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Doorstop interview, Maroubra Electorate Office, Sydney
27 January 2009
GARRETT: Australia remains absolutely and completely opposed to commercial and so-called scientific whaling. That is our position. This government has done more on this issue than has been done in the past and I can assure everybody that we remain implacably opposed to commercial whaling and the so-called scientific whaling. We will bring forward a strong pro-conservation agenda to the IWC when it meets later this year. And the reports that we have seen today are about a range of options that are not supported by this Government because our policy is clear - and that is that we are opposed to commercial whaling, the killing of whales for money, and we are opposed to killing of whales in the name of science. That is our position. It remains our position, and it is the position that we will take into the International Whaling Commission meeting when it takes place in June of this year.
JOURNALIST: Does it undermine Australia's argument though to be sitting down in these meetings where such radical proposals are being put forward?
GARRETT: Well this is a draft discussion paper on a whole range of proposals including options that Australia has brought forward about good conservation measures for whales. So that is status of this paper. Australia's position remains absolutely clear and absolutely unequivocal. We are opposed and remain opposed to the killing of whales for commercial reasons, and we are absolutely opposed to the killing of whales in the name of science.
JOURNALIST: The criticism seems to be that in the past Australia wouldn't even countenance the idea of compromise on this. By agreeing to even to discuss it, are you undermining your argument?
GARRETT: All we have are a series of proposals that have been put forward by different countries in a discussion paper. It's a preliminary document but Australia's position remains absolutely crystal clear - opposed to commercial whaling, opposed to so-called scientific whaling, and in favour of reforming this commission so that it is all about looking after and caring for whales not about counting how we kill them.
JOURNALIST: The Government says though that this is being done diplomatically, if you are going to do it diplomatically do you have to compromise at some point?
GARRETT: The Australian Government position is absolutely straight up and down - and we have done more in the last year than we have seen happen in the past on this issue. We monitored the fleet. We appointed a whale envoy. We have brought forward a substantial reform proposal for the commission which has got support from a number of countries. We are putting over $30 million into non-lethal whale research in the Southern Oceans and we will continue to push very strongly our opposition to so-called scientific whaling. These are all part of a comprehensive and robust approach on this issue. The matters that have been raised today are matters that other countries have put up. They are not matters which Australia has endorsed. We will take our strong, very clear position into the International Whaling Commission when it meets later this year.