Patrol bill ‘set to pass’

Party leader Bob Brown said on Thursday the Greens bill required the support of the Coalition and independent MPs in the lower house to pass, before being rubber stamped by the Greens in the Senate.

“If the opposition takes the bill, and I am very happy to talk about amendments or changes that they may wish to make, it certainly will pass the Senate,” Senator Brown told reporters in Hobart.

“It will take a couple of independents to ensure that it passes the house and we’d be well able to have this legislation go through in the months of February or March.”

Senator Brown said if the bill was passed it would be too late to have any effect on this year’s whale hunt by the Japanese.

“But it would ensure that there was a patrol boat with the authority of Australia in our Antarctic waters, if the Japanese come south again next season … to engage in the slaughter of hundreds of these warm blooded mammals that Australians want to see protected.

The federal government has already ruled out Senator Brown’s proposal, saying it had previously sent a boat to the area to gather evidence for its application to the International Court of Justice against Japanese whalers.

“We don’t need to do it again,” Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said earlier this week.

Coalition Leader Tony Abbott has suggested a patrol boat be sent to the area.

Environment spokesman Greg Hunt said this week the opposition would consider supporting the Greens bill, although it had yet to see the detail.

Senator Brown also on Thursday called on the government to take out an injunction in the international court to stop the whale hunt, while the court considers Australia’s application lodged in 2010 for the same.

Japan is due to respond in March this year and it’s likely the court won’t hand down a decision until 2015.

“It’s really important here that Australia assert itself,” he said.

Senator Brown pointed to the Japanese whaler Yushin Maru 3, which has been tailing the anti-whaling Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Bob Barker and traversing waters off Macquarie Island in Australia’s Antarctic world heritage area.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said on Wednesday she had been advised the Yushin Maru would leave the waters overnight.

It was still there on Thursday morning but was expected to depart during the day.

“The latest information I have from Sea Shepherd is that the Japanese ship is finally leaving the vicinity,” Senator Brown said.

“It should have gone a long time ago.

“It should never have been invading Australia’s territorial waters.

“It’s illegal that it did that and charges should be laid against the captain of that ship who knowingly entered Australian waters in breach of Australian law.”

He wants the government to request through Interpol copies of the ship’s logs and video equipment to support any future court action against the captain.

Senator Brown said if the government could call on Sea Shepherd to obey the law during its anti-whaling activities, then that stance should apply to the Japanese captain.

He also repeated his view that the bill for the pick-up by customs of three Australian protesters detained on the Japanese hunt security vessel Shonan Maru 2 this week should be paid by Japan.

Ms Gillard has said the bill to taxpayers will be in the hundreds of thousands.

The Greens leader gave a copy of the minor party’s proposed legislation to the opposition on Thursday and will also send details to independent MPs.

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