Piracy is a dangerous pastime and a serious crime for which civilised nations have a very low tolerance. As such, Australia has a responsibility to wipe out the practice in its territorial waters – it’s time to send a gun boat down south to take out the anti-whaling fanatics.

The attempts to disable and ram shipping in our Antarctic waters is being reported more often than not as some sort of Boys Own adventure instead of the criminal actions of the sort of people who might otherwise be running off to join the Taliban if their flights of fancy had run to militant anti-westernism instead of militant anti-whaling.

So far, all the poll-conscious politicians seem capable of is a little tut-tutting. “It is simply unacceptable for any vessel to threaten or to use violence against other ships at sea,” says environment minister Malcolm Turnbull.

There are allegedly eight Australians aboard the Farley Mowat and Robert Hunter. They could face an interesting legal future as pirates.

“The group has begun negotiations to enter Australia or New Zealand ports, a decision complicated by their status as “pirate” whalers,” reports the Smage’s whale watcher watcher, Andrew Darby.

“The Farley Mowat has been stripped of its Belizean registration, and Britain is to de-register the Robert Hunter in 10 days’ time.

“Talks are under way with both the Australian and New Zealand Government’s in a bid to avoid arrest.”

Over to you, Federal Government, on what truck you might have with terrorists.

Still, John Howard has displayed a total lack of understanding of terrorist tactics and strategy this week. The poor man seems to think al-Qaeda would like the US to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

With the Prime Minister incapable of understanding that the invasion of Iraq was the best thing to happen for al-Qaeda since the US stopped funding it, he might well tolerate piracy as a political expediency as well.