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Josephite support for Timor Sea boundary rethink

The Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies has thrown its weight behind the campaign to persuade the Australian Government to revise its previous agreement with the Indonesian Government in favour of a more equitable sharing of Timor Sea oil revenue with East Timor.

Since 1999 Australia has been receiving $1 million each day from areas in the Timor Sea with disputed ownership. The Institute's Sr Susan Connolly said 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.

Sr Connolly said yesterday that Australians need to understand that the dispute is about justice, not charity.

"The sharing of the resources of the Timor Sea is not a question of some sort of largesse from Australia to East Timor, but the recognition and restoration of East Timor's rightful sovereignty over its maritime resources and boundary under international law. It's Timor's Oil."

East Timor is Asia's poorest country. Sr Connolly said the median distance border would ensure a consistent income for East Timor at least for the next 30 years which would enable the nation to feed and employ its citizens without going into debt.

The Institute's Sr Josephine Mitchell, currently in East Timor, said the people there cannot understand Australia's unwillingness to accept the median line as a border.

"They ask why Australia wants resources which they need, and which are on their side of a half-way line," she said.

The Institute is supporting protests taking place at next Thursday outside Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade offices in Sydney and Melbourne. Thursday is the anniversary of East Timorese independence and signing of disputed 2002 Timor Sea Treaty.

Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies

Timor Sea Justice
Rich Man, Poor Man (ABC Four Corners 10/5/04)
Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies
Commission says Australia 'bullying' East Timor (CathNews 20/4/04)
THIRTY BILLION REASONS TO HELP EAST TIMOR TO ITS OIL (Catholic Commission for Justice Development & Peace 18/4/04)
TIMOR LESTE AND THE TIMOR SEA (Australian Catholic Social Justice Council Briefing, March 2004)
East Timor fears grim future (The Age 20/4/04)
East Timor turns up pressure over boundary negotiations (ABC Radio The World Today 19/4/04)
The line share (The Australian 20/4/04)
Timorese fury at 'immoral oil grab' (The Guardian 19/4/04)
Timor Sea, Boundaries and Oil (ETAN) | Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri" Timor Sea oil is passport from poverty (ETAN 2/9/02)
Office of Territory Development: Timor Sea Oil and Gas

13 May 2004