The Rudd Government has spent more than $520,000 sending its Whaling Envoy on a diplomatic world tour only for him to miss the key annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), Senator Simon Birmingham said today
Special Envoy Sandy Hollway in just 60 days of work has racked up $526,170.99 in fees, travel expenses and administrative costs, a Senate Supplementary Budget Estimates hearing was told today.
“It’s astonishing given these expenses that Mr Hollway did not accompany Minister Peter Garrett to the main event – the IWC’s annual meeting in Portugal in June,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“This is despite Mr Hollway having so far made it to the United States, Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, the UK, Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Iceland, Mexico and Chile. In some instances he has visited these countries more than once, all without bringing an end to whaling.
“By way of contrast, Minister Wong has confirmed she will be taking the Government’s Special Envoy on Climate Change to the Copenhagen UN Climate Change Conference later this year.”
The Department has also confirmed it has not sought any new legal advice in relation to any court challenge, despite Labor’s repeated pre-election promises to take Japan to the International Court of Justice.
“The Government must hope Australians have forgotten it once talked tough on whaling, but has long since gone to water, effectively snookered into never-ending diplomacy while the slaughter of whales continues year after year,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Any reform of treaties governing the IWC and its operations requires the unanimous support of all member countries, yet the likes of Ghana – reportedly encouraged to do so by Japan – continue to join the IWC.
“It is time for the Rudd Government to admit that its efforts in relation to whaling have been a farce, and to engage more realistically with countries continuing to conduct whaling.”