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“By using these delaying tactics, the Australian Government is holding a gun to the head of the world’s newest nation, and East Timorese people are dying, ... 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, ... Negotiating a carve-up of revenue from the Timor Sea fields still ignores East Timor's strong legal claim over the whole field under International Law,” Terry Sullivan, Brisbane East Timor Support Group, State Member for Stafford & member of Kedron Balibo Committee

The Brisbane East Timor Support Group/Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Brisbane.

MEDIA RELEASE

For immediate release: Monday, 9 May 2005.



STILL NOT A FAIR GO FOR EAST TIMOR


While welcoming tentative moves by the Australian Government to negotiate the Timor Sea Treaty in a more reasonable manner, supporters of the Timor Sea Justice Campaign in Brisbane say the Australian Government is still selling East Timor short.


The East Timor Support Group comprises church and community groups and individuals in Brisbane who have been working with the people of East Timor.


Spokesman, Terry Sullivan, State Member for Stafford and a member of the Kedron Balibo Committee, welcomed these small steps to find a solution, but said the main issue had yet to be addressed.


“The deal that emerged last week at the latest round of maritime boundary negotiations in Dili did not reflect East Timor's legal entitlement under current International Law,” Mr Sullivan said.


“If permanent maritime boundaries were established in accordance with current International Law, almost all of the Greater Sunrise field worth an estimated $50 billion would be in East Timor’s hands,” Mr Sullivan said.


“Ignoring accepted international practice, the Australian Government has refused to have the dispute heard before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) ­ the two forums set up to resolve international disputes of this kind.”


“We know why the Australian Government refuses to go to the ICJ and ITLOS,” Mr Sullivan said. “That’s because our government is in the wrong, and the international courts would rule against us.”


“Foreign Minister Alexander Downer tries to argue that we are being generous towards East Timor. On the contrary, we are stealing their oil and gas,” Mr Sullivan said.


“How would Australia feel if New Zealand claimed ownership of the Bass Strait oil fields and issued exploration licence to foreign companies?” Mr Sullivan queried. “I’m certain every Australian would say that it’s our resource, so we should get the revenue and control who takes the oil.”


“The Australian Government has responded to broad public pressure by side-stepping the main issue of ownership and international boundaries, and has focused instead on a temporary agreement to share revenues from the Timor reserves,” Mr Sullivan said.


“East Timor desperately needs the money for basic health and education services. Children are dying of diseases which are easily preventable, but they don’t even have health clinics in the villages to dispense life-saving medication.”


“By using these delaying tactics, the Australian Government is holding a gun to the head of the world’s newest nation, and East Timorese people are dying,” Mr Sullivan said.


The Timor Sea Justice Campaign claims 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.


“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,” Mr Sullivan said.


"Negotiating a carve-up of revenue from the Timor Sea fields still ignores East Timor's strong legal claim over the whole field under International Law,” Mr Sullivan said.


The Timor Sea Justice 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 a proposed deal and scheduled for Wednesday.


The talks were to be held in Brisbane, but have now been transferred to Sydney.


For further information, please contact:

Terry Sullivan, Brisbane
Mobile 0419 761 061 email: Stafford@parliament.qld.gov.au

or


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

Home: http://www.TimorSeaJustice.org



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