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BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor

Timor Sea Talks between Timor-Leste & Australia:
Sydney 11 May, 2005 and afterwards

Governu Timor-Leste ho Australia koalia kona ba Tasi Timor

updated: 14 August 2005

Return to Main Contents: BD: The 2005 TIMOR OIL Collection
NEW = Added to
BACK DOOR Website within the past month

Latest talks
Statements from Timor-Leste (East Timor)
Australian Solidarity with Timor-Leste
International Solidarity with Timor-Leste

Timor Sea Talks between Timor-Leste & Australia
Governu Timor-Leste ho Australia koalia kona ba Tasi Timor

Latest Talks
Sydney, 11 May 2005

The Timor Sea talks between the governments of Timor-Leste and Australia so far:

Dili, 19 April 2004
Canberra, 19 Sept. 2004
Darwin, 26 Sept. 2004
Dili, 27 October 2004
Canberra, 7 March 2005
Dili, 26-28 April 2005
Latest Talks: Sydney 11 May 2005

By subscribing to the Melbourne Timor Sea Justice Campaign announcements list you will receive regular newsletters and press releases relating to the Timor Sea Talks.

To subscribe, e-mail:

22 June 2005 TSJC: Public Meeting to Highlight Downer's Unfinished Business in Timor Sea
Media release/Alert added 22 June 2005
"This [Greater Sunrise gas field] deal is only a small part of a much bigger issue. The deal may allow for the commercial development of the Greater Sunrise field, but it does not in anyway address East Timor's rights as a sovereign nation to have permanent maritime boundaries, nor does it adequately reflect East Timor's rightful financial entitlements, ... Our Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer should just put his head down and get the job done. If drawing a line halfway between two coastlines is too hard for him or his department, they should just take the matter to the International Court of Justice and let the independent umpire settle the dispute once and for all" Tom Clarke, spokesperson, Timor Sea Justice Campaign

2 June 2005 TSJC: More Talks Needed ...
Media release added 2 June 2005
"Following comments from East Timor’s PM, Mari Alkatiri, that further negotiations would be required to iron out details in a proposed resource sharing arrangement with Australia, the Timor Sea Justice Campaign (TSJC) has accused Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, of attempting to ‘steam roll’ the impoverished nation. ... The TSJC claim the Downer posse has mislead the Australian people, by suggesting the proposed resource sharing agreement was ‘a done deal’, while East Timorese NGOs and Government representatives still have significant concerns, particularly about suspending their sovereignty over the areas for up to 50 years." Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Melbourne

27 May 2005 TSJC Newsletter: Update on Negotiations
Newsletter added 31 May 2005
"Contrary to recent media reports suggesting ‘a deal has been made’ between Australia and East Timor, no new agreements have been signed. The East Timorese Government has indicated that there are still details to be worked through on the proposed deal about the Greater Sunrise field before it will be considered. The Timor Sea Justice Campaign has labelled the proposed deal as shoddy and inadequate, claiming that it does not reflects East Timor’s full entitlement to the Greater Sunrise field or take into account fields that Australia has been unilaterally depleting since 1999." Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Melbourne

14 May 2005 TSJC: East Timor Short Changed in Oil Deal
Press release added 15 May 2005
"You can’t get a fair outcome from an unfair process. These negotiations have been like asking someone dying of thirst in the desert to bargain for their own 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,” Dan Nicholson, Spokesperson Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Melbourne

12 May 2005 TSJC: Gas and Oil Talks Resume
News release added 11 May 2005
"From a financial perspective, the most important details of how much of the $50 billion of government royalties East Timor will receive from Greater Sunrise, is still to be looked at, but even beyond such details, the proposed deal doesn’t even begin to address the real issue of permanent maritime boundaries ... Downer’s mantra about Australia’s supposed generosity due to the 90/10% spilt in the JPDA, is ridiculous. The JPDA only contains about one third of the contested gas and oil. The crucial factor at this next round of talks will be the Greater Sunrise field which East Timor claims as part of their Exclusive Economic Zone ... The Foreign Minister is muddying the waters by unnecessarily complicating the matter. It really should be a straightforward task of drawing a line halfway between East Timor and Australia. Easy. Gas and oil that’s closer to East Timor is theirs," Tom Clarke, Timor Sea Justice Campaign spokesperson

9 May 2005 BETSG: Still not a Fair Go for East Timor
Media release added 11 May 2005
“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

8 May 2005 TSJC: Timor TV Ads Return for Pivotal Maritime Talks
News release added 11 May 2005
"I would have preferred to keep the references to John Howard as he needs to start taking responsibility for his Government's theft of East Timor's gas and oil. However, I altered the ads to ensure they go to air because it's very important that the Australian public knows that the Howard Government has taken $1 million every single day since 1999 from gas and oil fields that under International Law belong to East Timor. This is while East Timorese children are dying from preventable diseases," businessman Ian Melrose, author of Timor Sea TV ads

