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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2819


Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(4.04) —One of the quaintest statements in the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), now repeated by the Attorney-General, Senator Gareth Evans, who, I remind the Senate , represents the Minister for Defence (Mr Scholes) and the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) in this chamber, is that none of these bases represents a military installation. In fact, in answer to my interjection the Attorney just said that even though North West Cape can transmit signals perchance to submarines in the Indian Ocean that can fire intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads at the Soviet Union, it is not a military installation. I find it a very queer use of the English language to say that such a base is not a military installation. I remind the Attorney that several months ago I gave him notice of and asked the following question: Did the installation at North West Cape make Australia a prime nuclear target? He consulted with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Minister and gave me the answer: Yes, it did make Australia a prime nuclear target but the risk was worth while. I find difficulty in reconciling those two attitudes of the Hawke Government. On one day I am told in the Senate that Australia is a prime nuclear target because it has United States installations sited on it; I am told today that these installations are not military installations and therefore there is no need to worry.

This debate is an exercise that plays politics with the fate of Australians and their children. It concerns the greatest challenges of our time, yet it is being used for mean and expedient purposes. The Prime Minister's statement on arms control, disarmament and bases is to be welcomed for its delivery but is to be condemned for its content. The fact that an Australian Prime Minister saw fit to speak about these most urgent issues is to be welcomed. But in doing so, the fact that he hid behind the rhetoric of D-Day to avoid taking a position of strong moral leadership against the horrendous escalation of nuclear bombs is to be condemned as a pious fraud. I say again in this chamber: The Prime Minister's statement represents a pious fraud.

The Australian Democrats will not support this urgency motion. We take that stance not because we want to see the bases removed holus-bolus forthwith but because we have some very serious doubts about what this and past governments have told Australians about the bases. We do not believe that the 'do nothing because everything will be all right' approach advocated by the Government and the Opposition on this issue is in any way appropriate for this crucial matter. That status-quo approach has left the world today with 50,000 nuclear bombs. No matter what the rhetoric of Labor Party and Liberal Party politicians is in this place, the fact is inescapable. This rhetoric by politicians over the past 20 or 30 years leaves us today with 50,000 nuclear bombs. We are between five and 25 minutes from global annihilation and total human extinction. Yet politicians in this place still try to score cheap political points off each other.

The nuclear arms race is insane and so dangerous that it forces anyone concerned about tomorrow to investigate every aspect of it, to look for a way to bring it to an end. Surely it is proper for us to discuss all matters concerned with the survival of our children free from the prejudices of being labelled either pro-Soviet or pro-American. One would hope that on an issue that can affect the future of humanity one could question and query matters in debate without being called treasonous or traitorous. Therefore, let us admit that the United States bases in Australia play a role connected to the American nuclear weapons systems-systems that can and do give the Americans a nuclear first strike capacity. Surely that is incontestable. Surely logic screams that that is the position today. As Senator Chaney has said, at least the Liberals were fair dinkum about this. They said: 'This is the danger; this will give the Americans a first strike capacity; these are military installations'. One would have thought that equal honesty could have come from the Hawke Government.

Logically, it must be conceded that Australia and the bases are now a high priority nuclear target. The Foreign Minister admits this. The Prime Minister's statement acknowledged that the bases have a direct connection with nuclear weapons because of their arms control and verification systems. How then can the Prime Minister, telling the whole truth, say:

The facilities are not military bases.

The most honest man in Australia, Robert Hawke, said last week:

The facilities are not military bases.

Given this deception alone, the Australian Democrats could not even consider supporting the Government's statement or the Opposition's politicking today. The Democrats do not doubt that the bases play an important role in arms control. As well, in our view, they contribute to an increase in nuclear danger. The failure of the Government's statement is that it does not consider the implications of these functions or even acknowledge some other potential roles. Today's exercise shows that the Opposition does not either. The major parties in this country believe they can get away with deliberately deceptive statements based not necessarily on untruths but on the manipulation of information. The fact that the Government's statement went further than any previous statement on this subject is not a matter for congratulation. It should be cause for indictment of previous governments and a demand for better from this Government. That demand has not yet been met. Thankfully there are competent journalists and academics who can and do demonstrate from information publicly available in the United States of America-for some extraordinary reason this is denied Australians by their own governments-that recent governments in this country have not told their own constituents the whole truth. Dr Desmond Ball, a recognised world authority on nuclear strategic issues, is head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. In the Age of 8 June he stated:

The Prime Minister says the Government doesn't support any capability in the direction of a first strike, nor does it support any nuclear strategies which involve limited nuclear war. But he doesn't accept that some of the aspects of these facilities could well fall within these categories.

