Our Sincere Apologies, Prime Minister
9 January 2012 - Our apologies, Prime Minister. I’m sorry we were not racing around the world trying to establish a world record on a ten million dollar sailing vessel that was wrecked by a storm.
I’m sorry we were not a Russian poaching vessel stealing Patagonia toothfish from the waters off the coast of Antarctica where we breached our hull and needed your help.
I’m sorry that we are not an eco-tourist vessel grounded on the beach of Antarctica in need of your assistance.
Unfortunately we’re not setting world records, poaching fish or gawking at penguins.
We’re trying to stop illegal whaling. Surely you remember that back in 2007, Peter Garrett promised us that your government was going to get tough on whaling and that your government was actually going to do something about it.
So now that three Australian citizens boarded a notorious whaling vessel inside the Contiguous zone, 16 miles off the beach of Western Australia, to bring attention to what your government has refused to do, you want Sea Shepherd to help foot the bill.
You never ask this of poachers, yachtsmen and eco-tourist operators because I gather you believe their activities are more valid and thus more worthy of spending tax dollars on to bail them out of trouble.
The suggestion by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Attorney General Nicola Roxon that Sea Shepherd help foot the bill for the recovery of three Australian citizens from the Shonan Maru #2 is absurd.
They have, of course, taken a page out of Political Media Manipulation 101 where a politician seeks support by indirectly demonizing a non-governmental organization or individual for costing the taxpayer money. Their reasoning is that the public will lose sympathy if they perceive that an action is costly to the tax payer.
I have outlined ten valid reasons Sea Shepherd should not, and will not, contribute to the cost of the recovery of these three Australian citizens from the Shonan Maru #2:
- This is a government responsibility.
- The expense would not have occurred if the government had lived up to its campaign promise of actually doing something to end illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean.
- This was not a Sea Shepherd initiative, we merely assisted. This was an Australian grassroots operation by Forest Rescue, an Australian organization, that took place in Australian territorial waters.
- Australia should bill Japan for the costs. The Shonan Maru #2 had no business in Australian territorial waters and had no business detaining Australian nationals onboard a Japanese ship in Australian territorial waters.
- If the government had acted quickly instead of believing the false coordinates given to them by the Japanese whaling industry then the three men could have been taken off the ship close to shore.
- The Australian government’s deal with the Japanese is to transfer the men while not having the Shonan Maru #2 slow down so they can continue to tail the Steve Irwin. Why would Sea Shepherd be expected to contribute to an operation that undermines our effectiveness and enables the rest of the whaling fleet to avoid us?
- When a wealthy yachtsman is lost or in trouble in the Southern Ocean, no expense is spared to save him/her and they are not asked to pay for the costs. Why would we be asked to pay when Australians from another organization are simply doing the job that the government said they would do, but are not doing?
- If the Australian government had a ship on station monitoring the situation, this would not be much of an added expense.
- Perhaps the Prime Minister and the Attorney General could take some of the funds from the recent pay hike they voted in for themselves to help offset the costs.
- The government has blocked and denied our request for tax status in Australia for eight years costing us a great deal in potential resources that would have allowed us to be more effective. In fact, if they had granted us such status we might possibly be in a position to give a donation to the Prime Minister to help her offset the cost of the government’s folly in allowing the Japanese whalers to continue to terrorize the defenceless whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.