May 30, 2005

Government hypocrisy on whale slaughter

Government hypocrisy on whale slaughter

Joint Media Release

Kevin Rudd MP – Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs

Anthony Albanese MP – Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage

30 May 2005

The Howard Government has stated its opposition to Japanese whaling, but at the same time has intervened in a Federal Court case brought by Humane Society International, causing the Court to refuse permission for an action against Japanese whaling companies.

The Howard Government says it opposes the slaughter of whales, but the Government’s Court intervention on Friday effectively stopped HSI’s action against the Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd.

The Court relied upon the Howard Government’s submission that enforcing Australian law “would be likely to give rise to an international disagreement with Japan”.

However, in August 1999 the Howard Government appealed to the International Law of the Sea Tribunal to stop Japan fishing for southern blue fin tuna. Counsel appearing for the Australian Government before that Tribunal was Attorney-General Daryl Williams.

After success at initial hearings, Daryl Williams stated on 28 August 1999:

The decision of the Tribunal at this initial stage has given added impetus to our resolve to obtain a decision in this case which will provide a lasting resolution to the dispute. Australia’s relationship with Japan is one of our most important international relationships. Australia’s excellent overall bilateral relationship with Japan has not been adversely affected by our disagreement over this particular issue. The Government believes that the Tribunal decision will not affect this strong relationship.

The Government was willing to take court action against Japan to protect Southern Blue-fin Tuna, but intervened in the Federal Court to stop action to protect whales.

In Question Time today. Warren Truss as representative of the Environment Minister was incapable of providing any explanation for why the Australian Government had effectively taken the side of Japan against those seeking to stop whaling.

Given Mr Truss represents one of Australia’s largest whale watching industries at Hervey Bay and Fraser Island, his ignorance of the need to stop whaling is extraordinary.

The Government should take action in the International Court of Justice to stop whaling.