29 Apr 2005 TSJC: Progress at Timor Sea Talks as public pressure mounts
News Release added 29 Apr 2005
"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." Timor Sea Justice Campaign spokesperson, Tom Clarke

14 Apr 2005 TSJC News: Talks Set for 26th of April
Newsletter added 14 Apr 05
"The next round of maritime boundary negotiations between the Australian and East Timorese Governments, have been scheduled to take place in Dili on the 26th, 27th and 28th of April. The talks are expected to focus on details of the proposed ‘creative solution’ in which the Australian Government has reportedly offered $3-4 billion in return for East Timor postponing its claims of sovereignty for up to 100 years. A protest will be held by the Timor Sea Justice Campaign outside of Melbourne’s DFAT offices at 2 Lonsdale St on Tuesday the 26th of April at 12 noon. Actions are also being planned in the other capital cities." Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Melbourne

Timor Sea Talks between Timor-Leste & Australia
Governu Timor-Leste ho Australia koalia kona ba Tasi Timor

Statements from Timor-Leste (East Timor)

12 Oct 2005 UNOTIL: Australia Yet to Show Goodwill
"It is reported that even though Timor-Leste and Australia are undergoing continuing negotiations to come to a resource sharing agreement acceptable to both countries, Australia is yet to demonstrate goodwill in coming to an expeditious decision. Manuel Mendonca from the Prime Ministers Cabinet for Timor Sea issues told journalists on Tuesday that there are two aspects to the negotiations ­ one set of negotiations of a political nature between the two governments, and the other of a technical nature with Woodside, the company that will explore the oil and gas. Mendonca explained that production of the oil and gas in the Greater Sunrise field cannot yet commence, as the two governments have not yet come to an agreement. He said that the position of the Timor-Leste Government is that there will only be an agreement if the pipeline will run to Timor-Leste. “Otherwise, it is better that we just cease negotiations”, he said." (Timor Post & Suara Timor Lorosae: )

14 July 2005
UNOTIL: Xanana Denies Australian Media Report
"President Xanana Gusmão has denied information by the Australian media that during his official visit to Australia he agreed on Timor Sea negotiations to share 50-50  the revenues, Timor Post reported Thursday. “During my visit, I heard there were reports here (TL) that I had given my blessings to the Timor Sea negotiations, that’s not correct,” President Gusmão told the media upon his arrival from Darwin on Wednesday. (Timor Post, DN)"

Internews: Alkatiri says that the pipline must come to TL

Timor Post, July 11, 2005
"Despite recent Australian reports that Timor-Leste and Australia have reached a 50-50 agreement on the Greater Sunrise field in the Timor Sea, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said he would not yet comment on the agreement. "When we are closer to signing the agreement, I will make it public. Since I have not yet said anything, the signing is not close." Alkatiri said. Alkatiri added he believes the Greater Sunrise's pipeline must come to Timor-Leste."


8 Julhu 2005 STL: Greater Sunrise seidauk justu [is not yet fair]
Lia-foun tau tan 12 Julhu 2005
Relasiona ho akordu nebee Timor Leste (TL) hoo Australia hetan atu fahe mina iha area Greater Sunrise hanesan 50:50, ida nee seidauk justu, tanba la esplika klaru katak see mak iha direitu liu. “Hau hanoin kuandu ema nain rua fahe buat ida ba malu tenke haree see maka iha direitu barak liu nia hetan barak liu. No see maka la dun iha direitu nia hetan oitoan. Tanba direitu nee ita bele hatene wainhira iha ona lina fronteira konaba mina nee, iha Tasi Australia nian (TA) ka Tasi Timor (TT) nian,” Reitor Universidade da Paz (UNPAZ) Dr. Lucas da Costa
Translation by Internews: Director of Universidade da Paz (UNPAZ) Dr Lucas da Costa said that the Australian and Timor-Leste deal to split revenues from the Greater Sunrise field 50-50 is not yet fair because it remains unclear who has the rights to the field. “I think that when two people split something, they must know who has the rights to it. The one with the right gets more, and who has a lesser claim gets less. We need to know the definition of the border line between Timor-Leste and Australia,” da Costa said.


