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Open Letter  

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.

signed by:

The Hon John Dowd
AO, QC. President of the Australian section of the International Commission of Jurists

Chris Maxwell
QC, Barrister

Julian Burnside

Sam Biondo
Community Development Worker, Fitzroy Legal Service

Peter Singer
Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University

Janet Hunt
Research Fellow, ANU

John McLaren
Emeritus Professor, Australian and Pacific Studies, Victoria University

Dr Tim Anderson
University of Syndey

Barry Mendelawitz
Clinical Assoc Professor School of Medicine University of Notre Dame Australia

Hamish Ewing
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

Bill Sobey
Retired CSIRO scientist

Tony Kevin
former Australian diplomat 1968-98 (Australian ambassador to Cambodia 1994-97)

David Bridie

Deborah Conway

Paul Stewart

Dr Martin Wesley-Smith, AM

Mairead Hannan
Composer, Centenary Medal recipient

James Mollison AO
former director of the National Gallery of Australia and National Gallery of Victoria

Patrick McCaughey
former director of the National Gallery of Victoria

Sharan Burrow
President, Australian Council of Trades Union

Leigh Hubbard
Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council

John Cummins,
President of Construction and General Division, CFMEU (Vic)

Ian Melrose

Bernard Gerbes
Public Accountant

Louise Redmond
Consultant, corporate responsibility

Mavis Taylor
National Living Treasure

Dr Davis McCaughey AC
former Governor of Victoria

Tom Uren AO
Former Whitlam/Hawke Minister

Bob Brown,
Senator for Tasmania

Andrew Bartlett
Senator for Queensland

Glenyys Romanes
Deputy President and Chair of Committees, Legislative Council, Parliament of Victoria

Mary Delahunty
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

Johan Scheffer
State Member for Monash Province

David Risstrom
Greens Senate Candidate

Dr Phil West
Initiator & Co-founder - The Alannah and Madeline Foundation

Rob Wesley-Smith
Australians for a Free East Timor, Darwin

Rosemary Patterson
East Timor Mission Coordinator for the Carmelite Friars

Lorna and Bill Hannan
educationist and author

Robin Laurie
Circus director

Arnold Zable

Guy Rundle

Rod Quantock

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.