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Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 941


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(6.46) —The Senate has before it a private member's Bill introduced by the Australian Democrats. The Bill seeks to ban entry into Australian waters or air space above Australian waters of nuclear powered ships or aircraft or vessels armed with or carrying nuclear weapons. This proposal sounds very attractive indeed. All of us are keen to have peace. All of us abhor the thought of nuclear war. All of us would like to get rid of nuclear weapons. There is also a fear, I think a groundless one, of radiation leaking from nuclear powered vessels.

The proposals in the Bill all sound good and sound as though they are the road to peace. When we examine the Bill coldly and dispassionately we see that it is exactly the reverse. There is a danger in Australia of polarising people into peacemakers and warmongers. If one wants to introduce such a Bill, one is a peacemaker. If one opposes it, one is a warmonger. It is just as though some people have a monopoly on peace and others are low in morality and values. That attitude has become dangerous.

The Australian Labor Party during its terms in opposition opposed such things as the American installations, the American Exmouth Gulf tracking station, and the visits of nuclear propelled ships to Australia. In government now-and I commend it-it has seen the error of its ways and is supporting what were Fraser Government policies, which policies have been essential for the defence of Australia.

I wish to oppose this Bill for sound, practical reasons. Instead of its moving towards the prevention of nuclear war or conventional war, I claim and assert that it will significantly weaken one side, the Western alliance; and potential destabilisation can provoke the danger of war. Were this to happen Australia would be weaker. The area around South East Asia would be weaker. More importantly, a measure such as this which touches only on one side of the equation and would weaken the manoeuvrability and flexibility of the Western alliance while not touching on the Iron Curtain countries at all must be the essence of nonsense.

In the end, even Bertrand Russell had to admit that unilateral disarmament for peace was an impossibility and that, if we are to seek peace with dignity and justice, we must have a lowering of arms on both sides. We must have goodwill and understanding so the reduction in armament can occur. It does not make sense to do something that can destroy the flexibility of our alliances, in the case our alliance with the United States of America, while doing nothing at all about nuclear weaponry held by the other side. I hate to call it the other side because the essence of arms control and disarmament must be an aim to reduce and to eliminate permanent enmities or permanent divisiveness.

Let us examine the situation. Senator Durack, in his speech, made the point that the Pacific theatre has become just as dangerous a theatre as Europe. During the parliamentary recess for a period of one month I went abroad to some three continents and spent the whole of that time trying to equip myself better for an understanding of what is meant by disarmament and arms control and of what are all the ingredients of a very complex problem. That journey took me to the United States of America to discuss with the top negotiators, the people who are actually doing the negotiations in the strategic arms reduction talks. I spoke with people such as General Rowney and General Scowcroft, and with government and people with opposite views. In London, I talked with governments and academics who held opposite views. I spoke to Russia-watchers and went to Brussels. I spoke to the top people in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. I went to the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers in Europe and then to Geneva to sit in on the United Nations conference on disarmament.

In the latter case, I met many of the 40 ambassadors on disarmament around the conference table. I met them privately as well as publicly and discussed privately with people from both sides of the Iron Curtain how they felt and what their policies were. Therefore, it was an attempt to get a balance without sitting in corners spitting at each other. Indeed, at Geneva I spoke not only to those of the Western Alliance and to those of the non-aligned group of 21, but also to the leaders from the Iron Curtain. Specifically, I spoke to the ambassador for disarmament from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, an impressive fellow by the name of Victor Israellian, to try to get an understanding of what has caused this confrontation, what can get a lowering of it and a cooling off.

I started with some knowledge because as a previous Minister for National Development and Energy I had had a responsibility for nuclear non-proliferation, monitoring, surveillance and verification. In a peaceful way I had worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency. I tried to equip myself with an understanding so that I would not simply take a one-eyed view. What became perfectly clear everywhere in discussions was a fundamental admission that the first step towards any kind of disarmament or arms control must be to remove destabilising elements, to get an equivalence-I think the Attorney-General ( Senator Gareth Evans) mentioned it in his speech-rather than an equality of armaments, with effective verification, monitoring and surveillance. Everyone on both sides of the Iron Curtain accepts that this is fundamental. It is accepted, for example, that it is fundamental to that that satellites doing surveillance across this earth should be protected against weapons to destroy them. Thus we have what is called the ASAT argument, the anti-satellite weaponry argument, and a growing understanding between nations that there should be a treaty prohibiting the use of missiles to destroy satellites. Why was that the commonly held belief? The answer to that is because the best peacekeeper that we could have is accurate surveillance. The satellite does surveillance so well that it will destroy the attempts of people who might want to pre-empt.

The fascinating thing about that is that there is now almost a worldwide understanding on this. But as I said before, we cannot bring down a treaty to protect surveillance satellites if we do not also say that the base stations which receive and interpret their signals and pass them on should not be equally protected. If, indeed, as the world says, satellites are the best peacekeepers, surely the stations that receive their messages and intercept them are the strong peacekeepers. Why do we look at Pine Gap and Nurrungar in a negative way? Our main target is to ensure that peace is kept in this world. Is is nonsense to say that Australia would be more safe if, in fact, those satellite installations went. Unless those installations do there job, there is an increased danger of nuclear war. Let us say the ten commandments on this.

There is no winner in nuclear war; no one escapes it. There can be no nuclear free zones in a nuclear war. If a nuclear war starts, the world would become irradiated and would be set upon destruction. There can be no small wars. Indeed , one of the ugliest things-it has preoccupied my mind enormously in recent years and months-is the knowledge that in future there can be no significant conventional wars that in any way contain the significant interests of the major powers, because the loser or the winner in a conventional war is likely to use theatre nuclear armaments and so the situation would escalate. That is the dilemma of NATO. The Attorney-General acknowledged this and I agree with him. I was in Brussels and Mons, in the actual cradle of war in the past, looking at this problem. We have to stop all significant wars, conventional and nuclear. Therefore, we must have our surveillance right. We must have installations to receive satellite messages. That is very important indeed. Equally, if there is to be stability, it must be achieved by removing destabilising elements, such as can be seen in the reduction of the hard silos of the Russians at this moment, and by getting an equivalence. We can talk downwards from there. If we have destabilisation there is a danger in this ugly situation of one side attempting pre-emption. If there is pre-emption, we will have war. Those are the key things and they are universally accepted.

By this Bill, the Democrats, however inadvertently, are taking a measure of destabilisation. They are altering the flexibility of the Americans and their capacity to move in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are restricting them and by that restriction they are adding to the total destabilisation, the instability, of a dangerous and perilous world. It being two minutes to 7 o' clock, I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.