Some forty years ago, tourists used to descend on Byron Bay to watch Australian whalers haul their massive catch onto the shore and then carve the mammals up.
Now tourists descend on Byron Bay to watch the whales swim serenely by, with more protection afforded to them than many Australian children.
The Rudd government is so serious about its promise to protect whales from Japanese harpoons while they're in Australian waters that they're now preparing to deploy the navy and air force :
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will announce details next week, but said the military could be used to gather damning evidence against Japanese harpooners.
He said his Government took seriously Australia's international obligations to protect whales from unauthorised killing and would look at measures to fortify any future case to be brought before international legal tribunals.
Japan does not recognise a huge whale sanctuary Australia has declared in the Southern Ocean.
This is not simply an issue of morality, or whale rights. Nor is it a cynical move by the Rudd government to keep happy the millions of Australians who are disgusted by the annual slaughter of whales by the Japanese.
Whale spotting, that is whale tourism, is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Australian tourist economy. It is a boom industry, and the more whales Japanese harpooners kill, the less will will make their way along Australia's coastlines, delighting boatloads full of tourists.