23 Jun 2005

Outspoken Australian academic accuses Nauru of accepting bribes over whale votes

8:20 pm on 23 June 2005

An Australian expert on Nauru is accusing the island of going behind the back of Australia and accepting money from Japan in return for a pro-whaling vote.

Nauru's delegate at the Interntional Whaling Commission in Korea, Marcus Stephen, is reported to have snubbed Australia at the forum before voting with Japan in a key vote.

Japan lost a key motion over its bid to expand scientific whaling, by 27 votes to 30, but Australia's Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, has expressed outrage at Nauru's actions.

Emeritus Professor Helen Hughes says she believes Nauru's been bribed by Japan.

She agrees there's no evidence of this.

"Not yet, it will leak out. I mean, all of Nauru's corrupt dealings have not been exposed. This is exactly the same, Nauru is doing exactly the same, in accepting Japanese money secretly, not telling the Australian Government how much, not telling the Australian taxpayers how much, this is exactly the same as they did when they sold Nauruan passports to money launderers."

But Helen Hughes says she does not believe Australia's threat of diplomatic action over Nauru's vote will amount to much.