1. Lindsay Murdoch, ’Thousands of East Timorese besiege Australian embassy in Dili’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 23.03.16
Bangkok: More than 10,000 Timorese besieged the Australian embassy in Dili on Tuesday to protest Australia’s refusal to negotiate with East Timor on a permanent sea boundary in the oil- and gas-rich Timor Sea.
East Timor’s former president and prime minister, Xanana Gusmao, called on Timorese to rope in 10 other people to attend the protest, one of the largest in the waterfront capital since the country voted to break away from Indonesia in 1999.
In a speech on the eve of the protest Mr Xanana, a hero of East Timor’s independence revolution, said Timorese must “stand firm and raise one voice” to demand that Canberra negotiates with East Timor.
East Timor claims it has lost some US$5 billion (nearly $6.6 billion) in royalties and tax revenue in the Timor Sea since independence, enough to fund its entire budget for three years.
The fledgling half-island nation asserts the vast majority of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea – worth about US$40 billion in royalties and tax alone – would lie in its territory if sea borders reflected the norms of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, a contention Australia rejects.1
Organisers of the protest included student leaders and veterans of East Timor’s long struggle for independence.
Many former East Timorese activists from Australia have also been involved in planned protests this week in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Jakarta, Manila and Kuala Lumpur to mark the anniversary of the date Australia withdrew its recognition of the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Protesters shouting “hands off Timor oil” and “negotiations now” demanded the case be bought back to the court as Timorese security forces guarded the embassy.
“As a big and powerful country in the region, Australia shouldn’t be using its power to continually steal our future from the Timor Sea,” said Juvinal Dias, a protest organiser from the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea.
“Australia should come to the table with good faith to negotiate with Timor-Leste [East Timor]”.
Protest supporters recalled the sacrifices East Timorese made to help Australia during World War II. “Think about it Australia. Over 40,000 East Timorese died in WWII to help fight the Japanese navy…the East Timorese want nothing more than what’s fair,” Alex Tilman, an official in the office of East Timor’s prime minister, wrote on his Facebook page.
Australia’s Ambassador in Dili, Peter Doyle, said of the protest: “Australia believes in the right to peaceful protest and is confident that the Government of Timor-Leste will ensure the safety and security of the embassy, its staff and any visitors”.
A complex series of revenue-sharing agreements have allowed some oil and gas developments in the Timor Sea to proceed even though Australia has no settled maritime boundary with East Timor.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month offered to hold “frank and open” discussions with East Timor about the boundary but stopped short of Dili’s request for formal and discrete talks to settle the impasse.
Mr Turnbull said Australia’s long held position was to support treaty arrangements that underpin the current resource sharing in the area and were negotiated in “good faith” and “consistent with international law”.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Tanya Plibersek announced this year that a Labor government would negotiate a new boundary in “good faith” and submit the dispute to international adjudication if bilateral talks failed to produce a result.
Labor’s shift ended a bipartisan consensus on the maritime border issue, a major irritant in Australia’s relations with East Timor.
1. U.S. toady Australia demands that China accepts the same convention with regard to the South China Sea. Australia is one of the richest nations in the world, East Timor one of the poorest. ↩
2. Karl Quinn, ’John Cleese may sue Australian company behind “utterly shameless” Fawlty Towers’ rip-off’, The Sydney Morning Herald 23.03.16
John Cleese is threatening to take legal action against an Australian theatre company over claims it has ripped off some of the former Monty Python man’s most famous work.
The Faulty Towers Dining Experience is slated to run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from April 12 at the Aegean restaurant in Fitzroy, as it has in previous seasons of the festival. This version will be just one of nine iterations of the show that are being staged around the world by Interactive Theatre International, a company founded by New Zealander Alison Pollard-Mansergh in Brisbane in 1999.
Tickets to a recent season at the Sydney Opera House cost up to $195 for dinner and show. The London season runs until September, with tickets costing up to £59. But John Cleese and his co-writer on the two seasons of the Fawlty Towers TV series, ex-wife Connie Booth, receive not a penny.
“I had absolutely no idea this was going on until about a year ago,” Cleese told Fairfax on Wednesday from New Zealand. “I think people will find that very hard to believe, but if people don’t tell you, how do you know?”
Cleese said ITI and associated entities had never sought permission to use the characters, situations and name – albeit with marginally different spelling.
“If they’ve been going for 20 years without paying us a penny, they could well owe us a very significant amount,” he said.
Cleese told Fairfax that over the years many student and amateur productions had sought and been granted permission to stage Fawlty Towers-inspired shows. However, the fact that one of them was making in the region of £1 million a year put it in a completely different category.
“They didn’t ask our permission and we didn’t know it was happening on this scale,” he said. “If little groups are making some money that’s not a problem, but this is entirely different.”
Ms Pollard-Mensargh, founder and artistic director of Interactive Theatre International, which producesFaulty Towers The Dining Experience, responded to Fairfax’s detailed list of questions on the legal status of her show with a short emailed statement.
“We understand that John Cleese has made a comment to the media concerning dinner theatre,” she said.
“We do not know if his comments were intended to be directed at our show, which has been running for nearly 20 years. If his comments were directed at us we reject them – they are misleading and inaccurate. We are huge fans of his work and wish him all the best with his new show.”
Cleese said he was considering taking legal action to protect the interests of investors in the stage version of his show, Fawlty Towers Live, which will make its world premiere in Sydney in August.
“Now that Fawlty Towers is about to happen as a proper stage show and producers are investing money in what is a risky enterprise, we certainly don’t want other shows out there confusing people.”
That’s a position the producers of Faulty Towers the Dining Experience should be able to identify with. Their website includes a “legal” page, complete with the following warning:
“[We have] a genuine commercial interest to protect. [We] have successfully taken and will continue to take legal action when or if another company brands a similar show closely styled relative to [our] long-running show in such a way that any innocent party wishing to book/commission [our] services or purchase tickets for a show could be misled into thinking that the two outfits were one and the same.”
This reporter reviewed the Melbourne season of the show two years ago, and judged it to be “impersonation, not re-creation, though there are nods to the show’s most famous scenes”. The three characters in the live show are Basil, Manuel and Sybil, and are all clearly derived from the TV series Fawlty Towers, which first aired on the BBC in two seasons in 1975 and 1979.
“These people are completely brazen, utterly shameless,” said Cleese on Wednesday. “The awful thing about our society is that shameless people get away with things – look at [Donald] Trump.
“They take our concepts, they take our characters, they take our characters’ names and then they change the W to a U and say it’s got nothing to do with our show.”
Despite all that, Cleese was still able to appreciate the irony in the situation.
“These people are shamelessly ripping off Connie Booth and myself, and they are publishing aggressive threats against anyone else who would seek to rip them off in the same way,” he said. “It’s absolutely wonderful!”