An open letter to the Australian Government's maritime boundary negotiating team.
7th March, 2005
We, the undersigned citizens of Australia, address this letter to those representatives of our government who will negotiate with representatives of the government of East Timor about maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea.
We strongly believe that the positions you take to these meetings should reflect the views of the people of Australia, the people you represent, and our values of fairness and equity.
East Timor is a country recovering from the ravages of war, with high levels of poverty, malnutrition and infant mortality. Natural resources lying in the Timor Sea, resources which under International Law lie within East Timor's Exclusive Economic Zone, could be an invaluable source of revenue for East Timor.
With their just share of Timor Sea oil and gas revenues, our new neighbours will be able to overcome starvation, illiteracy and preventable disease.
To this end, we firmly request that you:
· conclude a prompt, fair and equitable settlement which reflects East Timor's entitlement under current principles of international law.
· agree to set the boundaries between the two nations along the median line, halfway between the coastlines of East Timor and Australia, and with equitable lateral boundaries.
· stop unilaterally exploiting contested areas until a just settlement is reached
· place the proceeds Australia has taken from contested petroleum fields into a trust account, pending the settlement of the Timor Sea dispute.
While we recognise the dire need East Timor has for revenue, we understand that this is not a matter of charity, but one of justice.
As neighbours, East Timor and Australia have close ties. Thousands of East Timorese were killed helping Australian troops in the Second World War. In 1999, Australian troops were able to return the favour with the deployment of InterFET after the historic ballot for independence.
We the undersigned citizens of Australia want our Government to build on this goodwill between the two nations, respecting the sovereignty of East Timor and the Human Rights of its people.
Initiated by Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Melbourne.
The Hon John Dowd
AO, QC. President of the Australian section of the International Commission of Jurists
Community Development Worker, Fitzroy Legal Service
Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University
Research Fellow, ANU
Emeritus Professor, Australian and Pacific Studies, Victoria University
Dr Tim Anderson
University of Syndey
Clinical Assoc Professor School of Medicine University of Notre Dame Australia
Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Melbourne
John Legge, AO
Emeritus Professor, Centre of South East Asian Studies, Monash University
Dr Jean McCaughey AO
retired social researcher
Retired CSIRO scientist
former Australian diplomat 1968-98 (Australian ambassador to Cambodia 1994-97)
Dr Martin Wesley-Smith, AM
Composer, Centenary Medal recipient
James Mollison AO
former director of the National Gallery of Australia and National Gallery of Victoria
former director of the National Gallery of Victoria
President, Australian Council of Trades Union
Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council
President of Construction and General Division, CFMEU (Vic)
Consultant, corporate responsibility
National Living Treasure
Dr Davis McCaughey AC
former Governor of Victoria
Tom Uren AO
Former Whitlam/Hawke Minister
Senator for Tasmania
Senator for Queensland
Deputy President and Chair of Committees, Legislative Council, Parliament of Victoria
Minister for the Arts and Women's Affairs, Parliament of Victoria
Don Nardella MLA
State Member for Melton
Jenny Mikakos MP,
State Member for Jika Jika,
Richard Wynne, MP,
State Member for Richmond, Cabinet Secretary
Rob Hudson, MP
State Member for Bentleigh
Mary Gillett MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Commonwealth Games and Women's Affairs
State Member for Monash Province
Greens Senate Candidate
Dr Phil West
Initiator & Co-founder - The Alannah and Madeline Foundation
Australians for a Free East Timor, Darwin
East Timor Mission Coordinator for the Carmelite Friars
Lorna and Bill Hannan
educationist and author
Joseph A. Camilleri
Pax Christi Australia
Bishop Hilton Deakin
and Shirley Shackleton.
Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, Uniting Church in Australia
Melbourne Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace
Australian Coalition for Economic Justice
Australia-East Timor Association.