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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp MP
21 August 2003
Yesterday's motion in the Senate by Bob Brown, calling on me to "reverse" my "decision to back the captivity of 39 dolphins still held in cages on the Solomon Islands" smacks of the Greens' dishonesty and total lack of interest in this matter.
It also underscores their willingness to deceive the Australian people in a belated attempt to take the high ground on an issue on which the Howard Government has been taking an international lead.
If Bob Brown had a genuine concern over the welfare of these dolphins, he would not have waited for over a month to comment on this issue or tried to misrepresent the facts.
In fact, as soon as I became aware over a month ago of the situation regarding the dolphins in the Solomon Islands, I took immediate action to stop any trade, ascertain that international legal obligations were not being breached, and that the welfare of the dolphins was being assured.
Since then Australia has been very active on the issue, including:
Over a week ago, I told journalists, "[regarding]... concerns over the health of these dolphins and if there is no intention to export these dolphins in compliance with international conventions, then the obvious action for the Solomon Islands to take is to release the dolphins." (Doorstop, Parliament House, 13th August, 2003). Go to the transcript...
Australia will continue discussions with the Solomon Islands Government regarding the future of the dolphins in an ongoing effort to ensure their welfare.
Australia does not support the trade of live cetaceans, which is illegal under the Howard Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.