With the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission approaching, the Howard Government is pushing the proverbial uphill trying to prove to the Australian public that he/they actually care about whales.

Humpback whales are on the Japanese hit list next year and the public doesn’t like Howard’s do-nothing policies. My group, Australians for Animals Int., commissioned a Galaxy poll which found nine out of 10 Australians believe the Howard Government isn’t doing enough to protect Humpbacks. Some 81% would like to see more done.

The poll must have touched some very sensitive areas. My experience in commissioning the first poll our group has funded was extraordinary. After many emails and phone calls, ACNielsen declined to ask the question, saying that the matter was too controversial.

Some of the questions and statements made pre-refusal by their self-described statistical team were nothing short of extraordinary. I was interrogated by one of the staff who claimed other nations besides Japan were whaling in Antarctica, which is entirely incorrect. At one stage, I was told to prove that the Howard Government policy on whales included specific reference to Humpbacks.

When the Galaxy poll result came out with its somewhat devastating findings, the mainstream media reacted strongly, censoring the outcome. Only The Age ran an article; the SMH published a one-paragraph news brief.

Humpback whales will be an election issue whether Howard likes it or not. Australians will explode when the first Humpback is harpooned.

Legal advice prepared by recognised experts indicates the Government could take action against Japan. Malcolm Turnbull claims Australia would lose. Without legal advice to support this statement, the Government’s whale conservation policy isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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