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Thursday, 18 October 1984
Page: 1925

To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth that:

1. We are Australians who support nuclear disarmament.

2. The world is closer to nuclear war than at any time since World War II. This ultimate catastrophe can and must be avoided by ordinary people raising their voices and taking action against the threat of nuclear destruction.

3. We identify with the massive worldwide movement for a nuclear-free future- for a 'freeze' on all nuclear weapons testing, production and deployment, as an immediate first step towards complete disarmament.

4. Australians are not remote from nuclear danger-we are very much involved and threatened.

5. We can contribute to the growing global movement for a peaceful world by opposing Australian involvement in activities and strategies likely to lead to a nuclear holocaust.

To achieve this, we call on the Australian Government to:

Support actively the United Nations' World Disarmament Campaign and to commit itself never to introduce, or allow to be introduced, nuclear weapons into Australia.

Undertake not to update or expand existing nuclear related foreign military installations on Australian territory nor permit the establishment of any new ones.

Remove all nuclear related military installations since these contribute to the ability to conduct nuclear attacks and are likely targets in case of war. End all port-of-call and landing rights arrangements granted to foreign nuclear forces including nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered vessels and aircraft.

Support the establishment of nuclear-free zones in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, including the banning of all nuclear testing and waste dumping.

End the mining and export of Australian uranium.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.

Senator Jack Evans-Mr President, I take a point of order. I express concern at the terms of the last petition. I ask for your ruling on whether it is adequate that a petition which sets out in some detail a very firm request to the Government to take action on matters related to nuclear-related military installations, the mining and export of Australian uranium and a number of other issues can be watered down to read: 'request the Government to take certain action in support of world nuclear disarmament'. I recognise that the Clerk has a very difficult job in precising a large petition but the terms in which this petition is written do not give any indication of the real terms of the petition that a number of people-over 2,000 people-have gone to the trouble of presenting to the Senate.

The PRESIDENT-It used to be the practice, of course, for all petitions to be read by senators presenting them but, because of the great number of petitions that were being lodged and the time that was taken up by reading them, the Standing Orders Committee recommended, and the recommendation was adopted by the Senate, that the practice of the Clerk's summarising the petitions be adopted. That has been the practice and I think the Clerks have done an excellent job in the main in carrying out that task. If Senator Evans wants a petition read, he can seek the leave of the Senate to have it read. However, should he seek another summary to be made by the Clerks, I suggest that he discuss the matter with the Clerks.

Senator Jack Evans-I respect and appreciate the difficulty the Clerk has. I would be happy to have him prepare another summary.