Timor Sea deal close: Macfarlane

AUSTRALIA and East Timor “are on the threshold of an agreement" on their disputed seabed boundaries, federal minister for industry and resources Ian Macfarlane told the SEAAOC conference in Darwin yesterday.
Timor Sea deal close: Macfarlane Timor Sea deal close: Macfarlane Timor Sea deal close: Macfarlane Timor Sea deal close: Macfarlane Timor Sea deal close: Macfarlane

“There are only a couple of minor issues left to be resolved,” he said, but declined to elaborate on what these details entailed, saying he preferred to do his commercial business in private.

Macfarlane quoted Timor Leste’s foreign minister, Jose Ramos-Horta as saying last month the negotiations were “on the cusp of securing for the people of Timor Leste the fairest agreement possible.”

“I think a Northern Territory crowd would better appreciate than many in the so-called educated southern capitals the need – for both countries – to ensure the development of Greater Sunrise,” Macfarlane said.

“Neither country can be so proud to believe it’s the politicians who hold the trump card in these talks because we don’t.

“The winning hand belongs to those who are paying to be at the table –the Woodsides, the Shells. But they need us - Timor and Australia – to set the fair and equal rules by which the game is played.

“If we can’t offer the companies the surety they require before investing in the area, we all lose, because they will move on, if they haven’t already.”

Macfarlane later referred to Woodside’s Pluto discovery, saying that with 100% of that project, Woodside would possibly prioritise it ahead of Greater Sunrise with that project’s unitised ownership structure.

Macfarlane also took a swipe at the Western Australian government, saying his office had pushed through beneficial changes to the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax while that state was considering further imposts on the cost of doing energy business.

“I’d like to add here that unlike the WA government we have no plans to further tax the resources sector for their contribution to the growth of the nation. In fact, we’re giving money back,” he said.

“We’re giving back through legislation soon to be introduced which creates a foreign income exemption for temporary residents.”

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