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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 52

International Whaling Commission

Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (14:13): My question is to the foreign minister, Senator Payne. As I understand it, you're the senior minister overseeing the work of Senator Ruston, who represented Australia at the International Whaling Commission meeting. Minister, there's still intense lobbying and negotiations going on at the IWC meeting in Brazil at the moment. Can you explain why Assistant Minister Ruston has returned from Brazil and is not at these meetings? Is it because you're confident—

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my right! Pause the clock! On my right: I'm asking for silence during questions. Please continue, Senator Whish-Wilson.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Thank you, Mr President. Is it because Australia is confident that we have the numbers so that the overturning of the moratorium banning whaling will not go ahead? Can you please update the chamber on what the situation in Brazil is at the moment in relation to the IWC vote?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:14): I thank Senator Whish-Wilson for his question. Australia, obviously and strongly, supports the global moratorium on commercial whaling and we are consistent in opposing any efforts to overturn it. We are consistent in opposing any proposals to weaken the rules for commercial whaling, boating regimes or catch limits for commercial whaling.

The assistant minister has more than very ably—in fact, very capably—represented Australia and the Australian government's position in Brazil in her leading of the Australian delegation. She has undertaken bilateral meetings, has delivered an opening statement at the International Whaling Commission and has outlined our resolute support for the global moratorium and has reinforced and emphasised our opposition to any efforts to overturn it. I am advised that, given the progress of the International Whaling Commission, we are confident that the moratorium will be maintained.

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

Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (14:15): In the IWC vote on Tuesday this week for the establishment of a whale sanctuary in the Atlantic Ocean, four of the Pacific Island neighbours—Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Solomon Islands—voted with Japan, and against Australia, in opposing the creation of the sanctuary. Why was the Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific unable to persuade these nations to vote with us, and will they vote to overturn a ban on commercial whaling?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:15): I'm tempted to engage in a discussion about questions of sovereignty that are at the base of Senator Whish-Wilson's question, because he knows quite well—or at least he should—that decisions of sovereign nations are decisions for them.

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

Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (14:16): Japan has threatened to pull out of the IWC if their motion fails tomorrow. What will the government do if the worst should happen and this occurs? Also, would you be prepared to consider retaliating against Japan by pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement if they should resume full commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:16): As I said in my earlier remarks, we are very confident that the moratorium will be maintained. I am not going to speculate on the sorts of hypotheticals that Senator Whish-Wilson has advanced to the chamber this afternoon. Most importantly, I'd like to record my enormous confidence that Senator Whish-Wilson will never be in charge of Australia's diplomatic engagements.