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Monday, 25 February 1985
Page: 122


Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(3.55) —The Senate, pursuant to the motion which has just been carried, is now debating a Bill which was introduced into the Senate on 11 September last year by Senator Chipp. That Bill is described as a Bill for an Act to prohibit the passage of nuclear powered ships and of vessels carrying nuclear weapons through Australian waters or in the air space over them. I suppose the simplest description of the Bill is that, if it were passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives and received royal assent, it would effectively end the visits of ships of our allies, the United States of America and Great Britain, because according to the conditions under which they would be prepared to use our port facilities they would not enter our ports. The Opposition last year supported this Bill being brought on for debate in this place on 12 September. We agreed to it being brought on because of our very firm belief that the Bill was not in Australia's interests and should be disposed of and, by being voted against by the Senate, it would make Australia's stance quite clear to the rest of the world.

The Bill which has been introduced by Senator Chipp would reverse what has been substantially a bipartisan policy for some time; that is, that United States ships, British ships and the ships of our allies generally should be able to use Australian ports as part of their defence of the interests of the Western alliance. It is true, I suppose, that the extent of that bipartisanship has been reduced in appearance by the doubts raised by the present Government about whether it would be prepared to receive the HMS Invincible when it was clear that that ship needed docking. It is quite clear that some doubts have been raised by the actions of the Australian Labor Party organisation. For example, at the ALP National Conference last year, concerns were expressed about the porting of American ships. Indeed, a committee was formed which was charged with looking at ways of reducing the frequency of visits by ships to the west coast of Australia. That is a committee about which, perhaps mercifully, we have heard very little, although it may be that during the course of this debate we will be told what has happened to it by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Button), who is at the table, or by somebody else. There was, of course, some absurdity in the suggestion at that time that ships that were required by the United States Navy to patrol in the Indian Ocean should call at Sydney and Melbourne for rest, recreation and refurbishment. That is the sort of proposition which was raised then and it is the sort of proposition which gives rise to some doubts about the firmness of Labor's attitude on this issue.

We will oppose this Bill and we hope that the great majority of senators will oppose it. We will oppose it on a number of grounds. It is the view of the Opposition that the continued access by United States and United Kingdom nuclear powered and nuclear capable ships is vital to the maintenance of peace and an effective and stable deterrence. We are also very clearly of the view that measures which seek unilateral disarmament can only undermine the cause of peace and contribute to instability. Probably the most easily understood objection to what is proposed by the Australian Democrats in this Bill is that it goes squarely to the ability of members of the Western alliance to perform their tasks and does nothing to reduce the military effectiveness of the Eastern bloc by way of a phased and multilateral reduction of forces. The proposed move would strike only at the United States and its allies. It would strike only at those countries which traditionally have been allied with us. It would do nothing to ensure that the Soviet Union and its allies had some significant and equivalent reduction of forces. For that reason alone, the measure is thoroughly objectionable to the Opposition.

In the course of this debate I will move an amendment to the motion for the second reading which expresses the Opposition's views and in addition expresses our concerns at the attempt unilaterally to place restrictions on the military forces of Australia and its allies. It expresses our view that disarmament measures should occur only as part of a mutual and balanced reduction of arms with effective verification and compliance. We also seek to affirm the view that Australia has a significant role to play in the search for peace and disarmament, but recognise that Australia's influence in disarmament forums is dependent upon our continuing to help in the maintenance of an effective deterrent.

Over recent weeks there has been a great deal said about these subjects. It is the hope of the Opposition that as far as possible the Government will maintain a very firm stance which makes it clear that it is a strong supporter of the Western alliance and of the concept of deterrence as the best means of achieving a genuine move towards disarmament, as opposed to the one-sided approach which has been adopted by Senator Chipp. I refer to the question which Senator Chipp asked earlier today during a radio discussion with the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Gareth Evans) and me. I think Senator Chipp said: 'Show me where in the ANZUS Treaty it says that we are going to be defended by the United States?' I wish to remind Senator Chipp of the views which he expressed years ago when he was speaking as a Minister of the then Liberal Government.


Senator Jack Evans —Here we go.


Senator CHANEY —'Here we go' says Senator Jack Evans. The fact is that the views which the Opposition now puts forward are the views which were expressed by Senator Chipp when he was a Minister, when he had a position of responsibility and authority and when he recognised the value of the ANZUS Treaty and, indeed, the need for reciprocal behaviour under it.


Senator Jack Evans —Quote it in full.


