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"Australia must cease to draw oil from the Laminaria-Corallina field in the Timor Sea and put the monies it has accumulated over the last few years into a trust fund for the East Timorese. Additionally the Australian government must learn to treat East Timor as an equal in the negotiations surrounding the disputed maritime boundaries and to conduct these negotiations in a generous and ethical way." Social Justice Network with East Timorese community in Perth


MEDIA RELEASE  FROM WA SOCIAL JUSTICE NETWORK



Australian Trust Fund from Oil for East Timorese



Australia must cease to draw oil from the Laminaria-Corallina field in the Timor Sea and put the monies it has accumulated over the last few years into a trust fund for the East Timorese. Additionally the Australian government must learn to treat East Timor as an equal in the negotiations surrounding the disputed maritime boundaries and to conduct these negotiations in a generous and ethical way.

These proposals emerged at a meeting organised in Perth this week under the auspices of the Social Justice Network in combination with members of the East Timorese community in Perth.

It was argued that this dispute represents a moral and ethical issue. The Timorese recognise this but it is not clear that the Australian government do. Australia’s withdrawal from the International Court of Justice in relation to maritime boundary disputes was condemned. There was a call from the meeting for the Australian government to rejoin the International Court.

Concern was also expressed at the lack of transparency in the recent discussions between Alexander Downer and Ramos Horta regarding the maritime boundaries between Australia and East Timor. The fact that no announcement was made after that meeting was also worrying. At the press conference following the discussions there was unfortunately a refusal to give any details. The group in Perth emphasised the need for any resolution of the dispute to occur very soon. Alexander Downer's suggestion of Christmas  - which would be after the Australian federal election - as a possible time for possibly settling the dispute is all too late and all too uncertain. The meeting argued strongly that the issues involved were ones of principle and justice. Speakers called on both governments to enter into a fair, open and early agreement on the maritime boundaries.

These represent important issues for East Timor. The East Timorese see a need for a just and principled settlement of this dispute. Such a settlement would help
*   to alleviate the poverty of the East Timorese; 
*   to build social infrastructure by way of health care, education services, etc; and
*   to protect the independence of East Timor.

There are also important issues for Australia. This country needs to be seen to be acting morally, justly and generously towards its East Timorese neighbour. Australia should seek to help to maintain East Timor as an independent, stable and democratic neighbour.

Gavin Mooney as co-convenor of the Social Justice Network stated: "It is most unfortunate that the oil revenues have become a political game for John Howard to stay way from the International Tribunal/Maritime boundary issues." He added: "What was very apparent at the meeting was the strength of feeling of the East Timorese about the principles involved here. They are fighting for a principle of justice rather than the oil revenues as such. We now need a principled response from John Howard and Alexander Downer."



For more detail contact:

Gavin Mooney (SJN)
08 9266 4304 or g.mooney@curtin.edu.au;

or

Cesar Dias:
quintas722001@yahoo.co.uk



About Social Justice Network:

Professor Gavin Mooney of the Social and Public Health Economics Research Group at Curtin University and Colin Penter, Principal of the Matrix Consulting Group, organised A Trilogy of Conversations on Social Justice to build momentum to establish some structure, group, alliance or loose network on social justice in Western Australia.

Their vision is to use these occasions as a base to create some new structure or space in which groups and individuals interested in and working for social justice can find ways to meet together, work together and perhaps together make a difference.

Following the trilogy of conversations, a strategy planning is to held to discuss just how such a structure might best be built. The structure may be able to provide a forum which taps on the fantastic work on social justice already being done by many groups individuals in their own areas of interest. (See link below.)

The Society of Professional Social Workers believes there is a great deal of support from the social work profession, which shares many of the principles and apsirations reflected in the views in these conversations on social justice.

Copies of the text of presentations (which are available) are being made accessible in the interim from the SPSW website to enable social workers and others to support the formation of a Social Justice Network.

See also: http://socprofsocwkrs.highway1.com.au/justice.html


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