Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 15 September 1983
Page: 903

Mr MacKELLAR —by leave- The review of ANZUS just outlined to us by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) has been an exercise, like so much of the Government's recent activity in the foreign affairs field, to expose for the benefit of the Australian Labor Party the principles which govern and continue to govern Australian foreign policy, principles which this side of the House accepts as commonsense and pragmatic but which have to be spelled out as fresh thought to satisfy the discomfort the Government has in maintaining a commonsense approach when faced by the dissident views of the Victorian branch of the Labor Party. This is an exercise not for the Australian community but for the dissident elements within the Labor Party itself. The questionings and doubts in the Labor Party about ANZUS are, hopefully, to be put to rest by this statement. In the process, the nation is treated to an exercise in motherhood. The fact is that there are only two super-powers in this world-The United States of America and the Soviet Union. After the war a system of alliances to protect free societies in Europe and the Pacific emerged in association with the United States. This gave balance to the aggressive pushes of Stalinist Russia, in Europe and the Pacific.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formed to defend Europe and the Atlantic . Following the experience of the Korean War when Japan became threatened by an almost successful sudden attack by North Korea against South Korea, there were other unstable situations unfolding in the Pacific region. Then Australian and New Zealand statesmen, whose experiences were alive with the memories of two major conflicts within virtually a decade, resolved to ally their countries in a framework of an alliance which would add strength to their individual security. ANZUS never was and never has been seen as a substitute for a national security effort. Rather it has been seen as being, and has had the effect of, a catalyst for national security effort.

It is important to remember that Australia has acted internationally in support of her security interests outside the framework of ANZUS. Australia very successfully committed resources and fighting forces against the communist insurgency in the Malaysian Peninsula. This effort, in collaboration with the British and indigenous forces, put an end to communist ambitions to secure the strategic region for communist aims. Again Australia backed the resistance to the efforts of Indonesia under Sukarno to frustrate the foundation of the independent state of Malaysia. It was an unhappy period of some uncertainty as to the direction of American policy. Australia made its decisions on the basis of its judgment that our security interests demanded that we resist the solution of territorial claims by force majeur. Today as a result of this wise collaboration with our South East Asian friends, and the British Government, the region is emerging as a basic force for stability. ANZUS was not involved in these commitments.

The experience of World War II brought home to Australians that there was a natural mutual security strength in the relationship between Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Our societies were based on fundamental principles of freedom and democracy, principles which were challenged and discounted by adversary viewpoints. If we hold to our principles, we have at all times to be prepared to defend them with strength. World War II as I have said, demonstrated the mutuality of our security interests. The Korean War confirmed the perceptions which informed the minds of all leaders who had been in this Parliament throughout the dark days of World War II.

The ANZUS Treaty is a document of mutual commitment, as described by the Minister. It is also a set of working arrangements. A key feature is the military exercises and the military advising arrangements. In this connection, it is well to recall some of the war-time experiences, which should help us to place a special value on the contribution ANZUS arrangements make to national security. ANZUS was set in place by men who had a living experience of the enormous difficulties which faced Australia and the Pacific in World War II, and the problems of the instability being created in the South East Asian and Pacific approaches to Australia as a result of communist policies.

The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) rightly emphasises the significance of the great contribution made by John Curtin to the saving of Australia. But the experience of Curtin, in his efforts to establish a direct relationship with the United States, was not lost on the late Sir Robert Menzies, Sir Percy Spender and R. G. Casey, the man who spoke for Australia in Washington in the critical days in 1942. The threat to Australia, the bombing of Australia, produced a grave crisis . A conflict between European and Pacific priorities developed over which we had very little understanding or control. Sir Owen Dixon, who suceeded Mr Casey, recommended we try to get access to the views of the United States chiefs of staff. But there was no machinery for this. The war historian, Foreign Minister and member of this House, Sir Paul Hasluck, described the problem facing Curtin as follows:

The Australian Government was unaware of the course of a great deal of high- level planning between Roosevelt and Churchill or by the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington or even by the United States Service Commanders, until after the consummation of that planning had made it public.

Thus when a crisis arose as to the degree of effort to be diverted from Europe to support the defence of the Solomons, Australia knew nothing of the critical debate between the United States Chiefs of Staff. Fortunately, Admiral King, Chief of the United States Naval Operations, came down behind a firm stand in favour of Pacific priorities. He describes the decision in his account of his career. But Australia knew nothing of his thinking behind the United States decision to counter attack in the Solomons, action essential to secure the lines of communication between Hawaii and Australia.

The ANZUS Treaty takes us beyond these uncertainties that faced John Curtin. It takes us into a framework of close consultation with the United States military authorities. Our respect for it and support has a firm historical base, that is, the near invasion of Australia in World War II and the great crisis which threatened the Pacific by communist efforts to take over the Korean Peninsula and South East Asia. While the strategic circumstances today may differ, as the Minister outlined, little has changed to suggest that a close alliance with the United States is not fundamental or valid. A treaty which has behind it the force of the United States Congress is of profound value to us.

I mention this history to remind the House that one of the instruments of ANZUS not mentioned by the Minister is the system for meetings of the military chiefs, which take place at the time of the ministerial meeting. This special relationship ensures access through our military mission in Washington and, conversely, theirs in Australia. This access is, of course, of continuing practical importance. These practical arrangements ensure something we never had in World War II-direct working access to the highest military level in Washington. Far from weakening our independence and authority, ANZUS greatly strengthens it. We are better informed and better placed to make judgments and contribute to the dynamic issues of the day.

