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Temporary halt to whaling welcome but there's more to do



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Shadow Environment Minister Greg Hunt

Temporary halt to whaling welcome but there's more to do

21/02/13

The decision by whalers to temporarily suspend the current whaling operation is very welcome.

However it does not excuse the Federal Government for failing to have a Customs vessel in the Southern Ocean to act as a ‘cop on the beat’.

There has been and continues to be the real risk of conflict, collision and potentially the loss of life and limb at sea as well as of a major environmental catastrophe if heavy oil is released in Australian Antarctic Waters.

While the parties are engaged in ongoing hostile action Australia must still have an on-water presence to monitor activities in our territorial waters.

We need to clearly demonstrate that we do not support whaling and will not tolerate the breaching of the laws by any party.

We wrote three times to the Government urging them to send a Customs vessel as the whaling season approach, anticipating that there would be a confrontation.

But once more the Government has sat on its hands and done nothing.

The Coalition is committed to sending a Customs vessel to the Southern Ocean to act as an independent monitor and if necessary search and rescue vessel.

We do not want to see a repeat of the confrontation which has occurred between the whaling fleet and protestors which risks lives and the environment from a potentially fatal collision and oil spill in the Antarctic waters.