Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 920


Senator MACKLIN(5.40) —The Australian Waters (Nuclear-Powered Ships and Nuclear Weapons Prohibition) Bill 1984 creates for Australia a possibility that has already been grasped by New Zealand and that is the opportunity not simply to talk but actually to affect the state of the world in terms of nuclear weapons. The history of nuclear warfare has been very brief. I think that people throughout the world know about what happened in Hiroshima. It still stands as a symbol. But at the time the atomic bomb was being dropped in Hiroshima, allied forces in another part of the world were uncovering devastating evidence at Auschwitz. They uncovered appalling evidence of people acting irresponsibly in allowing the most revolting of crimes to be carried out under the cover of obedience and for the sake of a good cause. The tragedy of our times is not so much the criminal but rather the crimes of ordinary people. Australians recoiled in horror at the butchering of innocent people in Auschwitz, yet applauded the vaporisation of innocent people at Hiroshima.

Nuclear war is purely and simply massive and indiscriminate destruction of targets chosen not for their military significance but for their importance in creating calculated terror and annihilation. Russia and America are committed not only to the use of nuclear weapons for self-defence but also to their use in a first strike if that should be useful. Only the naive believe otherwise. This means that the super-powers have built their policy on the assumption that each is able, willing and ready to destroy the other at a moment's notice and the one destroyed is capable of post-mortem retaliation to annihilate not only the attacker but also all of its allies.

Terrorism is said to be necessary. It is said that it is our duty in Australia to support a nuclear weapons capacity capable of global genocide. It seems that somehow or other the genocide of Auschwitz is wrong but the genocide of the entire human race has now become a duty and has now become part of our necessary alliances. This is, according to the Australian Labor Party Government, an acceptable risk for any reasonable person. My Party and I find it unacceptable. I know of no political cause for which it is worth while risking the entire human race. Are we to be upset at a guard smashing the brains of a child against a brick wall but to agree with our Government planning with the United States to enter into alliances which could result in the instant murder of millions of Russian children because we disagree with the political ideology of their country? I ask people not to talk about the sanitisation of strategic weapons but to talk about what we are actually on about, what use these weapons will be put to if they are to be used. It is remarkable how easily we agree to become war criminals. But let us be clear that no one can escape from the obligation to refuse obedience to criminal orders and global genocide is the ultimate crime for which there is no justification.

The essence of current United States policy as publicly stated is that visits of warships to Australian and New Zealand ports help maintain strategic deterrence and, according to the ANZUS communiques, help the United States carry out its responsibility under ANZUS. The possible launch of strategic nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union would lead almost certainly to a response in kind which would inflict unacceptable damage on Europe, the United States, Australia and our allies. It would, indeed, be an act of suicide. Yet we support an alliance, the only result of which can be an act of suicide. The threat, then , of such an action loses all credibility as a deterrent. It certainly loses credibility as a deterrent to the Soviet Union's agression because one cannot build a deterrent on an incredible action.

Strategic nuclear attack, against which there is no defence, involves, amongst other things, if one believes in deterrence, the extraordinarily paradoxical operation that each side be rational enough to be deterred by the threat of mutual annihilation yet one side must also appear to the other side to be irrational enough to carry out such a threat. That is what deterrence means. The nuclear arms race is the strangest military competition in history. Before the nuclear age a nation could calculate its killing power, measure it against that of the enemy and make a rational judgment as to whether to go to war or not. Hence, nazi Germany made an estimation that so many thousand German soldiers would be killed if it were to conquer Alsace-Lorraine. Operations of this kind were carried out if the risks were acceptable. But such a judgment is now impossible in a world of nuclear weapons because there is no objective that is worth the destruction of one's own society.

I would like other people in this debate actually to talk about the realities and state whether they believe it is worth while having Australia totally destroyed. What is the use of having military, social and political objectives if the entire country is to be destroyed and that will be the result if a nuclear war takes place. We know that we are a nuclear nation. It is no good this Government wringing its hands in international forums and saying that we are not. We are. We are part of the entire structure of nuclear warfare. Indeed, we are the eyes of the United States and, as any military strategist will tell us, the first things to be taken out are the eyes.

The phrase 'nuclear winter' has already become part of our language. However, I do not believe that the completely new strategic implications of the nuclear winter scenario have received sufficient attention. The prospect of a nuclear winter seems to be another chapter in the Armageddon about which we are told so often. We believe it but it never moves us. What is new is that the nuclear winter scenario replaces the prospect of mutual destruction through the failure of mutual deterrence. Yet this Government says that it supports deterrence. It does that simply because any nation making a major nuclear attack will itself be destroyed. So the plausibility of the current doctrine of mutual deterrance by arming to the teeth, which is what our support of a nuclear ANZUS is supposed to be about, has been eroded simply by understanding what the effects of nuclear war will be.

