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Hunt must act for our whales or consider his position as Minister for the Environment

Media Release
Peter Whish-Wilson 20 Dec 2013

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, Greens spokesperson for whaling and fisheries, calls on Environment Minister Greg Hunt to match the last six years of his rhetoric on whaling with action or consider his position in Cabinet. Minister Hunt had promised by today he'd announce his plans to deal with illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean. Central to this is the question of whether he would send the ACV Ocean Explorer to the Southern Ocean as promised twice in separate coalition whaling and fisheries policies.

"For the last six years Greg Hunt has been, outside of Greens MPs, this parliament's biggest anti-whaling activist," said Senator Peter Whish-Wilson.

"Year after year he criticised the Labor Government for not doing enough on whaling - he blamed them for ‘blood in the water' and called on Prime Minister Rudd to directly call the Japanese Prime Minister to stop the whaling fleet.

"As a sign of his apparent love of whales he even committed to establish a program for Australian youths to be sent as envoys to convince the Japanese people to abandon whaling.

"I have been repeatedly calling on Greg Hunt to meet his election commitment to send our purpose built ACV Ocean Protector or its sister vessel the ADV Ocean Shield to act on whaling in the Southern Ocean.

"Time and time again Greg Hunt has refused to answer if this will happen and when pressed on the 10th of December he asked for ten days grace to come up with a solution - his time is now up.

"If Greg Hunt fails to live up to the last six years of rhetoric on whaling and he squibs on his commitment then he should consider his position in Cabinet as Minister for the Environment.

"A failure to send the Ocean Protector or the Ocean Shield will either mean he has been rolled by his colleagues or he has been deceiving the public on his real position on whaling for the last six years - either way his credibility will be have been shredded and his position untenable.

"Nothing less than sending one of our purpose built vessels ready for subantarctic conditions will be a credible solution.

"Aerial flyovers or posting an Australian Customs staff member on a French or other foreign vessel are totally inadequate and would be a cop-out.

"Even New Zealand with an economy one-tenth of that of Australia conducts its own subantarctic patrols.

"Greg Hunt must indicate today which Australian vessel is to be used and how it plans to act on whaling in our waters," Senator Whish-Wilson concluded.

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Media contact: Thomas Moore - 0409164603


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