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Monday, 25 February 1985
Page: 107

Senator PUPLICK —I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether the former Minister for Defence, Mr Scholes, gave a major address at the Pennsylvania State University in June 1984 in which he stated:

The Government's 1983 review of the ANZUS Treaty led to the conclusion that the Treaty still reflects a coincidence of strategic interests between Australia, New Zealand and the United States-

I ask whether he also stated that the agreed co-operative activities of the Treaty included:

supply and support arrangements and visits to Australian ports by US Naval units.

I ask: Is this still the Government's official position? If so, does the Minister unequivocally repudiate the motion moved by the Australian Capital Territory branch of the Australian Labor Party which stated in part that the alliance presents contradictions with Labor policy? Was this motion seconded by the Minister for Education? If so, can the Minister explain why, when a Minister expresses a public view which is contrary to Government policy, she is not, in line with proper Westminster practice, dismissed from the Ministry?

Senator GARETH EVANS —There has been no change in the Government's position since it was articulated, in the terms described by Senator Puplick, by Mr Scholes, the then Minister, in the middle of last year; nor has there been any change in our position since we conducted a full review of the ANZUS relationship. As Mr Hayden stated in putting down the results of that review in the Parliament on 15 September 1983, we make a firm and unequivocal reaffirmation of the alliance as fundamental to Australia's national security and our larger foreign and defence policies. So let there be no doubt, if there is any doubt, as to the first part of Senator Puplick's question.

As to anything that may or may not have been said in internal party forums by a Minister of this Government, I have no further comment to make on the subject to that which I uttered in response to a question last Friday. It is entirely consistent with Labor Party practice, whatever disciplinary mechanisms might operate within Senator Puplick's party, for matters to be able to be canvassed within internal party forums, and it would be quite inappropriate, consistent with the Westminster system, for Ministers to utter outside such forums. As to the questions involved in the case to which Senator Puplick referred, I have nothing further to add. I think the Prime Minister has said the last word on that subject.

Beyond that, I think little more needs to be said in relation to the honourable senator's question. We do not regard any of the events of recent times as in any way having put the ANZUS relationship at risk or in any way requiring a fundamental reconsideration of the treaty. We, of course, regret the difficulties that have arisen between the United States and New Zealand in this respect, but those difficulties as to the present peacetime operational clauses of the treaty do not in any way signal the end of the treaty or, for that matter, the network of relationships that are associated with it.