Subject: BHP AGM Australia: Timor Gap ZOC
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 09:04:19 +0800
From: Neil <> Organization: tango

BHP AGM: 22nd Sept, Perth Concert Hall, Western Australia

Transcript of question (From Graham James, Friends of East Timor Western Australia) and answer (From Jerry Ellis, CEO of BHP) at the Broken Hill Propriety's Annual General meeting.

The [...] brackets indicate some doubt as to accuracy of transcription.

QUESTION: In the light of political change taking place in Indonesia, and the real probability of East Timor gaining it's independence, does the board consider that an independent East Timor would jeopardise the company's interests in the Timor Gap Zone of Cooperation?

RESPONSE: I think the straight answer to your question is no, but [before I get around to answering you]...We operate in a great range of countries and our policy is always to stay within the law of the country in which we operate. Our policy furthermore is to look to treaties that may exist between Australia and that foreign country and to work within the guidelines of those treaties. We also seek, right throughout the region, [....... ] Indonesia and Australia that effect our relations with Indonesia, ongoing advice as to appropriate behavior.

East Timor,of course is quite difficult because of the political tension, and our zone of cooperation is to the north west of Australia which is close to Timor.

There could be, through development of the projects we have there the need for us to have activities in East Timor.

To that end, with the encouragement of the Indonesian government, we go about developing community relations and getting to understand the local activities, talking to the local communities about the way in which we might come and the sort of things we might be wanting to do, to understand their concerns and to develop a relationship with the local community.

Beyond that, we have no impact, no intent to interfere with the political activity. We are an apolitical company, and we do no more than what current government law permits.

And to go back to your question, I don't believe a change in the political situation there would impact on shareholder earnings in BHP.

(End of response.)

Neil Sullivan Friends of East Timor WA

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