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"What ever the percentage spilt they end up settling on for the $50 billion Greater Sunrise field, it must be remembered that under International Law, East Timor has a very strong legal claim over the field, while the Australian Government has such a lack of confidence in its legal argument, that it pre-emptively withdrew recognition of the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice," Timor Sea Justice Campaign spokesperson, Tom Clarke

News Release:

Progress at Timor Sea Talks as public pressure mounts



News Release - TIMOR SEA JUSTICE CAMPAIGN - News Release

For immediate release: 29 April 2005.

Home: http://www.TimorSeaJustice.org


PROGRESS AT TIMOR SEA TALKS AS PUBLIC PRESSURE MOUNTS


The Timor Sea Justice Campaign today welcomed signs that the Australian Government was taking on board public pressure to give East Timor a fair go and approach the ongoing negotiations in a more cooperative manner. But the lobby group claimed the deal that emerged today at the latest round of maritime boundary negotiations in Dili, did not accurately reflect East Timor's full legal entitlement under current International Law.


The deal ignores the establishment of permanent maritime boundaries, that if established in accordance with current International Law would deliver most, if not all, of the Greater Sunrise field worth an estimated $50 billion in government royalties to East Timor. Instead the deal focuses on another temporary resource sharing agreement.


The campaign's spokesperson, Tom Clarke, said the group would wait to see details of any deal before commenting extensively, but cautioned that the figures reportedly being discussed fall well short of East Timor's legal entitlements.


"Such a resource sharing deal would ignore East Timor's rights as a sovereign nation to have permanent maritime boundaries and control its own resources, but of course we'd welcome East Timor receiving a more appropriate share of its gas and oil resources that better reflected what it was actually entitled to under International Law," Mr Clarke said.


The Timor Sea Justice Campaign claim that the negotiations are neither fair nor balanced and compared the situation to someone in the desert dying of thirst, being forced to bargain for a glass of water.


"The Australian Government has taken full advantage of East Timor's desperation. While East Timorese children are dying of preventable diseases, the Australian Government has been taking $1 million a day in contested oil and gas royalties. That's not a fair negotiating position to be in," Mr Clarke said.


"What ever the percentage spilt they end up settling on for the $50 billion Greater Sunrise field, it must be remembered that under International Law, East Timor has a very strong legal claim over the field, while the Australian Government has such a lack of confidence in its legal argument, that it pre-emptively withdrew recognition of the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice," Mr Clarke said.


The campaign will continue to lobby the Australian Government to give East Timor a fair go in the lead up to the next round of talks aimed at finalising the detail of the deal and reportedly scheduled for early May.


"The Australian people believe in a fair go and it's encouraging that the Australian Government is starting to respond to the growing public campaign to ensure East Timor gets a fair go in the Timor Sea," Mr Clarke said.


For further information, please contact:

Tom Clarke, Co-ordinator, Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Melbourne.
Mobile: 0422 545 763 email: tom@timorseajustice.org




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