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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) $44 million. Australia has

refused to provide increase

prod teks to Japanese ships

against anti- whaling activists

when they resume their hunt in

the Southern Ocean a little

later this year. The request

from Japan came as the International Whaling

Commission held its annual

meeting in jersey. Environment Minister Tony Burke has been

attend ing the meeting and he joins us now by phone from

London. Thank you for being

there. Japan has reiterated its intention to continue whaling

at this meeting. Are we getting

anywhere with this or is the

only result just increased

tensions between us and

Japan? Certainly we're a long

way from resolution on it. We

still have our action in the

international court of jussis

and - justice and we continue

to hold the position that what

Japan is doing in the Southern

Ocean has nothing to do with

science. It is not scientific

whaling. It's commercial

whaling. And we're opposed to

commercial whaling. So that

position and stand-off remains.

Japan, as your intro said,

asked for us to go beyond the obligations under the international law of international law of the sea in

trying to provide extra layers

of protection for them when

they're whaling. And I made

clear on behalf of Australia

that we absolutely abhor

violent forms of protest and we

abide by all our

responsibilities under the

international law of the sea.

But we're not going to be in

the business of providing a

higher level of protection to

to a vessel simply because it's involved in involved in #w45e8ing. It

suspect though it's not simply because it's involved in whaling, it's probably because

they're getting attacked more

often. So what is the principle

here? Is the principle that you

will not provide extra

protection boat s generally or

is it because specifically this

is about whaling you're not

going to provide that extra

protection? No, no, no, no the

obligations under law of the

sea remain. The area that they

went to the last time they were

in the Southern Ocean was in

the New Zealand search and

rescue zone anyway. There were

some investigations carried out

by the Australian Federal

Police and those actions all go

along under the law enforcement

principles. When New Zealand

held a similar investigation a

couple of years ago, and they reported this to the

Commission, it was found that

both the protest vessels and

the Japanese vessels had each

broken away from the norms of what was expected in the

ocean. So we're not go fog prejudge individual legal objections. Certainly when

there's violence in the ocean,

we abhor that we don't want to

see it happen but we will not

be in the business of special

treatment. Why exactly is this

whole issue about whaling so

difficult? What do you believe

is really behind Japan's

steadfast position? If you

believe it is not about

science, what is it about? Is

it about culture or sovereignty

or something else? I think that

is a question that really can

only be answered by Japan.

Certainly it is difficult to

see it as viable commercial

operation these days an it's

difficult to see it as

something that is even particularly popular as

something to eat in Japan. None

of that seems to apply. I am

not going to try to come up with arguments for them because

I don't think they should be

engaging nit. But I don't think

you can nail exactly what is

driving it. Certainly at the

meeting that we've had, as well as dealing with those particular stand-offs we've

made some significant steps for

the first time to bring that

organisation into the new

century and to clean up some of

its operations. So even something simple like insisting

the payments to the

International Whaling

Commission be made by bank

transfer rather than people

turning up with briefcases of

cash, was controversial and

dominate add large part of the

meeting but in the end with was

cha & change we ended up

getting through in a consensus position. And the kinds of

protests that we have seen

recently with activists attack

ing whaling ships an bombarding

them with paint and rancid

butter and all sorts of thing,

do these protests ultimately

help by placing extra pressure

on Japan or do they make it

harder because Japan becomes

more stubborn? I don't think

you need to get to the out

comes principle before you say

that any form of protest that

is violent shouldn't be

happening. But I am interested

in the consequences. I

appreciate - yeah, well, you

have a situation where instead

of simply talking about the

fact that Japan is involved in

something which we believe not

legal, you end up with an

argument about two groups and

illegal conduct happening in

each of the groups. And that

sort of debate does prevent us

from squarely focusing on the

fact that we believe what Japan

is doing in breach f oh of the

convention. Tony Burke, thank

you for taking the time to join

us from London. Great to talk

to you. Let's get to the

finance and the Ben Bernanke is