Demeter has already covered the Kaikoura Star article in which John Key says commercial whaling “might be acceptable if it was acceptable to others”. You gotta love the leadership there: ‘These are my principles and if you don’t like them, I have others’.
But you’ve also got to question what kind of two-faced game the Nats are playing because in the House, Murray McCully said precisely the opposite:
Hon CHRIS CARTER (Labourâ€”Te AtatÅ«) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Does the Government support the reintroduction of any commercial whaling?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY (Minister of Foreign Affairs) : No.
Hon Chris Carter: When the Prime Minister said on 13 January that he had an initiative to end Japanese whaling, was the proposal to legalise commercial whaling the solution that he was talking about; if not, what was the Prime Minister’s mysterious initiative?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY: The Prime Minister would have been referring to the New Zealand Government’s policy … to seek the elimination of whaling in the Southern Ocean as quickly as possible.
….Hon Chris Carter: Did the Prime Minister actually announce a new initiative on 13 January, as quoted in the media, or is it simply a continuation of existing policies?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY: I do not have the reference in front of me at the moment, but my very clear recollection is that the Prime Minister was referring to the New Zealand Government’s policy, which is to actively participate in the diplomatic process of the International Whaling Commission to seek the elimination of whaling in the Southern Ocean.
….Hon Chris Carter: Was the proposal that the Prime Minister raised on 13 January as a bold new initiativeâ€”and that he was going to share with Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, who was due to arrive the following dayâ€”the same policy that the previous Government was pursuing, or was it a return to limited commercial whaling?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY: ….The policy that the Prime Minister and this Government are pursuing is one of using that diplomatic process to try to achieve an elimination of whaling in the Southern Ocean at the earliest possible time.
Hon Chris Carter: Does the Minister agree with John Key, who was quoted in the Kaikoura Star yesterday as saying that commercial whaling ‘might be acceptable if it was acceptable to others.’, and can the Minister confirm that both Britain and Australia have expressed opposition to this proposal to offer a limited return to commercial whaling but Japan has welcomed it?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY: I can confirm that Sir Geoffrey Palmer is one of those exploring a range of solutions in the International Whaling Commission process at the present time. The Government of New Zealand has not given Sir Geoffrey any mandate to accept anything other than the previous policies adopted by the Government of which that member was a Minister.
Hon Chris Carter: I seek leave to table a list of the names of 3,188 people, who in the last 6 days have expressed their opposition to the restart of commercial whaling by New Zealand.
Excellently done by Carter. If only he had made the killer question “Does the Minister agree with John Key, who was quoted in the Kaikoura Star yesterday as saying that commercial whaling ‘might be acceptable if it was acceptable to others.” a one-barrel question so McCully couldn’t have avoided answering.
It looks like National are up to their old tricks. You’ll remember that John Key was caught out on his “we would love to see wages drop” quote by a journo from the Bay Report (a free weekly in Northland) who was at a small meeting, and whom Key claims not to have known was a journo. The same kind of thing is happening here. The true game is revealed to select audiences out of earshot of the press gallery while a moderate face and a grin is maintained for the cameras.
But you can’t keep that up forever. At some point Key will have to publicly say yes or no to the deal on commercial whaling. Then the fur will fly.
And here’s a comment on Stuff that I would hope makes our Minister for Overseas Holidays Tourism stop and think:
“Paul Fortin #3 02:24 pm Mar 18 2010
As a senior from Canada who is planning a long trip next year to Australia, New Zealand and several other countries in the area, I am now seriously considering dropping New Zealand from my itinerary. I love New Zealand and Australia for their strong anti-whaling position. However, just as I think no one should visit Canada as a tourist, so long as Canada continues to slaughter defenceless baby seals despite the majority of Canadians being against this travesty, I will not visit New Zealand if it has a government that supports commercial whaling, even if most of New Zealand’s citizens are against whaling.”