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More excuses from Government on whales

11 January 2006

More excuses and token actions from Government on whales

The Government's reasons for not sending a frigate to monitor the confrontation between Japanese whaling ships and protestors in Antarctic waters are just lame excuses, the Green Party says.

In response to Green Party calls for a Navy ship to be sent to the area in a watching role and protect the safety of New Zealanders on the ships, the Government said it could not get involved as the whalers and protestors were in international waters. Instead, Orion aircraft would continue to do fly-bys when they could.

Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says the excuses are "just rubbish".

"None of these arguments deterred the 1973 Labour government from sending a frigate to Mururoa during the French nuclear tests.

"We are not asking the frigate to engage in armed conflict or open fire on any of the ships. We are simply saying we want it to sit there, watch and use the moral influence of its presence, as we did in Mururoa. New Zealand has every right to do this in international waters. After all, Japan is in breach of international conventions by slaughtering whales in an agreed whale sanctuary and we want them to know that we are bearing witness to what they are doing," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"There is a danger that one or more of the ships could be sunk during a confrontation, or so badly damaged that evacuation is needed. Survival times in Antarctic waters are extremely short, but with a frigate standing by there would be a much greater chance of rendering assistance to anyone in freezing waters. If all we had was the Orion flying around it could do little to help if such a situation arose and there would surely be many more fatalities," she says.

"Greenpeace are putting their necks on the line on behalf of millions of people around the world who are horrified by this brutal and unnecessary slaughter. The least New Zealand can do for them is provide a little moral support and a safety net.

"A frigate would also provide an independent witness to confrontations in the event of a later dispute about who was the aggressor.

"Japan has ignored all diplomatic pleas for it to stop this barbaric practice. It is time we did more than just talk," Ms Fitzsimons says.

ENDS

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