“See you in court!”: Whaling as a two level game in Australian politics and foreign policy
Until recently, successive Japanese and Australian governments have contained disputes over whaling within the International Whaling Commission. Domestic political circumstances and the national interest imperatives of the Japan-Australia relationship clearly have played an important role in shaping Australia's anti-whaling policy from its inception, and Australian policy makers traditionally have sought to balance both sets of interests in the implementation of this bi-partisan policy position. But in 2010 the Australian government launched international legal action against one its oldest and most important regional partners and allies, thereby abandoning the long-held "agree to disagree" approach between Australia and Japan to managing the whaling issue within the broader bi-lateral relationship. This paper explains this dramatic shift by characterising whaling policy in Australia as a two level game in which the then Kevin Rudd-led Labor government exploited the strong and stable nature of Australia's bi-lateral relations with Japan to manage several important electoral and political challenges it faced domestically.