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Tuesday, 11 September 1984
Page: 803


Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(5.21) —by leave-I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

This Bill is the second stage of the Democrats' plan to declare Australia a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.

The first stage-the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Bill 1984-sought to prohibit the development, testing, manufacturing, transportation, storage or importation of nuclear weapons into Australia.

That Bill, which is currently before the Senate, did not extend to Australian territorial waters, airspace or harbours.

This second Bill explicitly covers Australian waters, airspace or harbours.

Vessels (ships or aircraft) carrying nuclear weapons are prohibited from entering Australian waters or airspace. Nuclear powered ships are also prohibited.

This Bill would implement the same policy as that of the New Zealand Labor Government which has sought to prohibit nuclear powered or armed warships of all nations from its ports.

The Democrats applaud the New Zealand Government's policy as one of courage and principle, that will act as a powerful example of moral leadership to a world desperate for a path away from nuclear insanity.

Anyone who doubts the gross insanity the world has reached need only examine the statistics.

In the early 1960s they assured us that peace was at hand through nuclear deterrence. Nuclear deterrence was produced by less than 1,000 nuclear bombs.

In the 1980s they tell us to maintain deterrence we need to build more nuclear bombs to add to the 50,000 in existence.

By the year 2000 (assuming we avoid a nuclear war in the meantime) will they still be telling us we need more nuclear bombs to the 100,000 that will then be in existence? We have to stop the nuclear arms race now.

Let's look at where we are today. There are 50,000 nuclear bombs in the super powers' stockpiles. At least five other nations are nuclear powers. More are trying to get nuclear bombs.

The bomb that obliterated Hiroshima and killed 200,000 people had a destructive capacity of 12 kilotons (12,000 tons of TNT). Today, one ''average'' nuclear bomb is equivalent to 42 Hiroshimas. The entire stockpile is equivalent to one and a half million Hiroshimas.

Any reasonable person would have recognised 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 this insanity.

The United States 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, it is a criminal waste of resources that could be used to alleviate social hardship and thus create real peace and prosperity.

People have to demand that their politicians act now to stop the nuclear arms race. The Democrats have made the deliberate choice to do everything possible to halt the nuclear arms race.

No one is naive enough to believe that we in Australia can reverse the nuclear arms race overnight. But there is something we do know. That is, if we do nothing the present nuclear madness will continue to grow. If we make the effort to do everything in our power to make people aware, concerned and active there is at least hope. And where there is hope there is life.

We have reached a 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 a future.

It takes a deliberate choice because to do nothing will ensure that the nuclear arms race will continue apace.

This Bill provides one deliberate choice that Australia can take.

To oppose nuclear weapons-which is the only path to survival-Australia has to oppose all nuclear weapons, no matter what flag they fly under or where they are .

If Australia is to have a credible role to play in urgent search for nuclear disarmament we must prohibit all nuclear weapons from entering Australian territory. You cannot claim the evils of nuclear weapons, on the world stage, then let them into our ports and urban areas.

Many nations recognise the hypocrisy that the visits of warships loaded with nuclear weapons pose if you want nuclear disarmament.

France, Spain and India are on record as having opposed nuclear armed warships visits of foreign powers.

Denmark, a fully-fledged member of NATO, has opposed the presence of nuclear weapons in its territory since 1957.

Cities such as Boston and New York do not solicit the visits of nuclear powered and armed warships because of population density and the risk of accident.

New Zealand is the latest example of moral leadership on this issue.

The Democrats' bill is similar to legislation that will implement the New Zealand Government's courageous decision.

This bill is quite simple. Nuclear powered or armed ships or aircraft are prohibited from Australian territorial waters, airspace and harbours. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to take all reasonable measures to prevent contraventions.

Powers are vested in members of the Customs, Police and Defence Forces to board vessels and take necessary action to prevent any contraventions.

In practical terms this situation would most likely never occur. If this bill were passed the intention would be clear. No foreign Government would test or contravene such a clear policy.

Two recent events have increased the urgency for bold initiatives such as this bill to overcome the nuclear arms race.

The outrageous and horrifying statement from the Pentagon that the U.S. President, acting alone without the consent of Congress, could and should be able to launch a nuclear first strike in Europe in response to a Soviet conventional attack, shows that nuclear weapons are not for defence, they are for attack. Australia hosts U.S. bases which assist the U.S. nuclear weapons system to launch a first strike. They are officially recognised as nuclear targets. That confirmed risk has been accentuated.

Our Government has to demand a full explanation as to the meaning and validity of this statement.

The second latest area of concern is the fact that the U.S. Navy is equipping its Pacific fleet with sea launched cruise missiles. These are identical to the cruise missiles being deployed in Europe. They are undoubtedly first strike nuclear weapons. The fact that the nuclear tipped cruise missiles will be indistinguishable from conventional cruise missiles forces the enemy to assume every vessel carrying a cruise missile will be a prime nuclear target.

We are living in a pre-war not a post-war world. The last world war may have ended in 1945, but 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 or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.

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.

The Democrats hope the choice will be the human race and that senators will support this because of the spirit of survival.

Debate (on motion by Senator Robertson) adjourned.