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Senator Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Media Release

Australia Takes Strong Line on Whaling Ban

June 17, 1996

Australia will pursue the implementation of a permanent international ban on commercial whaling when the International Whaling Commission meets later this month in Aberdeen.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the action will honour an election commitment given by the Coalition and make clear to the international community the determination of the new Government to secure a permanent ban.

Senator Hill says Australia's position will also continue the Coalition's long record of leading the fight against commercial whaling.

"It was the Fraser Government which led the way in pushing for an international ban on commercial whaling."

"With Norway recently doubling the kill quota for its annual hunt of minke whales it is time again for Australia to show strong leadership on the issue."

Senator Hill has announced that;

Senator Hill says support for the Revised Management Procedures would be in direct conflict with the Government's strong opposition to any commercial whaling.

"These procedures would establish a method of assessment to determine sustainable catch limits for whales.

"But our position is clear. There should be no commercial whaling at all. We believe the practice of killing whales is unjustifiable.

"To vote in support of the procedures would dilute the strength of our position and send conflicting signals to the international community.

"Such a vote would be inconsistent with Australia's goal of seeking a permanent ban on commercial whaling."

Senator Hill says Australia will also take a strong stand against the use of the electronic lance as a method of killing whales.

"We will support a proposal put forward by the UK and New Zealand to ban the use of the electronic lance.

"We are not satisfied that this is a method which will not increase the potential suffering of whales during capture. Claims that the lance promotes more rapid loss of consciousness and decreases the time to death remain highly questionable."

Senator Hill says Japan is expected to put forward proposals for a take of up to 540 minke whales for 'scientific purposes'.

"We will be strongly opposing Japan's proposal. Our Government does not believe that it is necessary to kill whales to study them.

"We will also use the forum of the IWC to call for Norway to abandon its annual hunt of minke whales. The hunt cannot be justified on subsistence reasons."

Senator Hill says the US proposal for the Makah Indian tribe to be allowed a take of gray whales will also be opposed because it does not appear to be based on clearly demonstrated evidence of subsistence need.

The 48th Annual Meeting of the IWC in Aberdeen from 24 - 28 June.

Dr Peter Bridgewater, the CEO of the Australian Nature Conservation Agency, will chair the meeting. Dr Bridgewater is Australia's Commissioner to the IWC.

Australia will be represented at the meeting by Dr David Kay, the Executive Director of Wildlife Management in ANCA.

For further comment contact Matt Brown on (06) 277 7640 or 0419 693 515.

Commonwealth of Australia