Jun 21, 2005

Government divided and complacent on whaling

Government divided and complacent on whaling

MEDIA RELEASE – Anthony Albanese MP – 21 June 2005

Statements by Warren Entsch that he supports the slaughter of whales for food highlight the Government’s mixed messages on whaling.

Mr Entsch stated the slaughter of whales for food was “okay” and that he has an

“issue with the Government taking a position of total prohibition against countries killing whales”. (source – Cairns Post newspaper, 21 June 2005, page 5)

Mr Entsch’s comments are appalling.

The Howard Government went out of its way to stop Australia’s environment protection laws being enforced. The Attorney-General, Phillip Ruddock, intervened in the Federal Court on 25 January 2005 and took Japan’s side to stop Humane Society International enforcing the prohibition on whaling in Australian waters.

It was revealed in Senate Estimates in May 2005 that Foreign Minister Downer has not made any representations to Japan on whaling between 1996 and 2004.

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

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.

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

Mr Entsch’s comments are not only harmful to our current fight at the IWC, they will also hurt the expanding and lucrative whale watching industry. Mr Entsch is the Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism and should know better.

In 2004, more than 1.6 million tourists went whale watching in Australia. The whale watching industry is worth almost $30 million per year to Australia, with indirect economical benefits close to $300 million.

The Howard Government should take Japan to the International Court of Justice to end the 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.