Subject: SMH: Businessman wins ace in campaign for Timor

Also: E Timor oil ads under attack

Sydney Morning Herald

Businessman wins ace in campaign for Timor By Julian Lee, Marketing Reporter January 27, 2005

The organisers of an advertising campaign that ambushed the Australian Open to highlight disputed maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea have pledged to dog John Howard at public events to further their cause.

Ian Melrose says that over the next three years he will spend $6 million on advertising campaigns and media stunts to embarrass the Prime Minister over the contentious issue of Australia's claim on the lucrative oil and gas fields.

The first of the businessman's commercials, which says the Federal Government has stolen $2 billion in revenue from the East Timorese, caught television viewers of the Alicia Molik fourth-round victory over Venus Williams on Monday by surprise.

But the 30-second spot - estimated to have cost about $30,000 - is just the beginning of a campaign by Mr Melrose and a recently formed coalition of groups, including World Vision, Oxfam and the Uniting Church of Australia, to push the Timor issue to the top of the political agenda.

"I'm not after dropping shit on Johnny - he's done a good job on many things. I'm after justice for the Timorese. They need the money. We don't," said Mr Melrose, who runs a chain of optometrists and who has visited East Timor to see first-hand the population's plight.

Although not a member of a political party, Mr Melrose said his ownership of a business under the Coalition's stewardship made him, if anything, a "natural Liberal".

A spokesman for the campaign team at the lobby group The Timor Sea Justice Campaign promised that for every big public event Mr Howard "used to promote himself" they would be there to "ambush" him.

The next event to attract the campaign's attention is the anniversary of Australia's decision to ignore the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice on maritime boundaries, made two months before East Timor gained independence from Indonesia in May 2002.

Mr Melrose and his campaigners are pushing for Australia to recognise that court and accept its decision if it found in favour of East Timor's claims.

The Prime Minister's office did not return the Herald's calls

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Coorection:

Oxfam Community Aid Abroad is not involved with, nor an endorsee of, an adverting campaign launched by Mr Ian Melrose in support of resolution of the dispute between Australian and East Timor. Oxfam Community Aid Abroad is not a member of Mr Melrose's campaign or the Timor Sea Justice Campaign as implied in reports in the Sydney Morning Herald. Oxfam Community Aid Abroad is not involved in any activities of the Timor Sea Justice Campaign.

Oxfam Community Aid Abroad supports seeking a fair resolution of this dispute, and provides development assistance to the people of East Timor.

Marc Purcell Advocacy Manager Oxfam Community Aid Abroad

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The Australian

January 28, 2005 Friday All-round Country Edition

FINANCE; Pg. 19

E Timor oil ads under attack

Nigel Wilson Energy writer

A CAMPAIGN funded by Ian Melrose, the owner of Australia's second-largest optical chain, aimed at forcing Australia to be more generous to East Timor, was yesterday attacked as deceptive and misleading.

During last year's federal election campaign Mr Melrose, who lives in Perth and operates a 36-store national chain of optical outlets, launched a $2 million TV campaign designed to gain East Timor billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues.

The campaign coincided with delicate negotiations to allow Woodside Petroleum's Greater Sunrise gas project to proceed outside the determination of a boundary. The project has since stalled.

This week, millions of Australians saw Mr Melrose's ads during coverage of the Australian Open Tennis tournament.

Mr Melrose has said he has believed for 25 years, since the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, that Australia has wronged the East Timorese people.

He believes Australia should accept East Timor's claim for the maritime boundary between the two countries being set at the mid-point rather than at the edge of the continental shelf.

A senior Australian official close to the boundary negotiations said yesterday Mr Melrose's campaign was deceptive and misleading.

The official said Australia's revenue from the Joint Petroleum Development Area in the Timor Sea -- which includes the Bayu Undan gas recycling project, was closer to $15 million and not $2 billion as Mr Melrose's ads claimed.

Within the JPDA, 90 per cent of revenues go to East Timor with the remainder flowing to Australia.

The official said Mr Melrose had included revenues from outside the JPDA which were part of a broad ambit claim by East Timor -- a claim that had no basis in law. He added East Timor officials seemed genuinely embarrassed by Mr Melrose's earlier campaign during last year's boundary negotiations.

"East Timor is intimately involved in the exploitation of all fields in the JPDA," the official said, adding East Timor would receive around $7 billion in revenue and Australia $800 million.

Australia has invited East Timor to resume boundary talks before the end of March.


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