Digger rallies for Timor’s oil
Talks to continue after protests
by Timor Sea Justice Campaign
Wednesday April 27, 2005 at 02:11 AM
Tom on 0422 545 763 TSJC, PO Box 2949, Fitzroy, VIC 3065, AUSTRALIA -
The following report from today's Sydney rally as part of the Australia-wide Timor Sea Justice Campaign Day of Action has been written for next week's Green Left Weekly. Then you find an update on the issue incl. other protests ...
Digger rallies for Timor’s oil
By Pip Hinman, Green Left Weekly
SYDNEY - Paddy Keneally, a former wharfie and Australian commander in East Timor condemned the Howard government for stealing Timor’s oil at a rally at Martin Place on April 26. The same day the government resumed talks with the Timorese authorities over the oil and gas fields it wants to steal.
Keneally’s presence at the rally, his involvement in a recent documentary "Debt of Honour" and a TV ad screened during the ANZAC weekend which condemned the injustice, marks a new phase in the campaign to demand the Howard government respect international maritime law, which it is refusing to do.
The protest, organised by Australia East Timor Association (AETA) and supported by the Timor Sea Justice Campaign, marched to the Department for Immigration and Trade offices to lodge a copy of a letter titled "Your friends will never forget you" which had been dropped over East Timor towards the end of WWII by the Australian airforce but which now carried the words "CANCELLED" scrawled over it.
An emotional Timorese women, Ina Bradbidge from HOPE, told the protest that her people did not need "aid" but "what is ours". Jeff Lee from AETA asked where was the justice for Timor. Max Lane from Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific described the current sea boundaries, which was negotiated with Indonesia’s dictator president Suharto as "a border negotiated with blood" and said that the Timorese needed full sovereignty, not blood money. Meredith Burgmann from the ALP, Silvia Hale from the Greens and Claude Mostowick from Pax Christi also addressed the protest, criticising the Howard government for its treachery when so many Timorese were starving, unemployed and without hope.
For more information and to get involved, check out http://www.TimorSeaJustice.org/
Timor talks to continue after protests
Sydney Morning Herald, April 26, 2005
Talks over the lucrative Timor Sea gas and oil reserves will continue in Dili on Wednesday after protesters in Australia called for a better deal for East Timor.
The Australian government came under fire at rallies in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide over the controversial maritime boundary talks.
The protesters said Australia was trying to cheat its smaller neighbour out of royalties worth about $41 billion.
World War II veteran John "Paddy" Kenneally, who served in East Timor in 1942 and fought alongside the Timorese, led the charge in Sydney, demanding Australia agree to a midway boundary between the two countries.
"(Foreign Minister) Alexander Downer wants the East Timorese to live off the crumbs that fall from the rich Australian table," he said.
The bilateral talks, drawn out over the past year, have stalled repeatedly over the disputed maritime boundary.
Australia has been accused of playing hardball over the resources.
Canberra wants the boundary set back closer to East Timor and is seeking most of the royalties from the Greater Sunrise gas field, worth about $9 billion.
It is also asking East Timor to hold off on its permanent boundary claims in return for a guarantee of 90 per cent of revenues from the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA), worth more than $10 billion.
Both governments recently indicated the dispute was moving closer to a compromise solution.
But Mr Downer said Australia needed to protect its economic interests.
"I'm sure East Timor wouldn't be the independent country it is today if it hadn't been for the Howard government, but Australia has its own interests as well," he told ABC radio.
"Australia isn't just a charity. The Australian government and the Australian people have their own interests and they have to be protected as well."
East Timor has an annual budget of about $100 million, more than 50 per cent of adults are illiterate, and life expectancy is more than 20 years below that of Australia, according to Community Aid Abroad Oxfam Australia.
The talks in Dili are scheduled to conclude on Thursday.
MELBOURNE PROTEST: A Fair Go for East Timor (rally at Casselden Place Tuesday 26 April)
CALL for SYDNEY Timor Sea Justice - PICKET + MARCH (incl. map of Timor Gap oil fields + cartoons)
WWII vets soldier on for Timor campaign
The Age, April 18, 2005
A group of Australian World War II veterans have weathered criticism from the RSL and Canberra over an advertising campaign condemning the federal government's stance on East Timor's oil and gas rights.
In television advertisements being aired over the next fortnight, the veterans, who fought in East Timor in 1941-42, say negotiations are not being conducted in the Anzac spirit and Prime Minister John Howard would not be welcome at their Anzac Day marches.
