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Monday, 26 March 2018
Page: 2685


Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinMinister for Foreign Affairs) (15:24): by leave—On 6 March at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, I signed a maritime boundary treaty with Timor-Leste, on behalf of the Australian government.

The treaty is an historic achievement for Australia and Timor-Leste. We have settled a long-running dispute, established permanent maritime boundaries, and laid the foundation for a new chapter in our relationship with one of our closest neighbours.

The treaty is also a landmark for international law and the rules based order. It was the result of the first ever compulsory conciliation under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, known as UNCLOS.

It is an example of the value and importance of international law in resolving disputes and disagreements between states through peaceful negotiation. As we said in Australia's Foreign policy white paper released last year, Australia believes the international rules-based order is fundamental to our collective security and prosperity.

I signed the treaty alongside Timor-Leste's Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister for Delimitation of Borders, His Excellency Mr Hermenegildo, or Agio, Pereira. The United Nations Secretary General, His Excellency Mr Antonio Guterres, and the Chair of the United Nations Conciliation Commission, His Excellency Mr Peter Taksoe-Jensen, witnessed the treaty signing.

The Secretary-General's presence reflected the treaty's significance, both for our countries and for international law. Mr Guterres congratulated Australia and Timor-Leste for their constructive engagement in a ground-breaking conciliation.

Both countries demonstrated goodwill and preparedness to compromise during negotiations. The parties, and the independent conciliation commission, recognise the outcome is fair, balanced and consistent with international law.

The government has always ensured that the interests of Australia, Timor-Leste, and commercial partners are protected with respect to arrangements before the conciliation began and after it commenced.

I had the pleasure of hosting senior members of the Timor-Leste government and negotiating team, members of the commission, and representatives from the Greater Sunrise Joint Venture companies at a reception held on 31 January in Sydney.

In my public and private remarks to these stakeholders, I reassured them of our sincerity and desire to conclude a boundary agreement and a framework to develop Greater Sunrise in a manner which promotes the interests of all parties.

The treaty provides for both countries to jointly develop the Greater Sunrise gas fields and share in the benefits. This recognises both Australia and Timor-Leste have legitimate sovereign rights as coastal states under UNCLOS.

The conciliation commission worked extensively with the parties to broker a way forward on Greater Sunrise. We recognise that developing this resource will deliver significant benefits to Timor-Leste in particular. We look forward to collaborating with Timor-Leste as it works with the joint venture companies to find a commercially viable pathway to develop Greater Sunrise.

Australia consulted closely with companies that have offshore petroleum investments in the Timor Sea in the lead-up to signing the treaty. The treaty's transitional arrangements will ensure certainty and security for stakeholders. The government will continue to consult with these companies to give effect to transitional arrangements and as we develop implementing legislation for the treaty.

The conciliation that led to our treaty under UNCLOS's dispute resolution procedures was the first of its kind. As two democratic nations and close neighbours, our joint success through the conciliation sets a positive example for the region and the international community.

The independent conciliation commission played a vital role in supporting the negotiation of the treaty. Timor-Leste and Australia each selected two conciliation commissioners and the commissioners selected the chair. As eminent diplomats, legal scholars and jurists, the commissioners played an objective, forthright and rigorously independent role.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague supported the conciliation commission, reinforcing its important role of the international legal framework to help states resolve disputes. The commission also drew on its own independent technical advice regarding the development options for Greater Sunrise.

Australia will continue to be a staunch supporter of international law, including UNCLOS and its dispute settlement processes.

Australia has an enduring interest in a stable and prosperous Timor-Leste, and the treaty opens a new chapter in our relations. As good friends and close neighbours, we support Timor-Leste's aspiration to achieve its economic potential. We have historical and geographical ties, and deep people-to-people links, which we will continue to nurture. We will continue our support for Timor-Leste's economic and human development.

While the treaty will benefit both countries, we recognise in particular its significance for Timor-Leste. The government will work to bring this treaty into force, including by preparing implementing legislation and working with Timor-Leste and the joint venture companies on transitional arrangements. The government aims to introduce the bill later this year, following review of the treaty by parliament and its committees.

I hereby table the maritime boundary treaty with Timor-Leste. I also table a copy of my ministerial statement.

I now turn to the tabling of two historic trade deals: the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP-11; and the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement, along with the accompanying national interest analyses for consideration by the parliament.

The TPP-11 is a very significant trade agreement which includes Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. Remarkably, the market access commitments made under the original deal which included the United States have been honoured by all TPP-11 members, and will apply among TPP-11 members.

With elimination of 98 per cent of tariffs in the TPP-11 bloc, the agreement will provide preferential access for more than A$5.5 billion of Australia's dutiable agricultural exports to TPP-11 countries. This includes expanding opportunities for industries such as beef, dairy, sugar, rice, grains, seafood, horticulture and wine. The deal will also afford new levels of market access for iron and steel products, ships, pharmaceuticals, machinery, paper and auto parts, to name but a few.

Secondly, the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement, or PAFTA, complements the TPP-11. As one of the fastest-growing countries in Latin America, and with a GDP similar to the size of Vietnam, Peru represents a largely untapped market for our exporters.

Under PAFTA, Peru will eliminate tariffs on 93.5 per cent of Australian goods on entry into force of the agreement and on 99.4 per cent of Australian goods within five years.

The tabling of these two agreements today is evidence that the Turnbull government is delivering on its ambitious trade and economic agenda to secure the prosperity of all Australians.