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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 26


Mr MACKELLAR(4.07) —During the parliamentary recess, the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) made a number of major overseas visits. I would have thought that as a courtesy to this House notice would have been given by now by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of his intention to inform the House on the purpose and outcome of these visits. The Prime Minister, in his first major visit overseas, gave a high priority to the importance of Australia's relationship with the United States of America and the central role the ANZUS treaty plays in that relationship. His whole approach seemed both reassuring and positive, but it is clear that the Prime Minister's apparent emphasis was not shared by a major and an influential section of his own party. I need point out only that this section is led by the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party which is dominated by the socialist Left faction for that statement of mine to become apparent. The significant thing about this faction is the prominence it gives to a foreign policy perspective which takes a very friendly view of the Soviet Union and a consequently negative and destructive view of those policies which frustrate Soviet designs. But the fact remains that that faction represents a significant section of the party and a great deal of effort has to be put into satisfying its complaints. Foreign policy formulation of this Labor Government has, therefore, been the victim of this internal dispute.

The Foreign Minister has tended to reflect the qualifications in the Government 's internal position. In this process he has given the impression that the Prime Minister's remarks needed to be discounted. The Prime Minister gave unqualified support for ANZUS. The Foreign Minister, on the other hand, set out with a mission to review ANZUS. The Foreign Minister's remarks conjure up a number of anti-United States phobias. He says that we must be wary of over-reliance on the relationship with the United States. These comments and other comments have been accompanied by a whole series of background briefings. Tensions between the Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State for the United States of America, Mr Shultz, were being dramatised in the Press and were said to proceed from Mr Shultz's concern about an apparent downgrading of ANZUS by Australia and this Labor Government. The Australian Foreign Minister is reported to have said that Australian foreign policy tended to rely exclusively on great power relations. That would be a sensible observation if it happened to be true. But the truth is that it is a fiction to describe Australian foreign policy of the 1970s and 1980s in those terms. The Fraser Government's emphasis on relations with the Commonwealth, the Third World and the Pacific give the correction to this proposition. It is blurring a very important issue. The issue of Australia's security is one which has to be defined in the context of great power moves in the Indian Ocean, South East Asia and the Pacific.

The Soviet Union, contrary to the view of the socialist Left, is not benign in its foreign policy. It is purposeful and opportunistically aggressive. Its major objective is to embarrass and reduce the strength and capability of the United States, whether the region be Europe, the Middle East, Asia or the Pacific. That is the critical and central fact of foreign affairs. The role of any government interested in the fundamental security of Australia is to ensure that that fact is not obscured.

It may sound a truism but it is also a fact that the world is a dangerous place . In the last year we have seen the Soviets insist on the military subjugation of the Polish people, who seek a full expression of an independent, Christian culture. We have seen the Soviets conduct a cruel war against the Moslem people of Afghanistan. In South East Asia, its surrogate, North Vietnam, has continued to suppress the Buddhist peoples of Laos and Cambodia. For what end does the Soviet Union produce these crimes against the legitimate aspirations of people who wish no harm to their neighbours? The simple aim is a strategic one-to control and subjugate territories to which the Soviets have no entitlement. Clearly, Australia cannot afford to take a complacent view of the movement of Soviet power and influence in its region. It is, therefore, mandatory in the face of such dangers to maintain a positive and constructive relationship with the United States. The Prime Minister, for his part, appears to recognise this clearly enough. It is a dubious development to introduce the notion which sees a competition between our relations with the United States and South East Asia.

Australian interests in South East Asia are considerably bound up with the success of the Association of South East Asian Nations, which of course is a great force of stability in the region. Our relations with ASEAN and the United States are brought together in the consultations that take place between ASEAN and its dialogue partners. ASEAN has its own active diplomacy with the United States. But it would be most concerned if Australia were to downgrade the role of the United States in world affairs. On this side of the House, we see the continuing need for a mature, sensible and constructive relationship with ASEAN and the United States. But it is not practicable to conduct that relationship in terms which pick up differences and explode them into a prominence which serves only the interests of our enemies. ASEAN countries are frankly disturbed at the current state of relations with Australia. I have that at first hand from my recent visit to one of the ASEAN states. The priority given to Vietnam and the somewhat naive interpretation of Vietnamese intentions implied in this emphasis are extremely worrying to ASEAN.

