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Monday, 25 February 1985
Page: 159


Senator JACK EVANS(9.21) —In listening to Senator Lewis I am reminded of a book I have just been reading which describes how the Teutonic knights brought Christianity to Poland. They discovered that in the end the only way that they could impose Christianity on the Poles was not just to destroy the Polish nation but to eliminate the people of Poland completely. They set about that very methodically. In fact they brought Christianity to Poland by getting rid of the Polish people in total at that time. Senator Lewis obviously believes in the same philosophy. He has just outlined to us a rationale for bringing peace to the world. He said that, provided the Americans can build enough arms, gather enough strength and be assured that they have the ability to destroy the Russians without themselves being destroyed, we have a formula for peace.


Senator Lewis —Rubbish!


Senator JACK EVANS —Of course it is rubbish, as Senator Lewis has just said. It is a rubbish rationale because the other side to this particular exercise is that the Russians in turn have adopted the same approach. As Senator Georges implied in an intrusion into Senator Lewis's comments, that does not bring about disarmament; it brings about escalation, the same escalation of which Senator Lewis is so proud and in which we have indulged the people of this world for the past 40 years. During 40 years of depriving the underprivileged of this world we have fed the arms manufacturers of this world, fattened the generals in the Pentagon and in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and looked after everybody except the people of the world. I am here to tell Senator Lewis and everybody else who feels that we can continue to escalate this armament race that many people around the world will no longer buy that argument, that false logic. It is a growing number, not just in Australia but across the world.

I think it is very sad that tonight, after a very good debate this afternoon we have descended to a lot of political point scoring and personal attacks. It has become a rather frivolous debate in the last hour or so, almost as though, as Senator Georges interrupted, we were discussing video games. But we are not. Today we are talking about choices and it may well be the last choice. Should we, as part of Australia's contribution to peace and disarmament, welcome to our country nuclear powered or armed warships and aircraft, most of which are loaded with weapons deliberately designed for the most horrendous destruction of life, or should we now say: 'No, that is enough'? The insanity has to stop. Australia, as an independent nation, must do everything possible to halt the nuclear arms race because the stockpile of nuclear bombs is now so large, the technology is so advanced and the destructive power is so awesome that the present nuclear madness will continue to grow if nations such as ours do nothing. We have reached a crisis point and it now takes the deliberate choice of people-and politicians, I remind honourable senators-for there to be a hope for survival or progress with a future.

Senator Chipp's Bill provides one deliberate choice that the people of this nation and their representatives can take-must take. The young people of this country, I believe typical of young people around the world, are losing hope. There are two principal reasons for that. One is the disastrous unemployment rate in most nations but the other, far more insidious, is their fear that there may be no future, that they may live just a few short years and that some lunatic will press the wrong button. It does not have to be a lunatic in the Pentagon or the Kremlin. It could a lunatic sitting in a submarine in one of the oceans who just suffers temporary insanity which could speak the end of the world. It could be as simple as that. I know that when that happens I will be a nuclear target, because I live near Fremantle. In Fremantle and Cockburn Sound adjoining it we have frequent visits by United States and British nuclear powered and nuclear armed warships. If, when one is there, somebody presses the wrong button I will be one of the lucky ones. I will be immediately put out of my misery and the survivors will be those people including young people, who see no future in terms of the type of existence we have enjoyed. The future for them will be a bare survival if anything at all.

Just as the fixed United States bases on Australian soil are targets, nuclear armed and nuclear powered ships and planes are not simply essential factors in any nuclear conflict; they are bona fide targets in such a conflict. The cities, the populations and the land masses which abut any such nuclear vehicles, whether they be aircraft simply refuelling, warships, submarines or whatever, will be targets of nuclear weapons. When we think of the things which are likely to be taken out as part of a nuclear exchange our thoughts go most naturally to missile silos and communications bases. But, of course, it is wishful thinking to ignore the targets of nuclear warships, submarines and bomber aircraft. This Bill is bringing to our attention the fact that these are nuclear targets, and we are currently welcoming them to Australian shores and Australian airports.