21 Juni 2005 STL: TL belum siap kelola dana dari LT [transparency, sovereignty & boundary]
Berita ditambahkan tanggal 12 Juli 2005
"Mengapa kita harus terburu-buru? ... Kita telah memiliki institusi-institusi legal di pemerintahan, namun kita belum memiliki orang-orang yang bisa menjamin uang rakyat ini aman dan juga meyakinkan kita bahwa kita akan berada di sebuah moment yang akan penuh  transparency, sebuah culture akan penanganan efektifitas masalah-masalah, ... Ini merupakan sesuatu yang sangat fundamental bagi saya sebagai presiden untuk menjamin kedaulatan, untuk menjamin (stabilitas dan keamanan-red) Negara dimana masalah yang paling fundamental (antara Australia danTL-red) adalah demarkasi," Presiden Timor Leste (TL) Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao

20 June 2005 Timor Post/STL: Alkatiri reiterates pipeline condition
News added 22 June 2005
"Prime Minister Alkatiri says that he has already explained to Woodside Petroleum Ltd that if the pipeline for oil exploration does not come to Timor-Leste but rather to Darwin, Australia, then there will be no exploration. Speaking to journalists on Saturday, Alkatiri said that he does not believe Woodside's claim that there is no appropriate technology to overcome the deep trench near Timor-Leste, because according to the data that he has, it is possible to overcome these technological difficulties. If Woodside continues to insist that it is not possible to bring the pipeline to Timor, then "leave the oil under the sea", reiterated Alkatiri." Timor Post ; Suara Timor Lorosae:

16 June 2005 BBerg: East Timor Not Ready to Handle Oil, Gas Revenue, Gusmao Says
News added 12 July 2005
Why are we rushing [negotiations with Australia]? ... We already have the institutions, but we don't yet have people who can assure that we will stand on a culture of transparency, a culture of effective handling of problems. ... in my perception, we should not rush like we are in a very, very difficult situation of need, ... It's fundamental for me as president to guarantee the sovereignty, to guarantee the state, and the fundamental problem is the demarcation [of the maritime boundary] ... It must be the basis of all the considerations." East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao

15 Junhu 2005 STL: Pipeline Greater Sunrise bele dada mai TL [can pipeline to TL]
Lia-foun tau tan 22 Junhu 2005
"Uluk ema sempre hatete kuak klean Tasi Timor nian seidauk iha teknologia ida para ultra pasa. Maibee iha tempu agora iha ona esperensia husi rai seluk. Teknologia iha ona no hatudu tia ona hanesan husi kompania INTEC. Bazea ba ida nee,  maiske Tasi Timor klean mais  Greater Sunrise bele dada mai Timor Leste."
Suara Timor Lorosae:

15 June 2005 STL: Pipeline to TL a possibility
News added 22 June 2005
"There is a possibility that the pipeline from the Greater Sunrise oil field can come to Timor-Leste, according to the Advisor of Natural Resources in the President’s Cabinet, Francisco da Costa Monteiro. Speaking to journalists, Monteiro explained that previously experts had believed that the sea trench immediately preceding Timor-Leste is too deep to build a pipeline in the absence of the appropriate technology. However, the right technology now exists according to Monteiro, and he said that a company called INTEC in 2002 carried out a survey on the trench, which showed that it is possible to bring the pipeline here. Monteiro said that Woodside Petroleum has also recently carried out a survey on the economic viability of the matter, which he said the government has not yet seen."
Suara Timor Lorosae:

10 June 2005 TP: Alkatiri shrugs off Woodside concerns
News added 22 June 2005
"Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has shrugged off concerns that petroleum company Woodside may cancel its Timor Sea project because the governments of Timor-Leste and Australia have not yet reached a maritime boundary agreement. Responding to journalist's questions regarding information that Woodside Petroleum will move its exploration plans from Greater Sunrise to the Broome oil field in Western Australia, Alkatiri said that there are many other companies that would be interested in investing in Greater Sunrise. He added that in any case, Timor-Leste does not yet need revenue from Greater Sunrise as the revenue from the Bayu-Undan field is enough for the time being." Timor Post

31 maio 2005 Publico: Primeiro-ministro timorense chega hoje a Portugal [there's devil in the detail]
Notícias de 2 junho 2005
"Tem dito que não há acordo ainda com a Austrália sobre a partilha petrolífera do mar de Timor. José Ramos-Horta disse ao PÚBLICO (edição de 3/5) que se está à espera apenas da resolução de alguns "detalhes técnicos". Que detalhes são esses e quando vão ser negociados?" Publico
"Costuma-se dizer que é no detalhe que está o diabo. É bom não permitirmos que esse espaço seja ocupado pelo diabo. Todo o nosso esforço tem ido para encontrarmos uma solução criativa.” Mari Alkatiri, Primeiro-Ministro de Timor-Leste

21 May 2005 ABC: E Timor denies seabed deal reached
News added 25 May 2005
East Timor's Foreign Minister [Jose Ramos Horta] has rejected reports of a $5 billion deal to resolve the dispute over the seabed boundary. ... he says reports of East Timor considering an Australian proposal to suspend negotiations on the maritime boundary for 50 years are wrong. "This is pure, absolutely pure erroneous speculation by the media," ... "So far no figures have been discussed and to put it in such a way that we agreed to shelve sovereignty for a particular price-tag, that is absolutely erroneous." ABC News Online

