Subject: alp New policy on Timor Sea issues

The new ALP policy on East Timor issues is as below:

ALP policy on Timor Sea Treaty

Labor warmly welcomes the progress achieved by East Timor in working to build the foundations for a viable, self-sustaining, independent and sovereign state. Labor considers that Australia should continue to assist East Timor in building an independent future. Australia should be comprehensively engaged in supporting sustainable development in East Timor and the creation of democratic institutions, effective law enforcement and modern defence forces. Labor strongly supports the future development of a wide range of institutional and people-to-people ties between Australia and East Timor.

Labor recognises that the people of ET have the right to secure internationally recognised borders with all neighbouring countries. A future Labor Government will negotiate in good faith with the Government of East Timor in full accordance with international law and all its applications, including the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. In Government Labor will do all things reasonably practicable to achieve a negotiated settlement within 3-5 years. The conclusion of the maritime boundary should be based on the joint aspirations of both countries.


NB: 'alp' is the Australian Labor Party, which has just held its 3 day major national policy conference.

After 2-3 years of depression at the political dominance of a cunning unscrupulous conservative prime minister

John 'Bonsai' Howard, the new alp leader Mark Latham is speaking frankly and directly on many issues, coming up with ideas, and refusing to be intimidated, and is now carrying the high hopes of the Labor Party which is rejuvenated. The best chance for a better deal on the Timor Sea Treaty issues is to elect an alp government and then apply pressure for an honest resolution, as the Dept Foreign Affairs no doubt will prove recalcitrant.

The major issue arising from discussions by Oz activists trying to lobby for a better alp policy on TST issues, is whether to urge a future Australian goverrment to settle hegemony issues by boundary deeming and compromise, or to simply rely on boundary determinations settled under UNCLOS principles and if necessary arbitrated by the International Court. We have tended to favour the latter approach, [though financial outcomes may be better especially in the short term by some compromise], based on our understanding of likely outcomes as outlined by the Lowe/Carlton/Ward opinion. If there is any other carefully determined authoritative legal position of likely different boundary outcomes it would be essential for us to know. Not that a bunch of activists have the final say, but ...



Australians for a Free East Timor a little Press Release Sat 31st Jan 2004 spokesperson Rob Wesley-Smith 89832113 807175 0419

The spokesperson for Australians for a Free East Timor welcomed the policy. "The intent is clear to behave in a decent manner to the East Timorese", Rob Wesley-Smith said today. "Of course we would like more detail, for example a more specific reference to civil aid, and reversing the theft of East Timor's oil and gas which is happening now by the Howard Downer government". "But there is a clear distinction between the policies and actions of the present government and a future Labor government, and a welcome commitment to operating under international law."

"As the richest country in the region, we must give East Timor, the poorest country in Asia, a fair go, which is not the case at present", Mr Wesley-Smith concluded.

Rob Wesley-Smith

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