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THE Australian Parliament has passed legislation that recognises the maritime boundary with Australia’s northern neighbour, Timor-Leste.

The legislation ratified a treaty that settles a long-running dispute over ownership of the Greater Sunrise offshore gas field, which holds about 144 billion cubic metres (5.1 trillion cubic feet) of gas.

As part of the treaty, Timor-Leste gets 70% of the revenue if the gas is piped there for processing, or 80% if the gas goes to Australia.

The treaty demarcating the boundary was signed in March 2018 and will come into force when Timor-Leste ratifies it. The country’s foreign minister said it could be ratified on August 30.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement the treaty would establish a permanent maritime boundary between the two countries and a stable legal framework for the development of hydrocarbon resources in the Timor Sea.

“Since the signing of the treaty on March 6, 2018, the Australian government has worked with the Timor-Leste government and offshore petroleum operators on transitional arrangements that provide commercial certainty and security for all the parties,” the Prime Minister said.

“With the passage of the treaty’s implementing legislation… Australia is now ready to partner with Timor-Leste to jointly develop the Greater Sunrise gas fields for the benefit of both countries.”

Mr Morrison said the gas field would provide new opportunities for income and commercial and industrial development in Timor-Leste, and would play an important part of Timor-Leste’s economic future.

“As Timor-Leste celebrates the 20th anniversary of its independence vote this year, Australia remains steadfast in our support for Timor-Leste’s prosperity and role in the Indo-Pacific, and our friendship with the Timorese people,” he said.

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