The Timor Gap Treaty
We should…have conceded all the upstream income from the projects for a number of years while East Timor builds and develops. As a wealthy nation we should extend the hand of friendship to a people that have given so much for our well being.
former Western Australian Minister for State Development,
After independence, the 2/2nd veterans and many Australians were shocked when they learnt that the Australian government was refusing to recognise Timor-Leste’s (formerly East Timor) rights to oil and gas in the Timor Sea – resources vital to rebuilding the war-ravaged new nation.
Australia bluntly refused to negotiate a maritime boundary with the new country and withdrew from the International Court of Justice, denying Timor-Leste’s access to the Court’s decision.
Australia instead relied on boundaries agreed with Indonesia, which had been negotiated without the agreement of Timor-Leste.
Australia insisted that Timor-Leste accept the Timor Gap Treaty which had been negotiated while Indonesia unlawfully occupied the territory.
After six years of negotiations, Australia finally agreed to a deal giving Timor-Leste about 60 per cent of the resources on the Timor side of the Timor Sea. The agreement came about after hard-hitting television advertisements by the 2/2nd veterans.