am fascinated by Schultz’s complaints about AusAID cutting funding to
some East Timorese NGOs. My immediate reaction is: about time.
When discussing the cutting of funding, one East Timorese NGO leader said: “This is a restriction of our freedom of speech and a breach of our human rights.”
me? Since when did Australian taxpayer funding become a “human right?”
I think I missed this one. They can still talk, but it is just that the
long-suffering Australian taxpayer doesn’t have to foot the bill.
Australian taxpayers do not owe East Timorese activists a living! If
anything, this illustrates that much of what is referred to as “human
rights” blather is just utter nonsense.
There is a more serious
issue here. At the height of the dispute, some of these NGOs were
whipping up anti-Australian sentiment, some of it quite ugly. The ones
most active usually had western activists on their staff. As such,
AusAID would be, in my opinion, negligent if it didn’t act.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
the effectiveness of aid is questionable, one area where it has proved
effective is in building better relations between countries. When aid
fails this basic criteria then it is time to re-evaluate what we are
A final observation about the nature of the grant which was cancelled: according to one East Timorese NGO, the money was meant for:
“Monitoring of the judicial system would have complemented
monitoring prison conditions: many prisoners in custody have not stood
trial in Timor Leste’s judicial system because it is paralysed by a
backlog of cases and severe constraints in capacity. Had FTM received
funding, their monitoring would have helped to draw attention to these
The point has to be made that
if the East Timorese judicial system “is paralysed by a backlog of
cases and severe constraints in capacity,” rather than flick some
$65,830 to some activists to create “awareness” about the bleeding
obvious, would it not have been better and a more practical way to
improve human rights observances in East Timor to put this money into
the judicial system itself?