Japanese whalers take hostages: so where’s the Aussie Navy?

As Japanese whalers sail into the sunset with their hostages, Australia’s new government is looking fairly impotent.

Blunt pre-election threats to ‘deploy the military’ to stop illegal whaling were followed up with the deployment of a patrol boat and apparent success, but the Japanese have continued to hunt in an Australian Whale Sanctuary unmolested by the Australian navy.

Yet Japanese whalers have been molested by brave members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose Giles Lane and Benjamin Potts boarded a whaler (probably illegally, but so what) with a letter asking the Japanese to stop. The Sea Shepherds are hardcore activists who’ve proudly rammed and scuttled whalers in the past. No wonder the Japanese responded by tying Giles Lane and Benjamin Potts up.

With Australia’s opposition now claiming anti-whaling policy is a sham, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is going to have to pull his finger out.

My guess is that Japanese whalers will prove just as willing to obey the law as the fox hunters of Surrey, who killed less than two weeks ago and those of Derbyshire, who retain police protection.

They won’t be put off by a single Aussie patrol boat, with no authority to board and its guns stored below deck. Australia is going to have to get very serious indeed or accept a significant humiliation.

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