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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 3804


Mr KENT(6.35) —I was a party to the minority report of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence that was criticised yesterday by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) as some Socialist Left conspiracy against the Western alliance. I listened carefully to the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock), who asserted the same moral superiority of the West. It was his view that the majority report did not assert that enough. I found the report faulty because it asserted so much the moral superiority of the West. Who is to judge moral superiority? I give the recent example of the Iranian arms sales. Does that demonstrate the moral superiority of a Western power which professes to fight terrorists, to not negotiate with terrorists and to not give an inch to terrorists, and asks everybody else in the alliance to behave in that way? We find that, whether with or without the knowledge of the President, arms were sold to Iran and the $46m profit from that arms sale to the Ayatollah was given to terrorist insurgents on the Nicaraguan border to plunder and kill in a country which has suffered long enough from the Samozan dictatorship supported by the United States. Is that moral superiority? I do not know.

I object to and condemn the Soviet intrusion into Afghanistan but I do not think that the American intervention in Vietnam was in any way morally superior to that Soviet incursion into Afghanistan. I do not think that we can pontificate, saying that all in the West is good and all in the East is bad. We may wish to start off from that premise and then talk about arms reduction, but of course we cannot achieve that because we cannot trust the other side. Recently I listened to the American Special Representative for Disarmament Negotiations, Ambassador Rowny, who was espousing exactly the same view as that put out by the honourable member for Kooyong, saying that we cannot trust the other side; there is no verification. Of course if we go for nuclear disarmament, what about conventional armaments? Every reason was put forward why there should not be disarmament step by step, and the honourable member for Kooyong found every reason why we should escalate. In my opinion the only answer to the arms race is disarmament. There is no other way.

The theory of deterrence is nothing else but step by step escalation. We are trying to talk people into believing that there will be no more escalation, that there will be de-escalation, because we have now a new defence initiative-the strategic defence initiative, or Star Wars project, of the United States. Of course that is defensive. SDI does not attack anybody. SDI, if it is successful, will just knock the sword from the opponents hand. But, at the same time, the power that does that still holds in its other hand the sword of all its nuclear might. Who guarantees that one side-the moral goodies, the West-will not use its nuclear arms under the shield of SDI to start a war against another super-power? Who can guarantee that, especially in view of the fact that it was not the Soviet Union that used the atomic bomb, it was the United States. Of course it was a small experiment--


Mr White —They did not exactly start the war, did they?


Mr KENT —No, they did not, but they used an atomic bomb as an experiment, not on nice white people in Europe but on a somewhat differently regarded race of people far away. They were the ones who used the atomic weapons. They killed 200,000 people in Hiroshima. They killed and maimed. It was a horrible weapon that they used. They unleashed that power on humanity. It is said that SDI is a good thing because it will knock the sword out of the enemy's hand. How does that go with deterrence? Deterrence is based on both parties having a sword but neither party using it because each is afraid of the other's sword. Now honourable members opposite wish to propagate SDI to knock the sword from the hands of those whom they consider enemies. I do not look on them as enemies. I look on them as super-powers who can with their armories destroy this planet. I do not care who starts it or who finishes it. We will not be here to judge it. Our children and our grandchildren will not be here to judge who was right and who was wrong. People must take their destiny in their hands and try to intervene. They should not leave this matter to politicians and negotiators-to Rownys, Gromykos, Reagans or Gorbachevs. I do not trust any of them when it comes to that. One has only to remember the arms negotiations between the two world wars.


Mr Hodgman —Whose side are you on?


Mr KENT —I am on humanity's side. I know whose side the honourable member is on. He wants to win the war. He will not win it, and that is what I am conscious of. No matter whose side we are on, if it comes to a nuclear war no one will win. All of us will be destroyed. That is the problem. It is no good taking a high moral stand, saying that the intervention in the Dominican Republic was okay because it was a Western power that was involved. It is no good saying that arming the Contras in Nicaragua is all right but the Soviet presence in Afghanistan is wrong. It is no good saying that the intervention in Vietnam, the sending of 500,000 Americans into that small country to kill millions, was morally right.