Since ASEAN's interception in 1967 there has not been any shadow of genuine doubt cast over our security relations with ASEAN members. In its early days there was no explicit projection of the common security interests of ASEAN as a group. But Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia has changed things considerably. In addition to defence co-operation arrangements with individual members it was never anticipated that an Australian government would not be supportive of ASEAN strategic priorities. This operative assumption of ASEAN is fundamental for us and for it. Uncertainty, however, now afflicts the ASEAN-Australian relationship . We have to realise that the efforts of the Foreign Minister may not be sufficient to avoid the inherent dangers of these sustained uncertainties which still remain even though the visit to Hanoi is now over. Thus we, as a nation, are faced with a serious diplomatic problem.

Let us look more closely at Vietnam's candidature for conciliation. It has one of the largest armies in the world. It is backed by massive Soviet aid. It has a defence treaty with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union has access to a major naval facility and airfields. Vietnam insists on dominating Cambodia and Laos. It is run by a small pro-Soviet clique of which one of the great strongmen is Le Duan, the Secretary-General. I think it is worth remembering that Le Duan always advocated the successful military strategy-the regular force strategy-which won the final victory. He seems to be unwaveringly pro-Soviet. One must then ask: What has led the Government to believe that Australians should put any trust in Hanoi to the extent of discounting the views of ASEAN and the United States in particular? What factual assessment is the Government using for a policy which puts at risk the confidence of out friends, our neighbours and our allies? I would like the Foreign Minister in his reply to detail those assessments and, if possible, make them available so that we will see what basis there is for this sudden change in policy which has characterised this new Labor socialist Government.

The Foreign Minister paid a visit to Japan. Whilst he was there he chose to raise the spectres of international fears about Japan's defence expenditures. Clearly, this misrepresents what is happening. The Japanese have a vital interest in their self-defence in a region which is under pressure from the Soviet Union directly. The Japanese have undertaken to increase their self- defence capability-I underline the words 'self-defence'-in consultation with the United States. Clearly, the defence of Japan, a prodigious industrial power, is a fundamental and major strategic issue. Japan can greatly assist by maintaining a high quality capability for her self-defence forces. It is unreasonable and dangerous to misrepresent what is being done and to warn Japan in gratuitous terms about its self-defence concerns.

The United States fundamentally has to guarantee the security of the region. But it has other major commitments, for example, in the Middle East. Australia and Japan derive a primary benefit from the exercise of American influence and power in the Middle East. Is it reasonable to let fly with remarks which can only be interpreted as questioning publicly the decisions arising from American and Japanese consultations?

So far as the public record is concerned, we have a reporting of the Foreign Minister's concerns which are not argued or substantiated, nor are they placed in any context of strategic argument. Here again I ask the Foreign Minister whether in the future he could make available the strategic assessments and foreign policy advice which, hopefully, is the background to these seemingly off the cuff remarks that emanate from him. The headline 'Hayden ''No'' to Japan Forces' has appeared. Are we not obliged to enter such issues with a more careful approach? Is the Parliament not entitled to have the Government's considered views, or are they not considered views? Is Japan not entitled to the consideration that her vital interests are not to be lightly viewed or assessed by an Australian government?

When the Prime Minister returned he was faced by rumblings in his own party. Because of the influence of the socialist Left one newspaper predicted that the Prime Minister would not find it easy to still the rumblings in the lower echelons of the party. But the Foreign Minister, for his part, has chosen to offset the strengths of the Prime Minister's statements by a series of statements calculated to depreciate our relations with ASEAN, the United States and even Japan. In all this there is a failure to address the main currents of strategic thought. The factor of the Soviet Union has been obscured by an obsessive concern about the need for adjustments in the policies operating with our friends. I regard it as a strange twist.

In this context I should mention that strains have been introduced into our relations with Indonesia over Timor; differences with China over Vietnam; resource diplomacy has been used against France and our Indian Ocean policy is to be subjected to more instant rethink-not a bad record for five and a half months in government, and one of considerable concern not only to the people in Australia but also to people overseas. My friend the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Coleman) will be detailing more of these arguments.

If continued, these policies will lead to a puzzlement about Australia's motives and intentions. This in turn will have a negative international effect. It will in fact produce a cynical view of Australia internationally. The Opposition believes that the Government has a duty to make a more systematic and considered outline of its foreign policy and, in that process, remove the uncertainties which are clearly evident in the current naive, inconsistent and confused presentations made by a number of spokesmen for this Labor socialist Government.