Christian Brothers leader writes to PM on Timor Sea oil
Br Peter Dowling, the Christian Brothers' Province Leader for Victoria/Tasmania, has written to Prime Minister John Howard seeking a change in Australia's stance in relation to its claim over the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea.
Since 1999, Australia has been receiving $1 million each day from areas in the Timor Sea with disputed ownership. Australian Government critics say this amount exceeds any aid given to East Timor, and Tuesday's Federal budget revealed an 8.4% cut to "those modest aid levels".
During the 1975-99 Indonesian occupation of East Timor, Indonesia accepted Australia's argument that the Timor Trough should separate Australia from Timor Island. Now independent East Timor wants the international standard of median or half-way distance to determine the sea boundary between the two countries.
The Australian Government maintains that the dispute is a legal, not a moral issue.
But Br Dowling says in the letter to Mr Howard: "Leaving aside the legalities of the situation which many dispute, it seems clear to us that on moral grounds the position of the Australian Government cannot be justified."
The Christian Brothers provinces are running a full page advertisement in The Australian newspaper today (pictured) - 20 May 2004 - which is being observed as Independence Day in East Timor.
Provincial Writes to Prime Minister (Edmund Rice Online)
East Timor takes over own policing and defence (Sydney Morning Herald 20/5/04)
East Timor fears peacekeepers withdrawal (ABC 20/5/04)
East Timor troops to stay another year (ABC 19/5/04)
Editorial: East Timor, two years on (Sydney Morning Herald 20/5/04)
East Timor could become failed state-aid agency (Reuters 19/5/04)
Aid pledges and praise for East Timor (NZ Herald 20/5/04)
Teething problems overshadow infant East Timor's second birthday (Channel News Asia 19/5/04)
Josephite support for Timor Sea boundary rethink (CathNews 13/5/04)
20 May 2004