18 maio 2005 JNS: A mentira australiana [the Australian Lie]
Notícias de 24 maio 2005
“é absolutamente mentira, não há acordo e a haver, os termos em que a televisão ABC anuncia, estaria totalmente contra as minhas orientações, portanto, seria nulo. Não há acordo!” Mari Alkatiri, Primeiro-Ministro de Timor-Leste

17 May 2005 TP: Timor-Leste outcry over Timor Sea deal
News added 24 May 2005
[East Timor] Member of Parliament Eusebio Guterres, from the Democratic Party, said that postponement of a maritime boundary agreement is not beneficial for Timor-Leste. Guterres said that if Australia refuses to agree to a boundary demarcation then Timor-Leste should just remain calm. "John Howard will not be the Prime Minister of Australia forever. Many Australians support Timor-Leste's claims to its resources," ... According to Freitas, La'o Hamutuk's data indicates that the agreement that has been reached ... does not involve a postponement of boundary negotiations." Timor Post

14 May 2005 AT:
Aust'n media, Aust'n gov't & Timor Sea negotiations
Statement added 15 May 2005
For the past few days they Australian media have written articles as if there is already an agreement in place. The declaration by Timor-Leste's PM, Mari Alkatiri, vehemently denies this. So what is happening? Why is the media printing information that are not based on fact? ... They seem to be tuned only to one side of the source, i.e. Australian government through Alexander Downer." Alex Tilman

13 May 2005 Lusa: Alkatiri labels report of Timor Sea accord an 'absolute lie'
News added 15 May 2005
"East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri denied a report Friday that Dili and Canberra had reached a tentative agreement on the sharing of Timor Sea oil and natural gas revenues, labeling the Australian media report an "absolute lie". ... "It's an absolute lie", Alkatiri told Lusa. There is no accord and, if there is one, in the terms announced by ABC, it would be totally against my orientations. And, thus, void"." Lusa

30 Apr 2005
TP: Facts of Negotiation on Permanent Maritime Boundary
Info added 5 May 2005
"Australia and Timor-Leste is seeking for "creative solution" to the deadlock in talk ... From the media, it appears that Australia is willing to give "additional" revenue to Timor-Leste, but Timor-Leste shall give-up it sovereignty claim over the Greater Sunrise by ratifying the International Unitisation Agreement in its form now. ... There has not been any formal declaration from Timor-Leste's on this matter, but from the media report, etc, government seems to entertain this proposal. ... The "creative solution" ... prejudices Timor-Leste's national interest if in exchange of the revenue sharing Timor-Leste has to ratify the IUA in its current form." Dionísio Babo Soares and Francisco da Costa Monteiro

29 Apr 2005 TLGov: Talks on Timor Sea make unprecedented progress
Media release added 5 Apr 2005
"The governments of Timor-Leste (East Timor) and Australia have made unprecedented progress in talks this week in Dili concerning the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea, said the Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs and Co-operation Dr Jose Ramos-Horta. ... The talks have been focused on addressing the issues related to the overlapping maritime boundary claims in the Timor Sea between the two nations. Timor-Leste proposed a creative solution which may involve a resource sharing arrangement in lieu of hastily attempting to resolve the complex and sensitive issues involved in agreeing to a permanent maritime boundary." Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Timor-Leste Government

26 Apr 2005 ETNGOs: Timor Society demands fair median line
Press release added 27 Apr 2005
"The results of the most recent negotiations held last March in Canberra-Australia, spoke about the establishment of a Resources Sharing Agreement or an agreement which favours a "legal framework" for a "creative solution". The essence of this "creative solution" is that Timor-Leste will receive 5 billion American dollars from the total reserve of 30 billion American dollars in the Greater Sunrise oil field. The logic for the granting of this 5 billion dollars is that it is a "bonus" from the oil and gas exploration in the field, and that there will be no determination on the maritime border for 100 years. ... the Australian government is anxious about discussions regarding the Maritime Boundary and prefers to discuss the distribution of natural resources, of which we are all aware that according to international UNCLOS law, 100% of the natural resources in the Timor Sea belong to Timor-Leste." 11 East Timorese NGOs

16 Dec 2004 RN: East Timor ups ante in oil and gas fight
Interview added 17 Dec 2004
"If the negotiations completely break down we certainly talk with friends around the world, not only Hollywood but politicians, intellectuals, academics, normal people in the streets, in Australia and around the world. ... Australia will have to explain why it refuses to accept jurisdiction on the international court of justice. ... We have tremendous international support, the European Union, Commonwealth countries, Non Align Movement, I do not know of a single country that is not sympathetic to East Timorese situation." Jose Ramos Horta, Foreign Minister of East Timor

29 Nov 2004 ABC: Australia-ET relations at historic low: Horta
Interview added 2 Dec 2004
"... we have to go to the International Court of Justice, the United Nations General Assembly to request a non-binding adviser opinion on the whole issue [of oil and gas in the Timor Sea]. ... [if Australia refuses to be bound by it] it would be very damaging to Australia's international credibility, it would really weaken Australian stance regionally, it would be seen by the rest of the world as such a rich, powerful country bullying the poorest country, one of the poorest countries in the world." Jose Ramos Horta, Foreign Minister of East Timor

