Senate debates

Monday, 10 September 2018

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers


3:30 pm

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance and the Public Service (Senator Cormann) to a question without notice asked by Senator Whish-Wilson today relating to whaling operations in the Southern Ocean.

In the last 10 years, the Japanese government has pursued illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean through this fig leaf, this fake, 'scientific' whaling. How is it that we've gone in just four years from an International Court of Justice ruling finding Japan's activities in the Southern Ocean illegal, to a point where Japan is now so bold that right now, across the ocean, in Brazil, at the International Whaling Commission meeting, they've brought not one representative from their government, as we have—we've sent a junior minister to an International Whaling Commission meeting!—but nine members of the Japanese parliament? I've just spoken to someone who is at the meeting. In their entourage, they've brought their own media and they are live-streaming to a Japanese audience the deliberations of the International Whaling Commission meeting. The reason they are doing this is that they have now decided to abandon their 'scientific' whaling, their lie and their excuse for killing whales in the Southern Ocean, and are so bold that they are now proposing to the International Whaling Commission, to the international community, a full resumption of commercial whaling, overturning the moratorium on, the ban on, killing these most magnificent, beautiful creatures of the ocean.

I recently met with a Japanese delegation. In fact, I hosted their lunch in Parliament House just weeks ago. And I flew to Japan last year. I'm the only Australian politician who has flown to Japan and campaigned—who has gone to their parliament, met their parliamentarians, spoken at their press club and told them why Australians don't support their whaling activities in the Southern Ocean, why we want to maintain the ban on commercial whaling and why their 'scientific' whaling was a lie. I've gone to their parliament and I've spoken to them. I've gone to their press club and I've spoken to them. It shocks me how we could get to this point where our closest friend in the region, supposedly, is so obviously thumbing its nose at Australia and the international community by aggressively pushing for the resumption of commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean.

Let me tell you why I think this has happened. This has happened because this government has done nothing on this issue in the five years that it has been at the helm. The previous International Court of Justice court case was brought on by the previous Labor government. At least the Labor government sent senior ministers to IWC meetings. At least the previous environment minister, Mr Peter Garrett, and even Mr Kevin Rudd himself, when Prime Minister, were directly involved in the proceedings of that court case. Mr Greg Hunt from the other place attended a very important IWC meeting in Europe a couple of years ago. But what did we get this week? We got a junior minister, in a new portfolio, who has had nothing to do with whaling, sent to Brazil. That's the signal, the message, that this government wants to send, after 30 years of global leadership on this issue: 'We don't care about this anymore. Do whatever you want.'

The lies that this government told! They said, as an election policy, that they would send a Customs vessel to the Southern Ocean to monitor the Japanese whaling fleet. It never happened. No matter how many times we reminded them, every time the harpoon boats went down there, they never, never lived up to their election promise. They have done nothing. But what they have done with Japan in the last five years is signed a bilateral free-trade deal and worked with them closely on a multilateral deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Former Prime Minister Turnbull visited Japan last year, and, within a day of his visit, within 24 hours, the Japanese government announced a new, major financial expansion of their whaling fleet, including buying a new mothership. That's the respect the Japanese government have for Australia's position on whaling. They waited for the Prime Minister to meet with them, and then, 24 hours later, they announced it. I know they were planning that a month before because they had been to stakeholders asking for comment. They waited for the Prime Minister to leave.

This government must send a foreign minister or an environment minister to Brazil now. We have to send the strongest possible message that we oppose illegal whaling— (Time expired)

Question agreed to.