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Transcript
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

11:55 am, 22 June 2005
720 ABC Perth Morning Show (Bartlett)

IWC meeting in Korea


Bartlett
The very important vote about the Japanese proposal to increase the number of whales that it kills, in the interests of scientific research, was due to be held this morning, but I understand that vote has been delayed - Senator Campbell, good morning. Is that correct, can you confirm that?

Campbell
Yeah, that's right. There's been a sort of a long discussion this morning about Japan's new proposal. They've actually given us a big presentation on how they are going to justify doubling the number of whales they're going to blow-up with explosives. They really gave no justification. It was quite sickening in fact. A few of the delegations laughed a bit when they had this quite puerile and pathetic and childlike presentation with cartoons and so forth, but they have been designed to...I don't know what it was designed for, but I found it somewhere in between sick and silly.

Bartlett
So when is the official vote taken then, in relation to that?

Campbell
We're just doing our quick luncheon adjournment now. In fact, myself and the New Zealand Conservation Minister, Chris Carter, are heading off down to see some Aussies and Kiwis at the Whale Embassy that Greenpeace and some other NGOs have established down in the whaling district, and I understand we're going to do that during the lunch break, but we'll be back on at 2pm and the vote should hopefully be, you know, a couple of hours after that. Just so you know Liam, the numbers are very, very tight. I was hoping after yesterday's great success on commercial whaling that we could consolidate, but the Nauruans have actually turned up, I guess that's the breaking news from here. I've tried to talk to them but they're not very talkative, but Chris Carter and myself and the US and other delegations have been working busily around the room all morning trying to firm up the votes and, you know, I quite honestly think there's only one or two in it. It could, quite frankly, go either way, so we're...yeah, we're under a bit of stress, but let's hope we get the right result and that Japan gets the message and that Japan will in fact withdraw this outrageous proposal.

Bartlett
So Nauru's not looking too good for us, and I take it you're disappointed from yesterday in the Solomon Islands?

Campbell
Yeah, the Solomons breached a promise that their Prime Minister had given to Australia, and who actually shook my hand, looked me in the eye - his Minister did not follow through on that promise. We've been working on the Solomons during the morning. We're still hopeful we'll get them this afternoon, but we won't know until the vote takes place.

Bartlett
We wait for that. Look Senator, what's this news we hear about some of these Japanese whalers being able to use Fremantle Port to refuel and ..inaudible..?

Campbell
Well they're not whalers. The leader of my delegation here, our commission, has been looking into that overnight. We'll continue to investigate it, but they are International Whaling Commission-leased vessels that are not whaling boats. They're boats that...or ships I should say, that the best we can ascertain on our research, and it's a bit hard to do it from Korea, is that these were ships that had not been involved in whaling for at least two decades. They're ships that are required to get into the Southern Ocean and they're doing research that is sanctioned by the Whaling Commission and supported by countries like New Zealand and Australia. I want to make sure, and can I just reassure your listeners, that we will not allow any vessel that is actively engaged with whaling to be in an Australian port and there'll be no exceptions.

Bartlett
Right, so those ships, to your knowledge and your research, those ships have not actually been involved in catching whales, whether it be supposedly for scientific research or otherwise?

Campbell
Absolutely. We...in fact, the Humane Society International delegate, who is on my delegation, has confirmed that that is the case. They're a very pro-conservation non-government organisation the Human Society, as many of your listeners would be aware of, and they have given me a list of the vessels that are involved in scientific...well, so-called scientific whaling, and non of those vessels, that I think your caller earlier in the week referred to, are involved. So I'm making sure that I'm assured, you know, I am seeking strict assurances on that and I thank the caller for alerting us to this possibility.

Bartlett
Thanks for giving us a quick five minutes Senator. Good luck with the vote this afternoon.

Ends

Commonwealth of Australia