Mr Andrew Mack, Senior Research Fellow on arms control and disarmament at the Australian National University, was quoted in the same article as saying:

Pine Gap and Nurrungar provide vital information to fight a nuclear war. By hosting these facilities, Australia is collaborating with strategic doctrines which accelerate the arms race and increase the risk of nuclear war.

We are not dealing here with views of peaceniks and dupes of the KGB. These are the views of intelligent people whose professional livelihood is devoted to researching these fundamental issues. That they should hold views that differ so markedly from those held by the major parties of this country should give us some cause for concern. The very least we should do as a result is to enable to develop a full, open and public debate on all the implications of the bases. Neither this Government nor the previous Government is doing that. The National Times, through journalist Bill Pinwill, has revealed that a great deal is known about these bases publicly in the United States. His articles of 25 May and 1 June have revealed that the Nurrungar base is likely to be upgraded at a cost of $126m and that such upgrading will enhance the potential for those bases to contribute to a nuclear war-fighting policy. I repeat, we have information of the upgrading of Nurrungar at a cost of $126m. This will enhance the potential for those bases to contribute to a nuclear war-fighting policy. We Australians are contributing to that, yet we are told by the Australian Labor Party that these are not military installations. Dr Ball is again quoted in one of those articles as saying:

Satellite surveillance capabilities allow the U.S. to plan its strategic posture so as to be able to engage the Soviet Union in a nuclear war, thus making nuclear war more likely.

What does the Labor Party say about that? The Australian people are entitled to know. I do not believe that there is any person in this Parliament who would accept the proposition that limited nuclear war, first strike or nuclear war- fighting are in any way realistic, let alone a stabilising influence that contributes to peace and disarmament, although I remind the Senate that there are some maniacs in the American military who, even today, hold the view of a winnable, limited nuclear war, and are talking about it. These issues are of fundamental importance to the future of humanity. They are very technical and often difficult to understand.

There is one underlying concept that must be understood by this Government, this Opposition and the electorate at large; that is, deterrence. The word often appears in debates on this issue. The Attorney-General used it this afternoon. What does the word 'deterrence' really mean? Does anybody know? Is it a misnomer ? Is it a concept that promises peace, but makes nuclear war inevitable? It is a concept that in a world where nuclear weapons exist the way to deter an enemy is to threaten retaliation that would involve unacceptable damage. It is a concept with which everybody feels safe and one which previous governments have used devastatingly to justify the presence of the American bases. But while deterrence is a public relations catch cry, its defensive connotations are becoming totally invalid. As Leslie Gelb, a noted United States analyst, wrote in the New York Times of 4 March this year:

Official language now stretches the meaning of deterrence to being prepared to fight, control and even win nuclear exchanges. It is a very fine line between deterrence and actual war-fighting in thought and deed, and the superpowers seem to be approaching that line.

We in Australia are contributing to the super-powers approaching that ultimate in madness. When governments use the word 'deterrence' they could be meaning nuclear war-fighting. Let me give an example. Deterrence was satisfied in 1961 with about 1,000 nuclear bombs. The politicians then said: 'We have reached deterrence. There are 1,000 nuclear bombs in existence'. Why are governments not satisfied in 1984 with the 50,000 nuclear bombs that exist today, bombs which are more accurate and destructive? It clearly shows that the public has been conned and deluded by governments over 20 years. Under the mysterious meaning and mischievous character of deterrence the ordinary people of the world have been deliberately misled by politicians by being made to feel secure while the politicians have increased this destructive arsenal by 50 times over the last 20 years. If that is a correct concept and we could have deterrence in 1961 with 1, 000 nuclear bombs, why do we need 50,000 bombs in 1984? This Labor Government has to debate the implications of this situation. It did not debate that matter in last week's statement.

The task ahead of us is to have a full public debate on the real roles of these bases. Australians have every right to demand that these bases on our soil are totally controlled by Australians. We must be able to demand that these bases do not undermine the real concept of deterrence by contributing to the preparation for, or fighting of, a nuclear war. I do not pretend that informed public debate will result in much loved consensus or agreement. Concern over nuclear was is not an issue that can be ameliorated by argument. When faced with a threat to human survival people are entitled to be unbending in their opposition to nuclear war and nuclear weapons. Everything must be done to end the nuclear arms race, to reduce stockpiles and to ensure Australia plays no role at all in waging or encouraging the major powers to a nuclear war. The Government's contribution last week was a hindrance to this effort. The country desperately needs moral leadership to save the world from nuclear annihilation. Those who look to the Hawke Government to give that leadership must today be sadly disappointed.