Foreign Minister and Whaling Spokesperson Murray McCully has announced that New Zealand will be breaching international law by not undertaking search and rescue operations if whalers or protesters get into trouble in New Zealand’s zone of responsibility.
Great. So, in a week and a half our new government has abandoned its part in the global effort to combat climate change (even calling into question whether these is a problem to confront), called a close ally’s anti-climate change policy irrational, and, now, we’re going to break the Law of the Sea.
Well, we’re not really going to thumb our nose at the international community. McCully just doesn’t have a handle on his portfolio yet. He can’t have understood the consequences of what he was saying when he said we won’t carry out search and rescue. I’m sure Mfat and Civil Defence will soon be briefing him, pointing out to him that we have a legal obligation to carry out search and rescue when it is required in our zone of responsibility and offering the opinion that violating a fundamental and long-established piece of international law for no apparent reason is not in New Zealand’s interest.
Still, a pity that after nine years in opposition and dealing with whaling issues for years (including last year when New Zealand rescued a gravely ill Japanese whaler) that McCully seems to have no idea about his portfolio. A pity, too, that he didn’t recognise his own ignorance and ask for advise from officials before publicly reneging on our international responsibilities and making us look like fools or rogues in the eyes of the rest of the world.