Australian Green Party calls on gov’t to take strong position on whaling

By Xinhua,

Canberra : The Australian Green Party on Monday called on the government to put free trade negotiations with Japan on hold until the slaughter of whales in Antarctic waters is stopped.

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Green Party Senator Rachael Siewert urged the government to take stronger action, saying it was clear that diplomatic efforts had done nothing to prevent the slaughter of whales.

Senator Siewert said the government must take stronger action and should refuse to progress a free trade agreement with Japan until it stops killing whales.

“Diplomatic efforts have simply not proved effective with Japan,” she said.

Reports said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has softened his stance on Japanese whaling, vowing in Japan to put diplomacy before any legal challenge to halt the annual Southern Ocean whale hunt.

“The government has failed to save a single whale since taking office, and the Japanese have indicated they plan to increase the harvest and expand the program,” Sierwert said.

She said the government should pursue legal action through the international court and the Antarctic treaty, and confront Japan on this issue in other international forums.

“What is needed is stronger action and a commitment to ensuring our whale population is not hunted to extinction under the guise of scientific research,” the senator said.