24 Jun 2005

Solomons opposition says government insincere in whaling stance

3:39 pm on 24 June 2005

An opposition MP in Solomon Islands says the government has been insincere in public comments over the whaling issue.

The Fisheries Minister headed a delegation to the IWC meeting in South Korea which voted for the resumption of commercial whaling after the government pledged to abstain.

The Prime Minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, has said if the minister deliberately voted against the government's wishes, he could be disciplined.

However Nollen Leni says Sir Allan is covering up his tracks and he would have known which way the delegation would vote.

"Solomon Islands should be frank, in the first instance, to tell Australia or New Zealand or to make known its position. In this case Solomons Islands has not been very sincere in telling Australia, especially when the environmental minster was here and the prime minster said it was going to stay neutral."

Opposition MP Nollen Leni.

The spokesman for the prime minister has denied that the government has attempted a cover-up in the way it has cast votes on whaling.

Sir Allan's spokesman, George Atkin, says there's been no attempt at dishonesty.

One has to weight carefully what position one should be in, actually. For instance, Solomon Islands, because as I said Solomon Islands depends very much on aid donor assistance and it respects the relations it has with Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and I'm sure the Government has not been trying or is not trying to fool anyone.