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Tuesday, 13 November 2018
Page: 7890


Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (14:19): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Senator Payne, your New Zealand counterpart, Winston Peters, put out a press statement today about the fact that the Japanese whaling fleet had left for another summer of slaughter in the Southern Ocean last night. When I checked before question time, you or your department hadn't made a statement. Could you please take this opportunity to make a statement to the chamber today and outline what you're going to do about it?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:19): I thank Senator Whish-Wilson for his question. As I think I've indicated in the chamber before, we are disappointed that Japan's decision to return to the Southern Ocean this summer to undertake scientific whaling has commenced. We are clear in our opposition to all forms of commercial and scientific whaling. I would note that the International Whaling Commission found that Japan had not justified the need for its whaling in the Southern Ocean and, indeed, recommended that Japan cease these whaling programs unless they can demonstrate a scientific need for what is known as lethal research. And we continue to make representations to Japan.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Whish-Wilson, a supplementary question.

Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (14:20): Minister, you're about to roll out the red carpet for the Japanese Prime Minister this Friday in a friendship-building exercise in Darwin, including visiting World War II sites. Why are we giving Shinzo Abe a PR opportunity when he's treating the Australian people with contempt on an issue that they deeply care about and has been expressed to him? Will the Prime Minister be raising this issue with Shinzo Abe in his red carpet visit on Friday?

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Colleagues on my right, I have repeatedly asked for silence during questions. It applies to all sides of the chamber. Senator Payne.

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:21): I reject the premise of Senator Whish-Wilson's question in relation to Australia's relationship with Japan. We, in fact, have an extremely valuable, high-level, special, strategic partnership with Japan, which is borne of many years engagement—and very important bilateral engagement, at that—across a range of areas. We cooperate in our own region here in the Pacific and more broadly in the Indo-Pacific. We are cooperating strongly in relation to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, which I would have thought may have been of passing interest to the Australian Greens, but perhaps not. That denuclearisation requires the engagement of countries like Japan, Australia, the United States, China and a number of our other counterparts to ensure the greatest pressure is applied to the DPRK in relation to that denuclearisation. In relation to whaling, Japan is, of course, well aware of Australia's strong opposition to commercial whaling and to scientific whaling, as it is described. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Whish-Wilson, a final supplementary question.

Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (14:22): Minister, only a month ago you met your Japanese government counterpart and praised Japan's commitment to an international rules based order. Given they have essentially militarised their whaling fleet—they've passed new legislations to give their whaling fleets new powers—and they are going to the Southern Ocean, how are they committing to a rules based order, thumbing their nose at the International Court of Justice and threatening to walk away from the International Whaling Commission? Once again, will you or the Prime Minister raise this issue directly with Shinzo Abe on Friday?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:22): If I can make it clear again, as I have previously to the senator, these issues are regularly discussed between Australia and Japan. Australia is well aware, as I said in my previous remarks, of our strong opposition to commercial whaling, to so-called scientific whaling as well as to their latest proposals to recommence commercial whaling through changed voting regimes or the establishment of catch limits for commercial whaling. They are part of our engagements with Japan—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Whish-Wilson, on a point of order?

Senator Whish-Wilson: I have asked the same question twice, but I want to be very specific. I've asked whether this will be raised with Mr Abe directly on Friday.

The PRESIDENT: That was part of your question—

Senator Whish-Wilson: It's a very important opportunity to let—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Whish-Wilson, resume your seat! If your point of order was direct relevance, then please make that clear at the start of what you say. That was part of your question. Your question had a substantial lead-in. The minister is entitled to address any part of the question. Senator Payne.

Senator PAYNE: Thank you very much, Mr President. In response, I would say I was absolutely directly relevant to Senator Whish-Wilson's question by talking about the engagement between Australia and Japan, regularly, on these matters of concern. Whether or not it's raised between the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Abe is a matter for them, but it is regularly raised between Australia and Japan.