THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY MADE ON MARCH 7, 2009.
Australia may have a new Prime Minister – but Australians are still killing whales, in 2011.
The Last Whale.
You must read this story – because Chris Pash sets out, in a straightforward, factual manner, in his book The Last Whale the origins of Greenpeace, the story of the Australian whalers themselves at Albany, in Western Australia, and how a group of about twenty people was able to muster sufficient world wide political and financial support to end whaling in Australia.
It seems a dispassionate book, at first – but the story is clearly told, with facts that bring you to tears, anger, despair, disbelief, hope, and a feeling of power – because a few people working together for a great cause can bring about change that matters. Chris Pash is an exemplary author of historical non-fiction.
Register your feelings about whaling on our poll
Should Whaling Be Stopped?
You must read “The Last Whale” to understand how the current Federal Government has been able to have secret talks to trade off with Japan’s whaling interests, instead of working openly to bring international whaling to an end. The Last Whale
The Role of Federal vs. State Government In The Whaling Debate
Emails received from The Premier’s office (The Hon. Colin Barnett, MP) in early 2009 made it very clear that the political differences between the Australian Federal Government and the State Government of Western Australia have not changed much in the thirty years since whaling stopped at Albany. The Federal Government regards Western Australia as an economic source of revenue, particularly mining and agriculture, but of little political importance with regards to making policy for the country.
The West Australian Liberal Government of the mid-70’s, as today, was concerned with State economics, jobs and the idea of cessation from the Commonwealth was still a topic of discussion during those times.
When recently challenged about the Japanese slaughter of dolphins and whales, The Premier’s office made it very plain that direct correspondence with Japanese authorities over whaling is the province of the Federal Government. Chris Pash makes strong reference to this in his book, at the time of the closure of the Albany Whaling Station, when both the Federal and WA State Governments were Liberal.
Now, in 2009, the Federal Labor Government is led by The Hon. Kevin Rudd, with a strong majority. The West Australian Liberals, led by Colin Barnett, are in the minority and govern by way of a coalition with the National Party and also rely on the support of several “swinging” MP’s – who may virtually hold the Government to ransom. Western Australian is the only State in Australia at this time to have other than a Labor leadership.
Not only has Rudd’s Government failed to have any impact on reducing or stopping Japanese whaling under the guise of “scientific research”, the Federal Government has actually capitulated to the Japanese whaling industry in the most cowardly manner.
First, it failed to support Sea Shepherd as originally promised, by not sending a support vessel out with Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s “Steve Irwin”, to shadow and interrupt the Japanese whaling in the 2008/2009 season. Paul Watson was amongst those who campaigned in Albany in the 1970’s and without the support of the Federal Government, Paul Watson’s Sea Shepherd was highly effective during the 2008/2009 whaling season in the Southern Ocean.
Secondly, the “Environment Minister”, The Hon Peter Garrett, MP, (former front man for the band Midnight Oil) has been exposed as part of an international forum that has secretly been discussing allowing Japan to kill more whales in the North Atlantic – in return for killing fewer whales in Australian and Antarctic waters. Garrett Secret Whale Kill Talks Reported
The great tragedy of that is that the seeds of these discussions were first sown in 1980, in the initial proposals at the IWC on a whaling moratorium on pelagic (open ocean) whaling. In The Last Whale Chris Pash clearly spells out how this was done and, quoting from the last page of the book:
Sunday 25th March 2007,
Jean-Paul emails Jonny Lewis to say
“… it looks like the bad guys are creeping back and it is time for the next initiative.”
While facts of political authority were used by The Premier’s office to try and side-step any perceived responsibility of exercising any implied influence to stop the slaughter of dolphins and whales in Japan or by Japan, there IS a direct relationship between whaling and the Government of Western Australia.
The West Australian Gas Hub and Whales
As in the 70’s, the current Liberal Government is highly pro-development, particularly in the light of the global downturn in demand for iron ore which has fueled the WA economy for many years. The Premier’s choice of site for the Gas Hub in the North West is being promoted by the current Government as being not only an opportunity for job creation but suggests that LNG is a “clean” fuel and that a huge infrastructure process can be implemented with few environmental impacts.
It is a long way short of the wind power that was a key element in the arguments for alternative energy sources that helped to get the Albany whaling station closed, along with other economic factors.
Australians cannot be urging the Federal Government to oppose whaling by Japan and then, on a State basis, build a huge industrial complex (1,000 hectare LNG gas “hub”) in an area where the very same whales come to rest, breed and nurse their calves. Camden Sound Nursery reported
Nor can Australians allow the Federal Government to ‘trade off’ the whales that come to Camden Sound, north of Broome, to enjoy the present sanctuary this whale nursery allows – at the expense of their cousin whales in the North Atlantic ocean.
If this is done, then Australians are still killing whales – just not in their own backyard.
We need a visual image of the size of the proposed gas hub – a 1,000 hectare area – because we seriously doubt that many have yet grasped the size of the proposed infrastructure and the huge amount of environmental damage that will occur, simply to build the facility. This is a huge undertaking and needs to be implemented with the strongest environmental controls – to protect both the land and the ocean.
This installation will be in place for many years and every environmental consideration must be given to its best location. Conservationists around the world are keenly interested in the location of the Gas Hub in the North and The Premier does not have the right to make that decision unilaterally; it requires the greatest due diligence in terms of environmental impact.
Yes, we do need clean fuel and to be less reliant upon oil. Yes, the gas fields of the North will add immeasurably to the prosperity and energy independence of Western Australia.
But the price we pay must be commensurate with the outcome and the profits – financial, social and environmentally.
Dr. Moss Cass in the John Curtin Memorial Lecture of 1974, ( Moss Cass Lecture In Full over thirty five years ago, raised those issues with which we still must concern ourselves today – in particular, in respect of this development in the North West.
If we do not make the right decisions, today, in 2009, about the location and development of this gas hub, have no doubts:
Australians will not have stopped killing whales – in their own backyard.
Register your feelings about whaling on our poll Should Whaling Be Stopped?
Read “The Last Whale” to meet the people who can help stop the killing of whales. The Last Whale