ETLJB Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - The Timor Sea Justice Campaign has launched an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbot urging him to establish permanent maritime boundaries with East Timor in accordance with international law and is asking members of the public to put their names to it.
Spokesperson for the Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Tom Clarke, said it was time to move on from his predecessors’ hard-nosed haggling over oil and gas resources.
“Timor is not asking for charity, they are only asking for what they are legally entitled to, no more and no less,” said Mr Clarke.
The letter calls on the Prime Minister to immediately enter fresh negotiations in good faith with the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmao, to establish equitable boundaries in keeping with current international law.
“If our Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to preserve the legacy of goodwill and mateship so effectively fostered by Australia’s intervention in 1999, he needs to sit down in good faith with his Timorese counterpart and show that he’s ready to talk about a permanent boundary. No more of these temporary deals that simply short-change East Timor,” said Mr Clarke.
The letter also urges the PM to resubmit Australia to the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea to demonstrate that Australia is willing to abide by international law. In disputes such as this, current international law overwhelmingly favors a ‘median line’ solution – that is a line halfway between the two coastlines.
“This would mean that if oil and gas fields are located closer to East Timor they would belong to East Timor, and if fields were closer to Australia they would belong to us. That’s a solution which is both simple and fair,” said Mr Clarke.
Mr Clarke said he was confident that Australians of all walks of live would endorse the letter to help highlight the need for permanent boundaries to deliver a more equitable share of oil and gas revenues to one of the poorest countries in Asia.
“There’s not a fair minded Australian who could be comfortable with the fact that successive Australian Governments have short-changed East Timor out of billions of dollars in government revenues from gas and oil resources that according to international law should belong to East Timor, so I except more and more people of all political persuasions will get behind our campaign,” said Mr Clarke.
Anyone wanting to add their names to the Timor Sea Justice Campaign’s petition can do so at:
Source: Timor Sea Justice Campaign Press Release 22/01/2013