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Monday, 22 October 1984
Page: 2114


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(3.53) —The Senate is debating a matter of public importance put forward by the Australian Democrats in the following terms:

The failure of this Government to ensure the full protection of our environment for future generations, particularly from the ultimate threat of nuclear war.

That is a matter that one could think would bring forth debate upon the various and numerous threats to this environment of ours and to the ecosystem of the world. One would expect that it would relate to the absolute threat to the environment-indeed it has-and that is from radioactive fallout from nuclear war. What a strange situation it is that we have had two speakers, one from the Australian Democrats and the other, the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans), from the Australian Labor Party and they have not mentioned fundamental issues relating to the destruction of the environment.

There has been no mention at all of the second greatest threat-quite apart from radioactive fallout-to the environment, one which is recognised by all the free nations and even, indeed, by the Iron Curtain countries, and that is the disastrous effect of acid rain upon the forests and the lakes of the world. This is caused by nitric acid and sulphuric acid components-emanating particularly from the oil fired and coal fired power stations-which are coming down and destroying the world. Two thousand lakes in Scandinavia were destroyed and the Black Forest of Germany was destroyed, and not a mention was made of this by the Australian Labor Party or the Democrats. No mention was made of the third great danger; that is, the danger of what is called the greenhouse effect, the use of power stations which emit hot carbon particles which, in turn, alters the whole temperature structure of the world, melts the polar ice caps and alters the sea levels around the world.

Not a mention was made of the real threats, the fact that if we go on with these fuels, if we go on burning oil and coal we will destroy and remove forever from this world the non-renewables. Not a mention was made by the Labor Party or the Democrats that the greatest threat to the ecosystem of this world is not just Daintree Rainforest or one such forest but the fact that countries, particularly the developing countries, are burning wood, destroying the forests and creating deserts. Deserts are advancing upon us because of this, but no mention at all was made of it. What a strange situation that a matter of public importance about Daintree and nuclear destruction should be drafted and brought forward by the Democrats.

I will devote the time available to me to talking about the nuclear issue. It is an overwhelming issue, the facts of which need to be understood. Everyone in the Senate will agree that we need to protect the ecosystem, that we need to protect the environment, that we need to stop radioactive fallout. That in itself is not in dispute. There are no warmongers amongst us. None of us wants to use nuclear bombs. What is in dispute is methodology. What I want to put forward is this: Whatever the Democrats' motives in wanting to prevent these things, they are absolutely wrong-the overwhelming judgment of the world says that they are wrong-in their methodology, in their approach. All the basic scientific authoritative people state that such is the case. The Democrats are wrong in the methods they are seeking to use, and the great danger is that the very methods they are advocating are likely to be the methods that will cause the very wars, the very conflicts, that they are saying they will prevent. It is like the advocacy of motherhood: It is no good saying 'I am in favour of motherhood and against sin'; one must look to the practical demonstration of these things.

What the Democrats are saying in all their arguments on uranium and the nuclear fuel cycle is absolutely fallacious. Let me make it perfectly clear that if there were not a nuclear power station in the whole world, the world would still be able to make atom bombs. Even if a gram of uranium were not exported by any country it would be possible to make atom bombs anywhere in the world. It has nothing to do with power stations and nothing at all to do with the export of uranium. Yet time after time, in order to instil a sense of fear into this community, the Democrats say these things. The Australian Science and Technology Council, the top scientific body in this country, chaired by Professor Slatyer, made the situation very clear indeed. It stated:

Australia will best be able to make a significant contribution to non- proliferation and world peace if it is actively involved in the nuclear fuel cycle including not only mining and milling but also possible enrichment, reprocessing and waste disposal.

ASTEC went on to state:

. . . such involvement by Australia will increase global energy security, strengthen the elements of the non-proliferation regime and reduce the risks of misuse of civil facilities and the diversion of nuclear materials from civil to military uses. Without that involvement, global energy security would be less assured and Australia's ability to strengthen the non-proliferation regime and to influence future developments in the fuel cycle would be reduced.

ASTEC continued:

. . . countries do not need a civil nuclear industry in order to make nuclear weapons.

Yet here we have heard arguments to the contrary day after day. ASTEC also stated:

. . . should a country embark on a weapons program, it is unlikely to use a civil power reactor to do so as this would be inefficient both in terms of producing weapons material and in terms of power generation.

