May 24, 2005

Time to stop the whale slaughter

Time to stop the whale slaughter

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 24 May 2005

Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 is very clear. Whaling in the Australian Antarctic Territory is illegal.

The evidence is clear and so is the law. Whales in Australian waters are protected by Australian law.

It’s time the Government enforced its own legislation.

The Prime Minister has been all talk, no action. His 2001 election policy on whales stated:

"the Government has strengthened domestic legislation protecting Australia’s whale and dolphin species. Under the EPBC Act, Australia’s entire Exclusive Economic Zone has been formally declared the Australian Whale Sanctuary. This offers unprecedented protection for all [whales and dolphins]".

Since 1994, the Australian Antarctic Territory has been part of our EEZ.

However, since 2000 Japanese factory ships have slaughtered over 400 whales within Australia’s waters as part of Japan’s notorious ‘scientific’ whaling program. They’ve gone on to sell the meat commercially in Japan.

The Government has recently opposed the case taken by the Humane Society International to enforce the prohibition on whaling in the Australian Whale Sanctuary provided for in its own legislation on the grounds that "it would be likely to give rise to an international disagreement with Japan".

Labor calls on the Government to:

• Stop whaling from occurring in all Australian waters.

• Take immediate steps to prosecute boats detected slaughtering whales within Australian waters under the EPBC Act.

• Apply diplomatic pressure to Japan to stop it from expanding its whale killing activity.

• Take immediate action to ensure that Australia’s opposition to the proposed expansion of whale killing is clearly conveyed to all International Whaling Commission members.

• Reaffirm its commitment to the establishment of a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary.

• If the whale hunt continues, take action against Japan in the International Court of Justice with the objective of stopping Japan’s current practice of culling whales for so-called “scientific research”.