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Press Releases - 22nd Feb 2005>> 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Tuesday, 22nd February, 2005.


Following the announcement that negotiations on maritime boundaries between East Timor and Australia are set to resume in Canberra on the 7th of March, an Australian lobby group claim the Australian Government needs to show it's serious about reaching a just and prompt resolution to the dispute.

The Timor Sea Justice Campaign is calling for the Australian Government to place revenue already taken from contested oil and gas fields into a trust fund to be distributed accordingly when an agreement to the Timor Sea dispute is reached.

"If the Australian Government wants to show it serious about wanting a fair outcome, it needs to take some genuine steps to stop its unilateral exploitation of oil and gas fields located closer to East Timor than Australia" said Tom Clarke, co-ordinator of the Timor Sea Justice Campaign in Melbourne.

"All revenue that Australia has taken from contested oil and gas fields should be placed in an escrow account. It's the only fair way to ensure that the Australian Government doesn't spend money that belongs to East Timor" continued Mr Clarke.

Since 1999, the Australian Government has taken over $2 billion dollars from the Laminaria, Corallina fields that are located closer to East Timor than Australia and are part of an Exclusive Economic Zone claimed by the East Timorese Government.

East Timor has never had maritime boundaries with Australia. The two countries have been making slow progress on negotiations to establish permanent maritime boundaries due to the Australian Government's refusal to consider a resolution based on current principles of international law.

The East Timorese Government has no international legal avenue for the resolution of the dispute as the Howard Government preemptively withdrew from the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea two months before East Timor's independence.

The issue will be the topic of a continuing television campaign during 2005, written and financed by Melbourne businessman Ian Melrose.

For more information, please contact:

Tom Clarke, Co-ordinator, Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Melbourne. Mobile: 0422 545 763