We know we have one class of high priority targets already installed; that is, the communications bases around Australia. But we are also host to a second class of high priority nuclear targets-those warships and bomber aircraft. It would only remain for our peace-loving Government to agree to the installation of fixed missile silos for our vulnerability to be complete. Such a request from Washington would, of course, be based on an appeal to our obligations under ANZUS to which some of us are sycophantic, a threat that if we did not fulfil them ANZUS would be in jeopardy and a lecture on the contribution that the new system, along with the others, makes to the efficacy of the overall deterrent and the search for world peace which is the ever stated, oft repeated desire of the Pentagon, our Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and our Foreign Minister (Mr Hayden).

I pose a question for those who are so willing, so keen to accept the bidding of the United States Pentagon and the United States President. What would be their response to such a request? That is a hypothetical question today, but such a question was hypothetical in terms of United States communications bases and United States nuclear powered and armed ships 40 years ago when ANZUS was entered into. If anyone thinks that such fixed missile silos would never be proposed by the United States or allowed by the Australian Government, we must ask: Would that be on moral grounds? Do honourable senators think the Government would refrain on moral grounds or because it is bad politics? Would it be seen as the straw that might break the camel's back or quite simply that our allies had no need from them? There is no real difference between any of these nuclear systems. They are either all acceptable or none of them are acceptable. They are all risks-they are all unacceptable risks to the people of Australia irrespective of the views of a few politicians. The Australian Democrats repeat that none of these nuclear systems, none of these risks, are acceptable to us. That is why we have introduced not one but many Bills concerning the whole gamut of these various threats to our very survival.

To return to the most recent and the most unwelcome addition to the panoply of hazard and fear which our Government condones and the Opposition welcomes at the very time that the New Zealand Government has most courageously refused to take on board the passage, periodic berthing and landing of nuclear ships, submarines and bomber aircraft, I have already said that this particular nuclear infrastructure puts this country in a condition of wholly unjustifiable peril. Nobody disagrees that we live in perilous times. It is just that many honourable senators seem content to expose their fellow citizens to these dangers unnecessarily. Quite obviously there is a large and ever increasing number of Australians who oppose this nuclear masochism, this Russian-American roulette played with other people's countries and with posterity. We, the Australian Democrats, are speaking for those people today for it seems that neither the Government nor the Opposition is prepared to represent those people.

We know that many members of the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party and the National Party of Australia agree with us and share our grave fears and misgivings. But we also know that many will not have the courage of their convictions. For them it will be not even a case of my country right or wrong but my party right or wrong or, dare I whisper it, my parliamentary pre-selection right or wrong. Those who really do care about nuclear disarmament would not want to split the anti-nuclear vote any further, and this has happened both here in Parliament and in the community. By voting for this Bill, all senators have the chance to stand together for disarmament.

I want to speak now about the totally subversive effects that Australia's agreement to host nuclear ships and planes is having and will continue to have upon a number of long-standing, widely-supported and greatly desired projects and, in one case, potential agreement to reduce tensions in the whole Indo-Pacific region and to eliminate nuclear weapons, nuclear tests and nuclear bases. I refer, of course, to the south-west Pacific nuclear free zone, to the Indian Ocean zone of peace and, incidentally, to the recurring desire by the nation's of South East Asia to create a zone of peace and neutrality. So the Democrats are not alone. The people in Australia who support this concept are not alone. We have very strong support in the region and, in fact, across the world.

This Australian Government and a previous Labor government gave these measures their strongest verbal support once, imprinted them upon their party banners and went to the polls, not once but many times, promising to do all in their power to bring these ideas to fruition. They have always said what a staggering contribution zones of peace and nuclear free regions would make to the reduction of world conflict and world tension. What an example they would set to nations, to peoples, to other regions. They talked about how these nuclear free zones were things that we in Australia could really do something about. I remind you, Mr Deputy President, that that philosophy was endorsed and acted upon by Labor governments at all levels-Federal, State and local. But as far as the Federal Government is concerned, that is forgotten history.

