Wednesday, 21 June 2017
Australia and Timor-Leste: Maritime Boundary
I ask that general business notice of motion 377 standing in my name and in the names of Senators Moore and Xenophon for today relating to the maritime boundary between Australia and Timor-Leste be taken as a formal motion.
Leave not granted.
In lieu of seeking a suspension, I seek leave to make a brief statement.
I thank the chamber. Again—the second time in two days—the government is suppressing a legitimate foreign policy motion. We all know in here that good-faith negotiations with Timor-Leste in pursuit of a fair and permanent maritime boundary are surely a legal and ethical imperative for any Australian government. Australia's history with Timor-Leste is a story of goodwill squandered and of treating a friend with contempt. We wiretapped their cabinet rooms during sensitive commercial negotiations under the guide of an AusAID project and then sent ASIO after those Australians who tried to call out this injustice. We have acted like a complete bully in our maritime boundary dispute and at all times our conduct has been driven by self-interest rather than by trying to secure a fair outcome for our neighbours. The ALP, the Nick Xenophon Team and the Australian Greens are asking the government for nothing more than to put ethics and basic human decency ahead of oil revenues in the interests of the government's corporate handlers.
I thank the chamber. In line with the government's longstanding view, motions that cannot be debated or amended should not deal with complex foreign policy matters. Australia and Timor-Leste are currently working to reach an enduring boundary agreement through the Conciliation Commission process in a constructive and fair manner. These discussions are confidential. Australia's position is fully consistent with international law, which reflects our support for the international rules based order and our commitment to resolving disputes peacefully.