4 October 2014
The recent 15th anniversary of East Timor’s historic vote for independence highlights Australia’s unfinished business in the Timor Sea and Timor’s ongoing struggle to become a true sovereign nation – complete with sea boundaries
According to the Timor Sea Justice Campaign’s spokesperson in Melbourne, Tom Clarke,”the tremendous goodwill generated by Australia’s peace-keeping mission in East Timor following the ballot in 1999 had since been jeopardised by Australia’s bullish approach to contested oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea.”
“It’s a bit like stepping up to chase away a school-yard bully, only to steal the victim’s lunch money yourself,” said Mr Clarke.
Australia has consistently refused to establish permanent maritime boundaries with East Timor in accordance with international law.
“Rather than simply drawing a line half way between the two coastlines as international law prescribes, Australia has chosen to short-change East Timor out of billions of dollars through dubious gas and oil treaties,” said Mr Clarke.
For many East Timorese the Timor Sea dispute is inherently tied up with their independence struggle.
“Here we are fifteen years after their decisive vote for independence, yet when the Timorese look at a map of their nation there are no lines to indicate its maritime boundaries,” said Mr Clarke.
Beyond symbolism, the prolonged dispute has also trapped approximately $40 billion of government revenue – out of reach of the second poorest nation in Asia as it grapples with grave health challenges.
Mr Clarke urged the Prime Minister to resubmit Australia to the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea – both of which Australia preemptively withdrew from in 2002 – to demonstrate he’s ready to negotiate in good faith.
This makes them particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, especially because they are isolated and find it difficult to get support when they need it.
A convention came into force on 5 September 2013 that gives employees basic rights, including days off each week, set hours and the minimum wage. Eight countries have ratified the convention (Bolivia, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa and Uruguay), and more are likely to do so soon, including Costa Rica, Germany and Switzerland. A number of countries (Venezuela, Bahrain, the Philippines, Thailand, Spain and Singapore) have already passed new laws improving the rights of domestic workers, whilst legislative reforms have begun in Finland, Namibia, Chile and the United States.
The convention is the result of years of campaigning by groups including Human Rights Watch and Anti-Slavery International. These groups say that the campaign and the resulting convention have improved conditions for domestic workers beyond the countries that have signed.
For more information visit the website of the International Labor Organisation (ILO)
3 October 2014
For every $1 in aid to developing countries, several dollars slip out through tax dodging. That is money which should be spent building hospitals and schools.
Tax revenue enables governments to provide essential services such as health and education as well as infrastructure such as roads and transport. Tax evasion deprives everyday people of these vital services. In developing countries this can mean the difference between life and death.
Illegal, trade-related tax evasion alone will be responsible for some 5.6 million deaths of young children in the developing world between 2000 and 2015. That is almost 1,000 a day.
Money that is lost to the developing world in unpaid taxes would be enough to reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals several times over. These goals aim to halve world poverty by 2015, a target which could be easily achieved if tax systems favoured the poor instead of the rich.
As much as US$255 billion is lost every year to governments around the world because of the no or low taxation of funds in offshore centres.
Visit the Global Financial Integrity website for up to date information about these issues
The Australian government has recently ordered aggressive audits and detailed investigations into their accounting, aiming to set an example for other wealthy nations at a meeting of Group of 20 finance ministers in Cairns later this month.
The Australian government estimates tax avoidance by multinationals costs the country more than 1 billion Australian dollars a year in revenue.
Recently it was reported that Swedish furniture giant IKEA paid just A$7.7 million in tax in Australia in the fiscal year to June, despite making an operating profit of A$92 million. That equates to a tax rate of 11% against the country's standard 30% level for companies.
Australian newspapers have also reported that Google Inc. A$466,000 in annual tax locally while making profit of closer to A$2 billion, and that Apple had shifted almost A$9 billion in untaxed profit over a decade to Ireland.
Visit the Tax Justice Network Australia website to view its recommendations to the Australian Government to
legislate to stop Tax Dodging.
‘STRIVING FOR THE BEST IN OUR SPORTING NATION’ - AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS 2014-2015 SOCIAL JUSTICE STATEMENT
“Australians are passionate about their sport, whether as participants or as supporters, whether following the fortunes of their local club or their national team. Sport brings us together, builds communities and lets us celebrate the joy of movement and skill. Good sport makes everyone a winner” said Bishop Christopher Saunders, chair of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC) ahead of the recent launch of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ 2014–2015 Social Justice Statement.
“Sport also holds a mirror up to our society. It reflects the best in us as individuals and as a nation – but it can also reflect the worst in us. We are becoming too familiar with violence and abuse of drugs and alcohol, both on the field and off it, on the part of players and of spectators. Instances of illegal betting and corruption across different codes pose a real threat to the integrity of sport and its capacity to build community. Discrimination and exclusion undermine a key attribute of sport to build bridges across social divides and show a special concern for people who are marginalised,” Bishop Saunders said.
In the Statement, A Crown for Australia, the Catholic Bishops highlight the transformative power of sport and call on all levels of society to treasure and safeguard sport from those forces that undermine its integrity.
The Statement and associated resources can be downloaded from the ACSJC website.