Senate debates

Monday, 29 July 2019


Timor Sea Maritime Boundaries Treaty Consequential Amendments Bill 2019, Passenger Movement Charge Amendment (Timor Sea Maritime Boundaries Treaty) Bill 2019, Treasury Laws Amendment (Timor Sea Maritime Boundaries Treaty) Bill 2019; Second Reading

1:07 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Centre Alliance) Share this | Hansard source

I'll stop. I was talking about the unconscionable conduct of the Australian government. These observations notwithstanding, I think the treaty should be ratified quickly but we should avoid making one mistake that some in other places have already made. We must never say that the additional funds from Greater Sunrise in any way make up for the massive loss of life and human rights violations that the Timorese have suffered.

Some things fall under the category of what are known as sacred values. These things are immune to being traded, discounted or negotiated away as the anthropologist Scott Atran reminds us. The martyrdom and suffering of family members and ancestors cannot be made up for by increasing revenue streams or development plans for Greater Sunrise. To even imply that this is the case would be insulting to many East Timorese. Offering to buy your way around someone's sacred values can result in anger.

I'm concerned by the way we treated the East Timorese. They know what we did and they have been attracted to other countries' assistance more so than Australia's. It's been a national policy disaster. As Senator McKim said, we've got two people who more than anyone else brought this back together, Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery. For their heroic efforts, they are now being prosecuted.

I'm glad to say that we're finally going to ratify the treaty—whilst I register caveats about DFAT's national interest analysis—but there is an ongoing moral debt between Australia and Timor-Leste, and the two Aussie heroes who are facing a secret trial. Thank you.


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