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Tuesday, 11 September 1984
Page: 790

Senator SIBRAA(4.17) —We are debating a matter of urgency today which reads:

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.

This is another beat up matter of urgency concerning an issue raised by the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Chaney, on 12 June dealing with Australian- United States defence facilities. What Senator Chaney was then hoping to do was divide the Government ranks on this issue before the national conference of the Australian Labor Party. The truth is that the Opposition desperately wanted to be able to make an election issue out of this issue. It wanted to be able to paint the Labor Government as being anti-American and opposed to the United States alliance. However, the national conference of the ALP destroyed whatever hope the Opposition had, and now we have a pathetic situation in which we are debating an urgency motion based on the decisions of the New Zealand Labour Party conference. The conference decision is not a Government decision. The procedures of the New Zealand Labour Party conference mean that resolutions that are passed go before a policy review committee of the Party and then, if they are approved, to the parliamentary Labour Party, which has the power of veto over the conference decision. Therefore, this recent decision may never see the light of day. Yet we are discussing it as a matter of urgency this afternoon. Let us examine what a leading New Zealand member of parliament, Helen Clark, said in Australia yesterday. She is regarded as being strongly anti-nuclear in her attitude. A newspaper report stated:

The New Zealand Government would maintain the ANZUS alliance, according to a member of the Government presently in Australia to explain her party's nuclear policy.

The report continued:

She said a conference decision was only the first step. The next was deliberation by the party's council which would, if it was in favour of the proposal, refer it to the parliamentary caucus and then to the party's national council.

Finally, the report stated:

She said New Zealand had sought to renegotiate ANZUS.

Talk about drawing a long bow; next we will have a matter of public importance on the decisions of the Western Australian branch of young Labor or the Western Australian branch of the Liberal Party as if it would automatically become party policy. Are we to have a matter of urgency debate whenever a Labor or social democratic party makes a decision that is not perceived to be in our best interests? It happens every day as it happens with conservative governments all around the world. The French Socialist Government, with which we are affiliated in the Socialist International, continues to test nuclear weapons in the Pacific . That is not in Australia's interests. The Japanese Government proposes to dump nuclear waste in the Pacific. That is not in our interests. I believe the Opposition would be better served by having an urgency debate on these issues rather than the one we are debating this afternoon.

I intend to concentrate this afternoon on why we must maintain the joint defence facilities, and my colleague Senator Elstob will deal with some of the other aspects of the matter of urgency. There is no doubt that a great number of people in Australia and New Zealand hold different views on the ANZUS treaty, the joint defence facilities in Australia and their role. The reason why the Australian people hold different views is that the Liberal and National Parties when in power lied to the Australian people about the joint defence facilities and their purposes. The editorial in the Australian Financial Review on 12 June this year put the matter extremely well. It stated:

The most important thing about the statement which the Prime Minister made last week about the U.S. communications bases is that it served, together with statements of the Foreign Affairs Minister, to bring the debate about Australia' s role in the world power balance into some kind of perspective.

The worst thing about the way in which the discussion about the bases has been conducted, and was conducted under the last Government, was that it permitted and encouraged the Government and the bureaucracy to lie to the Australian people. The last Government lied, by omission, about the bases; the bureaucracy has tried to continue this line even up to the present, and has prevented the Government from giving as clear an account of the role of the bases as could have been done.

Another part of the editorial reads:

The real argument, then, is about the strategy of nuclear deterrence and whether Australia, by contributing to increasing the efficiency of the U.S. communications and surveillance system, increases the effectiveness of deterrence and so decreases the likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons. The lies and duplicity of both our allies and our own defence establishment and governments in the past have served to prevent proper public debate about this central issue.

I believe that is why a great deal of confusion still exists. The government of the day, the Liberal-National Party Government, said, for example, that North West Cape, at that particular time was used for communicating between surface ships, both civil and military. There was no mention at that stage of its underwater role. The previous Government said that Pine Gap was a space research and communications base. What is the truth?

North West Cape is a communications relay station for ships and submarines of the United States Navy and the Royal Australian Navy and serves as a key element in the complex system of communications supporting the global balance. As indicated in the statement which the Minister for Defence, Mr Scholes, tabled in the Parliament on 3 November 1983, agreement was reached with the United States Government on new arrangements to ensure that the Australian Government would be able to make timely judgments about the significance for national interests of developments involving North West Cape. That is something that the Liberal- National Party Government, of course, never did. Those new arrangements are now in force. This Government is satisfied that Australia's sovereignty in the operation of the joint defence facility at North West Cape is now adequately protected.

The Government has also revealed for the first time that Nurrungar and Pine Gap provide early warning by receiving from space satellites information about missile launchers and provide information about the occurrence of nuclear explosions. They provide timely information about military developments which can be critical for the United States and its allies, including Australia. Effective deterrence and hence avoidance of conflict depend on this. They also contribute to monitoring and verification, which is critical for arms limitation agreements, test ban monitoring and non-proliferation. Of course, the majority of the Australian people knew nothing whatsoever about this until the Prime Minister's statement some months ago.

The Opposition is often critical of the Australian Labor Party and its attitude to the facilities, but let us examine the record. What does the Labor Party platform say about this matter? The section which deals with foreign affairs states:

Co-operate with the people of the United States and New Zealand within the context of the Australia-New Zealand-United States (ANZUS) Treaty.