The decision of the Government to agree to revamped meetings between officials of the ANZUS governments is a constructive development. One of the problems in the past has been that the officials tend to treat the talks as occasions for reviewing global issues-'tour d'horizon' is the diplomatic jargon. There should be scope for meetings of officials on ad hoc issues-that is, specific issues of the day about which there is a prospective urgency and on which a concerted view would be of practical value to all parties. It is a valuable innovation to have scope in the meetings for discussions between mid-level and senior experts, as announced in the ANZUS communique. This will overcome the tendency to a routine ennui which led to the falling into disrepair of the previous arrangements for officials' discussions.

The Minister's statement contains a very important reference to a point of some considerable substance. It is not a new point, as it has been made in various forms by coalition spokesmen in government, and in particular the issue was carefully addressed by the report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence last year. The point is the one which fully recognises that Australia should maintain a self-defence capability. The Minister stated:

By definition, therefore, it would not be prudent to base the development of our Defence Force structure on the assumption that our forces will necessarily be part of a super-power deployment in the event of any form of hostilities in which all are involved.

The intent and meaning of the point would be clearer if the word 'allied' were substituted for 'super-power'. Whilst accepting the prudence in any proposition that we should not base ourselves on the assumption of allied assistance, nevertheless it is mandatory that our self-defence capability be developed on the premise that its structure and its equipment can readily be compatible with our ANZUS partners. There is a requirement therefore to produce a self-defence capability which can support wider allied commitments to the region of the Pacific and Indian Oceans when necessary. On the contemporary significance of ANZUS, the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence reports the views of the Department of Defence as follows:

The official view of the security value of the ANZUS alliance to Australia, as put to the Sub-committee by the Department of Defence, may be summarised as follows: First, if a security problem arose in our region, with which we could not deal unaided, the ANZUS Treaty would guarantee Australia's security; secondly, ANZUS has a day-to-day relevance on the basis of a partnership which can be seen at work in such areas as exchanges of intelligence and military doctrine, the operations of the joint facilities and Australian participation in joint naval and military exercises; thirdly, ANZUS also has a wider significance as an important part of the web of alliances and treaty arrangements which constitute the Western Alliance-it is within this framework that the Australian offer of home porting facilities at Cockburn Sound to US Navy ships engaged in patrolling the Indian Ocean, for example, is seen as linked to Australia's obligations under ANZUS, as is a range of co-operative activities, including the joint defence facilities, co-operation in communications arrangements and logistic support arrangements, and the provision of transit facilities for US B52 aircraft and facilities for certain US military exercises here.

The Minister referred to Mr Clark's speeches, the intent of which was discussed by the Joint Committee of this House. The Committee made this significant finding:

In the Committee's view, the ANZUS Alliance will continue to have 'a deterrent value against any hostile action beyond Australia's capabilities to defend itself'. The Committee also supports the view that Australia must look primarily to its own defence capabilities to protect itself against a future threat to its security or its interests from within the region.

In conclusion, the Committee stated:

The Committee considers that the mutual security provisions of the ANZUS Treaty , taken together, represent a stronger assurance of military assistance in the event of an attack on Australian territory than a commitment merely to consult. The Committee believes that, in the event of a threat to Australia which proved beyond the capacity of the Australian defence force to meet unaided, US support would be forthcoming in accordance with the mutual security provisions of the Treaty. However, no such threat is visible in the near future.

As the Committee notes, the form of the assistance is a more open question, as one would expect. There is no specific reference in the ministerial statement to the geographical application of ANZUS. On the whole, I think this is not an area for unilateral interpretations to be attempted. But an important point was usefully made by the Joint Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee in 1981 when it said:

There is general acceptance that the ANZUS Treaty does not apply in different ways to different parts of Australia's metropolitan territory, which includes the Australian littoral on the Indian Ocean. Article IV, because of Article V, clearly applies equally to the West, North and South of Australia as it does to Australia's Pacific Littoral.

Clearly it follows that joint arrangements which address the security of the Indian Ocean and its consequential effects on the Indian Ocean approaches to Australia is of a significance to be comprehended by ANZUS whether by specific reference or by reference to the wider 'umbrella' effects of the Treaty. In this context we should consider the statement made by Admiral Long, Commander-in- Chief of the United States Forces in the Pacific to the United States House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on March, 1982. The Joint Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee report states:

Admiral Long's statement detailed US and Soviet military strengths in the Pacific and East and South Asia, calling on the Congress to support President Reagan's efforts to enhance US military power. He emphasised that the 'vast' PACOM area (stretching from the west coast of the United States to the east coast of Africa, and including the Pacific and Indian Oceans) remained 'critical to vital US and allied interests, not only militarily, but politically and economically as well'; also, that in the last decade the Soviet Union had greatly expanded its influence throughout the region.

Admiral Long stated further-the language is important-that the United States takes its treaty commitments in the Pacific seriously as illustrated by the forward basing of forces and the deployment of ships throughout the Pacific and Indian Ocean areas. It is against the background of that strategic outlook, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the Opposition views its obligations to the support and application of the ANZUS Treaty, the Treaty which we believe is the most vital of all our international treaties.

Motion (by Mr Kerin) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.

Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.