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Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 741


Dr KLUGMAN(6.28) —The Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Bill is a non-controversial piece of legislation, and I do not want to go over the basic parts of the Bill again. They have been outlined by other speakers, especially by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Brumby), who gave an excellent summary. My interest in this legislation and in items relating to it is considerable. For the last two years-nearly three years-I was a member of a sub-committee of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, which dealt with and presented a report on disarmament and arms control. Since considerable latitude has been allowed in this debate until now, I hope that latitude will be extended to me. I would like to read part of my dissenting report, which appears at page 681 of the report of the Committee. It deals with disarmament generally, and I quote this extract especially because of the questions that were raised by the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Langmore) earlier in the debate. It reads:

It is relevant to remember that there has not been a war between democracies since World War I, whilst there have been hundreds of major and minor wars, sometimes between democracies and authoritarian regimes, but most often between the latter.

One important, long term objective at least, of all opponents of war must therefore be the spread of democracy with its associated civil rights and liberties.

It is not possible to discuss the threat of nuclear war and the methods of preventing it, without pointing out the vast differences between the member countries of the Warsaw Pact and the Western societies.

The democracies are relatively open societies and especially in the U.S.A. the executive has to justify all military expenditure in some detail to Congress and the public. Everybody can therefore be aware of the proposals for new weapons and the arguments for and against them.

In the closed society of the Soviet Union no such public discussion takes place and in many cases the existence of new weapon systems or the extent of existing ones can only be obtained by traditional intelligence gathering-

or spying-

or the use of highly sophisticated surveillance by the U.S.A.

The question of verification therefore becomes more important. Additionally Soviet propaganda and disinformation is much more effective in Western societies where public opinion can actually change government policies.

Specifically on the question of the strategic defence initiative which was raised by my colleague the honourable member for Fraser, I said:

Whilst far from convinced that SDI will work and accepting that there is a significant risk of destabilsation of the current position, it is my view that agreement between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union to share results of any successful research and its installation by all nuclear powers, would be the only path likely to lead to complete nuclear disarmament.

I accept that this is not very likely, but the alternative of continuing to live permanently `protected' only by the use of `mutually assured destruction', is not one that can be faced with equanimity.

Those are the only alternatives that we are aware of at present. I am old enough to have been in my early teens in the late 1930s. When one honourable member said earlier that the Soviet Union may be preparing for SDI-type defences but certainly it would never be capable of perfecting them because it was too incompetent, it reminded me of the late 1930s, when we were told that the Japanese were the wrong build to be able to fly planes. We all found out very soon after that this was not true. We were told by the appeasers at that time that the Axis powers had no aggressive intentions. We are told similar sorts of things now. We are told that the Soviet Union would not know what to do with the countries of Europe if it attacked them, and so on. I hope that those people are right, but I do not think that our defence posture can be based on that view.

My view on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which is a significant part of this discussion dealing with non-proliferation is that, whilst I have no objections to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty-I think it is a good idea-a much more important ban would be the banning of the testing of new delivery systems rather than the banning of the testing of nuclear material. Arguments about moratoria on nuclear testing are a propaganda exercise. The Soviet Union has not tested nuclear weapons since the middle of 1985 and has claimed much moral virtue for this position. However, if one looks at the five years ending currently, in February 1987, when the Soviet Union has said that it will resume testing-the United States has continued testing-one will note that there have been 85 Soviet and only 68 United States tests during the five-year period, even though during two of those five years there were no Soviet tests at all. In 1982 there were 31 Soviet tests and 18 United States tests. In 1983 there were 27 and 15 respectively, and in 1984 there were 27 and 15 respectively. Since 1984 there have been 20 United States tests, giving a total of 68 tests, whilst in the first three years of this five-year period, with two years at zero, there have been 85 Soviet tests.

My view is that underground nuclear testing, in the case of powers that already have nuclear weapons, is not really of major concern. It is of concern in the sense of preventing horizontal proliferation, and therefore should be discouraged. But I think that members on both sides of the House sometimes make some ridiculous statements-for example, when criticising French tests in Mururoa. We talk about Mururoa being in our backyard. We are picking on a huge backyard as far as the Pacific is concerned. When we sent an Australian-New Zealand scientific group, at the invitation of the French Government, to Mururoa we found that the amount of radioactivity in Mururoa after the French tests was less than it is, for example, in this building currently.


Mr Brumby —Impossible.


Dr KLUGMAN —It is true.


Mr Brumby —What about the new Parliament House?


Dr KLUGMAN —Yes, the new Parliament House will have background radioactivity of about 25 to 30 times that of Mururoa. Members of this Parliament used to visit the Commonwealth Bank building in Martin Place, Sydney, for meetings, and some members had offices there, in the days before the Chifley Square building was completed. The background radioactivity in that building was about 50 times that of Mururoa.


Mr Brumby —Will we have to wear lead suits in Parliament House?


Dr KLUGMAN —I do not know whether we will have to wear lead suits. There is certainly a hell of a lot more radioactivity on flights, even to Adelaide, probably, but certainly to the United States or Europe.


