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Anti-whaling groups are angry about YouTube video which says Australia is xenophobic.

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Monday 7 January 2008

Anti-whaling groups are angry about YouTube video which says Australia is xenophobic


BRIGID GLANVILLE: There's been a furious response to a 10-minute video posted on the YouTube website. It uses graphic images of the killing of kangaroos and dingoes to decry Australia's opposition to whaling. 


The video also uses images from the Cronulla race riots, along with English and Japanese subtitles which say Australia is xenophobic. 


Anti-whaling groups say the attention being given to the video is simply a distraction from the campaign to end Japan's annual whale hunt. 


Ashley Hall reports.  


ASHLEY HALL: The video uses gruesome images of slain dingoes, a wallaby being beaten to death and a joey being wrenched from the pouch of a dying kangaroo to accuse Australia of hypocrisy over its stance on Japan's whaling program. 


The basic thrust is that killing animals for food is cruel, but it's human instinct, regardless of whether the animal is a kangaroo or a whale. 


And it quotes the president of the Western Australian Dingo Association, Nic Papalia, to support the argument.  


Two years ago, Mr Papalia wrote to the Japan Times, accusing Australian politicians of hypocrisy, for campaigning against whaling, but condoning programs to exterminate dingoes. 


The Dingo Association's secretary Leigh Mullan says while the quotes are accurate, they are mischievously selective. 


LEIGH MULLAN: We in no way condone whaling whatsoever. 


ASHLEY HALL: So you'd be unhappy that the Association's thoughts have been used in this way? 


LEIGH MULLAN: I think they've used the quotes to their own benefit, and if you… the whole video just pulls apart this argument completely. 


ASHLEY HALL: The other big claim in the video is that Australia's policy on whaling is racist.  


Along with ugly images of the Cronulla race riot, subtitles highlight Australia's former White Australia Policy.  


The video says Aboriginal Australians and Asians are still treated as second class citizens, and that's the reason Australia targets Japan's whaling program.  


The Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith. 


STEPHEN SMITH: So it certainly will not in any way affect our strong opposition to whaling. The Australian Government, nor do I believe the Australian people, will not resile from that strongly-held view. 


ASHLEY HALL: Greenpeace Australia's Pacific Whales campaigner Rob Nicoll says the video's claims are simply distracting Australians from more important questions.  


ROB NICOLL: It's something that the whaling proponents, the small minority in Japan that wants to continue whaling, has tried to stifle debate within Japan by saying it's a real "us versus them" type of issue. And in the past they've been quite successful in doing that, saying it's Western nations telling us what to do, cultural imperialism, and even as you've seen, it's gone so far as to say it's racism. 


ASHLEY HALL: On the 19th of December, the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith announced that Australia would begin a surveillance operation on the Japanese whaling fleet "in a few days".  


But the planes and ship earmarked for the mission have still not left port, because of red tape hold-ups.  


Greenpeace's Rob Nicoll says the operation must get underway straight away. 


ROB NICOLL: It really sends a strong signal to Japan that whaling is not something that people around the world support. 


ASHLEY HALL: The Federal Opposition's environment spokesman Greg Hunt says the delay has sent a mixed message to Tokyo. 


GREG HUNT: Mr Rudd has been on holidays while the whalers have been at work. The delays in sending the ship and the delays in sending the planes have simply said to the Japanese, we're not serious. 


ASHLEY HALL: The Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, says any criticism about delays to the start of the operation are unwarranted. 


STEPHEN SMITH: I'm much more concerned, not about the date of the departure of the Oceanic Viking, but by ensuring that everything we do maximises the chance and the prospect and the potential for 20 days of productive surveillance activity. 


ASHLEY HALL: Anti-whaling campaigners are hoping the surveillance operation may help them find the Japanese fleet so they can interfere with the catch. 


But the Australian Government is unlikely to hand over location details. 


In the meantime, there are two hunts on in the Antarctic at the moment. 


As the Japanese whalers search for their harvest, two protest ships are circling the frozen waters, hoping to catch up with the Japanese fleet. 


BRIGID GLANVILLE: Ashley Hall reporting.