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Thursday, 25 July 2019
Page: 1026

Ms RYAN (LalorOpposition Whip) (13:21): In the debate on these bills, the Timor Sea Maritime Boundaries Treaty Consequential Amendments Bill 2019 and related bills, we've heard the military and geopolitical history traversed ably by the member for Solomon, the member for Lingiari and the member for Morton. I want to take this opportunity to join with the member for Newcastle to celebrate, if you like, that this legislation is before the House. Our relationship with Timor-Leste over decades has been a point of great shame for me personally. I have always felt strongly that the previous treaty did not do justice to our nearest neighbours and that the previous positions of Australian governments of both colours did not go to the fairness that Australians like to see themselves espouse. It is terrific to see the bills come into the parliament today and before us to ensure that the new treaty does represent the values of our great country. It is an incredibly important relationship with our neighbour to north.

Like the member for Newcastle, I was incredibly proud when federal Labor changed its position in 2016 under then shadow minister Plibersek's leadership. I join the member for Newcastle in reading into Hansard a quote from the member for Sydney's National Press Club speech. She said:

Timor-Leste suffered decades of war and starvation before gaining independence. Australia played a key role in securing that independence—a proud moment for many Australians.

The maritime boundary dispute has poisoned relations with our newest neighbour.

This must change, for their sake, and for ours.

It is terrific to be here today to see that change forever, to see that the new treaty is going to be enacted, and to be able to proudly say that we've now come to a point where our values are driving our actions and our friendships with our nearest neighbours.

We've traversed the fact that we haven't always been the best neighbours. Today is a proud moment for all of us in this chamber. This treaty demonstrates our commitment to international law and rules—and, I would add, to fairness. I commend Australia's intention to have robust bilateral relationships with Timor-Leste and to jointly develop the Greater Sunrise gas fields, and I commend the bills to the House.