National Day of Action to Protect Whales
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Art Gallery Road, Sydney
7 June 2006
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I am very pleased on behalf of the Australian Labor Party to be here at this IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) event. I congratulate IFAW for taking the action that they have in working with the whale watching industry, in working with the Maritime Union of Australia, but more importantly I think with the Australian public to show the support that is there for the protection of our whales and an end to this barbaric slaughter that we have seen escalate year after year.
What is the message that we are here today to send? The message is that diplomacy by itself is not working. Senator Campbell claimed a victory after the IWC meeting in Korea last year. That was a false claim. As a result of that so called victory more whales were slaughtered in Australian waters than ever before and it expanded to include Finn whales. Next year we will see that expanded to include Humpback whales – these majestic creatures that bring far greater economic benefit as they go up and down our coast than they do in tuck shops in Japan.
We need to look at not just the economic analysis but we need to look at the broader environment issues as well. There is no doubt that Australia’s diplomatic effort, when Senator Campbell goes to countries such as Kiribati, is completely undermined by our failure to be a part of other global environmental action, in particular ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. For nations that are literally sinking under rising sea levels then that is their priority and Australia’s credibility on environmental issues is damaged by us being an international pariah when it comes to climate change.
We need to combine our diplomatic efforts with an approach to the environment across the board that says we won’t pick and choose when good international practice should be upheld.
It is quite clear that diplomacy has not worked up until now and Senator Campbell would have you believe that what will occur at the West Indies meeting is a breakthrough in terms of commercial whaling. That is highly unlikely and I say to the media here present, he is again setting himself up for a claytons victory to say we’ve stopped commercial whaling, when what will really be the result of the IWC meeting – the best result we know now – is that which will still lead to more whales being slaughtered that ever. That is why Labor is committed, in government, to taking Japan and other whaling nations to the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea. It is time that we showed that we are fair dinkum about ending this slaughter in Australian waters.
The only time the government has taken legal action was to intervene in a court case two years ago to say that Australian law shouldn’t be upheld in the Australian Whale Sanctuary because, according to the then Attorney General Philip Ruddock’s submission, that would create a “diplomatic disagreement with Japan”. Well we do have diplomatic disagreement with Japan on this issue.
I say to the Australian government, which is big on rhetoric about protecting our borders, it is about time we protected all our borders, including our sea borders, and engaged in action to stop the slaughter that is going on in the Australian Whale Sanctuary, which was declared by this government.
So I congratulate IFAW on their efforts. I commit on behalf of Kim Beazley and the Australian Labor Party, a Labor government to take Japan and other whaling nations to the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea.
It is time to back-up diplomatic action and to show that we are serious about stopping whaling by taking legal action which concrete advice shows, has a great chance of success. We know that scientific whaling as nothing to so with science. They are not killing whales for science; they are killing them for lunch.