Australia will pay back Timor-Leste's oil revenue, Jose Ramos-Horta says

By Helen Davidson on 4/21/2019

SYDNEY (The Guardian) -- Jose Ramos-Horta, the former president of Timor-Leste and Nobel laureate, says he believes Australia will reimburse “every cent it wrongly received” after the countries signed a maritime border treaty last year.

His comments are in response to revelations in Guardian Australia that the Australian government was taking millions of dollars a month in oil revenue which should belong to Timor-Leste because it hasn’t ratified the treaty.

Both major parties have been called on to make a pre-election commitment to repay the money – estimated to be more than $100 million.

The Labor party, which is currently considered likely to win next month’s election, has ignored multiple requests for their stance on repayment and on a timeline for ratification.

However, Ramos-Horta told Guardian Australia he had faith his country’s far richer neighbor “will not quarrel over this payment due to Timor-Leste”.

“I am sure Australia will reimburse every cent it wrongly received following the solemn signing last year at the UN HQ in New York of the permanent maritime boundary between our two countries,” he said.

“Timor-Leste showed pragmatism and statesmanship when as part of the maritime boundary agreement it did not demand back pay of several billion dollars from Australia’s illegal exploitation of three fields, Bufallo, Laminaria and

The historic treaty delimited a permanent maritime border to close the Timor Gap and established a “special regime” area for sharing the untapped, multi-billion-dollar Sunrise gas field in the Timor Sea. The new border confirmed several former and operational fields were in Timorese territory, despite decades of Australia profiting from them.

At the time of the signing, Australia insisted the treaty would not take effect until both countries had ratified it.

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