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Tuesday, 11 September 1984
Page: 785


Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(3.47) —The Senate today is debating the following matter of urgency brought on by the Liberal Party:

The need to demonstrate Australia's commitment to the ANZUS Treaty by maintaining joint defence facilities and guaranteeing port access to allied naval units, regardless of means of propulsion or armament.

I now state that the Australian Democrats are proud to say that we will vote against not only the spirit of that motion, but also its wording. In doing so we will be a minority in this Parliament and, I have no doubt, a minority among the people of Australia. We believe that the future of Australia and of all Australians could well depend on the thrust of this particular urgency motion.

The nuclear arms race must force every person to examine past beliefs and test their validity now. I plead with the conservatives in the Liberal Party to realise that we are no longer in 1951 when the ANZUS Treaty was drawn up. We now live in a nuclear age. We are no longer in a conventional age. We live in an age when pressing a button can destroy and exterminate every living thing on this planet. So the philosophies, beliefs and standards that pertained in 1951 no longer apply. Failure to grasp this will only confirm Einstein's belief that the atom bomb has changed everything but our thinking. We have reached the crisis point. The stockpile of nuclear bombs is so large, the technology so advanced and the destructive power so awesome that it now takes the deliberate choice of people and politicians for there to be a hope for survival or progress towards any future at all.

Anyone who doubts the gross insanity that the world has reached need only examine the statistics. In the early 1960s we were assured that peace was at hand through nuclear deterrence. Do not honourable senators remember the politicians then saying: 'We have now reached nuclear deterrence, produced by 1, 000 nuclear bombs'? I remember American Presidents saying that we had now reached deterrence because we had 1,000 nuclear bombs. In the 1980s they say that to maintain deterrence we need to build more nuclear bombs to add to the 50 ,000 in existence. If deterrence was a reliable concept in the 1960s with only 1 ,000 bombs, why has it suddenly become necessary to have 50,000 in the 1980s? By the year 2000, assuming that we avoid a nuclear war in the meantime, will they still be telling us that we need more nuclear bombs in addition to the 100,000 that will then be in existence? We must stop the nuclear arms race now. The world needs moral leadership of the kind given by the New Zealand Government, of a kind that could be copied and followed by the Australian Government if we took a moral stance.

Let us look at where we are today. There are 50,000 nuclear bombs in the super- power stockpiles. At least five other nations are nuclear powers. More are trying to get nuclear bombs. Let us look at the size of the arsenal we have today. The bomb that obliterated Hiroshima and killed 200,000 people had a destructive capacity of only 12 kilotonnes. Today one average nuclear bomb- not the big ones-is equivalent to 42 Hiroshimas. Multiply 200,000 human beings by 42 and we then have the destructive capacity in human terms of one average bomb. The entire stockpile is equivalent to one and a half million Hiroshimas.

One would have thought that any reasonable person would recognise that for one nation to risk annihilation in response to a nuclear attack, let alone trigger a chain of events that would lead to the extinction of life on this planet, is insane. Our political leaders, however, seem desperate to perpetuate that insanity.

The United States of America plans to build another 29,000 nuclear bombs in the next decade. The Soviets, no doubt, have similarly insane plans. The nuclear arms race not only threatens the extinction of life but also is a criminal waste of resources that could be used to alleviate social hardship and thus create real peace and prosperity. In the face of this insanity the Liberal Party remains unmoved by the prospect of the total extinction of life on this planet. Its response is once again to fall in a craven heap, to laud the ANZUS Treaty, welcome nuclear bombs into our harbours and urban areas and demand we maintain United States bases which are officially recognised as nuclear targets. Those bases are now officially recognised as nuclear targets, yet the Liberal Party is saying that the bases must be there because the risk is worth while. At least the Liberal Party is frank enough to admit that it wants to perpetuate our role as a prime nuclear target and to have warships armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons near our cities. Its stance is honest, its stance is consistent and its stance, in my view, is wrong.

The Labor Party has been less than frank. While professing on the surface concern for arms control and disarmament, it has changed nothing in substance. The regrettable fact is that to do nothing is to perpetuate the insanity that has propelled the nuclear arms race to its lunatic proportions. People have to understand that a deliberate choice has to be made if we want a secure, nuclear free future. To oppose nuclear weapons is the only path to survival. Nuclear weapons have to be opposed at all times no matter what flag they fly under or where they are. If Australia is to have a credible role to play in the urgent search for nuclear disarmament we must prohibit all nuclear weapons from entering Australian territory. We cannot make claims about the evils of nuclear weapons on the world stage and make grandstanding speeches that we are against disarmament if we let nuclear weapons into our ports and near our urban areas. We lose credibility totally if we do that.

Many nations recognise the hypocrisy that the visits of warships loaded with nuclear weapons pose if we want nuclear disarmament. France, Spain and India are on record as having opposed the visit of nuclear armed warships of foreign powers. In answer to the argument that the banning of visits by nuclear armed ships imperils our membership of ANZUS let me quote the case of Denmark which is a fully fledged member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Although Denmark has opposed the presence of nuclear weapons in its territory since 1957 it has not faced United States hostility in respect of its continued membership of NATO. Let me remind the Senate that membership of NATO is far more binding upon its member states than is ANZUS. Even cities such as Boston and New York do not have visits of nuclear-powered or armed warships because of population density and the risk of accident.

