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Campaign demands a fair go for East Timor

Green Left Weekly - April 21, 2004

Vannessa Hearman, Melbourne – On April 14, 50 members of the Timor Sea Justice Campaign met outside the High Court to launch the group. Comedian Rod Quantock was joined by protesters disguised as Prime Minister John Howard and foreign minister Alexander Downer. They waded in the ornamental pool, making a grab for Timorese oil, represented by black balloons.

The Timor Sea Justice Campaign aims to change Australian government policy in relation to the Timor Sea.

According to Dan Nicholson, a spokesperson for the group, the Australian government "should give East Timor a fair go", by allowing "access to the resources and revenues to which East Timor is entitled under international law".

Nicholson claims that through the oil grab, the Australian government has undermined Timorese economic independence.

The first round of talks between the two countries began on April 19 in Dili.

The Timor Sea Justice Campaign is calling on the Australian government to agree to East Timorese demands to meet monthly to settle boundaries and to adhere to international law to ensure that boundaries are drawn equidistant between the two countries.

On April 13, a snap action was also held in Darwin outside the office of Liberal federal MP David Tollner. Protesters carried placards declaring "Taking East Timor's oil – a real Downer" and "Oils ain't ours: Don't steal East Timor's future". The action aimed to help kick-start the Timor Sea Justice Campaign in Darwin.