‘Letters’ page, THE AUSTRALIAN, January 18, 2005.
Don't blame Timor
HOW dare your editorial (17/1) blame Woodside's withdrawal from the Greater Sunrise project on the East Timorese Government's determination to seek what is rightfully theirs?
As you mentioned, the Greater Sunrise reserve is only 80km from the Timorese Coast yet 450km from Darwin. Under contemporary principles of international law this resource would be completely within East Timor's maritime boundary.
Knowing this fact, the Howard Government pre-emptively withdrew from the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea just two months before East Timor's independence – leaving no legal avenue for East Timor to challenge the Australian Government's resource theft. The Australian Government's preposterous continental shelf argument is outdated as a matter of international law.
The Timor Sea Justice Campaign believes Woodside's decision to postpone its involvement in the Greater Sunrise field highlights how the Australian Government's lack of commitment to negotiating permanent maritime boundaries with East Timor is creating a level of uncertainty that Australian businesses are uncomfortable operating in. This policy is not only bad for the East Timorese, but bad for business and for Australia.
It's worth remembering that the East Timorese people resisted Indonesia's brutal occupation and eventually gained independence despite all odds. They are not about to give in so easily to yet another powerful neighbour which is attempting to violate their sovereignty and blatantly ignore international law. Nor should they.
Timor Sea Justice Campaign