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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4475

Ms HALL (ShortlandGovernment Whip) (18:45): I rise to support the Prime Minister's motion. In doing so I thank both her and the Leader of the Opposition for putting this unanimous motion to the parliament. It is a motion that I think is extremely important and one for which I do not think there is any option other than to support.

As a person who has been a long-term advocate for a nuclear-free world, I believe it is important that we move forward and take action. The Prime Minister's motion gives us a ground for doing so. But, more importantly, I think report No. 106 of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties—which I was privileged to be a member of the last parliament—really highlights the issues that revolve around nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. It highlights the actions that can be taken to get to a world without nuclear weapons.

When it comes to nuclear weapons, there is no winner. The country that has the biggest and the most weapons, the country that has the largest stockpile, is not the winner. Any nation that is depending on its nuclear war stock is never going to be a winner. Other countries around the world are not winners either. There is a definite divide within the international community between those who have nuclear weapons and those who do not have nuclear weapons. Those that have nuclear weapons want to make sure that the countries that do not have nuclear weapons remain in that position. I do not think that in itself does anything to move this debate any further forward. Nuclear weapons do not make our world safer. Nuclear weapons actually create an environment of instability and, at the same time, create an environment where the very safety of everybody on this planet is at risk.

Currently there are five listed nuclear powers. They are Britain, China, France, Russia and the US. There are three that lie outside the NPT. They are India, Israel and Pakistan. I would now add a fourth, and that is North Korea. We have seen over the last 12 months both North Korea and Iran flexing their muscles and moving to a situation where they are becoming a nuclear threat. Although I said that there are four nations, I should have added Iran as another nation that is in refusing to allow inspectors to come in and is openly boasting of having a nuclear weapons program.

We cannot be complacent. It is complacency that has led us into the position we are in now. The threat is still very acute. There is a combined stockpile of over 20,000 nuclear weapons. Of these, 5,000 warheads are launch-ready and 2,000 of these warheads are in a state of high operational alert. This places the very existence of the planet we live on at risk. I believe the motion the Prime Minister has moved acknowledges just how important this is.

On 2 July 2009 I attended the Conference on Disarmament. The thing I found most disturbing of all was that the debate that took place on that day was determining the agenda for discussion of nuclear disarmament. Moving the issue forward and actually working on disarmament was not happening, because those countries at the Conference on Disarmament could not even agree on an agenda and the format those discussions would take. I do not think that is good enough. I think it is very, very important that we get to a stage where all countries acknowledge that nuclear weapons are dispensable and that the way to deal with the threats of tomorrow is not through nuclear threats.

It is very important that we coax and coerce North Korea back into the NPT, because you cannot deal with issues such as this unless all the players are involved. So I strongly urge that part of the role that Australia plays in nuclear nonproliferation is to encourage and engage with all those countries that have nuclear weapons and that wish to engage in nuclear weaponry.

I would like to refer to the Treaties Committee that I mentioned earlier. In total there were 22 recommendations, and those recommendations were unanimous. They were the recommendations of a committee that had people from both sides of this parliament, and people with very diverse views. Recommendation 1 was that the government support and achieve the ratification of the CTBT by the United States Senate. We saw that as very important, and the committee was involved in a number of discussions around that. But that has not happened. It needs to happen, as do the other recommendations in this report. Diplomatic efforts to encourage ratification of the CTBT need to be pursued. Australia has a very strong role in that because of the relationship we have with the United States.

The committee also recommended that the government use all its diplomatic powers to promote negotiations on a verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty. The committee felt very strongly about the issues that were raised and the recommendations that were made. The committee had the support of the government at the time, and the Prime Minister reiterated her support for nuclear disarmament in her speech in the parliament. One of the recommendations I thought was very important was recommendation 5, which recommends that the Australian government encourage all other uranium exporting countries to require countries to which they export uranium to have an additional protocol in place. It is absolutely paramount that countries that receive uranium from Australia are parties to the NPT, and I strongly support the additional protocol. I do not think as a nation we should be exporting our uranium to anyone that has not signed up to the treaty.

There were a number of other important recommendations in the treaties committee report. The committee members that were involved in that inquiry, particularly those that visited other countries, felt that Australia really does have a leadership role. They felt that not enough was happening, that there were enough nuclear weapons in the international community to pose a real threat to the lives of everyone on this planet and that the one-upmanship of ensuring that those countries that have nuclear weapons and maintain those weapons was not really leading anywhere—along with the fact that it created that desire of those countries that did not have nuclear weapons to seek to obtain those weapons.

I refer to a paper by Professor Ramesh Thakur, Director for the Centre of Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament at the ANU. I see that the member for Fremantle is here. I know that she was responsible for having the professor come and talk to us. He put it very well:

The case for abolition is simple, elegant and eloquent. Without strengthening national security, nuclear weapons diminish our common humanity and impoverish our soul. Their very destructiveness robs them of military utility against other nuclear powers and of political utility against nonnuclear countries.

As long as any country has any, others will want some. As long as they exist, they will be used one day again by design, accident or miscalculation.

That very much sets out the scenario for nuclear weapons.

The doctrine of deterrence does not work. The current treaties do not include groups involved in terrorism. War and terrorism need to be addressed in ways other than through nuclear weaponry and through nations demonstrating the level of power they have by the number of nuclear warheads they own. There need to be more multilateral and bilateral agreements entered into. Australia needs to take the lead and be involved in diplomacy, moving to a situation where we have a nuclear-free world. Australia has a close relationship with Israel—and I notice that nowhere is it mentioned the fact that Israel have nuclear weapons. They also need to be involved and agree to limitations on the nuclear weapons they hold.

This is a question that can easily be answered. We need to move. I fully admit that within my lifetime we will not reach the stage where we have a nuclear-weapon-free world—

Ms Parke: Why not?

Ms HALL: but I will do everything in my power to see that that happens. I was actually in Tahiti in 1995, when the nuclear testing took place there. Australia and New Zealand have always been leaders in the fight against nuclear weapons.

I will finish where I started, by congratulating the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition on agreeing on the motion that is before the parliament; I just ask that the motion be given a few more teeth.