Senator CHANEY —I will certainly quote several passages and I will leave it to subsequent Democrats speakers to quote whatever they like. I wish to quote from page 2177 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 22 May 1969. Mr Chipp said:

The Prime Minister brought back a reaffirmation of the ANZUS treaty by President Nixon in such unequivocal and categorical terms that gave heart to every member of this side of the House who still believes that the ANZUS treaty is the most precious piece of paper in Australian archives. It is a precious piece of paper, but as such it only a piece of paper. Without the intent and the good faith of one of the signatories to that treaty-the United States-it is not worth the paper it is written on.

Apparently, that is the bit the Democrats wish to hear. I agree that it is a very important part of what Senator Chipp, then Mr Chipp, had to say at that time because it points out that the ANZUS Treaty provides a framework which requires the intent and good faith of the signatories to that Treaty. It is the strong view of the Opposition that it is for Australia to show good faith and intent, just as it is for the United States to show good faith and intent. On Australia's part, that involves its assuming a fair sharing of the burdens which are involved in the defence of the free world. Mr Chipp later in his speech used words that I believe are still pertinent today. I will quote from page 2,179 of the same Hansard. He said:

If we set any store by that treaty--

he was, of course, referring to ANZUS--

what sort of morality is it to accept what the treaty gives and to give nothing back in return? We on this side of the House believe that we have this sense of morality. If we enter into a treaty for the security of the people of this country for the rest of this century, we cannot have it one sided. We have to give and take.

I suppose that is one of the fundamental differences on this key issue which certainly now lie between the Opposition and the Australian Democrats. The Opposition believes that there has to be give and take and that Australia, in taking the security which is offered by its participation in the ANZUS Treaty, has to offer to bear some of the burden.

There were many clear indications in the last Parliament that the Government and the Opposition would combine to defeat this legislation. That was certainly the appropriate course. I wish to refer to some comments that were made by Senator Gareth Evans when he led for the Government in the debate on 12 September 1984. I refer to page 880 of the Senate Hansard of that year. Senator Evans referred to a number of principles which are extremely relevant to the stance which we adopt on this Bill and which are relevant to the stance which Australia must continue to adopt. Senator Evans made the point, with which I completely agree, that it should be a fundamental element of Australian foreign policy that the world's nuclear weapon stockpile be reduced and eventually eliminated and that that was a matter which should be dealt with by agreement between the super-powers. He said that such an agreement should lead to both qualitative restraints and quantitative reductions in nuclear forces. A very important element in the debate which surrounds this issue is that we have that fundamental commitment to achieve nuclear disarmament by that means and that we have agreement between the two major powers which will get a reduction in both the quality and quantity of arms which are available to them.

Senator Evans went on to say something which is again important in this debate. He said that we live in a real world, that nuclear weapons cannot be wished away and that nuclear disarmament will not happen overnight. I wish now directly to quote his words. He said:

It accepts-

meaning the present Government-

that, in the interim, and as a step along the long road towards the goal of total nuclear disarmament, stable nuclear deterrence and maintenance of the strategic balance are the only practical options available to avoid serious international nuclear instability and overt nuclear conflict until such time as a better system of restraint is in place leading to nuclear arms control and disarmament.

What Senator Evans, the then Attorney-General, was saying at that time was that we have as our only option the maintenance of a stable nuclear deterrence and the maintenance of a strategic balance. Failure to agree with that option is a fundamental defect in the proposal which the Australian Democrats have put before us today and which they put before us in September. There is no suggestion in what the Democrats are proposing that there should be mutuality. There is nothing in what the Australian Democrats are advocating which would go to the question of balance between the super-powers. There is therefore an inherent defect in this speciously attractive proposition which has been put forward by Senator Chipp this afternoon.

A number of other points which were made by Senator Evans again provide part of the relevant framework of this debate. He made the point that there has not been an unlimited acceptance of the right of our allies to use our ports; rather there has been on the part of successive governments-he referred to the policy of the Fraser Government-a clear establishment of a set of rules which apply to the visits of ships. He also made the point that over 40 per cent of the United States Navy's combatant ships are now nuclear powered and that this percentage will continue to rise. He said:

Restraint by Australia on port access for United States nuclear powered ships would create serious problems for the United States in planning its fleet deployments and operations. It also has to be said that no nuclear related problems of any kind have arisen in the past in respect of the many visits to Australia by US nuclear powered warships . . .

The final quotation which I wish to make from the speech of the then Attorney-General is as follows:

The third strand in the relevant policy relates to the visit of nuclear armed ships, or ships which may be nuclear armed, to Australian ports. Again, there is a long-standing bipartisan policy initiated by the previous Government and continued by the present Labor Government that we do not ask our allies either to confirm or deny whether nuclear weapons are being carried.

