Prime Minister Julia Gillard is quick to condemn the three brave Australians who boarded the Shonan Maru #2 and to dismiss Sea Shepherd interventions as “unacceptable.” But she forgets that she and her government must bear responsibility for the escalating confrontations between whalers and anti-whalers.
Her government made promises. Those promises gave hope to conservationists and to all Australians wanting to end whaling in the Southern Ocean.
Former Environment Minister Peter Garrett started this with his pre-election speech in 2007, promising to get tough on whaling.
There is nothing more insincere than a politician just before an election. They will fire promises from the hip with a veneer of passion and resolve that is quickly peeled away after the votes are counted.
Of course he hood-winked us. He was the perfect Trojan horse for Kevin Rudd to send in to capture the Green vote from the Green Party.
When Mr. Garrett was an activist musician with Midnight Oil he was a man to be proud of, a person to be deeply admired for his dedication to the cause of conservation. I once stood with him on the logging roads of the Clayquot Valley on Canada’s Vancouver Island to oppose clear-cutting. Midnight Oil performed a concert in 1993 in the middle of a logging road. Damn, we loved them and we loved Peter Garrett. He was the man!
In November 2007, I suggested to all of our Australian supporters and friends that they vote for Labor because according to Mr. Garrett, a Rudd government would actually do something to protect whales from illegal Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Little did we know that he was Australia’s Benedict Arnold and that he would totally betray the green movement by backing uranium mining, the woodchip and the logging industry and kangaroo culling – and that he would retreat shamelessly from his pre-election promises on whaling.
How were we to know in November 2007 that Peter Garrett had been turned to the service of the dark side? He seemed like the knight-errant of modern Australian politics, a man of integrity and courage ready to fight for justice and the planet.
What we got was same old, same old. Just another reined in, subservient pawn in a political machine, who did what he was told and sought to flatter and favor his political handlers instead of the people who elected him.
The statement below was issued by Peter Garrett in September 2007:
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 decides 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.
It’s now hard to believe that Peter Garrett made this statement. I especially like his reference to Mr. Malcolm Turnbull as being “all talk and no action. All pretty pictures of whales in his election material and no results.”
He was talking to a mirror.
When Senator Ian Campbell was Environment Minister he did much more than Mr. Garrett and he actually gave assistance to us in our efforts to protect the whales. The voice of Australia via Campbell at the IWC meeting in 2007 was heard round the world. Mr. Garrett watered down that voice considerably in 2008.
This government has not once communicated with Sea Shepherd. They speak only to the Japanese whalers and never to us. That is hardly impartial. All this government does is send veiled threats via the media and they harass us with passive aggressive tactics like denying crew visas, refusing us tax status, and allowing Japanese whaling vessels to violate an Australian Federal Court ruling.
Peter Garrett had done his part for Kevin Rudd and was of no further use. He was promptly tossed under the bus by Rudd for being an incompetent politician (duh, he’s a rock singer Kevin, it takes years of training to be competent in the art of deceit).
It turned out he was not the real Environment Minister but merely the Minister of everything Penny Wong did not have time for.
When Kevin Rudd turned his back for a moment, Julia Gillard took the opportunity to plant her knife between his shoulder blades and to usurped his title, becoming Australia’s first woman Prime Minister and another disappointment to people concerned about protecting the oceans and the planet.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard may have deposed Kevin Rudd but her party remains obligated to keep the campaign promises made by Rudd and Garrett.
Taking the whalers to the International Court of Justice is not going to solve this problem. Firstly, it will take years and even if the decision is in favor of Australia, the Japanese will ignore the decision and will continue whaling; just as they are now ignoring the International Maritime Organization’s ban on the use of heavy fuel below sixty degrees south latitude.
The Australian Federal Court ruled in 2008 that whaling vessels be banned from entry into the 200 mile Economic Exclusion Zone. Australia needs to enforce this ruling.
Humane Society International Reminds Australia that Japanese whalers are illegal in Australian Territorial waters.
Statement from Humane Society International the organization that successfully took the Japanese whalers to court and won a court order banning the Japanese whalers from Australian territorial waters:
Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, it is an offense for a whaling vessel to operate anywhere inside Australia’s 200 nautical mile EEZ, not just within our 12 nautical mile territorial waters. HSI therefore maintains that the Shonan Maru No 2 was always in breach of the Act while it was inside Australia’s EEZ and therefore should have been apprehended at this stage. Similarly, the incursion of the Yushin Maru No 3 into our waters off Macquarie Island is also a breach of the Act, and of great concern given the World Heritage listing of this sub-Antarctic area. HSI is very pleased to hear that the three whale activists detained on board the ship will now be released.
So instead of enforcing this ruling, Julia Gillard allows the whalers to invade Australian territorial waters and then demonizes her own citizens for protesting this invasion by pulling the “their actions will cost the tax payers money” ploy.
Having first taken the whalers’ word that they were outside the contiguous zone of 24 miles (still well within the EEZ), The Australian Government allowed the three men from Forest Rescue, all Australian citizens, to be taken from just offshore of Australia to international waters, in effect, the Australian government allowed them to be kidnapped.
When Sea Shepherd presented solid evidence that the detainment of the three men took place 16 miles off the coast, they had no choice but to retrieve them, stating it would cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so. This despite the fact that it would have cost nothing to simply transfer the men to the Steve Irwin from the Shonan Maru #2, which was only a few miles away.
These are expenses the Australian government could have avoided simply by allowing the same avenues of communication to Sea Shepherd that they grant to the Japanese whalers.
It is hard to take the Prime Minister’s concern for the taxpayer seriously when the elected politicians in Canberra receive $373 million dollars in wages and benefits, which works out to $1.65 million dollars each.
If the Prime Minister is sincere about not wasting tax payer dollars, she knows where she can start and that is by taking Senator Bob Brown’s position that politicians take a pay cut instead of giving themselves a raise.
It was the Prime Minister who chose the most expensive option of recovering the three men from Forest Rescue. We could have done it for nothing. For her to pick the expensive decision, and then blame us for the expense of that decision, is simply political opportunism. The decision was meant to demonize anti-whalers by presenting them as a burden to tax-payers. It is that political ploy that Australian tax payers will now be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for.
For that, and for not living up to the promises of her party, it is clear that Julia Gillard is not an honest politician.
This comment may well get me banned from Australia but I have always held that Freedom of Speech is to be exercised no matter the political consequences.
The bottom line is that this government promised to end whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. They have done very little to live up to that promise.