3 Nov 2004 Age: PM Alkatiri: All East Timor seeks is a fair go 
Statement added 5 Nov 2004
"In last week's talks, we were willing to defer our right to the delimitation of a maritime boundary ... In seeking this solution, we are not simply looking for the Australian Government to write a cheque or to hand out quasi-aid for an extended period. We want an outcome that underpins our national development. One element of a fair settlement that should be given full consideration is to pipe the Greater Sunrise gas the much shorter distance to a processing plant on East Timor's shores. ... It is perfectly reasonable for the government of one of the world's poorest nations to seek an outcome that directly tackles its great need for economic development. Darwin already has one LNG plant to process gas from the Timor Sea, which is why one fair outcome would be to put the second LNG plant in East Timor." Timor-Leste Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, Timor Sea Office

27 Oct 2004 ET NGO Forum: Timor-Leste Civil Society Demands Fair Maritime Boundary 
Media Release added 3 Nov 2004

"Civil Society Organizations in Timor-Leste have followed the negotiation process concerning Timor Sea oil, held in Canberra and Darwin, Australia, last month. ...
we strongly encourage the governments of Timor-Leste and Australia to:
1. urge the negotiators who, at this moment, are discussing the future of the people of Timor-Leste, to respect the national sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and quickly set the maritime boundary between the two countries according to current international legal principles.
2. urge Australia, in connection with point 1, to return to the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea in order to solve international disputes of maritime boundaries.
3. Greater Sunrise should be East Timor’s territory, development can not be started until a boundary or IUA is in place. We condemn pressure exerted by Woodside Oil Company to quickly begin exploitation in this area.
4. stop the exploitation of Laminaria-Corallina and other oil fields in disputed territory. This includes halting the issue of new licenses. It would be sensible and fair to put revenues from such fields in an escrow fund to be divided fairly once a boundary agreement is reached.
We strongly urge the government of Timor-Leste to give priority to the Maritime Boundary discussions rather than negotiating the division of resources with a government that is stealing natural resources that rightfully belong to Timor-Leste."
HAK Association, Haburas Foundation, La’o Hamutuk, Sahe Institute for Liberation (SIL), Kdalak Sulimutu Institute (KSI), Timor-Leste Community Radio Association (ARKTL), Judicial System Monitoring Program, KSTL, LAIFET, FOKUPERS, Forum Tau Matan (FTM), Timor-Leste Students Association.

27 Oct 2004 TSO: PM Alkatiri statement on failure of talks 
Media Release added 5 Nov 2004
"We put forward a range of options that would address these various elements of a resolution to our dispute. What the Australian Government delegation was willing to offer and explore did not come even close to recognizing our sovereign rights in the disputed areas. We were talking about Timor-Leste participation in the development of the disputed resources; they were talking about money.  We were too far apart to reach agreement." Timor-Leste Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, Timor Sea Office

29 Sep 2004 ET NGO Forum: Timor-Leste Civil Society Demands Fair Boundary 
Media Release added 30 Sep 2004
"Civil society and people in Timor-Leste ... continue to follow the negotiations between our government and Australia with great interest. ... the issues being discussed in Darwin this week are among the most important for the future of our nation. ... we urge Australia to ... :
1. Respect the national sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, ...
2. ... we continue to believe that a permanent boundary, both for the water column and the seabed, is essential for completing our struggle for national independence. The boundary should be based on current international legal principles, along the median line between our two coasts, with lateral boundaries decided according to current international law.
3. Return to the international dispute resolution processes for maritime boundaries of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
4. Do not involve our future in your nation’s politics. ... Our rights are based on international law and moral principles, not on Australian public opinion polls. ...
5. Respect Timor-Leste’s right to develop our resources on a timetable that is best for our people. ...
6. Stop exploration of Laminaria-Corallina and other fields in disputed territory, including issuing of new licenses. Place all revenues received from such fields in an escrow account, ..."
HAK Association, Haburas Foundation, La’o Hamutuk (East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis), FOKUPERS, LAIFET (Labor Advocacy Institute of East Timor), Timor-Leste Community Radio Association (ARKTL),  The Mirror of the People (LABEH), Forum Tau Matan (FTM), Timor-Leste Students Association.

