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Tuesday, 8 November 1983
Page: 2440

Question No. 168


Dr Everingham asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 18 May 1983:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to an editorial-page article by Dr Julie Dahlitz in the Canberra Times, 9 May 1983, referring the the United States of America bases in Australia as early warning, verification, navigation, targeting and military command systems not susceptible to genuinely joint control.

(2) Can he say if Dr Dahlitz (a) is the most highly qualified Australian in disarmament negotiations and (b) Will she be offered a United Nations posting in conjunction with the new section of his Department concerned with disarmament.

(3) Will he pursue with US authorities (a) the phasing out of secret nuclear offensive functions and (b) open international control surveillance and peaceful navigational functions of these bases, in co-ordination with the international rescue satellite project and the UN preace surveillance satellite project first proposed by France in 1978.

(4) Will he inform the United States that Australia supports the majority vote of the US House of Representatives, and the 1982 US referendum, in favour of a mutual and verifiable nuclear freeze and rejects the Reagan-Weinberger policy of escalation of the arms race and militarisation of outer space in pursuit of winnable nuclear war capability; if not, why not.


Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) (a) No. (b) There is not a new section of my Department but I have arranged for the previously inadequate resources of the disarmament and arms control area of the Department to be increased. United Nations postings cannot be offered but are the subject of applications by individuals.

(3) (a) I will make no comment as to the appropriateness or otherwise of the term 'secret nuclear offensive functions' applied to the joint Australian/United States defence facilities at Pine Gap and Nurrungar. Discussions are still in train with the United States Government about a possible statement on the general purpose and functions of those facilities.

It follows from recent statements which the Prime Minister and I have made in support of those facilities and their contribution to deterrence and global security that the Government has no intention of seeking to have any of their functions phased out.

(b) The Government supports the international satellite rescue project and has voted in favour of relevant resolutions at the United Nations General Assembly for the French proposal for an international satellite monitoring agency. It does not, however, believe it would be either appropriate or practicable to seek changes to the arrangements governing the operations of joint defence facilities in Australia along the lines proposed in the question.

(4) In principle, the Government is attracted to the concept of a nuclear freeze as a means of achieving reductions of nuclear forces. In considering the case for a nuclear freeze, however, it is important that the result be mutually agreed and verifiable. A freeze at excessively large levels of armamens which did not look forward to reductions in those levels would be likely to perpetuate anxiety and uncertainty about risks of nuclear war. A freeze which gave advantage to one side would not contribute to a stable peace.

The Government's approach on arms control and disarmament questions has been made known at the highest levels of the United States Government during the respective visits by the Prime Minister and myself to Washington in June and July of this year.