In the section on disarmament and arms control, the platform states:

Labor upholds the principles of disengagement and disarmament. Labor will work towards meaningful detente and effective measures of arms control. Labor will support and, where Australia can be a party, take initiatives in bilateral and multi-lateral negotiations for global and regional arrangements. To these ends, Labor will use Australia's influence as an ally of the United States. Labor will -

Support moves to enhance the capacity of the UN Security Council to pre-empt conflicts and facilitate initiatives under Article 99 of the UN Charter.

Support implementation of a program for disarmament based on the proposals contained in the Palme Report of the Independent Commission on Disarmament Security issues entitled 'Common security-a program for disarmament'.

Further in the section of our platform dealing with bases and facilities, it states:

Labor will-

Ensure that the presence in Australia of foreign or jointly owned, controlled or operated bases and facilities does not involve a derogation from Australian sovereignty.

The platform also states:

Labor will-

Not oppose the use of Australian bases and facilities by allies in war-time, or in periods of international tension involving a threat to Australia, or in so far as they are involved with verification of treaties, agreements, and understandings on disarmament and arms control, such as the various SALT accords ; provided Australian authority and sovereignty are unimpaired; and provided that Australia is not involved in hostilities without Australia's consent.

Surely no member of the Opposition would disagree with that platform. The Government believes that the joint facilities play an important role in nuclear disarmament and deterrence. As the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) stated on 6 June, the general purpose and functions of the facilities are to provide information which contribute, firstly, to deterrence of nuclear war by enabling timely knowledge of developments that have military significance. A specific example of this is the provision of early warning information received from space satellites about missile launches. Secondly, they contribute to monitoring as part of verification of compliance with the provision of arms control agreements ; for example, by providing information about the occurrence of nuclear explosions, which assists in nuclear test ban monitoring and supports nuclear non-proliferation measures.

The Australian Government is committed to complete nuclear disarmament. Its policy is the same as, and is precisely described by, the recommendations of the Palme Report of the Independent Commission on Disarmament Security Issues concerning disarmament. The report states:

Nuclear deterrence cannot provide the long-term basis for peace, stability and equity in International society. It must be replaced by the concept of common security. The conclusion is therefore inevitably that nuclear weapons must be eliminated.

It continues:

A doctrine of common security must replace the present expedient of deterrence through armaments. International peace must rest on a commitment to joint survival rather than a threat of mutual destruction.

The Commission recognises that this objective-that is, complete and general disarmament-will not be realised in the near future. In other words, the Palme Commission explicitly points out that complete nuclear disarmament will not happen overnight. The Palme report correctly states that there could be no victors in a nuclear war. Nuclear war cannot be limited. Both the United States and the Soviet Union have satellite based systems which are designed to provide them with their first warning of a ballistic missile attack. In addition, they have ground radar systems which would confirm that such an attack was under way. The two systems are necessary to ensure that they would have reliable warning of such an attack and that a nuclear war should not occur as a result of an accident or miscalculation by either side.

If Australia were to cease its co-operation with the United States in early warning of missile attack, the United States would be much less confident that it would not be the object of a surprise attack and would conclude that it was at a strategic disadvantage. This could lead to an instability and uncertaintly which, in a situation of crisis, might make the United States conclude that, based on its inability to be sure of adequate and timely information, it had to attack first in order to forestall a potential disarming strike against it. By refusing to co-operate in this important area, we would be adding to the instability and worsening the prospects for the avoidance of nuclear war.

One of the major concerns of Australians is the prospect of the joint facilities being nuclear targets in the event of a nuclear conflict, as Senator Chipp pointed out this afternoon. It is undeniable that in certain circumstances those facilities could be nuclear targets. The argument often put, therefore, is that we should get rid of the facilities and erase the consequences of a nuclear war, should it break out. The undeniable fact is that regardless of the presence of the joint facilities, Australia cannot escape the consequences of a nuclear war and the nuclear winter which would follow. Since Australia would suffer the consequences of nuclear war whether or not we have the facilities, we cannot become immune by removing them. The real question is: Do these facilities contribute to arms control, disarmament and peace? The Government considers that they do contribute fundamentally to deterrence, which is the only option for the time being. They also contribute vitally to the verification of arms control and disarmament agreements.

There will be no arms control agreement between the super-powers unless each side is reasonably confident that the other cannot cheat on that agreement. This is a fact of life. Both super-powers are deeply suspicious of each other. Both insist on effective monitoring and verification of any treaty on arms control into which they enter. To this point neither has been able to agree on full on- site inspections of arms control agreements between them. The only way, therefore, in which these agreements can be verified is by what is termed a national technical means of verification. It is highly unlikely that some major arms control agreements between the super-powers would have been concluded if there had been no Pine Gap or Nurrungar. If we were to abolish Pine Gap or Nurrungar we would seriously damage the prospect of agreements on the limitation of nuclear arms between the super-powers. Once again we would have achieved exactly the opposite of what we had set out to achieve.

The Labor Government supports the joint defence facilities. The Opposition's arguments this afternoon have made a mockery of its matter of urgency. The Labor Government has no need to demonstrate Australia's commitment to ANZUS. Our actions show our commitment.