Australia may not be able to get Russia and America to agree about mutual troop reductions in Europe or anywhere else or reductions in Pershing and SS20 missiles. But we and like-minded nations in the Indo-Pacific region have the capacity, indeed the responsibility, to forge our own destiny and secure our own immunities. Australian governments which have spoken in this way spoke correctly, but what have they done? They have taken one step after another to subvert and make unworkable the very institutions upon which they have asked us to pin our hopes for order and security. They have landed us with 24 bases, only some of which have been coyly identified as constituting prime nuclear targets. I wonder who they are trying to kid? They have allowed the introduction of ships and planes, bristling with the most advanced nuclear weaponry, not out in the desert somewhere or out in the middle of the ocean but in our very cities, in our country itself. They have also tried to implicate us in the testing and development of MX missiles and quite possibly Trident missiles as well-missiles which have been widely and authoritatively described as almost deliberately destabilising the nuclear balance, the nuclear balance of which our pundits talk so passionately; missiles which it is well known can be used as first strike weapons in a first strike strategy.

In other words, the Government's adherence to all or any of its professed concerns that Australia makes its own policies, that Australia evaluates its own security needs and acts accordingly and that we work with nations of a similar mind in our own region amounts to simply words and breaths and nothing more. The Government has betrayed its principles, it has betrayed its voters and it has put this nation in the situation of unnecessary and unacceptable danger and never ending insecurity. We have to ask ourselves what reasons it has given for these apostasies? What reasons can it give for this failure to look at our country's real needs? Simply that the United States demands that it does these things; insists that it is a condition of the continuation of the ANZUS alliance. I do not believe that such concessions are in fact the necessary conditions of a continued alliance with the United States. I do not believe that the Americans really believe it is and I do not believe that the Government or even the Opposition really believe it. Mr Lange certainly does not believe that it is.

To take the worst possible case, alliances can be bought at too high a price. The Australian Democrats hope that it has not come to this. We are seeing the wholesale, step by step inflation of the ANZUS Treaty-its goals, its values, its duties and its obligations-by one member of that alliance, the United States, but most specifically by the Reagan Administration. Most Australians who have supported ANZUS, and many still do, are unaware of what has been done to this compact under their very noses. The ANZUS they think we are talking about is being destroyed by the wholly unwarranted and frequently surreptitious introduction of nuclear warfare. I remind Senator Lewis that it has been happening under his nose and mine for the past 40 years. What we are seeing was never part of the original ANZUS Treaty. There is not a word in the treaty about it. There is no relationship or reference to it in the ANZUS Treaty. In any case the treaty was written before this kind of nuclear madness was ever conceived in anybody's mind. So to suggest that it was part of the original ANZUS Treaty or part of the original ANZUS intent is a nonsense. It has been sneaked into the ANZUS alliance conditions by one nation alone. We have already recognised that one of the trio does not believe that it should be, has been or is part of the ANZUS Treaty as it now stands. This is the position taken by one-third of the ANZUS Treaty nations at the moment-the nation of New Zealand. I believe that if we were to take a referendum of the people of Australia we would discover that their attitudes are probably identical with those of the people of New Zealand. That is something we may need to consider because I believe the people who have spoken against Senator Chipp's Bill today do not represent the views of the vast majority of Australians.

Despite the fact that many people supported the Labor and the Liberal parties at the last election, I believe that if they had been given the opportunity to put aside all other concerns-economic, social welfare, everthing else-and cast a separate vote on what they believed Australia's position should be in terms of nuclear disarmament, in terms of American bases on Australian soil, and in terms of having American warships in Australian ports, they would have had the same courage as the people of New Zealand had. They would have indicated to this Government and to the alternative government at that election that they do not want a bar of nuclear armed or nuclear powered warships in Australian ports.

