay Peet
bulletMr Ian Dumbrell
bulletVanessa Yardley-Lanagridge (ASU Delegate)

Hearings

Hansard (transcripts) of hearings of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties on the Timor Sea Treaty

12 July 2002

Canberra   

Australian government witnesses

26 August 2002

Canberra   

Patrick Brazil, Special Counsel of Phillips, Fox Inc.

2 October 2002

Perth   

WA Government, Australian Maritime Union, Phillips Petroleum

3 October 2002

Darwin   

NT government and minerals council, Australian activists and East Timorese NGOs

4 October 2002

Melbourne   

Dean Bialek, BP, Uniting Church, Oxfam, ACTU

8 October 2002  

Canberra   

Deacons lawyers (Petro Timor), Santos, Australian government

14 October 2002  

Canberra   

Woodside, Australian government

 

The Australian government has compiled a Treaty Information Kit with detailed general information about how a treaty becomes law in Australia, many useful links, and related information.

Report

The Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties reported on 11 November 2002, recommending the prompt approval of the Timor Sea Treaty. Although East Timor ratified it the following month, Australia did not ratify until March 2003.

 

During 1999-2000, the Australian Parliament also conducted hearings and issued a report (PDF).

Ratification

Hansard (transcripts) of floor debates provided by the Australian Parliament 

5 March 2003

House

Treaty presented by Ian MacFarlane, Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, and ratified.

6 March 2003

Senate

Green Senator Bob Brown expelled for charging Howard with blackmailing East Timor. Treaty ratified over Green and Democrat Party objections.

6 March 2003

House

Howard denies blackmail charge.

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The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua D. Alberto Ricardo, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
email: 
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