Honourable members opposite talk about the two blocs. The honourable member for Kooyong said that the communist world wants to divide us. There is nothing more divided than the communist world. We should just look at China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and see how divided they are. Who is dividing whom? These arguments are childish. The only argument that holds water in the age of nuclear weapons, the atomic age, is to outlaw those weapons and get rid of them before it is too late, and to get to that position through verified de-escalation. It is no good saying that the super-powers do not trust each other. Of course they do not trust each other. That is the way they are. The Russians do not trust the Americans either. I do not trust anybody in this super-power business. Why should I? They are all looking after their own interests. They look after only their own interest, not yours, not mine, and not those of the ordinary people.

Ambassador Rowny said: `Of course, the Soviet Union is a closed society and it needs an enemy; otherwise it cannot maintain the living standard of the people there'. I tell honourable members that the American industrialists also need an enemy because if peace breaks out tomorrow their industries will stop. There would be an economic crisis and a drop in living standards which they would not be able to explain. We can put the argument both ways. It is not good enough to say that the Soviet Union needs an enemy and that that is why we cannot trust it. The Pentagon also needs an enemy. The industrial-military complex in America needs an enemy to maintain the armaments industry. If there were no enemy, of course, if there were disarmament, and peace were to break out suddenly, without warning, somehow, the industry in the Western world would have another look at what it would do, what the metalworkers and others would do.

Yesterday there were attacks on the three of us who brought down a minority report, both from the other side of the House and also from our side. It was interesting to note in the Hansard that the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Charles) in introducing the report said:

It should also be noted that the dissents to the reports are all from the so-called Left and Right of the political spectrum. I have therefore concluded that the report will be substantially supported by the vast majority of Australians. As an old political saying states: If you are being attacked from both extremes of the political fence, you must have done something right.

Let me convey to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and to my colleagues that we did not attack the report; we were critical of some aspects of it. I do not consider myself to be from either the extreme Left or the extreme Right. I just consider myself to be one of those people who believe that if we do not take our destiny in our own hands on the issue of peace, if we leave these matters to the former captains who are trying to interject, the people who wore military uniforms with such pride, as though that were the biggest achievement in their lives, we will be leaving them to people who would lead us into a holocaust.


Mr Spender —Yes, and thank God for them. Where would you be, where would we all be, without them?


Mr KENT —To my lawyer friend who is interjecting, I say that if I wanted to hear from an arsehole I would fart myself. So he had better stop that. I do not have to listen to it. I am trying seriously to--


Mr Hodgman —I ask the honourable member to withdraw that remark. It was quite offensive.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Ruddock) —I think the language was unparliamentary and I ask the honourable member to withdraw it.


Mr KENT —The language was exactly the language of the primary school I visited the other day, and that is the language the Opposition often uses. I cannot see that the language-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I ask the honourable member to resume his seat for one moment. I think it would be appropriate for the dignity of the Parliament if he would withdraw.


Mr KENT —I think that the interjections were unwarranted and that provoked me. However, I withdraw without any reservations.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I ask for some restraint to be shown in relation to the matter of interjections as well.


Mr KENT —I think we are discussing a fairly serious matter, a report which I did not support in every aspect. However, I would say that many people put a lot of work into it, people who seriously desire to find a way out of the morass in which we in the twentieth century find ourselves. I believe that all the people who worked on this report had the intention to produce something which would give guidance. If I am critical of it I am critical only of some aspects, mainly because of the assertion that everything the West is doing is correct and everything that is happening on the other side is wrong. I do not think we can come to that judgment if we read history. After all, today there are people in the world fighting for their independence and fighting to achieve democracy, people who look for salvation to the Soviet Union, where there is no democracy, where there is not internal freedom in the sense that we know it; while the Americans use the Central Intelligence Agency to put down these people's revolts. The Americans, who have freedom and democracy in their own country, are not willing to tolerate it even on their own doorstep or nearby in Central America. They will not let the Nicaraguan people have the same freedoms that America achieved some 100 or more years ago. These are the issues I think we should look at and we should take a position. We should try to talk sense to the super-powers, we should try to achieve the complete outlawing of nuclear weapons to get rid of the shadow of that sword hanging over all of us.