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Wednesday, 16 March 1977
Page: 264


Mr BROWN (Diamond Valley) - It is often said in Australia that we should have a bipartisan foreign policy. Very few people who take an active interest in foreign affairs would disagree with that proposition. The Government certainly made its contribution towards achieving a bipartisan foreign policy with the statement delivered yesterday by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). I say that because the Minister's statement was balanced and reasonable. It is, however, very unfortunate that in response to that balanced and reasonable assessment of foreign affairs, all we had from the Opposition, so far as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) is concerned anyway, was something over an hour of abuse.

I should like to take some examples of the reaction that the Leader of the Opposition had to the Minister's speech because they seem to me to be very worthy of highlighting. The first and, I think, the most pernicious was the series of remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition with respect to our attitude to the problems of Africa. With respect, I would have thought that the Government and particularly a number of honourable members on the back bench of this side of the House had made it abundantly clear that we have no truck with the present situation in South Africa and with the present situation in Rhodesia.


Mr Peacock - He did not read your fine article in Claire Clark's book. I think he launched the book but did not read the article.


Mr BROWN -It is kind of the Minister to refer to my article. But it is appropriate that he should do so because it is one example of what I am saying. They were views that were put forward some years ago. Apparently the Leader of the Opposition did not read the article. Apparently he does not listen to remarks made by the Minister, by me or by other people on this side of the House. What we have said is that we do not support apartheid in South Africa. We have said in the United Nations and in other places that we condemn that policy. We have said that we will have no military alliance or contact with South Africa. We have said that we do not support the Bantustans as separate and independent nation states. We have also said that we will not support or welcome to Australia sporting teams which are selected on a racial basis. All that the Leader of the Opposition can do on this subject is abuse honourable members on this side of the House for being Smith's friends. I assume by that expression he meant to convey that on this side of the House we are supporters of the present regime in South Africa and its policies and of the present regime in Rhodesia. I should like to speak on this point at length but I say very concisely that the Government and its supporters reject that allegation without any equivocation.

Not only was the Leader of the Opposition given to abuse in his remarks yesterday but he was highly selective in some of the evidence that he sought to put forward for the views that he expressed. The most glaring example of that was his reliance on a speech made by the former Secretary of State, Dr Kissinger. Honourable members will recall that the remarks that were made on that occasion by the Leader of the Opposition were directed to the Indian Ocean issue. The general tenor of the argument put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, as I understood it, was that we had been deflated in our policy towards the Indian Ocean because of certain remarks made recently by President Carter. As I understood President Carter, he said that he and his Administration supported a bilateral arms limitation in the Indian Ocean. The Leader of the Opposition sought to say: 'Well, there you are. Your policy so far as the Indian Ocean is concerned is in ruins'. In any case, in effect he went on to say that the policy had never had any basis in the past anyway. He sought to draw some comfort for that proposition from remarks made by the former Secretary of State, Dr Kissinger. He relied on a statement from a speech made by Dr Kissinger known as the Alastair Buchan Memorial Lecture, which was delivered in London on 25 June last year. He said that Dr Kissinger had made this statement: its -

That is, the Soviet Union's- naval power ... is far weaker than combined Allied naval strength in terms of tonnage, firepower, range, access to the sea, experience and seamanship.

Always being very doubtful about the sources used by the Leader of the Opposition, I took the trouble to extract Dr Kissinger's speech on that occasion. I found, I must say not altogether to my surprise, that Dr Kissinger did not say what the Leader of the Opposition quoted. He used those words which were used by the Leader of the Opposition, but he also used additional words which were left out by the Leader of the Opposition without any indication that he was leaving out part of the speech. Let me read what Dr Kissinger said. He said:

Its naval power, while a growing and serious problem, is far weaker than combined Allied naval strength in terms of tonnage, fire power, range, access to the sea, experience and seamanship.

So the Leader of the Opposition omitted a reference in Dr Kissinger's speech to the view that Dr Kissinger presumably held that Soviet naval power was increasing- not only that it was increasing but that it was posing a serious problem. Let us listen to what Dr Kissinger also said on that occasion. He said:

Beneath the nuclear umbrella, the temptation to probe with regional forces or proxy wars increases. The steady growth of Soviet conventional military and naval power and its expanding global reach cannot be ignored.

The Leader of the Opposition omitted that. Dr Kissinger also said:

And we must conduct a prudent and forceful foreign policy that is prepared to use our strength to block expansionism.

