IN working with the great people at the Environmental Defenders Office NSW (EDONSW), after many years of fighting for transparency, we are happy to announce that the information commissioner has decided that Australians have every right to see the 2008 public tax funded, customs whaling footage.
Back in 2008, as part of Australia’s whaling case against Japan in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the Australian Customs vessel Oceanic Viking filmed Japan’s whaling fleet chasing, harpooning and murdering whales inside the Australian whale sanctuary off the Antarctic coast. This was during the Rudd/Gillard Labor government and the evidence obtained was used in the ICJ case that led to the ruling on 31st March 2014, that Japan’s whaling program was not scientific.
EDO NSW, Sea Shepherd’s solicitors, welcomed the Information Commissioners decision. CEO Sue Higginson says “this is a significant win for transparency and accountability about how the Australian Government has dealt with Japanese whaling in the Australian Whale Sanctuary in Antarctica. Whales are protected from harm under Australian law, so any evidence showing harm is a matter of significant public interest.
We first sought access to the Australian Government’s footage of Japanese whaling in the Australian Whale Sanctuary in March 2012. It has been a long and arduous process. Over the past 5 years the Australian Government has refused access on the basis that release of the whaling footage would harm its relations with Japan, this is despite challenging Japan’s whaling program in the International Court of Justice and many Government Ministers over the years publicly condemning the program.
The Information Commissioner has found that such an argument cannot be sustained and has ordered the release of the footage. The Australian Government has 28 days to appeal this decision, if there is no appeal the footage will be released.”
Nicola Beynon, who is the Head of Campaigns for the Australian Office of Humane Society International, stated: “Killing whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary is a breach of Australian law. The Australian public has a right to see that offence and to know how appalling it is.”
Sea Shepherd Australia’s Managing Director Jeff Hansen stated: “Numerous past polls show that the majority of Australians want an end to whaling in the Australian Antarctic whale sanctuary and they want our government to send a vessel to oppose Japan’s bloody business. However, time and time again the Australian governments of Labor and Liberal have represented the wishes of Japan and not the people of Australia. Whether this be in the form of Australian Federal Police boarding our ships at the request of Tokyo, or that ‘Japan would come away clean’ from any investigation into the ramming and sinking of Sea Shepherd’s vessel the Ady Gil, and for 5 years now, the Australian Government has not allowed Australians to see this whaling footage because Tokyo was angry.”
“Sea Shepherd would like to thank the great team at EDONSW and also acknowledge the good people at Humane Society International for kicking this process off back in 2012. It should not be up to not for profit groups to fight for for many years in bringing transparency to the Australian public, something that is rightfully theirs to see. The world is now watching, the question now is will the Australian Government appeal this decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and further represent the wishes of Tokyo and not those of the Australian people?”
Sea Shepherd has conducted 11 Antarctic whale defence campaigns that has saved the lives of over 6,000 whales to date.
Story Source: Sea Shepherd Australia