The Best Damn Australian Government Japan has Ever Had
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”
-Sir Walter Scott
I sometimes wonder if the Australian government knows where the ballot boxes are placed…in Australia or in Japan? It seems that they pay lip service towards saving whales but none of their rhetoric gets translated into any sort of action. Instead they seem eager to do Japan’s bidding at every opportunity.
The latest revelation is in today’s Sydney Morning Herald where journalist Philip Dorling revealed that a last year, when the Ady Gil was rammed and destroyed by the Shonan Maru No. 2, “Australian diplomats were quick to absolve Japanese whalers of blame for the crash that sank the anti-whaling vessel Ady Gil a year ago, telling the U.S. embassy in Canberra the Japanese would ‘come away clean’ from any investigation.”
And come clean away they did! Thanks to a shallow maritime investigation by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Now it is clear why the official report by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority described the most documented collision at sea in maritime history as inconclusive due to the “poor quality of the video,” when in fact three different cameras recorded the incident from three different perspectives, two of which were high-definition cameras in the hands of professionals filming for a major television production.
Although this incident happened in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory, the Australian authorities did not question the captain of the Shonan Maru No. 2.
Actions speak louder than words, and lack of tangible action on the part of the Australian Labor government seems to illustrate their real position, which stands in stark contradiction to the government’s expressed spoken positions on this important international conservation issue.
Peter Garrett issued the statement below in September 2007 when he was in opposition:
Peter Garrett MP - Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Heritage
Media Statement - September 18, 2007
Government must stand up and stop Japanese whaling
A Rudd Labor Government would not stand in the way of Humane Society International's (HSI) legal challenge in the Federal Court to request an injunction to stop Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd from killing whales within the Australian Whale Sanctuary.
Labor has a clear policy position that we will enforce Australian law banning the slaughter of whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary. Therefore, Labor would enforce any injunction the courts decide to grant against Japanese whalers.
I wish to send a powerful and clear message to the Australian public that Labor believes in enforcing Australian law. This is the right and obvious thing to do.
The Howard Government has made a mockery of our laws by refusing to enforce the whale sanctuary protections, and it's just not good enough, frankly.
There is an ocean of clear water between the Howard Government and Labor on the issue of whaling. Labor has the guts to stand up to the Japanese whalers - the Howard Government will do no such thing. Mr. Turnbull is all talk and no action. All pretty pictures of whales in his election material and no results.
We expect the Government will not show support for this hearing. You wouldn't see such timidity from a Labor Government. If elected, Rudd Labor will not stand in the way of enforcing Australian law banning the slaughter of whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary.
For further information please contact Ryan Heath 0449 141 398.
Heavy words! I responded to that statement by encouraging thousands of Australians to vote for Pete Garrett despite the fact that former Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, was far more active in opposing whaling than Peter Garrett would ever be.
Once he was in government, Garrett sent a customs ship to the Southern Ocean to document the slaughter and then refused to release the information for fear of “embarrassing Japan.” This was followed up by inaction on every level including reneging on promises to take legal action. The reneging was replaced by procrastination, and then finally, a reluctant agreement to take Japan to court in a few years.
Peter Garrett once said, “You wouldn't see such timidity from a Labor Government.” And he was right; he gave us a far more blatant form of timidity than the previous government.
His actions to address the situation included:
1. Obstructing Sea Shepherd Australia’s application for tax status (Wikileaks has already exposed that Japan was making this demand of the U.S. to revoke Sea Shepherd’s status, so it is a certainty that Japan did not wish Australia to grant tax status to Sea Shepherd).
2. Obstructing visa applications for Sea Shepherd officers including myself, forcing us to go to great expense to challenge this obstruction.
3. Having Australian Customs seize equipment or refuse to allow the import of equipment for the ships.
4. Insisting on paying taxes on fuel although Sea Shepherd ships should be exempt from taxation due to being registered in foreign countries.
5. Having the Australian Federal police twice raid Sea Shepherd’s ships after returning to Australia in 2010 and 2009. The police seized documentation at the request of Japanese authorities, and sent evidence to possibly be used against Sea Shepherd to them.
6. Refusal to meet with or discuss anything to do with whaling issues with any representative of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
7. Secret negotiations to attempt to reach a compromise to allow Japan to legally kill whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, but with a reduced quota.
The ironic thing is that media polls overwhelmingly demonstrate that Sea Shepherd has public support in Australia; the ports of Fremantle, Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney, New Castle, and Brisbane have been incredibly supportive. This proves, without a doubt, that Australians are some of the most passionate people on the planet when it comes to defending the whales.
This passion and this support however, are not reflected in the policies and actions of the present government.
When asked why Australia could not enforce Australian sovereignty, one government official responded, “Japan does not recognize Australian sovereignty over these waters.”
Imagine the government of former Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzie saying that in 1942 after the bombing of Darwin. “Well what can we do? Japan does not recognize our sovereignty over Australia.” If they had, Australia would indeed still be a whaling nation today.
Diplomats quick to put Japan in the clear over sinking
January 8, 2011
AUSTRALIAN diplomats were quick to absolve Japanese whalers of blame for the crash that sank the anti-whaling vessel Ady Gil a year ago, telling the US embassy in Canberra the Japanese would "come away clean" from any investigation.
Leaked US embassy cables reveal that the Department of Foreign Affairs did not hesitate to blame anti-whaling protesters for the collision in the Southern Ocean on January 6 between the Ady Gil and the whaler Shonan Maru No. 2.
An initial report by the US embassy on that day noted that while there were no reported casualties, the collision was "a major escalation of the confrontation over whaling in the Southern Ocean" that would "increase public and opposition pressure on the [Australian] government to more actively confront Japan.""
Against the backdrop of the Rudd government's efforts to negotiate a settlement that would allow a limited continuation of Japanese whaling, the embassy further noted that "if Japan is at fault, [the incident] will further chill Australia's diplomatic engagement on whaling''…read more at Sydney Morning Herald.