May 21, 2007

Labor whaling policy piracy: Turnbull – The World Today

The World Today – Labor whaling policy piracy: Turnbull

The World Today

Monday, 21 May 2007 12:36:00

Reporter: Peta Donald

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Labor Party’s whaling policy has been dismissed by Japan’s Fisheries Agency as irrelevant.

If it wins this year’s election, the Opposition is promising to enforce the ban against whaling in the Australian declared sanctuary, off Antarctica. And the Labor Party says that if necessary, it would allow the Australian Navy to board Japanese whaling vessels.

But the Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull says that would put Australia in the business of piracy.

In Canberra, Peta Donald reports.

PETA DONALD: With whale watching season along Australia’s east coast about to start, Labor is ramping up its anti-whaling message.

On his way into Parliament this morning, Labor’s Anthony Albanese was pitching it as a battle between Aussie whales and Japanese whalers.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Malcolm Turnbull has got to decide what side he’s on. Is he on the side of Aussie whales or Japanese whalers? It’s extraordinary that Malcolm Turnbull … in Malcolm Turnbull we now have an environment minister who is not really sure whether we should take action against the slaughter of whales in Australian waters.

PETA DONALD: If it wins office, Labor is promising to use the navy to enforce a ban against whaling in the Australian Whale Sanctuary, a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, off the Australian Antarctic Territory.

It’s been declared by Australia, but not recognised by Japan. Labor says more than 400 whales have been killed there since 1999 with not a single prosecution.

Labor’s plan has been dismissed as a personal opinion by a spokesman from Japan’s Fisheries Agency.

Hideki Moronuki.

HIDEKI MORONUKI: As far as I understand, the opinion was provided by Opposition party on a personal basis, and therefore I do not provide any comment.

PETA DONALD: Mr Moronuki stresses it’s only Opposition policy, and not the policy of the Australian Government.

HIDEKI MORONUKI: I don’t think Australian Government propose such kind of issue because the comments are provided by the Opposition party, and I don’t believe that is the position of the Australian Government.

PETA DONALD: Labor’s plan has certainly been firmly rejected by the Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He spoke to the Nine Network yesterday.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: That is a very reckless proposal, and the Labor Party is clearly determined to make Australia, well, you know, put us into the business of piracy really.

The waters off the Australian Antarctic Territory, that we describe as our exclusive economic zone are not recognised as being Australian waters by most countries in the world, and certainly not recognised by Japan. So as far as Japan is concerned, they are international waters and they are entitled to freedom of navigation on the high seas.

If we were to send Australian warships, as Mr Rudd proposes, to intercept and board Japanese commercial vessels, we would put ourselves in a state of extreme – well I wouldn’t go so far – well, it could develop into hostility, put it that way.

It is an extraordinary recommendation to make.

PETA DONALD: Mr Turnbull accuses Labor of chasing votes in an election year. Labor’s Anthony Albanese thinks he knows which side the Australian people are on.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think all Australians are horrified at the barbaric, bloodthirsty slaughter of whales in Australian waters that occurs every year on an escalating scale. And this year will see not just minke whales, but fin whales and the majestic humpback whales slaughtered once again in Australian waters.

ELEANOR HALL: And that’s Labor’s Spokesman on Water Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, ending that report from Peta Donald in Canberra.