Subject: AAP: Fair deal needed for Timor: Latham

Also: ABC: Sydney Rally calls for fair Timor Sea boundaries

Fair deal needed for Timor: Latham 15:51 AEST Thu May 20 2004

A "prompt and fair" outcome was needed in negotiations with East Timor over oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, Federal Opposition Leader Mark Latham said.

Under a temporary treaty signed with East Timor, Australia has access to most of the known oil and gas deposits in the Timor Sea, but the Timorese government claims it should control more.

Mr Latham said it was in Australia's best interests for the struggling East Timorese nation to survive and Australia would benefit from a fair resolution on the reserves issue.

"We certainly want to get a fair outcome and establish a bit of goodwill and a better process in negotiations which look like they're going to drag on a long long time," he told reporters in Brisbane on the second anniversary of East Timor's independence.

"I don't think it's in Australia's interest to run the risk of East Timor becoming a failed state so we need to get an outcome there that's prompt and fair."

The Australian Democrats said Australia currently enjoys an 82 per cent share of the oil reserves in the East Timor Sea under the Timor Gap Agreement (TGA), despite the oil field's close proximity to the fledgling island nation.

Democrats Senator John Cherry said the situation was an "embarrassment" for Australia and Labor should help draw up a more just maritime border with East Timor.

"The whole notion of grubbing money from a poor third world country on our doorstep to prop up our tax revenues in this country, is something that I find embarrassing," he told about a dozen protesters outside the offices of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Brisbane.

©AAP 2004


ABC Last Update: Thursday, May 20, 2004. 4:27pm (AEST) 

Rally calls for fair Timor Sea boundaries

A central Sydney rally has called on the Australian Government to give East Timor its fair share of revenue from Timor Sea oil and gas reserves.

Australia and East Timor are negotiating a maritime border in the Timor Sea.

An interim treaty was implemented 12 months ago until a more permanent arrangement is found.

Aid agency Oxfam claims Australia is cheating East Timor out of $1 million a day but the Federal Government says it has been "extremely generous".

In Sydney's Martin Place a mock birthday cake was presented to East Timor's Consul General Abel Guterres.

He was only allowed a small slice to represent what the Timor Justice Campaign says is East Timor's share of the royalties of gas and oils in the Timor Sea.

Sister Susan Connelly from the Mary Mckillop Institute says the Government's claim is a lie.

"As always we take the biggest cut for ourselves and run off," she said.

She says a just sharing of resources will mean the difference between life and death for some East Timorese.

Mr Guterres told the rally he is confident East Timor will get its fair share of revenue.

"I'm sure Australians don't want to be seen as letting East Timorese down because a failed state in East Timor is no good for Australia, as Australia still has to pick up the pieces," he said.

"I'm sure that goodwill prevail, common sense will prevail."

Around 100 people attended the rally.

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