News Ltd this morning reported that the aircraft’s owner, Skytraders, had only late yesterday lodged an application with CASA to fly to the southern oceans, with an air safety spokesman saying that it would be a long process.
"The process has started but it’s only just started and there will be a lot of issues that have got to be identified, discussed and addressed," CASA’s Peter Gibson said.
Ministers Smith and Garrett yesterday attempted to quell concern over the issue, saying that there was ‘plenty of time’ before the Japanese returned from their mission, with the cull sometimes continuing into March.
Despite the Government pledging to dispatch the mission within "a few days" of December 19, it appears planning was not in place at the time of the announcement.
Shadow Environment Minister Greg Hunt said yesterday that the Government had misled the Australian people, and was sending the wrong message to the Japanese Government.
"Sixteen days ago Mr Smith and Mr Garrett [said] within hours the ship would be on the high seas protecting the great whales," Mr Hunt said.
"Hopefully… I’m sure one day they will get the ship on the seas and the plane in the air… the Japanese Prime Minister must be sitting back wondering…." he said.