Aug-Sep 2004 TSO: Maritime Boundary Dispute
Speech added
11 Sep 2004
"It is Timor-Leste’s position that Australia must honor the IUA [International Unitization Agreement] if Timor-Leste is to ratify it. What does this involve? The IUA will not be ratified by Timor-Leste until Australia abides by the relevant rules of international law applicable in the relations between the parties.
* This requires Australia to:
-- commit to a satisfactory time frame for negotiations,
-- after which either party will be able to seek resolution of the maritime boundary dispute before a neutral international mechanism, should agreement not have been reached.
* Further, Australia will have to:
-- cease unilateral activity in disputed areas in accordance with diplomatic correspondence from Timor-Leste, or
-- take adequate interim measures (e.g. placing revenues in escrow) to preserve Timor-Leste’s rights in these areas pending resolution of the dispute." Manuel de Lemos, Asst Coordinator, Timor Sea Office, Office of the Timor-Leste Prime Minister

Timor Sea Talks between Timor-Leste & Australia
Governu Timor-Leste ho Australia koalia kona ba Tasi Timor

Australian Solidarity with Timor-Leste

Timor Sea Justice Campaign (Australia)
The Timor Sea Justice Campaign issues frequent media releases in solidarity with Timor-Leste. To read these go to:

28 July 2005 Timor Sea Justice Campaign: Briefing Paper on Greater Sunrise
Briefing paper added 28 July 2005
This paper has been prepared for the [Australian] opposition parties and East Timor solidarity and activist groups to encourage informed responses to the signing of a temporary resource sharing agreement between Australia and East Timor covering the Greater Sunrise gas field.

15 June 2005 ACTU: Unions Call for ETimor to get Fair Share of Timor Gap Oil

Media release added 22 June 2005
"A proposed resource sharing agreement with East Timor expected to go before Federal Cabinet in the next few weeks would see the royalties split 50/50 but on the condition that East Timor suspends any claims of sovereignty over the area for up to fifty years. While a 50% split of the Greater Sunrise gas field would be a big improvement on the miserly 18% previously offered, it still falls well short of East Timor's legal entitlements under International Law." ACTU President Sharan Burrow

14 May 2005 AFFET: Downer Timor Sea propaganda, abetted by naive? oz media
Commentary added 15 May 2005
"In short, there is no possibility of last week's negotiation achieving a fair deal or a good deal for East Timor, so I and many colleagues fervently hope they fail, and the East Timor people and government shows more of its legendary patience." Rob Wesley-Smith, activist, Australians For a Free East Timor (AFFET) & member, Timor Sea Justice Coalition (TSJC) - Darwin (Northern Territory, Australia)

12 May 2005 ACBC: Australia Catholic Bishops call for generosity in Timor Sea
News added 14 May 2005
"In issuing this statement, the Australian Bishops supported those East Timorese Bishops who recently stated their country's urgent need for financial resources for future development. They asked that the Australian government treat their country generously and fairly. [emphasis Back Door's]" Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, Sydney

3 May 2005 Wesley-Smith: Open Letter to Horta re Timor Sea Talks
Letter added 5 May 2005

"If the ... 'creative solution' [90% to East Timor and 10% to Australia] was followed, out of the likely available US$40 billion 'government take' from Greater Sunrise, East Timor would get US$36 billion. Instead from what your good friend Alexander 'Lord" Downer has leaked to Australian media the East Timor government /people will get 18% of say US$40bn which is US$7.2 bn, plus a 'generous offer' of $2-5 bn (A$ or US$ not clear), a total of say $10-12bn for giving up its legal maritime boundary entitlements. This is barely one third of what East Timor should be expecting and is entitled to in our view under international law. ONE bloody THIRD!... East Timor being ripped off by US$24 billion plus?" Rob Wesley-Smith, activist, Australians For a Free East Timor (AFFET) & member, Timor Sea Justice Coalition (TSJC) - Darwin (Northern Territory, Australia)

29 Apr 2005 TSJC:
Progress at Timor Sea Talks as public pressure mounts
News Release added 29 Apr 2005
"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

27 Apr 2005 AFFET: 'Mainstream' media undervalues Timor Sea resource
Statement added 27 Apr 2005

" ... the 'Government Take' at stake from Greater Sunrise is at least US$40 bn, so where does this $9bn figure come from? This is critical as Australia offering $4bn may sound like almost 50% of a field (which anyway is twice as close to Timor as to Australia), but is really only 10% of the reality. ... I hope these current talks fail in a big way in East Timor's future interests." Rob Wesley-Smith, Spokesperson, Australians For a Free East Timor & Co-convenor, Timor Sea Justice Coalition - Darwin

27 Apr 2005 MMI: Urgent - No Deportation For Timorese Asylum Seekers
Action updated 29 Apr 2005

"About 30 East Timorese people who have been in Australia for between 9 and 12 years have been told to leave. ... They have not been told why they are being deported. ... Why is this group singled out and told to leave, when people in identical situations are allowed to stay? ... What connection is there between the timing of these decisions and the current Timor Sea resources talks?" Sister Susan Connelly, Spokesperson on oil issues, Mary MacKillop Institute for East Timorese Studies

