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Transcript
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

Thursday, 22 December 2005
Subiaco Theatre Garden Park, Perth

Doorstop on Greenpeace, whales and Japanese crew


E&OE...

Senator Campbell:
Well thank you for coming today. I think there are a couple of issues that need to be commented on, firstly the images that Greenpeace is sending back to the world from the deep Southern Ocean where we see what the Japanese said they were going to do back at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Korea in the middle of the year; they said that they were going down to take twice the number of minke whales and they are now undertaking that slaughter. Greenpeace has now provided graphic images of what is happening down there. It pays to remind the Japanese that the IWC said that this programme should not go ahead, this is not science, they are doing this under the scientific clause of whaling convention. Thereís no science involved in slaughtering animals and seeing them drown in their own blood, dragging them onto the vessels and slicing them into pieces and sending them back to Japan. This should stop.

Itís very important that Greenpeaceís activities remain productive and positive and that we donít have any dangerous incidents at sea. Itís a very dangerous part of the world, the weather can turn bad very quickly, so for the sake of the lives of all the people in the ocean down there, and I call upon both the Japanese and the Greenpeace skippers to respect the fundamental, number one law of the sea, to avoid collision and avoid risk of human life.

The other issue is that we do have a young Japanese crewman on one of the whaling vessels with appendicitis. We understand that is a potentially dangerous predicament. We have said to the Japanese Government that we will ensure that Australian medical services are available to ensure that we save that young manís life and restore him to health and we are working with the Japanese Government to see that that young man is evacuated to an Australian hospital as quickly as possible.

Reporter:
...Inaudible...

Senator Campbell:
No, I have made it clear to all concerned and I have made it very clear to Japanese Government that the vessel is free to come into the Australian port. The young manís health comes first, I think anyone who suggests that something happens to that vessel when it gets here, or somehow it wonít be allowed to leave again, would send a signal to the ownerís of the vessel, the skipper of the vessel, not to approach an Australian port and any suggestion to that extent would imperil this crewmanís life and I think all Australians regardless of what we think about whaling, its something that we are all passionately opposed to, would regard the saving of a human life as the number one priority.

Reporter:
...Inaudible...

Senator Campbell:
I would say that thatís an inhumane view, its not a view anyone should take anytime of the year, but certainly not a view someone should take at Christmas time, human life is sacrosanct there is international laws around his, but morally if someone is in a state of peril at sea and has appendicitis out at sea and no medical help available is potentially perilous and fatal. I think all Australians would wish this young man a speedy trip to a hospital as close as we can find and have him operated on and give him the best Australian medical attention. I think any suggestion that we do counter to that would be morally wrong and if you want to be gruesome about it, it sends a terrible signal to the rest of the world how Australia behaves.

Reporter:
Is there anything we can do as a nation international law wise, is there any more we can be doing?

Senator Campbell:
Iíve looked very closely at all the legal options and endlessly looked at legal advice, quite frankly if I thought I could bring an end to the slaughter of whales in Australian territory and Antarctica by sending a lawyer to a court around the world, I would have done it, I would do it. The advice that we received, the advice that previous Hawke and Keating governments received, the advice that all Australiaís friends around the world over the many governments who are supporting our fight against whaling, not only would this proposed legal action be ineffective, it could also be counterproductive. We donít rule it out, if we thought it would be effective, we would do it, we believe the most effective thing we could do at the moment is to continue to build this international coalition of nations that are opposed to whaling, continue to build the pressure on the Japanese and the Norwegian you might say, to relegate whaling to history and make harpooning history.

Reporter:
...Inaudible...

Senator Campbell:
Well thatís certainly not so....showing no signs of doing it......but if that means we should lessen our effort, or change our effort, then I think thatís wrong, we need to increase our effort, we need to increase the number of countries sending the signals to Japan and Norway and we need to work harder and harder. If we thought there was a simple easy solution, a silver bullet that involved some court action, we would take it, it would be a lot easier, itís the easy way out, itís a simple solution I would take it if was available if it was effective, If I thought it to be effective I would do it or have done it.

Reporter:
Do you think Greenpeace is being counter-productive?

Senator Campbell:
I just urge them to stay productive; I think itís productive for the world to see graphic digital images of whatís occurring in the Southern Ocean, I think thatís a very good thing. I suspect most people of the world, I suspect most Japanese would be horrified to see what their fishing agency is doing in the name of science, where it would become counterproductive is if there is an incident or an accident where human life is put at risk, so I urge the skippers of both vessels to respect the law of the sea and the first law of the sea and the first law of the sea is to avoid collision and to not put at risk human life.

Reporter:
This morning Greenpeace said there going to put themselves between the harpoon and the whale, what do you say to that?

Senator Campbell:
Well they decide on their activities, what they have to make is a decision to not risk a collision between vessels, thatís the first law of safety at sea, not to put human life at risk, but Greenpeace can do the world a service if they show what is occurring down there, they will do a disservice to those of us who care passionately about stopping whaling, if they go over the limit, if they go over the edge and cause a collision or loss or damage of human life.

.../ENDS

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