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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 8666

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (16:04): As I have been sitting here, listening to Senator David Feeney, I have been grappling with a conundrum: which is the greater, the depth of ignorance of the Greens or the vastness of the hypocrisy of the Australian Labor Party? I am just not sure, but they are both vast indeed. To listen to Senator David Feeney address the Senate and go through all this pious rodomontade about how terrible the Australian Greens are, this formulaic denunciation of the Australian Greens and all they represent—whilst I might agree, by the way, with every word he has to say about the Australian Greens—omits one inconvenient truth, and that inconvenient truth is that the government of which Senator David Feeney is a member is in office today because of a written agreement, signed, sealed and delivered, between the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens. Just as in the state of Tasmania the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens form a formal coalition government, here in the national capital they form an informal coalition government. So much for the hypocritical pieties of Senator David Feeney.

I rise to oppose the proposition in this matter of public importance because, as I said at the beginning, the only thing that rivals the vastness of the hypocrisy of the Australian Labor Party is the depth of ignorance of the Australian Greens. It was on display again this afternoon in Senator Scott Ludlam's speech on the Treaty of Rarotonga. First of all, one would have thought that if one were going to bring on a matter of public importance debate about the Treaty of Rarotonga, it would be a good start to be able to spell it correctly. But, in fact, the Australian Greens are not even able to spell the name of the treaty which they seek to enforce. More importantly, it would be good as well if they understood what the treaty of Rarotonga stipulated. Unlike, apparently, Scott Ludlam and his flea-bitten cohort of former communists and well-meaning fools who constitute the Australian Greens, I have actually read the treaty. In fact, I have a certified copy of the treaty in my hand. Everything Senator Scott Ludlam had to say about the treaty of Rarotonga in relation to uranium sales to India is wrong. I take those who might be listening to this contribution to the provisions of article 4 of the treaty of Rarotonga, to which Australia is a signatory of course but which applies to the South-West Pacific zone. This treaty was entered into by a previous and more honourable federal Labor government, the government of Mr Bob Hawke. Article 4 of the treaty of Rarotonga states:

Each Party undertakes:

(a) not to provide source or special fissionable material—

which includes uranium—


…   …   …

(ii) any nuclear-weapon State—

and we know that India is a nuclear weapon state—

unless subject to applicable safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Any such provisions shall be in accordance with strict non-proliferation measures to provide assurance of exclusively peaceful non-explosive use …

That is the obligation that Australia assumed when it signed the treaty of Rarotonga during the period of the Hawke government.

Senator Scott Ludlam, you are not right when you say that the prohibition lies on selling fissionable material to non-member states of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It is a prohibition against selling material to nuclear weapon states with whom there exists no current safeguards agreement recognised by the International Atomic Energy Agency. There is a safeguards agreement; there will be a safeguards agreement. That is a point that I am sure Senator Mark Bishop, another member of the government supported by the Labor-Green's coalition, will make in his forthcoming contribution, upon which we wait with bated breath.

The substance of this issue is that throughout the entire life of this period of Labor government—this lamentable, corrupt, dishonest, incompetent, wasteful, spendthrift, profligate, hopeless Labor government—for the five years Australians have suffered under this Labor government, there has been nary any attention paid to the Indian subcontinent. Mr Kevin Rudd managed to visit India for one day during his prime ministership—a prime ministership, it must be said in his defence, was foreshortened very suddenly by a steel blade through the back from Ms Julia Gillard, his successor. Lo and behold, late in the piece Ms Julia Gillard, eager to seek photo opportunities, discovered India and visited India.

Mr Howard when he was the Prime Minister did not need to be shown a passage to India. He visited India twice during his prime ministership, for substantial state visits. It was the policy of the Howard government—condemned at the time by the Australian Labor Party—to sell uranium to India, provided a sufficient and comprehensive safeguards agreement was in place. When Mr Howard announced that policy in 2006 he was condemned to the rafters not just by the Greens but by the Australian Labor Party. Fast forward six years and all of a sudden the Australian Labor Party have caught up with where the Liberal Party and the coalition were six years ago and have seen the wisdom of fostering and strengthening the important strategic relationship between Australia and India by selling India the uranium to use for peaceful purposes only that the people of that very large nation so desperately need.

What would the Greens have the people of India do? Would they prefer them to depend on hydroelectric power? Apparently not. Would they prefer that they derive their power from coal-fired power stations? Apparently not. So what would the comfortable,wealthy, middle-class radicals who comprise the Greens do for the people of India? In all of their vanity, conceit and complacency they would leave them poor. There is all this talk about social justice and we hear all of these pieties from the moth-eaten former communists and middle-class radicals, but when it comes to the reality of what they would do for the people of India they would be content to leave them poor.

That is why this is such an important measure. It is why the Liberal Party is so glad that the Australian Labor Party on this occasion have stood up to their Greens alliance partners, have caught up to where the Howard government was more than six years ago and, albeit subject to the intellectual distinction of a Labor Party national conference where a motley gang of trade union thugs and crooks were asked to rubberstamp this policy, have eventually signed off on it.

It is important that Australia nurture and foster its strategic, trade, commercial and educational relationship with India. It is important that Australia sells uranium to the Indian government, subject to appropriate safeguards agreements, so that nuclear power plants can be used to provide electricity to the starving people of India, because at the moment it is beyond the capacity of that state to provide it for all of its people. The hypocrisy of the Labor Party in pretending to be distant from the Greens is only matched by the hypocrisy of the Greens in uttering pieties about social justice while all they want to do is keep the people of India poor. (Time expired)