The new style ANZUS, the ANZUS Treaty for which we are currently endeavouring to meet the conditions laid down by the United States, was concocted in the Pentagon and bears bitter fruit. We should realise this, just as the New Zealanders have. The Kiwis are not anti-American. If honourable senators have heard and seen Mr Lange they will know that he is pro-United States, as are the great majority of Australians, including the Australian Democrats. The New Zealanders are quite content to operate joint defence and intelligence arrangements with Australia and the United States, but they simply refuse to accept the shattering of the long-standing practices and values and the destabilisation of the basic order and regional amity which all political parties say they support. It is not the New Zealanders who have changed; it is Washington and Canberra. It would be well to remember that even under the McMahon Government, when the Vietnam war was still raging, the Government gave firm assurances that no nuclear armed ships would be welcome in our waters, and the Nixon Government accepted that without protest; nor did the United States claim the right under the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. This was at a time when Australia, New Zealand and the United States were parties in a war.

One initiative this Government took was to vote in the United Nations last November for a nuclear freeze. It brought the Government widespread applause during the election campaign. The general thrust of the nuclear freeze resolution, quite clearly, is against further development and testing of nuclear devices as a means of helping reduce the escalating arms race. The nuclear freeze is against a rising involvement in more and more societies in the nuclear game.


Senator Chipp —And delivery systems.


Senator JACK EVANS —And delivery systems. A government which expressed, as this one has, concrete support for the turning back of the tide of nuclear escalation but continued to conspire with the United States to install yet more bases, upgrade existing ones, and facilitate a rising volume of nuclear weapons on and outside its shores, can be accused of utter bad faith or perhaps election gimmickry.


Senator Lewis —You are still attacking the Yanks.


Senator JACK EVANS —Senator Lewis has not been listening. He should get back to his novel. In the light of events since last November I am forced to accuse the Government of total bad faith. Perhaps the most obviously hypocritical double standard is the abuse the Government has hurled at New Zealand for adhering to the very principles upon which it says it places great store, such as the nuclear freeze and zones of peace. I ask: Which government is hypocritical? Is it Australia's or New Zealand's? As I said at the outset, Senator Lewis obviously finds this quite amusing. I doubt that the people of Australia find it as amusing as he thinks. The Opposition cannot be accused of bad faith, as can the Government. The Opposition simply has no faith. It believes in nothing, least of all nuclear disarmament or peace. It is abundantly clear that Australia, for perhaps a brief period, is at a watershed in her affairs. Either we start retracing our steps and choose the path of life, hope and truth, or else we sink quickly ever deeper into a condition of hopelessness or the apathy of despair and the acceptance of subterfuges and whitewash in the conduct of our national affairs and thus ever increasing danger and insecurity.


Senator Lewis —Cynical hypocrisy and humbug. That is the only way to describe it.


Senator JACK EVANS —I hope that the listeners have heard the honourable senator's interjection. In handing over our sovereignty, our integrity, we are handing over what remains of our freedom of choice. We may not be able to retrieve those powers in the foreseeable future. Some very important moral and political decisions are going to have to be taken now-not in two or three years time or in a decade. Fortunately, more and more Australians are getting hold of this reality. Both the Government and the Opposition are deceiving themselves, if they think they can divert this growing protest, this coming of age of the people of Australia.

The universally accepted fundamental notion of disarmament is that it must be a process of reduction of arms, reduction of tension and shrinkage of the areas of potential conflict, not an increase in arms, tension or conflict. The first step is to stop the nuclear madness where it now stands and then gradually to push back and dismantle the successive stages of the nuclear weapons death machine, a death machine which has got us within sight of Armageddon. This is the policy the Government is advocating for everyone else in the world but ignoring for Australia. Surely the place to begin is here and the time to begin is now. We can do it as a friend. We can put pressure on the United States. We can join with other friends of the United States, such as Belgium, Greece and New Zealand, all United States allies. We can join with the Third World countries which want to feed their children before they allow the escalation of the arms race. We can join with the majority of mankind and apply pressure to both the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

I remind the Senate that our opponents in this are not the people of the United States. They are not the people of Western Europe and Eastern Europe. All the people want nuclear disarmament. All the people want a start towards world peace. New Zealand started this movement, which represents the voice of the people. We have to ask ourselves whether Australia has the courage to be next. We have to show the people of the West and the people of the East that free people can start the movement towards disarmament. Senator Don Chipp's Bill is the first move in this movement towards nuclear disarmament.