Mr Barry Jones —Less in Adelaide, I would have thought.


Dr KLUGMAN —Less in Adelaide. In Adelaide itself there is not very much, but when one reaches great heights, there is a hell of a lot more radioactivity. I am depressed by-one could not call it intellectual debate-the lack of understanding in the Australian community on the question of radioactivity.


Mrs Kelly —What about this Parliament?


Dr KLUGMAN —I have not done tests, but I would think that in this Parliament the level would be about 20 times that of Mururoa.


Mr Brumby —How close is Mururoa?


Dr KLUGMAN —I am talking about the level at Mururoa, not what we get from Mururoa.


Mr Brumby —How far is it from here?


Dr KLUGMAN —I do not know-three or four thousand miles. Anyway, it is a ridiculous proposition. I am not suggesting that we should encourage the French to test there, but it is ridiculous for us to get excited about it.

Let me refer to a couple of significant points. The main point we are addressing is the question of horizontal proliferation. If one looks at chapter five of our report, one will see listed the countries which currently have nuclear weapons. They are the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, China and India. There is some doubt whether Israel has nuclear weaponry. I do not know. A large number of other countries have the ability to have nuclear weapons. Most of them-touch wood, or thank God, depending on one's religious beliefs-have little motivation. Some have some motivation and some have high motivation-or allegedly high motivation inasmuch as we can judge other people's motives. Australia, of course, is amongst the countries which would have the ability to produce nuclear weapons, but it has little or no motivation. A large number of other countries are in that category. Most of the countries of Europe are included. There are countries in South America-Argentina, Brazil and Chile-and South Korea and Taiwan which have the ability and, we say, some motivation. Then there are countries-they may or may not include Israel-such as Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and South Africa with what we consider to be high motivation to have nuclear weapons. They certainly have the capability, and they probably have significant motivation.

The question of motivation is twofold. A country may feel that is must defend itself. A country may be confronted by other countries which have nuclear weapons. That is, of course, why we want to prevent horizontal proliferation. If one country has them, the other country feels that it must have them.

Another point that is often not considered by people who have not thought about it is that nuclear defence is, of course, much cheaper than what we call a conventional defence force. The number of people employed is minimal and the cost of the weaponry is much cheaper than the cost of conventional weapons. My own view, and I re-emphasise it, as I said in my dissenting report, is that currently there is significant evidence to say that what has prevented major wars since the Second World War is the feeling of potential or probable mutually assured destruction. We are all worried that a smaller country perhaps than the countries which now possess nuclear weapons will come under the control of some person who may or may not be certifiable in our terms of psychiatric behaviour and who would or could start a nuclear war. I think that that is a threat and, in any case, the threat is averted only by that feeling of mutually assured destruction.

When one is dealing with people who do not behave rationally, the question of mutually assured destruction does not particularly worry them. After all, we are aware of people who for allegedly reasons, but often for political reasons, are prepared in effect to commit suicide, whether hara-kiri as it was in the olden days or what is happening in the Iraq-Iran war currently. People are convinced that they will go to heaven if they do certain things and that it is the will of God that they should do them. If we are able to avoid the nuclear threat by something along the lines of the strategic defence initiative, it is an excellent solution. I emphasise that that defence would have to be available at least to the two super-powers. It is no good just one of them having it because that, by itself, would immediately mean that the other power is almost forced, if it feels threatened, to take immediate action before the installation of a perfect strategic defence system.

I have made this contribution to the debate because I feel strongly about it. I feel particularly strongly about the fact that the debate is not conducted on a rational level in Australia. I do not know who to blame for it. I think to some extent governments of all political colours have to take some of the blame. Instead of trying to explain the factual situation, they find it easier to mouth slogans about peace, preventing war, being concerned with nuclear disarmament and having participated in all kinds of negotiations. While all those things have to be done, I think that one of the most important things that ought to be done is to try to educate our population to have intelligent discussions on questions of nuclear disarmament and possible potential nuclear war. There is hardly any need for me to commend the legislation because everybody agrees that it is necessary for us to safeguard our nuclear material. I appeal to honourable members to try to debate these issues rationally and to go out into the community and debate them rationally.

Although I said earlier that I issued a dissent in the report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, I would point out that it is an excellent report overall. It contains some three or four dissents from different people, but overall it gives a great deal of factual information. I have asked the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) to provide a copy of the report to every secondary school library as a step for people at least to be able to look up factual information. Although he has not yet agreed to my request, he is certainly sympathetic to it.


Mr Barry Jones —Beware the May statement.


Dr KLUGMAN —The Minister says: `Beware the May statement'. I would not be at all surprised if we have produced X number of copies of the report and that people have not bought it and read it. I do not know its cost, but I believe it is around $30 and it is probably lying around Australian Government Publishing Service shops all over Australia. I feel that it should be distributed because it is bipartisan. Surely we are all keen to raise the level of factual information that is available in the community on the question of nuclear disarmament and the threat of nuclear war.