The New Zealand Government's policy is the latest initiative towards calling a halt to the nuclear arms race. The Australian Democrats applaud the New Zealand policy as one of courage, moral leadership and principle that will act as a powerful example to deviate the world from a path of nuclear insanity. Contrary to the hysteria emanating from the Liberal Party and contrary to the shameful pressure placed by the Australian Labor Government on the Government of New Zealand, these actions do not imperil ANZUS. The United States has not abrogated the Treaty because of the actions of the New Zealand Government. What did it say when New Zealand said: 'No more nuclear armed warships'? The United States simply said: 'Okay, we will not send any more to you'. Has there been any talk about abrogating ANZUS? Of course there has not. Any talk on this matter has come only from politicians in this country. The New Zealand Government, as I understand it, has not expressed a desire to abrogate ANZUS. It is happy to have a warm and constructive relationship with the United States, as Australia should have, but without nuclear weapons.

Let us be clear about the meaning of ANZUS. Politicians have built up one of the great myths of our time about ANZUS. Most people in the street, because of the misleading statements of politicians, believe that if Australia were attacked ANZUS would guarantee automatic military protection from the United States. Of course, it does no such thing. Anybody expert in these matters shoud be honest enough to give the Australian people the truth. All ANZUS does is to compel the parties to consult in the event of conflict. ANZUS offers no protection to us anyway because the only country other than the United States that could attack, invade and conquer Australia within the next 15 years is the Soviet Union. Let us be frank. There are only two countries in the world that have the logistic and military capacity to do that. I do not mean countries than can make a damned nuisance of themselves by dropping a few bombs here and there. I mean countries that have the capacity to invade, conquer and occupy. The two countries that have that power are the United States and the Soviet Union. If the Soviet Union coveted that desire-I certainly do not believe that it does; I do not know of any military strategists who say that the Soviet Union has those immediate designs on Australia-surely the United States would be at our side in a flash, not because it wants to maintain the integrity of ANZUS, but simply because it would be in its self-interest so to do as it could not bear to have the Soviet Union on its soft underbelly.

Even if ANZUS could offer a defence, the concept of defence is meaningless in the nuclear age. I have heard Liberal spokesmen talking about a defence in a nuclear war. Talk of having a nuclear umbrella to protect us is pathetic make- believe. There is no defence against nuclear weapons. Once a nuclear offensive has been launched, one has only two options: One can wait to die, and as a living person one envies the dead, or one wreaks revenge on one's attacker by annihilating its population and then one waits to die. The major task is to remove the threat to humanity from the nuclear arms race.

Running to the defence of a 33-year-old treaty which was designed to deter Japanese militarism does nothing to avert the crisis facing humanity. The crisis continues to escalate day by day. Two recent events have increased the urgency for bold initiatives to overcome the nuclear arms race. The outrageous and horrifying statement from the Pentagon last weekend that the United States President, acting alone without the consent of Congress or his allies, could and should be able to launch a nuclear first strike in Europe in response to a Soviet conventional supremacy shows that nuclear weapons are not for defence but for attack. I cannot comprehend how anybody who has children or who cares for others could allow a statement such as that concerning a person in a position of power to come from the United States Pentagon last week and not question the United States about it. A responsible Prime Minister of this country, no matter what his philosophy on the arms race, should have been on the telephone to Mr Reagan the moment that hit the deck asking him: 'Does this mean what it purports to mean or does it mean something else?' But apparently this Government has assumed, without even making a phone call or sending a telex, that it means something that was said about a possible NATO situation years ago. The second and later area of concern is the fact that the United States Navy is equipping its Pacific fleet with sea-launch cruise missiles. We are living in a pre-war, not a post-war world. The last world war ended in 1945, and the next one could start any second. With 50,000 nuclear bombs locked on target and ready to fire, we are all living on borrowed time. Nuclear war is imminent. It could begin at any moment, by accident or miscalculation by madness. The computer sophistry of the nuclear arms race is so complex that the North American defence system has two false alarms every three days. Is that not enough to send a chill through every senator? My source for that information is the Centre for Defence Information, Washington. (Extension of time granted)

The world faces a stark choice-the nuclear race or the human race. The stockpile of nuclear bombs has produced an insane situation where humanity has developed the capacity to extinguish life in the name of peace. Australia has to do something. Making Australia a nuclear weapons-free zone would be an enormous act of moral leadership. Prohibiting the visits of nuclear-powered and armed warships would ensure there are no nuclear bombs in our cities. Renegotiating the agreements covering the US bases to ensure they do not contribute to nuclear war or its planning, and closing them down if that cannnot be done, would guarantee that Australia is not supporting the growing United States capability to launch a nuclear first strike. To do nothing about the arms race, as this Labor Government is doing or worse, to embrace nuclear weapons as the Opposition proposes, will keep the nuclear barrel firmly pointed at all Australians. There can be no security and little prospect of a future until other countries follow the path of New Zealand's total rejection of nuclear weapons.