Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Parliament House, Canberra
ANTHONY ALBANESE – SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE
Tuesday, 21 June 2005
Subject: Whaling, Malcolm Turnbull, Australian lack of international credibility on international environment matters, Kyoto Protocol.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today is a critical day at the whaling conference and it would appear that Labor’s worst fears may well be borne true. That is, that the Howard Government has been asleep at the wheel. It has done too little, too late.
While Japan has been busy recruiting countries since 2002 to vote for its position, the Australian Government has been busy intervening in Court cases to stop Australian law being upheld to stop whaling in our own waters.
If I can offer some advice to the Howard Government, it’s that maybe they should ditch Senator Campbell and put Malcolm Turnbull in charge of whaling, because it would appear that Malcolm Turnbull understands that you get out there early and do the work early to get the numbers rather than Senator Campbell who’s been asleep at the wheel.
It’s of great concern that we don’t know what will happen today. It’s clear that there’s a need to do much more than rely upon what appears to be a roll of the dice. We need to take action in the International Court of Justice to show that we’re serious about stopping whaling once and for all. And as a minimal position, we need to actually enforce Australian law and stop whaling of Aussie whales in our territory.
JOURNALIST: It isn’t really a roll of the dice though because Japan stacked the branch … [inaudible]
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Japan stacked the branch at a time when Australia was doing nothing. It’s very clear from Senate Estimates that Alexander Downer, for example, didn’t raise the issue of whaling with Japan anytime between 1996 and 2004. What we want to know is when the Prime Minister went to Japan earlier this year did the Prime Minister raise the issue of whaling?
The truth is that a last minute scramble for votes to play catch-up is not good enough when Japan, Norway and Iceland have been very determined over a number of years. And what’s Australia’s objective on this? Australia’s objective today, of Senator Campbell, is simply to come out of the IWC with the status quo intact. That’s a status quo that has allowed 400 Aussie whales to be slaughtered in our territory since 2000.
What we need to be doing is getting on the front foot and taking measures which will stop whaling once and for all.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, they weren’t over recent years. It’s very interesting. Everything that the Foreign Minister detailed yesterday was all about the last minute scramble, a last minute scramble which is too little too late.
And the problem Australia has got is that the international community have come back and said: “don’t lecture us about whaling when you won’t sign up to the Kyoto Protocol which is the most important environment challenge facing the world community”.
Australia has an isolationist position on that, alone with the United States of the entire industrialised world, says we don’t care that 141 countries have say that the Kyoto Protocol is the way to go, we’re going to go it on our own.
And on that basis, it is not surprising that other countries are using that to say: “well Australia’s going on its own there, don’t take them seriously when it comes to international environment issues”.