Friday, March 1, 2024 | 10:30 WIB

Federal Court of Australia asked to intervene over Montara compensation fund

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Jakarta, IO – The Federal Court of Australia was asked to intervene in the disbursement of compensation funds for seaweed farmers affected by Montara oil spill because so far they have yet to receive the settlement as promised. 

The funds, worth A$192.5 million, have been disbursed to Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, a law firm in Australia, since May 2023 and should have been directly transferred to the accounts of seaweed farmers in Kupang and Rote Ndao regencies, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). 

More than 15,000 seaweed farmers were impacted by the oil spill caused by the explosion of the Montara oil rig in 2009. The oil field in the Timor Sea was managed by PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) Australasia. As of Friday (10/11), there was still no clarity regarding the disbursement timeline of the funds. 

In response, the attorney for the Peduli Timor Barat Foundation (YPTB), Fransiskus Tulung, wrote to the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia on November 1 to request further explanation regarding the distribution of funds. 

“Mr. Nicholas Gunn [court officer] replied to my letter and asked me to have it translated into English. It was translated in the afternoon on the same day and sent back to the Federal Court of Australia address in Melbourne, Victoria,” said Fransiskus in Kupang, Friday (10/11). 

According to Fransiskus, he has received questions from the seaweed farmers on a daily basis about the funds and when they are going to receive it. 

YPTB chairman Ferdi Tanoni has reminded the Maurice Blackburn Lawyers tasked with distributing the compensation funds along with the interest to the seaweed farmers. “The appeals and questions from thousands of seaweed farmers conveyed to us have been growing by the day,” he said. 

Read: Inclusive National Dialogue Only Respite For ASEAN’s Solution In The Ongoing Myanmar Strife

In an reply to the seaweed farmers, Maurice Blackburn said they were still verifying the names of recipients and the amount of compensation. 

“We hope next week we can know more precisely when the first payments will be made and we will give a further update at that stage,” wrote Maurice Blackburn in a letter dated October 19 to the seaweed farmers. (dbs)

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