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Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Christian Brothers protest at Australian claim to East Timor oil
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¬†The Christian Brothers have taken out a full page advertisement in The Australian newspaper today, to call on the Australian government to release its claim to oil in the Timor Sea. The letter coincides with the second anniversary of East Timor's independence. A report issued today by Oxfam, also claims that Australia is hurting East Timor's economy by taking the lion's share of the Timor Sea oil fields. The report says that while the Australia has been a "generous donor" to the island, in fact it has reaped ten times more in revenues from East Timor than it has given in aid since 1999. And it points out that Tuesday's Federal budget revealed an 8.4% cut to "those modest aid levels". Australia makes £1m ($1.7m) a day from a temporary deal granting access to two thirds of the oil fields, Oxfam says. The charity argues that if a maritime boundary were set up between the two countries according to international law it would deliver "most, if not all" of these resources to East Timor. Australia wants to keep the present border - agreed with Indonesia during their 1975-99 illegal occupation - at the continental shelf which at some places is just 94 miles from East Timor's coast. James Ensor, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad's director of public policy said: "The vast oil and gas reserves of the Timor Sea provide East Timor with a window of opportunity for providing for its people and future generations. "However, Australia is not displaying good faith in its current negotiations with our neighbour." He said East Timor is in danger of becoming a failed state. One in four people in East Timor live below the poverty line and children there have a life expectancy 20 years short than that of children in Australia, BBC2's Newsnight reported last night. In the letter to Australian prime minister Br Peter Dowling, the Christian Brothers' Province Leader for Victoria/Tasmania, said: "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." Source: Church Resources/BBC
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