It would seem to me, with respect, that if one puts a fair interpretation on Dr Kissinger's speech one would come to the conclusion that he was drawing attention to the potential problems to which the present Australian Government is drawing attention- that is to say, Dr Kissinger and we both draw attention to the fact that there is a substantial Soviet naval presence in the Indian Ocean and that not only is it a substantial presence but that it is increasing. He and we both draw attention to the fact that not only is that power increasing but that it poses problems so far as the strategic balance of the region is concerned. As I said at the outset of these remarks on this part of the issue, all that President Carter has said is that he wants a bilateral arms limitation in the region. So do we want a bilateral arms limitation in the region. As I understand it, we have always said that. We have also said that we want that guaranteed by the big powers. We want the military presence to be as small as possible. We want it to be balanced. We want to see a situation in which, if there is a limitation on military presence in the region, it is guaranteed by the big powers. Until it is guaranteed, Australia must have regard to its own defence situation. We must ensure that we have proper defence installations and proper military associations and connections with our allies to ensure the security of Australia.

There are a number of other areas- in fact, many- in the Minister's speech to which I would like to address some remarks. Time makes that difficult to do. May I content myself by referring to some of them. The Minister rightly drew attention to the importance of the United Nations and to the importance of Australia having a proper and substantial working relationship with and role in the United Nations. We cannot be too sanguine in our hope that the United Nations will solve all international problems, because the United Nations and any other organisation will not be able to solve all international problems. The advantage of the United Nations is that it brings countries together. It keeps them talking, and in the course of debating serious international problems usually some compromise can be reached. As the House knows, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and I had the privilege last year of being the 2 parliamentary members of our delegation to the United Nations. It was an honour to be travelling in the company of a former Minister who was widely known and held in very high regard in international circles. One of the intriguing features of the honourable member for Hindmarsh, as far as some overseas people were concerned, was that here was a former Minister who had clearly had some difficulties with a former Prime Minister. They were very concerned to see what sort of man the honourable member for Hindmarsh was.


Mr Cohen - When they find out, let us know.


Mr BROWN -Yes. It seems to be the season for analysing the issue of personalities on the other side of the House. The interesting thing was that foreign observers came to the conclusion, as I think most of us have, that the honourable member for Hindmarsh had made a substantial contribution to his country. He had been balanced, restrained and sensible in most of the things he had done. Perhaps inquiries should be directed at the Leader of the Opposition to see why he had the problems that he had with the honourable member for Hindmarsh. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that the Labor Party is looking to get rid its present Leader.

I depart from the subject. To return to it, no one who goes to the United Nations can come away with any view, I would have thought, other than that the United Nations serves a very useful purpose. It cannot be expected to solve all international problems, but it is a very useful venue for debate and discussion and for providing a vehicle by which compromise can be reached. There is one aspect of our relationship with the United Nations to which I would draw attention. We are a member of a group called WEOGWestern European and Other Group. We are one of the others. I would like to see the Government investigate the possibility of our forming a separate group within the United Nations. Australia is a leader in this part of the world. We are widely respected by nations in South East Asia and in the Pacific. We could be a leader of that group at the United Nations. I hope therefore that the Government will investigate the possibility of our having a closer working and voting relationship with the nations of South East Asia and the Pacific so far as our activity in the United Nations is concerned.


Mr Peacock - We participate in the ASEAN group.


Mr BROWN - The Minister has reminded me that we have an association with those countries. He referred to that in his speech. However, it would seem to me that there is perhaps scope for an even closer and even more formalised relationship with those countries.

Attention should be drawn to the situation in respect of refugees. Australia has taken many refugees from the world's trouble spots. These days Australia seems to be one of the very few countries to which people apparently want to come rather than leave. I emphasise this because, although the Government has done a great deal to receive refugees, I believe it should do more. The Minister has drawn attention to the fact that his colleague the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) will be making a statement on this matter. I will wait for that with interest. We have a enormous and an overwhelming humanitarian responsibility to people who are being rooted out of their own countries, cast upon the seas, almost literally in many cases. I hope we can translate that very deep responsibility into positive action. There are many subjects on which I would like to speak in this debate, but time makes that impossible. Finally, I congratulate the Minister for Foreign Affairs for what I described before as a very responsible and substantial contribution to foreign affairs discussion in Australia.







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