|Subject: SMH: Web shows gas deal transcript
Web shows gas deal transcript By Mark Riley, Political Correspondent
March 8 2003
The Howard Government faces renewed allegations that it bullied East Timor over a multi-billion-dollar gas deal signed between the countries this week.
Labor claims a leaked transcript of negotiations [http://www.crikey.com.au/politics/2003/03/06/20030306downertimor.htmlon] the deal shows the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, losing his temper with the Timorese leadership and using heavy-handed tactics to increase Australia's tax take from the project.
The Greens leader, Bob Brown, was ejected from Parliament on Thursday after accusing the Government of "blackmailing" East Timor.
He claimed the Government threatened to derail the $30 billion first stage of the development at the Bayu-Undan field if the Timorese did not accept an agreement that secured 80 per cent of government revenues to Australia from the $50 billion second stage at the neighbouring Greater Sunrise field.
The transcript, published on the website crikey.com.au, records Mr Downer telling the Timorese Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, in November to accept the Greater Sunrise deal.
"If you want to make money, you should conclude an agreement quickly," Mr Downer said.
Later in the transcript, Mr Downer cautions Dr Alkatiri that Australia could take a tough line with his government.
"I think your Western advisers give you very poor advice that public opinion supports East Timor in Australia," Mr Downer says. " We are very tough. We will not care if you give information to the media."
The Opposition spokesman on foreign affairs, Kevin Rudd, accused Mr Downer of "explosions of temper", making negotiations "exceptionally difficult".
A spokesman for Mr Downer said yesterday the transcript was not a complete record of the discussions. He said Mr Downer had no comment other than that he was pleased with the outcome of the negotiations.
This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/
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