23 April 2005 ACTU: Unions urge fair go for Timorese in Talks
Media Release added 23 Apr 2005

"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

22 April 2005 APHEDA: Justice for East Timor in Oil & Gas Negotiations
Statement of support added 23 Apr 2005
"The next round of talks is scheduled for the end of April 2005 in Dili. The Australian government has offered East Timor $3-4 billion as a one-time compensation for control of the oil fields, yet it is estimated that if oil was merely $40 USD a barrel, Australia could be depriving East Timor of up to $30 billion of royalties that are rightfully theirs over the next 20 years. In an impoverished country just three years old, East Timor's right to control its own natural resources is critical to the health and development of the nation." Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA

20 Dec 2004 ACSJC: Catholic Council urges Come to the table on Timor Sea
Media release added 21 Dec 2004
"As recently as August, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer stated that Australia and East Timor had the makings of a framework to settle the dispute by the end of the year. By October, however, these negotiations had broken down. There appears to be no good news for the East Timorese this Christmas. ... The ACSJC urges the Australian Government to resume negotiations on Greater Sunrise that will allow fair terms to assist East Timor to be self sufficient and prosperous." Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC)

2 Dec 2004 James Dunn: Timor's Birth-pangs & Australia's Diminishing Generosity
Commentary added 2 Dec 2004
" ... the East Timorese want a better share based preferably on an international court's determination of where the boundary should be. Australia has persisted with devious manoeuvres, such as its refusal to accept international jurisdiction. The Timorese have shown a readiness to compromise, but that has failed to lead to significant progress in the negotiations, which right now seem to have stalled. Australia's arrogant handling of this issue has understandably caused relations between the two countries to plunge to an all-time low." James Dunn, author of Timor: A People Betrayed

25 Sep 2004 MMIETS: Timor Sea Resources - Issues of Principle  Paper added 28 Sep 2004
"Here is a paper I gave at Politics in the Pub on 17.09.04. With the Timor Sea talks underway between Australia and East Timor at the moment, it remains to be seen what outcome there will be.  I believe that regardless of what the East Timor Government accepts, there are issues of principle which Australians should require that our Government fulfil. 
These made up the terms of the recent petition:
1.  That a fair and equitable boundary be set.
2.  That Australia negotiates in good faith and in a timely fashion.
3.  That Australia returns to International arbitration.
4.  That Australia stops benefitting financially from areas under dispute.
(Please note that Australia has been receiving one million dollars a day from an area claimed by East Timor. This amounts to nearly 2 billion dollars, ten times the amount we have spent there in aid.) ...
Australian policy is that we benefit financially from areas which are under dispute, and that policy has brought us nearly $2 billion since 1999. In discussing consequences of this policy, it is both fair and proper to consider the effects of the distribution of wealth.  So whilst I argue that the ownership of the resources of the Timor Sea must be determined only on principles of accepted law and customary practice, I maintain that the dire need of the people of East Timor makes the application of justice a priority. East Timor has gained its political independence, but is not yet economically independent.  It is one of the poorest nations in Asia."
Sr. Susan Connelly, Spokesperson on oil issues,
Mary MacKillop Institute for East Timorese Studies (MMIETS)

24 Sep 2004 IPS: Hopes Rise for New Oil Revenue Deal  News summary added 28 Sep 2004
"This week's talks came after months of criticism by the European Union, United States and Australian parliamentarians and numerous community groups that the Australian government would unfairly hoard most of the oil and gas revenues. The July policy announcement by Labor Party leader, Mark Latham, committing Australia to renegotiate the sea boundary with East Timor - should the opposition get into power after Oct. 9 - prompted a furious reaction from the Australian government." Bob Burton
"Australia wants to get Sunrise ratified in the Timorese parliament by the start of next year but that is not going to happen except at the end of the resolution of the boundary issue from the Timorese point of view, ... So they are going to have to settle everything by then, which is really unlikely unless there is a really good offer on the table from Australia.'' Dan Nicholson, spokesman for the Timor Sea Justice Campaign

21 Sep 2004 TSJC: Timor Sea Negotiation Issues Sept 2004
  Media release added 28 Sep 2004
"* Despite misleading DFAT statements, East Timor also has a priority to establish its own Maritime Boundaries, after a 24 year armed and diplomatic struggle to remove its illegal occupiers. No deal done on their Maritime Boundaries during those years can be accepted as binding today, and the struggle for national sovereignty is not over until the country establishes its national borders on land and sea. ...
* We are worried about a reported offer of an extra $3billion, and the report saying Mari Alkatiri forecasted that with a median line boundary they would get $12billion. These figures are far too low from both sides, as the initial estimates were made on the basis of oil prices of around US$20/barrel. ...
* A reexamination of the value of the Greater Sunrise project which contains nearly 2m BOE, suggests total revenue of at least US$70b in future years, and a "government take" of US$35billion and up ...
* Our view is that anything less than an East Timor share of 90% of "government take" will be unfair, given that under UNCLOS rules we expect East Timor owns 100% of the resource. This means East Timor must gain at least US$30b not just $3b."
Rob Wesley-Smith, Co-convenor, Timor Sea Justice Coalition - Darwin

