Jun 20, 2005

Action, not words, needed to save whales

Action, not words, needed to save whales

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE –

Kevin Rudd MP – Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs

Anthony Albanese MP – Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage

20 June 2005

Whatever happens at the International Whaling Commission meeting in South Korea this week, the bottom line is the Howard Government has no answer to stopping Japan’s continued abuse of scientific quotas on whaling.

The Howard Government has been asleep at the wheel for nine years while Japan stacked the IWC. Finally, it woke from its slumber and Environment Minister Campbell engaged in a last-minute rush around the world to shore up votes.

It was revealed in Senate Estimates in May that Foreign Minister Downer has not made any representations to Japan.

In late April 2005 after the Australian media highlighted Japan’s whaling intentions, John Howard belatedly wrote to his Japanese counterpart.

Tragically for the majestic whales, the Government may have done too little, too late.

Reports suggest three more African countries will support Japan. Even Nauru may vote with Japan to continue whaling.

No-one should be fooled by the Howard Government’s public relations campaign. Not only has the Government been asleep at the wheel, it has failed to enforce its own laws to stop Japanese whalers slaughtering whales in Australian waters.

The Attorney-General, Phillip Ruddock, recently intervened in the Federal Court to stop Humane Society International enforcing the prohibition on whaling in Australian waters. The Howard Government went out of its way to stop our laws being enforced.

This week is a critical week for humpback and minke whales, but it’s not the end of the matter. The IWC will not stop the whale slaughter.

Regardless of what happens at the IWC meeting, the Howard Government should take Japan to the International Court of Justice to end the barbaric slaughter of whales once and for all.

It is time the Howard Government enforced its own laws and stopped the illegal slaughter of whales in Australian waters.