Fickle justice for whales in the Southern Ocean
Justice Minister Chris Ellison exposed the fickle nature of government justice yesterday. Having turned a blind eye to the Japanese ongoing law-breaking during their whaling activities, he has now warned anti-whaling activists and whalers in the Southern Ocean that if they have breached Australian law they will be questioned on arrival in Australia.
“The Justice Minister’s sudden concern over lawlessness in the Southern Ocean is a sharp about-turn from the government,” said Michael Kennedy, Humane Society International (HSI) Director. “Japanese whalers routinely and repeatedly break Australia’s laws when they kill whales, which are protected species, in the Australian Whale Sanctuary. The government has refused to take any legal action over the 7 years that this law has been in place, leaving it up to a third party, HSI, to prosecute the lawbreakers.”
Senator Ellison said “if they were to call into an Australian port, they could well face the consequences of Australian law if they breached it”. Meanwhile every time a whale is harmed within the Australian Whale Sanctuary the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act is broken. HSI is currently conducting a legal case to uphold this law, despite obstruction from the Japanese Government in 2006 and invalid objections from the Australian judicial system in 2005. The substantive hearing for the case is expected in September this year.
“HSI hopes that this strict upholding of the law in the Southern Ocean will expand beyond the pro- and anti-whaler clashes into enforcing the laws which directly protect our iconic whales. The Justice Minister has reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to the anti-whaling cause, which coupled with his readiness to uphold Australia’s law in the Antarctic, should lead towards Commonwealth support for HSI’s legal action” added Mr Kennedy.