Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has set Japan a November deadline to stop Southern Ocean whaling, or face an international legal challenge to its yearly cull, launched by his government.
Australia preferred to find a diplomatic solution to its standoff with Tokyo over the annual whale cull near Antarctica, Rudd said, but was serious about a threat made two years ago to challenge the hunt in an international court.
"If that fails, then we will initiate court action before the commencement of the whaling season in November 2010. That's the bottom line and we're very clear to the Japanese, that's what we intend to do," he told Australian television on Friday.And the New Zealand response?
Nothing. According to 3 News, we weren't asked to be involved in the action, so presumably won't be.
You may recall that in January John Key announced plans had been drawn up to end commercial whaling. What happened to that plan? Did Key tell Kevin Rudd he had it sorted? I assume not, otherwise Rudd would not have had to make his announcement. And the Key plan obviously isn't the same as the Rudd plan, because apparently we're not involved in the Rudd plan and our people don't seem to know anything about it.
Key's government appears to have little interest in saving whales. Key is more than happy to court publicity when it comes to saving kittens and puppies. But because saving whales risks the ire of the Japanese, he won't go there.
And his Foreign Minister would appear to be strongly against the anti-whaling protesters. Remember that in January Murray McCully criticised the protesters. He also said the following about a boat collision between a whaling and a protest vessel:
If people are determined to break the law and determined to kill other people on the high seas, then it is not the responsibility of the New Zealand Government or any other Government to send armed vessels down there or something of that sort to stop them.cCully appears happy to let all parties share the blame for the collision. That despite the fact that for a fibreglass vessel like the New Zealand registered Ady Gil to deliberately ram a steel one in such a hostile environment would be almost suicidal.
I can understand why we might be reluctant to risk all-out diplomatic war with a large trading nation. But our neighbours in Australia are prepared to take the fight to Japan. So why are we being so timid?
And why did Key talk about a diplomatic solution and then apparently do nothing?
Wouldn't it be nice if Key and Rudd actually talked to each other?
Our PM appears to lack vision, and prefers instead to muddle along. If he has strong principles it's difficult to discern what they are. Remember, he is the man who struggled to recall exactly what he thought about the 1981 Springbok tour.
So it may be too much to ask our Prime Minister to display leadership on this issue.