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Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 910


Senator DURACK(4.33) —The Opposition is opposed to the Australian Waters (Nuclear-Powered Ships and Nuclear Weapons Prohibitions) Bill which has been introduced by the Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Chipp, on behalf of the Australian Democrats. The purpose of the Bill is to prohibit the entry into Australian waters, or the air space above Australian waters, of nuclear powered ships or nuclear armed aircraft. The reason for the Opposition's rejection of this proposal is twofold: Firstly, this proposition turns its back on the reality of the world and the nuclear age in which we live. Secondly, we know that the proposition, if it were accepted, would pose a major threat to our ANZUS alliance and, I think, would almost certainly spell the end of that alliance. I propose to say a few words in respect of both those reasons why the Opposition will vote against the Bill. It may well be tempting for inhabitants of an island continent which is so geographically isolated as Australia to indulge in fantasies of being aloof from the currents of world politics and from the nuclear age in which we live, but that will not make the reality of the world in which we live go away. It will not make the reality of the increasing Soviet presence in our region go away; nor will it do anything to help reduce the tensions in the world, which in some parts are at flashpoint.

This proposal is really part and parcel of the peace movement that has been so prominent in Europe in recent years, whose members protested against the deployment of the United States Pershing and Cruise missiles. That peace movement has now run out of steam. It had no effect on the deployment, which began in 1978, of the Soviet SS20 intermediate range missiles in eastern Europe- that deployment, of course, was the one which initiated the United States response-and we know that it did not prevent the deployment of the United States Pershing and Cruise missiles also. We know that peace movements do not thrive in the Soviet Union or its satellites. Those few Soviet activists about whom we do know are now contemplating their actions while they are in exile or in prison camps. It seems that what the Age newspaper some time ago called the 'chain of protest' has spread finally to Australia and is now manifesting itself in the form of this Bill introduced by the Democrats.

I believe the essential fallacy of peace movement action is expressed in this legislation. Many well-meaning and sincere people have called for disarmament, which generally seems to be unilateral disarmament on the part of the West rather than on the part of the Soviet Union. Despite the impassioned citation of statistics which appears in Senator Chipp's explanatory memorandum about the size, quantity and so on of nuclear weapons, the problem really is not so much the number of weapons but the point that they exist at all. Given their existence one would have to live in cloud-cuckoo-land to expect that they would all be destroyed and the technology for their creation would be forgotten. How do we control the situation? What do we have to do to create a climate in which nations can co-exist peacefully and in which stability in the world can be created and preserved?

As I have said, we see the real question of the age in which we live as being how to come to terms with the reality of it, how to come to terms with the nuclear industry in its many manifestations-not only in weaponry but also in energy and so on. Bills such as the one which has been introduced on behalf of the Democrats by Senator Chipp are really luxuries which divert attention away from the increasingly urgent questions. As I have said, those questions are: How do we handle the nuclear waste and the by-products? How do we work to create as stable a world as possible? How do we work for the limitation in the first place of these horrific weapons and armaments and how, for instance, do we even achieve a test ban treaty? The efforts which the Government has been making in this direction, which were detailed by the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans), represent clearly the approach which the Opposition would take. We support that approach because we see it as being a realistic approach. The one taken in this Bill, as I have said, simply turns our back on the world in which we live. Regretfully, the New Zealand Government itself-not just the New Zealand Labour Party-seems to believe it can turn its back on the world in which we live . The reality of that world is that defence and security of Australia have to be achieved. It can be achieved only through the ANZUS alliance. The second reason why we will oppose this legislation is that if it were passed we believe it would be destructive of the ANZUS alliance.

In the Senate yesterday I successfully promoted a matter of urgency which read:

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 am pleased to say that when the Senate voted yesterday on whether we should clearly state our commitment as parliamentarians to that proposition, the vote was 50 to 5 in favour of it. I sincerely hope that the same overwhelming rejection will be made by this chamber of this Bill which was introduced by the Democrats and which is being debated today. I will briefly refer again to the importance of that matter, although I developed it at some length yesterday. There has been in recent years the frightening reality of the Soviet expansion of its world role. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan only a few years ago. As a result of that the United States has been forced to forward deploy its forces in the Indian Ocean as well as in the Pacific Ocean. It has now been forced to adopt what is called the 'two oceans policy'. The Soviet Union has now developed bases in Vietnam, which is a central point of its strategy.

