Subject: ASJC: Australian Gov't "Doing A Skase"

PRESS RELEASE - Wednesday 23rd of March, 2005 - For immediate release


The latest television ad about the Timor Sea oil and gas dispute, financed and written by businessman Ian Melrose, draws parallels between the Australian Government’s actions in the Timor Sea dispute and disgraced Australian businessman Christopher Skase.

“Christopher Skase stole money and then refused to come back to Australia to face the courts. The Australian Government has stolen oil and gas royalties and is now refusing to obey international law and face the courts. Our Government is doing a Christopher Skase on East Timor” said Mr Melrose today.

The TV ad will air on commercial stations nationwide today, tomorrow and Good Friday, to mark to anniversary of the Howard Government’s sudden and secret withdrawal of recognition of the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.

The withdrawal was announced just two months before East Timor’s independence and was a move that pre-emptively robbed East Timor of a legal avenue in which to settle the dispute about the establishment of its maritime boundaries with Australia. Permanent maritime boundaries established in accordance with current International Law would see billions of dollars worth of oil and gas revenue flow to East Timor, the poorest country in Asia.

The ad goes on to claim that actions of the Australian Government are “killing children” `

“East Timor needs its stolen $2,000,000,000 for hospitals. Stealing from a third world country kills their children” claims the 45 second ad.

Mr Melrose backs his provocative claim, stating, “The Australian Government is stealing billions of dollars from a country whose children are dying from preventable diseases. Stopping this money from going to the establishment of a working health system in East Timor has a direct and fatal impact on the lives of many East Timorese children.”

A second and shorter ad, also going to air this week, compares the Australian Government withdrawing recognition of maritime boundary Jurisdiction of the ICJ, to an individual withdrawing recognition from a local court to avoid paying parking fines.

“We have appropriate legal mechanisms in place to settle these kinds of disputes and it’s a disgrace and absurd that the Australian Government refuses to recognised current international law. John Howard should take this matter to the independent umpire. Fair’s fair” concluded Mr Melrose.

Tom Clarke, the Co-ordinator of the Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Melbourne, said, “We welcome all efforts to bring attention to the Australian Government’s actions in the Timor Sea and are happy for Ian Melrose to continue to refer interested people to our website for further information about the oil and gas dispute.”

To view the two tv ads click here

For further information and comments, please contact Tom Clarke on 0422 545 763 or by email on

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