20 Sep 2004 TSJC: The National Rally on September 20th, 2004
"The rally co-incided with the start of the Timor Sea Talks between the Governments of Timor-Leste and Australia. Despite being a weekday and being called at very short notice, about 75 activists assembled outside DFAT. Half of these were from interstate! Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, Sydney and rural NSW. Since almost all of the rally were activists, the media representatives could have interviewed practically any of us and had a solid interview." Dez Wildwood, Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Canberra

19 Sep 2004 Greens: East Timor seabed boundary talks must deliver justice  Media release added 20 Sep 2004
"The justice of East Timor's claim to alter the seabed boundary is reaching across the world, ... Just last week 37 European Union deputies appealed directly to Prime Minister Howard, calling for a 'rapid and just' solution that would guarantee East Timor's rights over its resources. Australia has no business depriving the poorest nation in our region of the resources it can use to pay for essential services and infrastructure like schools, roads, and hospitals." Greens Senator Bob Brown

18 Sep 2004 AETFA: National Rally for Timor Sea Justice  Message added 20 Sep 2004
"I am sending a message of solidarity on behalf of the Australia East Timor Friendship Association (South Australia) Inc [AETFA] and our apologies for not being able to attend the Canberra rally. Best wishes for the rally tomorrow. Hundreds of thousands of Australians who believe in international social justice will be with you in spirit even if the cannot physically be with you. Greetings of solidarity. Venceremos! [We will win the day!]" Andy Alcock, Chairperson, Australia East Timor Friendship Association (SA), [ ]
About AETFA:

16 Sep 2004 TSJC: Protest outside Timor Sea talks  Media release added 18 Sep 2004
"I just feel like we were played for chumps. We went there, did all this good work and we thought it really was for a good cause. We didn't do it so our government could illegally profit at the expense of the East Timorese. That makes me angry" InterFET veteran, Chip Henriss-Anderssen
"Since 1999, the Australia government has taken more in disputed revenues from fields closer to East Timor than to Australia than it has given in combined civilian and military aid" Dan Nicholson, Timor Sea Justice Campaign - Australia

14 Sep 2004 TSJC: National Rally in Canberra during Timor Sea oil talks 
Invitation added 18 Sep 2004
"Despite the fact that an election has been called, the next round of Timor Sea oil talks between East Timor and Australia are set to go ahead on September 20th in Canberra. Although the talks will not involve the relevant ministers, given the Australian government's stated new willingness to negotiate, they will be quite critical.  They will also provide supporters of the Timor Sea Justice Campaign with an opportunity to send a strong message to the Government that the Timor Sea is definitely not off the election agenda." Bobi Meyer & Trish Woodcroft-Lee, Timor Sea Justice Campaign (Australia)

Timor Sea Talks between Timor-Leste & Australia
Governu Timor-Leste ho Australia koalia kona ba Tasi Timor

International Solidarity with Timor-Leste

21 July 2005 ETAN protests Australia Prime Minister John Howard’s DC Visit
"The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) staged an attention-grabbing demonstration outside the Chamber of Commerce as executives, diplomats, and Mr. Howard entered the building for the invitation-only event. The guests were treated to loud cries of “End Australia's Occupation of the Timor Sea!”, “Unfair, Unjust and Unlawful!” and, as Mr. Howard attempted to slip in unnoticed, “STOP! THIEF!” Protesters withstood Washington’s hundred-degree summer heat, some wearing suits and ties and John Howard masks. These costumed activists raised their own toast - champaign flutes filled with East Timor’s oil (which tasted much like prune juice) - mocking the Australian government’s theft since 1999 of more than $1.2 billion in revenue from extracted oil and gas under the Timor Sea. One protester offered “a toast to calling thievery generosity!” "

Spring 2005 Estafeta: What’s the Deal with the Timor Sea?
Article added 25 May 2005
"Australia was saying, while Timor-Leste was denying, that a deal had been struck over petroleum resources in the Timor Sea. The apparent agreement would cheat the new nation. ETAN urged the two governments to conduct negotiations based on fundamental international legal principles. ETAN also condemned Australia’s continued pressure through media leaks and other means to force East Timor to concede its oil and gas rights by making a rapid agreement on the Timor Sea."
The East Timor ESTAFETA

17 May 2005 ETAN: Reported Australia/Timor-Leste Oil Deal "Cheats" East Timorese
Article added 25 May 2005
"The pending deal cheats Timor-Leste's sovereignty and revenue, ... Timor-Leste's independence will not be fully realized until its boundaries, both land and sea, are defined and accepted by its neighbors. ... According to international law, Greater Sunrise belongs to Timor-Leste. It is the height of hypocrisy for the Australian government to claim it is somehow being generous while bullying Timor-Leste to give up what is rightfully theirs," Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator of ETAN

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