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Friday, 22 February 1985
Page: 81

Senator COLLARD —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Defence. Has the Minister for Foreign Affairs responded to Senator Peter Cook's list of questions which he announced on national radio on 4 February-I think it was on the PM program-that he wanted to put to members of the Security Committee of Cabinet? In particular, can he say whether Mr Hayden has told Senator Cook whether the Government opposes the MX system as such, a system Senator Cook claims would destabilise the present nuclear balance? I ask whether Senator Cook is right about the MX or whether the Ambassador for Disarmament, Mr Richard Butler, was correct when, on 5 February, he said:

A good part of the United States current policy, both in the area of space and in the area of MX development, has been brought about because of what the Soviet Union has done. The Soviet Union has got massive capacity in long range intercontinental missiles of the kind that MX represents and they have already involved themselves in considerable star wars research.

Senator GARETH EVANS —As to the first part of the question, all I can say is that I constantly see Senator Cook and Mr Hayden with their heads together in the corridor. I am quite certain that in the course of one of those conversations Mr Hayden has answered very fully whatever concerns Senator Cook might have expressed about this issue. As to the latter part of the question concerning the realism of any unilateral attempt at either freezing or, more particularly, disarming in circumstances in which the Soviet Union is manifestly continuing to arm itself, I think I answered that part of the question in my earlier response to Senator Chipp. Of course, I acknowledge, as the Government acknowledges, the need for any arms reduction exercise to be in the context of what we have always described as a balanced, verifiable and agreed set of arms reduction proposals. It is not something that one can embark upon unilaterally. It must be a matter of agreement and diplomacy, and that is the delicate process in which the Australian Government is doing its best to assist.