Subject: Letter on Timor Sea justice

Also Timor aid switched off; Look again at fairness of Timor Gap Policy

The Advertiser

November 29, 2005 Tuesday

Canberra selective on use of court

THE Australian Government is critical of Singapore because of the death penalty to be carried out on convicted drug smuggler Nguyen Tuong Van and the fact that the death penalty goes against the International Declaration of Human Rights.

Our Government at one point talked about taking Singapore to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). At the same time, our Government has denied a fair share of the oil and gas resources of the Timor Sea to East Timor, and has changed Australia's recognition of the ICJ to stop East Timor taking Australia to that court over the Timor Sea issue.

In the Nguyen case, while one must feel sympathy for friends and family, only one life is at stake and that belonging to a criminal convicted of a terrible crime.

In the case of East Timor, one of the poorest nations in the world, how many deaths from malnutrition, poor health facilities and poor education can we expect to result from the loss of income from the Timor Sea petroleum resources because of Australia's actions?

Why are Australians so ready to get excited over the fate of one person while ignoring the plight of the many?

* DAVID CLARKE, Crystal Brook.


Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia)

November 24, 2005 Thursday


Timor aid switched off

JUST how low can the Howard Government go? This month it decided to discontinue aid funding to 13 East Timorese non-government organisations citing political interference because they signed statements last year protesting at the theft of East Timor gas by the Australian Government.

This withdrawal renders the Government's aid program in East Timor a cruel joke.

One of these NGOs, the Haburas Foundation, was told by AusAID on November 10 that it would not get funding for its project supporting environmental education in schools because it had signed the joint statements last year.

The 13 NGOs are some of East Timor's oldest, largest and most respected. Howard and Downer's bullying of East Timor is a disgrace to all Australians.

Don Stokes, Heidelberg


Mornington Peninsula Leader (Australia)

March 1, 2005 Tuesday

Look again at fairness of Timor Gap Policy

ONE of the highlights of the recent television coverage of the Australian Open tennis was the brief advertisement by Melbourne businessman Ian Melrose on the issue of our Government's ongoing handling of the East Timor Gap Treaty.

Having heard Mr Melrose speak since, I gather he is normally a Liberal voter who was motivated to spend $2 million over a period to underline the gross injustice of the $2 billion our Government has already derived in royalties from the Laminaria and Corallina fields.

These, by all fair judgment, lie well within East Timor's territory and just outside the Joint Development Field.

Mr Melrose has no vested interest, but has bravely raised again an important public issue for those who care for our "nearest neighbours".

The fact that the Australian Government withdrew on February 25, 2003, from the International Court's jurisdiction strongly suggests Foreign Minister Alexander Downer knew our Australian position on the maritime boundary was illegitimate.

As many of your readers will know, a small but active group of Mornington Peninsula citizens, The Friends of Los Palos, have recently been fully accredited by our council.

Our role for the four years since independence of Timor Leste has been to raise funds, interest and much-needed items for this tiny community of perhaps 50,000 people. We have sent school equipment, agricultural seeds and expertise, motorbikes, medicines and bandages including $70,000 of anti-worm tablets and antibiotics last July and we have helped develop the local women's projects and the 10-bed guesthouse.

Last year I paid a short working visit to East Timor, where six out of 10 public and private buildings trashed by the militia in 1999 remain trashed; and the country still has hopeless roads and no postal service, but people grateful for Aussie interest and help.

The total budget of this poorest of all our neighbouring countries is still only $100 million and will remain so until our unduly comfortable politicians look again at the effect of our profoundly self-centred Timor Gap Policy.

David Price, Mornington.

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