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Tuesday, 6 September 1983
Page: 359


Mr HAYDEN (Minister for Foreign Affairs)(2.27) —I support the motion which has been put forward to the House by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke). The past several days have been a sustained moment of gravity, concentrating common sentiments among all members of this community and, indeed, of the communities of the Western world. There have been sentiments of sadness that nearly 300 lives of passengers and crew should be terminated in such a cruel, unexpected and sudden manner and grief shared with the surviving family members, relations and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this unexpected and inexcusable way. Of course, there has been anger at the way in which the incident occurred, an anger which is properly fortified by the obstinate evasiveness of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in refusing to acknowledge what everyone knows to have happened-namely, that a Korean commercial airliner was shot down by a Soviet military aircraft on 1 September with large scale attendant loss of life.

But over and above all this we are disciplined by the recognition of our responsibility to serve the best course for the future of mankind. In that respect I thought it instructive to watch the President of the United States of America this morning delivering a statement on this matter on a television program broadcast world wide. I believe his presentation was statesman-like. There was controlled anger as he expressed firm and justifiable condemnation of what the Soviet Union had done. In the second thrust to his statement was an outline of initiatives, of reprisals, that the United States intended to implement after it had explored with its allies the best manner in which these sorts of things could be done in concert and the sort of support which would be forthcoming for the United States in taking these initiatives. Then, and most importantly, came the firm declaration that in spite of all of the anger, disillusionment and disgust at what had happened, which was experienced world wide, the United States recognises that the most important thing is to continue to draw the Soviet Union away from its paranoia and into the main stream of discourse with the rest of the world; to work for worthwhile things which will serve a better future for mankind, such as the development and, hopefully, the successful conclusion of talks such as the intermediate-range nuclear force talks and the strategic arms reduction talks, talks which are central to the future of this globe. I believe that is the way in which our discussion must be conducted in this matter. There is no room for competitive indignation. We all share the sorrow, the anger and the disgust at what has happened.

For my part, I suspect very strongly, from the evidence I have seen, that it was on the part of the Soviet Union an egregious blunder; but, for all that, the blunder does not exculpate what happened. The Soviet Union should have adopted established practices to establish beyond any doubt the nature of the Korean Air Lines 747, which was a commercial aircraft, not a military aircraft. No amount of fabrication, no amount of manufacturing, can establish an alibi which will deflect the outrage of the rest of the world at what happened, the failures, the cruel and humanly destructive failures of the Soviet Union, worsened by its attempts to be obstinate in its evasiveness in an effort to avoid responsibility .

What happened, happened in a geographic part of this globe which is an area of fragile accommodation, a potential flashpoint that could conflagrate the globe at any moment. What happened on this occasion demonstrates that potential amply. I repeat that it is my view that the conduct of the United States Administration , the presentation of the President of the United States of America this morning , displayed the sort of restraint which is appropriate in all of these circumstances, in spite of our experiences, our feelings.

The Opposition has sought to move an amendment to the motion which has been put to the House by the Prime Minister. We recognise the genuineness of motivation on the part of members of the Opposition. This is not an occasion on which any person should seek to pick up a quick political opportunity, and it is not an occasion on which the Opposition would seek to do so. I therefore put to the Opposition that, if weighed up in a mature sense, there is nothing in the addendum which the Opposition proposes which has not been amply covered by the motion which has been moved by the Prime Minister and in the statement that he delivered in a measured and effective way today.

There are three elements to the addendum which the Opposition wishes to have included in the motion moved by the Prime Minister. The first is that the Opposition, in essence, requests the Government to formulate further measures that could be taken in the event of the Soviet Union failing to respond to a request from the Government for adequate explanations and attendant matters. I assure the Opposition, as the Prime Minister sought to outline in his statement to the Parliament and as I certainly sought to establish yesterday at a Press conference, that these matters are well and truly in our mind. We have been in close contact with our friends and allies. We have been in very close contact with Washington. The Prime Minister has spoken to the Secretary of State for the United States, Mr George Shultz, on this matter, and has maintained a continuing briefing to members of the Cabinet on American proposed initiatives, sharing information with us. We have been in close contact with Seoul, especially to express our grief at what has occurred, and to discuss the matter through our representatives there, and with Tokyo and, of course, Moscow, to deliver our protest, our outrage, at what has taken place.

The important point to bear in mind is that any initiatives taken in this matter must, first, be circumscribed within that common-sense approach which the Americans are displaying at this point, to which I have referred; secondly, to be effective, they have to be co-ordinated; and therefore, thirdly, they require close consultation with the United States. That we have undertaken and continue to fulfil. I mentioned yesterday that should the Soviet Ambassador fail to present a satisfactory response to our initial calling in of him and presentation of our concern on this matter we would call him in again. I repeat: We will work closely in association with our allies in this matter.

The next matter that the Opposition proposed very properly, as it very properly mentioned the first matter, was that we should press immediately for just compensation for the families affected by this disaster. We give a firm undertaking to honourable members and to members of the community that this is a matter that we have under way. I mentioned yesterday that as a result of the collaboration between the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State of the United States of America, the Prime Minister was able to advise us, and I was able then to relate to the media yesterday, that this was a matter in train and continues to be in train. Of course we will make appropriate public responses to this matter as it develops further as it is our intention to keep the public informed.

The third matter that the Opposition very properly stressed related to the condemnation of the Soviet Union for its barbaric act. In fact if honourable members look at page 2 of the Prime Minister's statement as circulated in the House today they will see almost precisely those words. He stated:

There can be no justification for such a barbaric act.

But I really do think the formulation, given the mood of the moment, of part 1 of the Prime Minister's motion is more than adequate for the task. It states:

expresses Australia's shock and indignation at the totally unjustified destruction of a Korean Airlines Boeing 747 by Soviet fighter aircraft;

That is severe enough, that is condemnatory enough and that is categorical enough, I believe, to meet the requirements of all honourable members. No one in this Parliament has a monopoly on concern, grief, anger or any of those sentiments. We all share them equally. In all of the circumstances, therefore, the Government, believes the Opposition's amendment is unnecessary. I think, in all those respects canvassed today on this matter, the most relevant comment is the comment that the Prime Minister made in his statement to the House a few minutes ago. He quoted the brother of one of the Australian victims who, when asked about his reaction, said:

But we don't believe there should be any further violence or retribution-one act like that does not deserve another act.

That seems to me to have the shape of a New Testament injunction which we could appropriately apply in all the circumstances of this continuing matter of great moment and concern.