Government split over Japan whaling action

ABC News Online
January 5, 2011 8.25a.m.

Posted 1 hour 47 minutes ago

Leaked US government documents reveal senior Australian officials believed taking legal action against Japan over whaling would ultimately fail.

Fairfax newspapers say the diplomatic documents, obtained by WikiLeaks, show officials in the Foreign Affairs Department thought Japan would continue whaling even if the case was successful.

According to Fairfax, US diplomats were also made aware of tensions within the Federal Cabinet about taking Japan to court.

It says former foreign minister Stephen Smith and former trade minister Simon Crean both argued against taking the legal action.

Yesterday the Government would not confirm or deny reports that Australian officials were willing to cut a compromise deal with Japan over whaling.

Fairfax newspapers said documents obtained by WikiLeaks showed then-environment minister Peter Garrett’s former chief of staff, David Williams, told the US Australia could accept a deal.

The agreement would have overturned the ban on commercial whaling, in return for Japan reducing its so-called scientific research program.

At the time Mr Garrett publicly rejected the idea of a deal with Japan.

The documents also showed Mr Garrett believed he was more committed to ending whaling than the Australian Government officials who were negotiating with Japan.



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