Date: 05-02-2010 08:08

Shows that Environment Minister Peter Garrett had already decided not to sign the International Whaling Commission’s whaling deal and was looking to the US for help.

“Garrett believes that Australia will not be able to accept the current agreement being considered on whaling, and feels the U.S. and Australia, as the two most important donors in the CTI [Coral Triangle Initiative], need to increase coordination of efforts to ensure successful outcomes under the CTI.”

Garrett also admits that the planned international whaling agreement would be difficult for Australia’s government as anti-whaling sentiment was so high in the Australian public and the agreement fell short of these expectations. However, Garrett’s chief of staff David Williams said that Australia will accept a compromise on the whaling deal as long as other conditions — including “sustaining the commercial moratorium, keeping whaling out of the southern sanctuary areas and Australian antarctic waters, bringing all whaling under the control of the IWC, and preventing future scientific whaling” — were all met.

Garrett also discussed the possibility of using Australia as a base for travel to Antarctica, thanks to both its close proximity and its infrastructure. The US ambassador expressed a personal interest in visiting the polar region.

“Garrett seemed eager to establish a good relationship with the Ambassador but was less relaxed in this meeting than we have seen him in the past. While he was consistent with his positions on whaling, CTI and other conservation issues, he appeared less willing to push hard on those issues than in previous discussions both here and in Washington.”

(for more on whaling, today’s Fairfax papers have an exclusive by Philip Dorling on this topic, showing that Rudd’s push to take Japan to international courts was simply to divert public attention from Labor’s troubles and there was internal Labor conflict with senior ministers over the decision)