Subject: Nun challenges media mischief on Timor oil

Nun challenges media mischief on Timor oil

Josephite Sr Susan Connolly has expressed her dismay at the "one-sided view" being taken by the Murdoch press in particular on the sea boundaries dispute between Australia and East Timor.

Sr Connolly, of the western Sydney-based Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies, is one of Australia's most respected advocates on behalf of the East Timorese people. She argues that an equitable distribution of access to oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea is "not a matter of charity but justice that the Timorese people receive the benefits of those portions of the resources that are their due".

In an email distributed on Wednesday, she says that the Murdoch press has presented at least three articles in the past week which are "flawed regarding facts".

"One [in The Autralian] by Dennis Shanahan on Wednesday [last week] was an opinion piece disguised as a news item," she said. "These must not go unchallenged, but unfortunately, replies to these mischievous writings are often not published."

Sr Connolly included her most recent unpublished letter in Wednesday's email (see link below).

She told the recipients that she had just returned from Timor, "where once again, I met hungry people".

"We must do all we can to ensure a fair deal for them," she said.

SOURCE East Timor's Oil (Sr Susan Connolly/Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies 4/8/04)

The Letters Editor The Australian 02.08. 04

Dear Letters Editor,

In writing of the Timor Sea Resources dispute, Christopher Pearson makes some awful gaffes, e.g. saying that “…in terms of international law, East Timor’s bargaining position is very weak.” (How to strike political crude: The Australian 31.07.04) The fact is that the Timorese position is very strong, hence Australia’s withdrawal from the very International bodies which deal with such matters. Pearson says that East Timor “has no great incentive to resolve the matter…..” and yet it is Australia which is dragging out the process, refusing to meet frequently. He seems to believe that the extent of the continental shelf remains a major factor in determining maritime boundaries, whereas that position is vastly weaker than it was in 1958 when it was the subject of a UN Convention. It’s median lines, not continental shelves nowadays.

In the light of the number of UN Conventions which Australia has swept aside in recent times, how very droll it would be to watch our Government trying to cling to this particular one when the rest of the world has moved on.

Pearson’s gratuitous comments on the East Timorese Prime Minister end in conclusions which defy both fact and logic. Far better to reflect on the stimulating observation that in approximate population and wealth potential, East Timor is to Australia as Australia is to the US. The big difference is that the East Timorese stand up to domineering neighbours. Perhaps Australia’s offended frenzy over resource sharing is a case of backbone envy.

Yours sincerely, 
Sister Susan Connelly

Sister Susan Connelly Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies PO Box 299 St Marys 1790 Ph 02 9623 2847 Fx 02 9623 1573

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