Last updated: January 16, 2010

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Japan keeps whaling as cost of envoy Sandy Hollway hits $500k

THE cost of Kevin Rudd's hand-picked special envoy on whale conservation has soared to $500,000 as Japan continues to hunt whales.

As the diplomatic stoush over Japan's whale slaughter intensifies, the Herald Sun can reveal former bureaucrat Sandy Hollway stands to pocket up to $200,000 for about 100 days' work.

A staggering $342,000 has already been splurged on international travel by Mr Hollway and his envoy team as they press the case for global action.

The total costs of the envoy could reach $700,000 to $800,000 by mid-year. Japan continues to ignore international protests against its killing of whales under the guise of scientific research.

Mr Hollway, formerly CEO of the Sydney Organising Committee for the 2000 Games, was appointed as envoy in October 2008 on an $1800-a-day retainer. His contract runs until June 30.

According to government documents, he's been paid $117,495 for just 57 days' work. But that could double once his travel receipts are lodged.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett defended Mr Hollway, saying he "has been putting Australia's case strongly at meetings with both like-minded and pro-whaling nations".

But the Opposition argues the appointment is a waste of money and has accused Mr Rudd of creating a "mini-me envoy" to travel the world at great expense.

The Government is inquiring into last week's incident in Australian waters during which Sea Shepherd protest vessel Ady Gil was rammed by a Japanese whaler, Shonan Maru II.

A spokesman for Mr Garrett said diplomacy was preferred but court action was an option. "We have embarked on an unprecedented diplomatic effort on this issue and in keeping with our election commitment the envoy is a critical part of that."

Mr Hollway could not be reached for comment.

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