Government Confirms Opposition to Whale Case
Federal Attorney General Phillip Ruddock has confirmed the Howard Government opposes Humane Society International’s (HSI) attempt to secure a Federal Court injunction to stop hundreds of whales being killed in the Australian Whale Sanctuary adjacent to Antarctica this summer.
Justice James Allsop is presently deciding whether to issue an injunction to stop Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd from killing whales in the sanctuary as requested by HSI.
HSI has presented evidence to the Federal Court that an estimated 1253 minke whales and 3 fin whales have been slaughtered in the Sanctuary since it was proclaimed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in 2000. The Australian Government has so far declined to enforce the law and prosecute the whalers themselves, necessitating HSI’s court action.
This year the company has a permit from the Japanese Government to kill 935 minke whales, 50 fin whales and 50 humpback whales in Antarctic waters ostensibly as part of a ‘scientific research program’ that began in 1987. Unless the hunt is stopped, the majority of the whales will be killed within the Australian Whale Sanctuary. It would be the first time that humpback whales have been included in a commercial hunt since the 1960s.
Before reaching a decision, Justice Allsop wanted to know whether the Australian Government had changed its position opposing HSI’s case since last making its view known to the court in 2005 and instructed HSI’s solicitors to write to the Attorney General. Mr Ruddock has replied confirming the Government maintains its views opposing the case.
“Since the Howard Government first expressed opposition to HSI’s case, the whaling company has more than doubled the number of minke whales it kills each year and is including fin and humpback whales in the annual slaughter,” said Nicola Beynon, HSI Wildlife and Habitat Program Manager. “The Australian Government’s intransigent refusal to enforce Australian law against the Japanese whalers must appal most Australians”.
In contrast to the Howard Government’s opposition to this case, the Australian Labor Party does support HSI’s Federal Court challenge and has committed to enforcing the Australian Whale Sanctuary in Antarctic waters.
HSI is hopeful that Justice Allsop will grant an injunction despite the current Government’s position and that he will do so before the hunt resumes in December.