Ever since the Cuban crisis over 20 years ago the Soviet Navy has been built up as a result of a conscious decision that it will never again be humiliated as it was during that crisis. That development initially took place in the northern hemisphere, in the Black Sea. But for the last 10 years the Soviet Pacific Fleet has received increasing numbers of ships and men. The Soviet Union has also developed its far eastern air capability. Now the Soviet Union has forward bases in Cam Ranh Bay and Da Nang which relieve it of the necessity of relying on Vladivostok and facilities on the Kamchatka Peninsula. These developments have very serious consequences for Australia, the details of which I gave to the Senate yesterday. The Soviet Union is now capable of making a direct strike on Australia with its squadron of TU16 Badger aircraft and long-range Bears, as they are known, based in Vietnam. As I said yesterday-and I repeat it again today, because it cannot be repeated too often-we are more dependent upon the ANZUS alliance today than at any time since it was entered into 30 years ago.

It is perfectly clear that if we were to deny access to Australian waters and ports by allied warships or aircraft simply because they were nuclear powered or might be carrying nuclear weapons-of course, the policy of the United States, which we accept and which the Government accepts, is never to disclose that point-in the very firm manner of this legislation-it absolutely prohibits their entry-the alliance could not operate and there would be an even deeper crisis than is occurring at the moment because of the attitudes and actions of the New Zealand Government. That has been made clear over and over again.

I mention in particular what has been said by two very senior American officials. The Senate will remember that two years ago the then Leader of the Opposition and present Foreign Minister, Mr Hayden, expressed the view that allied vessels which might be carrying nuclear arms should not enter Australia and there should be disclosure of whether such vessels were carrying nuclear weapons. At about that time, in June 1982, there was a meeting of the ANZUS Council in Australia which was attended by the then Deputy Secretary of State, Mr Walter Stoessel. Mr Hayden had a very significant meeting with Mr Stoessel on that occasion. Mr Stoessel straightened out Mr Hayden in no uncertain terms. Mr Hayden had to eat his words and change the policy that he had announced on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. We should all be thankful that that occurred and that the Government today can express the views which have been expressed by the Attorney-General, Senator Evans, who spoke before me in this debate. The important point I want to make is that Mr Stoessel pointed out, as did the communique issued after that ANZUS Council meeting, that:

. . . the partners recognised American access to ports as a 'critical factor' in its efforts to 'carry out its responsibilities under the terms of the treaty' .

The other quotation to which I refer in order to emphasise this point comes from Secretary of State Shultz who, as we all know, was in Australia in July this year, less than two months ago, on his way to attend the ANZUS Council meeting in New Zealand. In an interview that took place on 17 July, and which was televised on a Four Corners program on 2 September, Mr Shultz said:

What kind of an alliance is it if the military forces of the countries involved are not able to be in contact with each other?

At another point he said:

If you are going to have a military alliance then the military forces of the countries involved have to interact. They have to talk to each other, they have to know the equipment that's involved, they have to plan, they have to exercise . . .

Those two quotations by such senior United States officials, made on two separate occasions, make it perfectly clear-and there are many other indications -that the ANZUS alliance simply could not survive the passage of a prohibition Bill of this kind. It is really a cloud-cuckoo-land Bill. It is only in cloud- cuckoo-land that one could conceive of prohibitions of this kind. Although it is recognised that there are many well meaning people in this country who fervently hold those views-we know that the Democrats sincerely hold those views-clearly, that approach will not solve the problems of our age. The realities of the world in which we live are not going to go away just because we turn our back on them or because we put our heads in the clouds. That sort of approach is not going to solve the problems we face and with which we have to live. It will also destroy the keystone of Australia's defence, namely, the ANZUS alliance.