31 July 2002



The Secretary

Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

Parliament of Australia

Parliament House

Canberra, ACT 2600




Dear  Secretary:


We are a coalition  of  organizations  and individuals formed in Manila in 1994 in support of the  East Timorese struggle for  independence. We believe that independence for East Timor includes  not only political freedom but also economic self-sufficiency and determination.


We are therefore  pleased  that your committee is inquiring into the Timor Sea agreements, as the treaties have  critical importance for East Timor's future  self-determination.


We believe that  the Timor Sea Treaty (May 2002) and the Exchange of  Notes  between East Timor and Australia (Timor Sea) (May 2002)  has put East Timor in  a bad position because it will ultimately  lose up to 60 percent of its  oil and gas resources. 


The East  Timor government  believed  signing the treaty at the earliest possible time would quicken its  hold over the resources and the revenues that would help its economy. But it  might end up with less in its hands.


We recognize that there remains dispute over the 'lateral' seabed boundaries and lateral resource sharing between Australia and East Timor.  And as we believe it,

the treaties are theoretically a temporary arrangement, subject to settlement of  East Timor and Australia's seabed boundaries.


A third document also signed in May 2002,  the Memorandum of Understanding between Australia and  East  Timor,  has the two countries agreeing  to "work expeditiously and in good faith" to conclude by  December 31, 2002 an "international unitisation agreement" over the Greater Sunrise deposits.


In our view, the Australian Government, in agreeing to revise the Greater Sunrise resource sharing arrangements (as they currently appear in the Joint Petroleum Development Area - JPDA-  definitions of the Timor Sea Treaty 2002)  apparently  recognises  legitimacy in the East Timorese position.


Before Australia ratifies the treaty, we ask that the Australian Government  take into account international law in relation to seabed boundaries,  as this will allow  prompt  resolution  of the outstanding seabed boundary disputes and  the related resource sharing dispute (lateral to the JPDA) between Australian and East Timor.


The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties is  reviewing the Timor Sea agreements and  can influence the Australia Government  in correcting what could  be East  Timor's loss in resources and  future revenues.


We therefore ask the Committee  to press the Australian Government:


1. to resolve the outstanding seabed boundary disputes and  the related resource sharing dispute (lateral to the JPDA) between Australian and East  Timor;


2. to  employ international law and submit to international arbitration in resolving the boundary and resource-sharing disputes;


3. to  resolve the disputes at the soonest, so that the people of East Timor are not  wrongly deprived of resources in particular from the rich oil and gas fields of Greater Sunrise, to the northeast of the JPDA, but also the oil and gas fields to the southwest.


Thank you for  prompt  action on our  plea.



Yours  sincerely,



Mr. Augusto N. Miclat, Jr.

APCET Coordinator


OilWeb produced by La'o Hamutuk, the East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis