18 December 2007

The first to get trigger-happy

Japan has no 'tradition' of hunting whales in the Southern Ocean. It does have a tradition of exceeding fishing quotas allocated to it.

It is entirely appropriate for the Australian government to enforce international treaties, particularly those which safeguard its rights within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Australia takes a hard line against Indonesian fishermen and people-smugglers in the waters to our north, and so should it against Japanese whalers in the waters to our south. Let's hope those 'further internal deliberations' lead to some positive action and that the whalers go home empty-handed.

What can be said for a party wary of any such action on the government's part on the grounds that it might offend people?
But opposition justice and border protection spokesman Chris Pyne said more caution was needed over an issue that could threaten Australia's relationship with Japan.

"So this smacks to me of Labor trying to get cheap headlines and being seen to be doing something about whaling rather than anything of any substance," he said.

Once you understand that Chris Pyne's whole life has been about the pursuit of cheap headlines and the triumph of being seen to do something rather than actually doing anything, you can see how rich this criticism is.

Once you've stopped laughing, consider how the politics of this situation plays out and how it taps into history. You can see a ridiculous old trope having fresh life breathed into it by the Coalition of the Unwitting.

We have a Labor government, seemingly unafraid to piss off the Japanese, just as in 1941-45. By contrast, we have Liberals snuggling up to the same bull-headed reactionaries in Japan who promote whaling (research: 'how tasty are they?') and who also defend the appalling Yasukuni shrine, where war criminals are venerated. Pyne should have more sense than to fall into this but there is a cheap headline in it, so he's after it with his ears pinned back.

Never mind that it was the Coalition that signed the historic 1957 trade deal - what we have here is the resuscitation (emphasis on the "suss") of the old trope that it's Labor who takes on the wily Japs and their exploitative tendencies, while the Libs who panders to them. Pyne and the Coalition are not the only ones who can play an old song:

... you sing bravo bravo - save me from myself ...

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