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Government plays pirates on refugees, but baulks at stopping Japanese whale hunters.



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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Andrew Bartlett Deputy Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Environment & Animal Welfare Australian Democrats spokesperson for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Dated: 20 May 2005

Press Release Number: 05/265 Portfolio: Environment & Animal Welfare Related: Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Government Plays Pirates on Refugees, but Baulks at Stopping Japanese Whale Hunters

The Australian Democrats have condemned the Government for double standards on the high seas.

"The Australian Government doesnt baulk at breaking international maritime laws by boarding asylum seekers boats and towing them out of Australian waters, but when it comes to protecting whales from Japanese vessels, suddenly the Attorney General Mr Ruddock is afraid of being labelled a pirate, said Democrats Environment spokesperson and Deputy Leader Senator Andrew Bartlett,

Mr Ruddock said recently that Australia could be accused of piracy if Australia used its maritime patrol forces to prevent Japanese ships killing whales in the Australian whale sanctuary in Antarctic waters.

"If Mr Ruddock is so committed to following the letter of the law the Government should support environment groups who are taking domestic legal action against Japanese whalers.

The Attorney General and the Environment Minister Senator Campbell should ensure this matter is also raised in the International Court of Justice.

"We are disappointed that the Australian Government has dropped plans to propose a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary at this year's International Whaling Commission meeting," said Senator Bartlett.

Current whale population numbers may still be well below what they were before commercial whaling was widespread. With distant water fishing so much a part of our industrialised world, we cannot assume whales are out of the danger zone. There is also no humane method of killing whales and little robust science on the state of their populations.

"Australia is a world-class, whale-watching destination. The Government cannot continue to put its faith in diplomatic chitchat while Japan rides roughshod over the current moratorium on commercial whaling."