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SUNDAY THE 23rd OF JANUARY, 2005.
TV COMMERCIAL ATTACKS HOWARD GOVERNMENT OVER THEFT OF EAST TIMOR'S OIL
Businessman Ian Melrose has recommenced his campaign of television commercials criticising the Australian Government's unfair treatment of East Timor, branding the AUD$2billion Australia has already taken in disputed oil and gas revenues from the Timor Sea as "Stolen Goods."
The new television ad, to be shown in all States, is going to air in the lead up to Australia Day and questions whether Australian notions of a fair go and justice are really being upheld.
"The Howard Government has stolen 2 billion dollars in tax revenue from gas and oil royalties which East Timor needs to create a working health system," claims the television ad.
"Australia Day is meant to be a time to be proud of being Australian, but how can I be proud when the Australian Government is stealing billions of dollars from one of our closest and poorest neighbours?" asked Mr Melrose.
"With the Tsunami relief efforts the Australian people have shown amazing generosity, but the Howard Government in undermining our good reputation by taking billions of dollars worth of oil and gas royalties from East Timor." Mr Melrose continued.
The Australian Government is currently depleting several gas and oil deposits that lie closer to East Timor than to Australia, despite the fields being included in East Timor's maritime boundary claim that is currently being negotiated with the Australian Government.
East Timor is unable to take the matter to international arbitration because two months before East Timor's independence, Australia suddenly withdrew from maritime boundary jurisdiction of the two international arbitration bodies used to settle such disputes, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
Mr Melrose claims, "John Howard's Government only withdrew from the International Court of Justice because it knew that it would lose if the matter was decided by an independent umpire."
Mr Melrose said he was compelled to write and finance the advertising campaign because, "It's not the Australian way to steal from a poor country" and that he was concerned about the ramifications of Australia being seen as a bully in the region.
"It's time for John Howard to realise that Australian people such as myself will not remain silent on this issue. It's East Timor's oil, it's as simple as that" finished Mr Melrose.
For more information or requests for interviews with Ian Melrose contact:
Tom Clarke, Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Coordinator, 0422 545 763, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Nicholson, Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Spokesperson, 0409 328 289, email@example.com