CANBERRA has approved the Timor-Leste maritime border treaty, with the legislation to end the decades-long dispute finally passing both houses of parliament on Monday night after Dili signed it into effect last week.
The treaty was first signed in March last year by both nations' foreign ministers at United Nations headquarters in New York and apart from demarcating a final and agreed boundary also mandates how revenue from oil and gas fields, including the giant Sunrise gas field are carved up between the two.
In passing the treaty parliament made way for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to officially sign it at his next visit to Timor-Leste next month.
"This treaty is an historic achievement for Australia and Timor-Leste and its implementation is firmly in Australia's national interest," foreign minister Marise Payne said in parliament last night.
"Through this treaty, Australia and Timor-Leste have settled a long-running dispute over our maritime boundaries, agreed upon a pathway for the development of Greater Sunrise and laid the foundation for a new chapter in our bilateral relations."
Under the treaty Timor-Leste will hold the rights to the largest share or revenue from the Greater Sunrise field and will pocket 80% of the revenue from the field should the gas be processed in Australia and 70% if it is processed onshore Timor-Leste.
Morrison said the parliament's decision to approve the treaty would establish a "stable legal framework" for the development of oil and gas in the Timor Sea.
"It upholds Australia's commitment to international rules and the peaceful resolution of disputes, and reflects our full commitment to the independence, sovereignty and economic sustainability of Timor-Leste," Morrison said.
"With the passage of the treaty's implementing legislation today, Australia is now ready to partner with Timor-Leste to jointly develop the Greater Sunrise gas fields for the benefit of both countries."
The Timor-Leste government has been pushing to have the gas processed at an LNG plant on its southern coast.
Source: Energy News Bulletin
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