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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

11 June 2006

Albanese playing politics with whales issue

Labor Environment Spokesperson, Anthony Albanese’s contribution to Australia’s efforts to save whales is simply a political point scoring exercise despite the fact that Australia’s position on this issue has received strong bipartisan support for three decades since the Whitlam/Fraser years.

Mr Albanese said this morning on ABC’s Insiders programme that the Australian Government should take legal action against Japan.

I am as appalled by the whaling activities of Japan, Norway and Iceland as most Australians are and if legal action could put an end to this, of course we would have taken this path already.

This is a view shared by New Zealand’s International Whaling Commissioner and former NZ Labour Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer. He recently said: “We have been looking at the legal theories that are available against the Japanese for some months … and there is no legal theory that is available that can prevent, in our view, the Japanese from doing what they are doing … A sovereign government cannot undertake legal action unless it has a good chance of success.

The Australian newspaper, 16 Jan 2006

The fact is that no government would embark on a course of action without being sure of a very high likelihood of success. Indeed, this has been the case with previous governments, including the previous Labor government which did not take legal action when the Japanese were killing almost 800 whales a year in the early nineties.

Australia remains opposed to commercial and scientific whaling and, with our pro-conservation partners, will actively pursue a course of action that has the best prospect of success. This means working hard within the International Whaling Commission as well as in other forums.

This is difficult, and at times frustrating, but it is a fight we will continue with in order to see the slaughter of whales relegated to history – where it belongs.

Media contact:
Marianne McCabe (02) 6277 7640 or 0400 389 580

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