Click on the link below to view Ian Melrose's television advertisement that aired on commercial stations around Australia on and in the lead up to Australia Day, 2005.
Quicktime file of tv ad
Ian Melrose has kindly put the Timor Sea Justice Campaign's website address on his ads as a source where interested people can find more information about the issue. The Timor Sea Justice Campaign was not however responsible for the production of the advertising campaign.
Government response to TVC
The Australian Government's response to Ian Melrose's TV ads have been that the $2 billion figures included revenue from gas and oil from outside the JPDA. This is true! In fact, that is the TV ad's whole point!
The $2 billion has come exclusively from the Corallina, Laminaria and Buffalo fields - all of which are outside of the JPDA, all of which are in areas claimed by East Timor as their Exclusive Economic Zone, and much much closer to East Timor then Australia.
Calculations done by East Timorese NGO Lao Hamutuk, based on Woodside's Annual Report and Quarterly reports, confirm that over $2 billion of royalties have been taken from these fileds. This is also supported by the East Timorese Government, who assess it at 2.6 billion.
The JPDA is a hangover from the Timor Gap Treaty, agreed between Indonesia and Australia in 1989, when Indonesia was illegally occupying East Timor. The proportions and its name were changed under the UN administration of Timor. East Timor accepted it as an interim agreement on the day of its independence, when it signed the Timor Sea Treaty.
It's worth noting that only about 1/3 of the discovered resources closer to Timor than to Australia lie in this area.
The JPDA was a provisional agreement that was agreed to by the UN administration in order to get urgently needed funds into East Timor's economy and also so the profits of oil companies operating in the area would not be disrupted.
While the Timor Sea Justice Campaign support all of the resources in the JPDA eventually going to East Timor, as it would if a permanent maritime boundary was established along the median line in accordance with International Law, what we are really angry about is the Australian Government's unilateral exploitation of disputed gas and oil resources outside of the JPDA. Australia should be putting such revenues into a trust fund to be distributed accordingly once the dispute is resolved.
Another line the Government are running with is that if Ian Melrose cares so much about East Timor he should spend the money in Timor and not on ads. It's worth noting that Ian donates substantial amounts of money to various medical projects in East Timor. It was his philanthropic work in East Timor, that lead to him being concerned with this issue because he realized that "East Timor needs access to it's own natural resources, if it is to create a working health system. The money I spend on ads couldn't do that. The billions of dollars my government is stealing from East Timor could."
And once again, as to the Government's assertion that East Timor's claim has no basis in law and that Australia's does - It begs the question, why then, did the Australian Government withdraw from the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice?
If the Australian Government is so sure of its legal case, why doesn't it simply take it to the ICJ and settle it once and for all.
Here is the text that was included in Ian Melrose's print advertisement that was published in major newspapers around Australian on Australia Day:
Proud to be Australian on Australia Day.
The spirit of Australia Day has been shown by the immediate and generous response of Australians to Tsunami victims. It’s this stance of fairness and compassion that Australians are recognised for around the world and we celebrate nationally on Australia Day the 26th of January.
Unfortunately, this good reputation has been blackened by the Howard Government's policies towards East Timor’s oil. By withdrawing from the relevant jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice two months before East Timor became a nation, John Howard's government prevented East Timor from taking the dispute over gas and oil to an independent arbitrator. Howard's government is denying the East Timorese their legal entitlements.
Over $2 billion in taxation revenue from gas and oil has been stolen and is contaminating the Australian economy.
East Timor desperately needs its legal entitlement to create a health system that works. 12 out of every 100 East Timorese children die before they are 5 years old. East Timor doesn’t want our charity, they just want justice from our Government.
To be proud this Australia Day, let your local Liberal federal politician know that John Howard’s Government must stop stealing East Timor’s gas and oil.
For more information, visit: www.timorseajustice.org
To find your local federal member of parliament, visit: www.aph.gov.au/house/members/index.htm
Written and authorised by Ian Melrose, Booragoon, WA. Australian Citizen.