Again, argument after argument of the Democrats falls flat. The overwhelming argument against them is this: The Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons which today stands as the one great world safeguard to get together the nations of the world to strive to outlaw weaponry, to protect against the proliferation of weapons, says the very reverse of what the Democrats are saying . Article IV of the Treaty is of particular importance and the Slatyer committee drew attention to it. It affirms the right of all countries to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It also requires those countries which are in a position to do so to contribute to the further development of nuclear energy in member countries. In other words, if a country is a signatory to the nuclear non -proliferation treaty it has an absolute responsibility to supply uranium for peace time purposes to those countries that are also signatories. The authorities say that to deny that is to increase the risk of war. The two key ASTEC recommendations are:

The exports of Australian uranium should not be limited as a matter of principle but should be permitted subject to stringent conditions of supply designed to strengthen the non-proliferation regime.

That Australian participation in stages of the nuclear fuel cycle in addition to uranium mining and milling be permitted where such participation promotes and strengthens the non-proliferation regime.

So everything the Democrats have said has been refuted. Let us have another look at what they have said. The Democrats are saying three things that one must understand. They are saying that there must not be American installations in Australia, that they are a threat, that they will draw the bombs. Only recently I spent a month in various countries studying one subject-disarmament. I tried to find out under what conditions we could stop war-not just nuclear war but all war, because conventional war can grow into nuclear war and man must outlaw war. What did I find? I found, for example at the disarmament conference in Geneva, that virtually all those who sat around the table were trying to see whether they could put together a treaty agreed on by all 40 nations there represented to stop anti-satellite missiles. Why did they want to stop people being able to destroy satellites? It was because they all agreed that satellites are the best peacekeepers we have; that is, they are the best method of surveillance and monitoring that we can find. So there is in process the putting together of a treaty to stop the destruction of satellites. However, what use are satellites unless there are ground stations to receive their messages and interpret them? What use are satellites without Pine Gap and Nurrungar?

I said, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Hayden, has now said, that any treaty to protect satellites must also protect the ground stations. The very thing that we are aiming to get a treaty to protect, and therefore the very great peacekeeper of this world, is the very thing that the Democrats want to destroy. What a crazy situation that they come forward appealing to the emotionalism of people without any reason at all.

Let me go one step further. Wherever I went in the world, I talked to the top disarmament negotiators on both sides of the Iron Curtain-to the Russians, the East Germans, the Americans and the British-and every one of them said one fundamental thing: That the first step to disarmament is to stop the destabilisation; to get a balance or equivalence of forces so that one side is not ahead of the other to the extent where the other might think that he can pre -empt. That is fundamental. Anything that destabilises is dangerous and perilous . There can be nothing more destabilising than to act unilaterally against the Western alliance and to do nothing against the Warsaw pact. To say 'We will not allow the ANZUS treaty to mean that our allies can use our ports or our waters' is to destabilise. If one takes away the free right of the Western alliance to move in the Pacific, one is doing something that is absolutely ugly.

If the Democrats are wrong, members of the Australian Labor Party are the repentant sinners-unrepentant if one heard the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) in his last remarks. Do honourable senators remember the Labor Party in opposition mouthing the very things that the Democrats have said? Today the Labor Party's policies are only supported by 50 per cent plus six votes of the national biennial conference and could be changed tomorrow. In any case, the Government's policy today is in refutation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It does not supply uranium freely and without limit to signatories of that treaty. In fact, it is limiting the situation. When Senator Gareth Evans recites what a wonderful job his Government has done, I remind him that all the safeguards that have been put in position-the basic safeguards for the mining and milling of uranium, for its movement overseas, for its supervision and surveillance-were put there by the Fraser Government. The great strengthening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was a Fraser Government achievement. No country on this earth has stronger safeguards against nuclear proliferation than we have as a result of the efforts of the Fraser Government. Therefore, it is nonsense for Senator Gareth Evans to start these scare stories that we are now in favour of nuclear weapons.

Let me make it perfectly clear, that there is no political party on earth that is ahead of the Liberal and National parties in their practical desire for peace with dignity and in their practical desire to outlaw war, both conventional and nuclear, and to limit and reduce nuclear weaponry around the world. To do that, we work together under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under a regimen that we set up and that has not been disturbed. As good neighbours we should supply to the world the energy that it needs so that other countries do not need to burn down their forests, have acid rain or suffer the greenhouse effect. In fact, we can stop the deserts of this world. By providing uranium we can also reduce the risk of war. After all, the Slatyer committee has made it perfectly clear that the best thing we can do is to be good neighbours under nuclear non- proliferation. When we were in government we took our part in all these things- in our opposition to chemical, bacterial and nerve warfare and in fact that regimen is still in position.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lewis) —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.