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"The ACTU calls on the Australian Government to stop short changing the East Timorese on maritime boundaries and government royalties. ... The placement of a maritime boundary between East Timor and Australia will determine which country receives about $40 billion dollars in government royalties from the Greater Sunrise field, but in addition to government revenue, there is also the economic benefit of on-shore infrastructure and investment to take into account. ... such development would enable East Timor to escape continued poverty and to build a sustainable industry." ACTU President Sharan Burrow


ACTU Media Release
Embargoed Until 6am Saturday 23 April 2005

Saturday 23 April 2005


Unions urge fair go for East Timorese in Timor Sea talks



In the lead up to next week's maritime boundary negotiations between Australia and East Timor, the Australian Council of Trade Unions is calling on the Australian Government to ensure East Timor receives its fair share of benefits from gas and oil projects in the Timor Sea.


Commenting ahead of the maritime boundary negotiations that are due to take place in Dili from Tuesday to Thursday next week (26-28 April) ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:


East Timor deserves a fair go and a fair share of the billions of dollars being earned from the Timor Sea oil and gas reserves. It is also in Australia's best interests to have a prosperous and stable East Timor as our neighbour.


The ACTU calls on the Australian Government to stop short changing the East Timorese on maritime boundaries and government royalties. It is essential that East Timor enjoys an equitable share of the anticipated $8 billion of downstream benefits from these projects.


The placement of a maritime boundary between East Timor and Australia will determine which country receives about $40 billion dollars in government royalties from the Greater Sunrise field, but in addition to government revenue, there is also the economic benefit of on-shore infrastructure and investment to take into account.


These long term projects will potentially generate thousands of jobs and bring with them numerous flow-on benefits to the local communities. The ACTU recognises that such development would enable East Timor to escape continued poverty and to build a sustainable industry.


Supporting the economic development of East Timor should be a priority for the Australian Government. With an annual budget of just $100 million East Timor is very poor. The East Timorese appreciate the $40 million Australia gives in aid, but question why we are taking $2 billion in oil revenue that they believe is rightfully theirs.
Gas and oil from active projects in the Timor Sea is to be piped to Darwin for processing. The Northern Territory Government predicts that the pipeline will generate 8,790 jobs and provide a $11 billion boost to the economy. Both Australian and East Timorese trade unionists are keen to guarantee that East Timor also benefits from its fair share of downstream development.


Given that the contested gas and oil fields are in areas that are likely to be recognised by International Law as East Timorese waters, it makes sense that the East Timorese people should also benefit from the downstream processing of their oil and gas.


Foreign Minister Alexander Downer should stop stalling on this important issue and negotiate a new boundary and act in good faith when this new round of talks begins this week.


The ACTU also wants to see more emphasis placed on East Timorese employment on the rigs and platforms in the Timor Sea. We currently have a situation in which East Timorese workers are filling only a small portion of the jobs. This is a real wasted opportunity and any future resource sharing agreements should include more substantial and tangible provisions for training.


Unions have been active in providing aid and development assistance to East Timor through the overseas aid arm of the union movement, Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA. We support any moves that will provide jobs for East Timorese or put their economy on a more sustainable footing," Ms Burrows said.


Unions will be participating in rallies for "A Fair Go For East Timor" in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide on Tuesday.


Media Contact: Susannah Greenleaf 0418 479 455




Sources:
*
Ken Davis, APHEDA: kdavis@apheda.org.au
* ACTU: http://www.actu.asn.au/public/news/1114155086_30351.html




See also:


Timor Sea Talks between Timor-Leste & Australia:
Dili, East Timor 26th 27th & 28th of April, 2005
http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/talks.html


Timor Sea Justice Campaign:
National rallies for A FAIR GO FOR EAST TIMOR!

12noon, April 26, 2005
http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/05apr26demo.html


26 Mar 2005 McKee: How much is Sunrise really worth?:
A revised potential revenue estimate for a disputed gas resource in the Timor Sea
http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/05mar26mckee.html


APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad:
* Home:
http://www.apheda.org.au



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