As the payload of each power increases, so the demands of its opponent increase . As warning time decreases to vanishing point, not only does reprisal against an aggressor become less certain but also Strangelove mentalities become fascinated again by the possibility of strategic and surgical nuclear strike. But of course the possibilities of all kinds of unintended triggerings multiply, and when one takes this all into account surely deterrence must be seen as a bankrupt policy. If nuclear weapons are suicidal, guaranteed to cripple or destroy the user even without a response from the targeted victim, the futility of deterrence is complete. A second strike is no more appetising than the first, and a pre-emptive strike loses any gambling appeal that it might have had. Both powers have supplied themselves with mountains of suicidal weapons for which there is no discernible use, for deterrence or aggression. Yet this Government says, through its Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden), that the advantages outweigh the risks. I do not see any advantages either for Australia or for the world in supporting nuclear weapons, which is what we are doing when we support a nuclear ANZUS alliance. The Australian Democrats strongly support ANZUS but we believe it can be a non-nuclear arrangement. We believe that is what we should be working towards. From a military point of view, there are no advantages in a nuclear treaty. America has a one-ocean Navy, and that ocean is certainly not the Pacific because America gets its oil from the East. In this nuclear missile age, at the moment Australia has but eight minutes from launch until the first Soviet warhead would impact on our soil. No alliance, no treaty partner and no deterrence or star wars strategy would have a chance to stop millions of tonnes of irradiated TNT exploding on our soil. ANZUS is no deterrent; it is no protection. Yet, we find that we have tied ourselves to one of the superpowers in a race in which both superpowers are sending themselves broke over nuclear war-a nuclear war that neither dares to fight, but fight one day they will if we continue in this fashion, be it through an accident, a miscalculation or the act of a madman.

The Pacific peoples have been struggling for a nuclear-free Pacific for too long to be satisfied with the kind of nuclear-free zone this Government has when it is not having a nuclear free zone. It is a tokenistic zone that would offer no security against the threat of a nuclear attack. It would have no credibility in international forums and little chance of winning guarantees from any nuclear power. The Australian Democrats believe there needs to be a real commitment on the part of all governments in the South Pacific to resist the increasing pressure on this region to become a staging ground and command post for unleashing nuclear war. That is what the Pacific has turned into-a command post for a first strike capacity. The choice is clear-either a nuclear battlefield or a nuclear-free zone. Too many thousands have already died in the Pacific for us to go on like this. We need this nuclear free zone before it is too late. In 1953 the President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower-this is important to remember when talking about ANZUS as our support in the world-said:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of it scientists, the hopes of its children.

The money required to provide adequate food, water, education, health and housing for everybody in the world is estimated to be $17 billion a year. Yes, that is a huge sum-as much as the world spends on arms every two weeks. Yet we say: 'We must stay in a nuclear ANZUS; we must promote the arms race'. I would rather feed a hungry child than over-stuff another Pentagon war bum. Throughout the world people are going hungry, and we need so many schools and hospitals, yet we see so much public squandering on arms. This Government was elected to take this country to the forefront in the world's thirst for peace. It was elected on the same type of platform as that on which the New Zealand Labor Government was elected-to show to the world that small countries can stand up and be counted. I am not saying that we have not suffered already, but the world will suffer and I believe that this Government has given away the moral stance that it took in opposition. It has done that for a mess of potage, and has not had the courage of its New Zealand counterpart. Albert Einstein, whose genius was ultimately responsible for today's proliferation of nuclear weapons, warned the people of the world of:

. . . unprecedented disaster which they are absolutely certain to bring on themselves unless there is a fundamental change in their attitudes toward one another.

This country has made a quantum leap scientifically, but unless we make a quantum leap politically we will not be contributing to the world what it needs. If we do not make that quantum leap politically, we have had it as a species. The dinosaurs were powerful but because they did not adjust to change they disappeared. We may be powerful as a result of joining with the most powerful country on earth but unless we change we too will disappear. The Democrats call on the intelligence of the Australian people so that they may look again at what we are talking about and see that this country can stand up in international forums as a symbol to the world. The Australian Democrats believe very strongly in the words of Martin Luther King, who said:

We can live together as people or die together as fools.

The choice is ours. I believe that the Australian people will choose wisely if the Government gives that leadership.