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Thursday, 9 February 2012
Page: 533

Senator BOB BROWN (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (11:57): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to table an explanatory memorandum and have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

Once again this summer, the Japanese Government sent a whaling fleet to the Southern Ocean to hunt minke and fin whales for meat in an apparent breach of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

While the Australian Government has a case pending in the International Court of Justice to examine Japan’s alleged breach of the convention, Japan continues to pursue its so-called “scientific whaling” hunt.

But this year, the whalers went further than they had in past summers, entering Australia’s Whale Sanctuary, its territorial waters and World Heritage Area off Macquarie Island.

The whale sanctuary was created under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and prohibits all whaling activities in the waters up to 200 miles off the shore of Australia and its external territories.

The Australian Government was left sitting on its hands while the Japanese whaling vessels were in our waters, especially as it refused to despatch the Ocean Protector customs vessel which is tasked with the monitoring of illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean.

The presence of any whaling vessel in our whale sanctuary should be protested strongly and actively monitored to ensure the vessel does not attempt to illegally take whales and to emphasise Australia’s strong opposition to the practice.

To this end, I am introducing the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Monitoring of Whaling) Bill 2012 (the Bill) to create an obligation on the Australian Government to monitor foreign whaling vessels that enter our whale sanctuary.

The Bill inserts the new section 236A“Monitoring foreign whaling vessels” into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

It requires the government to send a Commonwealth vessel to monitor any foreign whaling vessel that enters or nears the whale sanctuary.

The Environment Minister must then publicly release the observations of this vessel within 30 days of that monitoring beginning and within 30 days after its completion.

A foreign vessel is already defined in the Act and for the purposes of this Bill a Commonwealth vessel includes any vessel that is owned, possessed or controlled by the Commonwealth or one of its agencies, excluding those used by the defence forces.

Australians expect their government to act strongly in response to illegal whaling. This Bill will ensure that other countries are left with no illusions about our commitment to ending commercial whaling across the globe.

I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate adjourned.