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Tuesday, 29 March 2016 09:45

Deja vu for Timor as Turnbull neglects boundary talks

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Fr Frank Brennan sj2Decent Australians and Timorese expect a change on the negotations of a maritime boundary. Turnbull will have to stop preaching on the South China Sea if he is not prepared to act in the Timor Sea, writes Father Franks Brennan sj in Eureka Street.

When Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister six months ago, our Timorese neighbours thought there might be an opportunity to draw a line on the past and to kick start the negotiation of a permanent maritime boundary between Australia and Timor-Leste. For the moment, they find themselves sadly mistaken.

Rui Maria de Araujo, the fairly new prime minister of Timor-Leste, wrote to our very new prime minister Malcolm Turnbull inviting him to turn a new leaf in the Australia-Timor relationship. It was not to be.

However the Timorese should not lose heart. They are well used to winning the hearts and minds of Australians even when Australian political leaders appear to be tone deaf to their pleas. This time they have convinced the Labor Party about the justice of their cause, and there is every chance that the Australian community will rally behind them after the federal election.

Behind the scenes, there is still plenty of legal intrigue about Australia's 2004 bugging of the Timor cabinet offices during the negotiation of CMATS, the most recent treaty delaying the negotiation of a permanent maritime boundary.

Read more from the full article in Eureka Street published on 20 March 2016.