The RSL has opposed the ads, funded by Melbourne businessman Ian Melrose in his bid to win a better deal for East Timor on allocation oil and gas reserves located in the Timor Sea.
At the campaign launch in Melbourne on Monday, former Army engineers sergeant John Jones, 85, defended his comrades who appear in the ads.
"Any of those Australians has the right to say what he wants to say on Anzac Day if it involves him and his experiences," he said.
"As we were leaving we said to the Timorese that we would look after them.
"We promised because they looked after us.
"They kept us fed. We would have died otherwise and they allowed us to take some of their food which was in very short supply."
Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander slammed the ads as dishonest and irresponsible.
The ads will screen on SBS and commercial networks leading up to Anzac Day and ahead of talks between Australia and East Timor next week.
"These ads are a waste of money. They will have no impact on the negotiation process. They take no account of the fact that we have given East Timor 90 per cent of the reserve for the joint area between Australia and East Timor," Mr Downer said.
Mr Howard said the stance taken by the Australian government was fair, considerate and decent.
"But it is also a stance that looks after the interests of the Australian people, which is my first responsibility," he said.
RSL national president Bill Crews said the veterans were honourable men and had a right to express their opinion.
But he said it was inappropriate to invoke the Anzac spirit as the basis for criticising the government over the issue.
"My members, or at least some of them or many of them, would be uncomfortable the spirit of Anzac ... is now being used in one side of a political debate, irrespective of which side it might be," Mr Crews said.
Negotiations over the massive reserves have foundered on a dispute about maritime boundaries between Australia and East Timor.
East Timor has pushed for a sea boundary midway between the two nations, while Australia says it should run along the continental shelf closer to East Timor.
Under an interim deal signed in May 2002, East Timor is entitled to 90 per cent of royalties from oil and gas developments in the area under negotiation.
The deal also included an agreement on the Greater Sunrise field, which gave Australia 79.9 per cent of royalties, because most of the project's area was located in Australian jurisdiction.
A compromise solution has been suggested to postpone permanent maritime boundary talks for up to a century.
Mr Melrose has spent $2.2 million for campaigns on the issue so far and his last set of TV ads were refused airplay by SBS and Channel 7 after objections about some of their content.
Downer cautions East Timor on boundary
ABC, April 26, 2005
Australia has warned that East Timor could lose some revenue if it insists on drawing a permanent seabed boundary in the Timor Sea.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer issued the caution as boundary negotiations resumed in Dili today.
The talks focus on oil and gas reserves outside the joint development zone controlled by East Timor and Australia.
Mr Downer says new boundaries could mean East Timor will get less revenue than it does now from the joint zone.
"It's sometimes presented to the Australian public that if we drew a median line between Australia and East Timor, East Timor would get more than they get now - that's not right," he said.
"What we have at the moment is what's called a joint development area between Australia and East Timor and we give East Timor 90 per cent of the revenue from that.
"If you drew a median line, they may end up with a good deal less than 90 per cent."
Mr Downer says boundary negotiations with East Timor cannot be allowed to unravel existing sea boundaries with Indonesia and other neighbours. 'Honour on all sides'
"We're talking this issue through because what Australia doesn't want is to unravel all of our maritime boundaries which have been laboriously negotiated over many years with all of our neighbours," he said.
"If we can find a suitable settlement that keeps our principles intact but ensures East Timor gets a steady flow of revenue then there should be honour on all sides."
Australia has told East Timor the decision on a permanent boundary should be put on hold for 50 to 100 years while oil and gas reserves are developed.
But Paddy Kenneally from the Timor Sea Justice Campaign says the Australian Government is trying to scare the Timorese into signing an agreement or risk losing revenue.
"The Timorese ought to stick solidly for a justified seabed boundary in a median strip between the two countries," Mr Kenneally said.
"If they agree to anything else, they'll be living off the crumbs of the rich Australian table until the oil runs out."
Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, says there needs to be a just settlement for East Timor.
"The key thing here is what is fair for Australia and what is fair for East Timor and we need to ensure that this small fledgling democracy has a secure long-term source of revenue so that it can carve out its future free of Australian aid dependency," he said.
Digger Paddy Keneally & Ina Bradbidge (HOPE)
Max Lane from Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific (ASAP)
Ina Bradbidge's emotional plea
Paddy Keneally addresses the crowd
March to Department for Immigration and Trade offices
Picket in front of Department for Immigration and Trade offices
Pip Hinman from ASAP
March back after lodge a copy of a letter ...
Even the skater kids understand ...
.. and action!