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Claims of whaling suspensions don't absolve Government

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21 February 2013

Claims of whaling suspensions don’t absolve Government

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert says it is 'astounding' that the Prime Minister and Government continue to claim there is little they can do to end whaling in Australia's Antarctic territory.

"Since the whaling season began, the Government has effectively sat on its hands," Senator Siewert said today.

"Concerns have been raised from the outset about the risks of violence or pollution in Antarctic waters that accompany the hunt each year. This is precisely why sending a monitoring vessel into the region is essential.

"Monitoring the fleet is an important way to protect lives and the environment, as well as hold the Japanese Government accountable for the whalers' actions.

"In the last week, there have been reports of ramming and a number of breaches of international treaties and Australian law in regards to carrying fuel near Antarctica, pollution and failure to report potential incidents.

"There are significant contraventions going on, but the Government hasn't stepped up to its responsibility to protect our own territories.

"If the hunt is indeed suspended, as has been reported today, I welcome that news, but I am equally sceptical given that the Japanese Government and Institute of Cetacean Research have no qualms about violating Australia's laws and international treaties in regards to whaling.

"The potential suspension of the hunt isn't a get-out card for Minister Burke. Both he and the Government still have a requirement to immediately call on Japan to remove the fleet from Australia's Antarctic EEZ as well as explore the potential for securing injunctions against the possible resumption of the hunt.

"Australia claims the Antarctic Territory, and yet we're not acting to protect it from this threat of whaling or pollution. It is a sorry state of affairs that the Government must address," Senator Siewert concluded.

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