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Resolution passed by the Maritime Union of Australia

The Maritime Union of Australia Quadrennial Conference took place in March 2004 in Sydney, gathering maritime workers from across the country and international guests from across the globe. The unjustified attempt by the Howard Government to ram the passage of the Greater Sunrise Unitisation Agreement Amendment Bill through the Senate - which has the apparent support of the Opposition - was widely condemned. The following resolution was passed:

The MUA Quadrennial Conference condemns the Federal Government's move to rush through the "Great Sunrise Unitisation Amendments" bill which could put East Timorese maritime workers and their union at an even greater disadvantage for their employment, development and training opportunities.

Commentary from Jim Mellor, MUA staff:

In passing this resolution, the Maritime Union of Australia have placed commitment to principle and their long history of support for the people of East Timor ahead of the (comparatively) greater by minimal benefits that might otherwise accrue to its members under the Howard Government's proposed commercial arrangements for Greater Sunrise under the pending Unitisation Implementation Bill.

East Timorese workers, and to a large degree Australian workers, have already largely been denied any appreciable access to meaningful employment and participation in the billions of dollars expended during the recent upstream development stages of Bayu Undan, which began liquids production in February after many years of preparation.

Under the terms of the previous Timor Gap Treaty arrangements, Indonesia and Australia shared participation in all aspects of the upstream development and downstream distribution and sale of commercial petroleum production. Under the new Timor Sea Treaty, Australian interests are the main beneficiaries of development and the East Timorese are largely excluded. Even then, the commercial costs of the development stages of Bayu Undan have largely been expended elsewhere in the region, with little participation by Australian companies onshore. The profits have filled the coffers of multinational companies, while the Australian Commonwealth Government has received the lion's share of tax revenues. East Timor's long-awaited Timor Sea revenues now derive almost solely from its share of taxes on sale of the petroleum end-products of Bayu Undan and the tailend of the Laminaria-Corallina project.

The Greater Sunrise Unitisation Implementation Bill will further embed these preferential commercial arrangements, even in the unlikelihood that any Australian Government, now or future, agrees to grant East Timor its rightful maritime boundaries.


The Maritime Union of Australia represents around 10,000 Australian stevedoring workers (wharfies), seafarers, divers and port workers. They work at sea on ships, offshore facilities, in harbours on ferries and tugs, on land on the wharves and in offices and control towers.

As a key affiliate of the International Transport Workers' Federation, it also helps represent 320,000 of the world's seafarers, who depend on ITF affiliates like the MUA for wage justice and protection against human right's abuses.

MUA members work in dangerous and stressful jobs that keep them from their friends and family, sometimes for weeks at a time. They work around the clock, nights, days, weekends and holidays, operating heavy equipment, up cranes three stories high and 500-600 feet down in the murky depths laying underwater pipes.

The Maritime Union is a strong union, with a long history of solidarity - working for its members, the community and causes such as the environment, an anti nuclear Pacific, land rights and justice for Aboriginal Australians the Australian republic, independence for East Timor and trade union rights worldwide.

The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (Lao Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua D. Alberto Ricardo, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
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