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Govt considers sending 'Oceanic Viking' to th -

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ALI MOORE: For the past two days, the Australian Government has been trying to defuse the
situation. A short time ago I spoke to the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith in our Perth studio.
Stephen Smith, you've just heard Paul Watson on the 'Steve Irwin', does he sound like a man
prepared to cooperate?

STEPHEN SMITH, FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, I hope he's prepared to cooperate. What's required now,
which is what has been required for the last couple of days is the full cooperation from both
ships, from both skippers. What's now required is the full cooperation from the 'Steve Irwin', and
the full cooperation from the Japanese whaling vessel so as to ensure that the 'Oceanic Viking' can
now transfer the two men concerned from the Japanese whaling vessel safely to the 'Steve Irwin'.

And that reflects our priority that the most important thing here is their welfare, their safety
and their security, and that's best... best secured by getting them onto the 'Steve Irwin' as
quickly as possible.

ALI MOORE: What have you heard from the Japanese whaling ship, are they prepared to hand over these
two crew men without conditions?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well the only conditions that will be imposed here are conditions that will be
imposed by the Australian authorities and the 'Oceanic Viking', and those conditions will go to the
safety and security of this operation.

It's difficult at any time to transfer men from one ship to another. We'll have two transfers here
and this transfer is occurring or proposed to occur in the great Southern Ocean where the risks are
high, there may well be inclement weather. So the conditions that will be imposed will be imposed
by Australian authorities or the 'Oceanic Viking' and they will go directly to making sure that the
transfer occurs in a safe and secure manner.

Now obviously I want that to occur as quickly as possible but I want it to be safe and secure and
what's require to effect that is the full and complete cooperation of both captains, both vessels
and the two men concerned themselves.

ALI MOORE: But as you heard Paul Watson say, he's not interested in cooperating if there are
conditions attached to that cooperation. So do you know whether the Japanese are going to stick to
their previous requirement that in order for these men to get back, they must cease all operations
in the area?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, he said he was prepared, as I understood him in what I heard, to cooperate
with Australia. Indeed, early today I have a distinct recollection of hearing a spokesperson from
the Sea Shepherd or from the 'Steve Irwin' saying they wanted the Australian Government to
intervene. We're intervening.

Our intervention is aimed at securing the welfare and safety of the two men concerned. That
requires the Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whaling vessel, cooperating, fully cooperating with the
'Oceanic Viking' and the Australian authorities.

ALI MOORE: Do you acknowledge that, of course, it is in the interests of the Sea Shepherd as far as
the public relations campaign goes for this to be running as long as possible?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, people can make their own judgments about the various motivations. The
Australian Government has got two motivations.

Our broader public policy motivation is that we want the Japanese to cease whaling in the Southern

Our immediate motivation, and policy objective so far as the two men are concerned, one of whom is
an Australian national, is to get them safely off the Japanese whaling vessel, onto the 'Oceanic
Viking' and subsequently, onto the 'Steve Irwin'.

That is our immediate priority. And why is that our immediate priority? That's our immediate
priority because from the first moment, paramount in our considerations has been the safety and
security of the two men concerned.

ALI MOORE: Is the 'Oceanic Viking' in the area?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, my advice this morning, which I relayed publicly was that the 'Oceanic Viking'
was in the vicinity and within... and within distance or sea sight, or sight of a number of the
Japanese whaling vessels. The advice I had this afternoon, and that's the most recent advice I had,
was that the 'Oceanic Viking' was in the vicinity but not within sight.

Now obviously the ships move around. But I'm not so much concerned about the precise location.
Because what is paramount here, what is now the most important thing is the cooperation between the
three vessels concerned and in the course of the Government making its decision to intervene and to
instruct the 'Oceanic Viking' on this task. Since that's been announced, the 'Oceanic Viking' and
the Australian authorities have been endeavouring to make contact with the two vessels, seeking to
get their full cooperation and seeking to put an operation into play.

So it's not so much the various locations, it's getting that cooperation. But the 'Oceanic Viking',
on the advice I had this afternoon, which I again made public, is in the vicinity.

ALI MOORE: Minister, as you were obviously aware, we had no trouble speaking with Paul Watson, have
you had difficulty contacting him?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, I haven't tried and I haven't received any advice yet as to whether the
endeavours to contact either the Japanese whaling vessel or the 'Steve Irwin' have been successful.
But I expect to receive advice on that in due course. But I haven't had any to date.

ALI MOORE: As you also heard, Paul Watson says he's enforcing the law, he's not breaking it. He
says it's the Japanese who are at fault. Have both sides here really put themselves above the law?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, a consideration if you like of legal niceties is not going to get either of
the two men safely on board or safely back on board the 'Steve Irwin'.

ALI MOORE: I do understand that minister, but you have asked the AFP to have a look at this, the
Australian Federal Police?

STEPHEN SMITH: No, I haven't asked the AFP. The AFP has had from both the Sea Shepherd and other
sources information drawn to its attention which the AFP is currently evaluating.

Now if the AFP comes to a conclusion that anything illegal or unlawful has occurred in the Southern
Ocean, then it will no doubt take whatever action it thinks is appropriate. And I've made it
crystal clear from day one when the Government announced its policy approach in this area that I
expected people to exercise restraint and I think sadly, the Australian community would form the
view that we haven't seen restraint exercised.

But secondly, I've made the point that if anything has occurred by anyone which is either unlawful
or illegal not only do I not condone that, I condemn it. Let the legal niceties take their course.
The legal niceties will not see as quickly as possible, as speedily as possible, the men removed
from the Japanese whaling vessel and placed ultimately on board the Sea Shepherd.

That is our priority, that is what I want to occur, because the safety and welfare of those two men
is the paramount consideration at this point in time.

ALI MOORE: Minister, many thanks for talking to us.

STEPHEN SMITH: Thanks very much, Ali.