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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

IWC progress; Australia's position on whaling

Door stop interview, Meeting of the International Whaling Commission, Madeira, Portugal
24 June 2009

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JOURNALIST: So is Australia satisfied with this consensus that the Chair asked for. Some finger pointing happened but nonetheless a consensus was achieved?

GARRETT: Look we've said since we've come here that we want to continue a constructive engagement and we have said that we will do that in such a way as to ensure that the issues which we think need to be fully discussed and for decisions to be made on can be properly and adequately contemplated. That will happen through this process.

But we have also said that we are not writing a black cheque for endless consultations. We want to see some clear indications, both in terms of process and decisions that the issues which we have brought to the IWC and which need resolution will be accommodated.

Clearly, we are looking for some additional statements and indications on the question of scientific whaling and the reservation of special permits as a matter for serious consideration.

We have always said and will continue to say that we recognised and understand how important it is for the Commission to have appropriate processes for discussing and resolving these issues. The Small Working Group and support group on that basis do have our support but it is not an open ended question and the reason it is not an open ended question is that we want to see some additional, indicative sense from countries and they include countries like Japan, on the issues we've brought forward.

JOURNALIST: But is this just one more deadline ands then another one and another one?

JOURNALIST: Nothing has been achieved in the last 12 months what guarantees are there that something will be achieved in the next 12?

GARRETT: Well that is why I am saying Australia doesn't see this as writing a black cheque for never ending consultations and discussions.

Our expectation is that we want to see progress and to take up the rest of your questions here I will conclude by saying that at this point in the IWC we will await the progress of discussions over the next day, tomorrow and also Friday.

JOURNALIST: Just one question. Australia has mentioned earlier that it is consideration potentially legal action in case all of these processes don't come to the conclusion that you desire. If in 12 months the situation hasn't changed from what it is today, is that one of the options that you will...?

GARRETT: Well we're not placing timelines on our positions on a range of matters right here. What we have always said is that the option for legal action remains. We will give consideration to the IWC, the progress that has been made at this IWC, and we'll take a view about that option in due course.


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