Again, there is no mystery as to why that third strand should be part of this argument. It would not be strategically sensible or indeed possible for the relevant navies to disclose the armaments of their ships. It would not be consistent with either their security or their effectiveness.

I am pleased that I have been able to quote some statements by a Minister which go to the point the Opposition wishes to establish. I also wish to make the point that the recent vacillation of the Government, particularly over the MX missile testing question, has done a great deal to throw doubts on the Government's adherence to the principles which it insists are part of its approach to this matter. The Government's unity of purpose has been cast into doubt, not least by the words of Senator Ryan which have already been quoted in the Senate since we returned. Senator Ryan said things which were quite inconsistent with what was said by Senator Evans in the Senate last year and which I am sure he would reaffirm this year. Senator Ryan said:

I think the time has come when real contradictions now appear between our fundamental role in peace and disarmament and between the American alliance.

This morning a Minister refused to entertain the question that Senator Ryan be dismissed for her clear breach of Government policy, a breach which she made as a senior Minister in the Government. The fact is that there is no possible consistency between the view expressed by Senator Evans, supposedly on behalf of the Government, and the view expressed by Senator Ryan. There is no real contradiction between one's fundamental role in peace and disarmament and the American alliance if one believes that an essential part in achieving disarmament is to maintain a stable deterrence. Our alliance with the United States is an essential element in the Western alliance and it is the existence of that alliance and its reliability, constancy and strength that provide the real possibility that we will get the super-powers to enter into real negotiations for disarmament.

A further concern which has arisen following the vacillation over the MX missile is whether this Government has the ability to control and make the essential decisions in this area. In Question Time today the Minister for Resources and Energy again made the point, which is worth repeating, that all that was sought by the United States with respect to the MX missile testing was some logistical support. One understands that the United States would have wished to enable its aircraft which were engaged in monitoring and supervising the testing to refuel and to provision in Australia. Yet the Government has not been able to maintain a decision that we would provide that minimal logistical support-the ability of our ally to land aircraft in Australia and for those aircraft to be refuelled and generally serviced. The Government could not achieve that very small objective, that very small contribution to the ANZUS alliance and to our obligations under it. That is a matter of great concern to the Opposition and again a reason why this debate needs to be brought on so that there can be the utmost clarification of Australia's situation.

Our fundamental objection to what is being proposed by Senator Chipp is that he is proposing the unilateral destruction of the United States's ability to match the Soviet Union in an important area. There is nothing the Democrats can do or seek to do to reduce the ability of the Soviet Union to operate in our region. One knows that the Soviet Union has obtained its facilities in the area. The Senate has before it the simple requirement that the United States should be weakened without a contemporary and agreed weakening of the Soviet military position. This Bill is based upon the assumption that one can safely take a moral lead and Russia will follow. That is a proposition that needs some consideration. The idea that unilateral acts will result in what the Democrats sincerely seek is to assume that, given a moral lead, Russia will follow. I would have thought that if one examines the recent behaviour of the Soviet Union, its continued attitude towards Afghanistan, its occupation of that country and the military exercise and activities it carries out there the goodwill of the Soviet Union should not be assumed. If one examines the behaviour of the Marxist regime in Ethiopia, that goodwill should not be assumed. If one looks at the behaviour of Vietnam in light of the current concern about what is happening in that country and in Cambodia, again that goodwill should not be assumed. I suggest that the idea that some unilateral moral lead will lead the Soviet Union to follow that example is not borne out by experience. That is the central problem of the Australian Democrats' approach and that also of its competitive running mate, the Nuclear Disarmament Party. They are selling an emotional solution which would, in the view of the Opposition-and, as it would appear from many statements, in the view of the Government-increase the risk of war. They see peace as a product of a weakened Western alliance, whereas we see peace as a product of a strengthened Western alliance. That has been restated at various times by numerous Government spokesmen. It appears to be a matter on which there is bipartisan support in this place. The Prime Minister's words on this topic on 6 June last year are worth repeating:

In approaching this responsibility, the Government unequivocally rejects the attractive but unrealistic idea that unilateral disarmament would be an effective way to bring about an end to the arms race. We proceed from the fact that Australia is an aligned nation and that our security is supported by co-operative measures under the auspices of ANZUS.

Mr Hayden, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, much more recently, on 4 February, said:

We are not neutral, we are not unaligned, we're not pacifists. There are those who are and they can argue their case. It's a legitimate and creditable one, but it's one which I would refute.

We are a country which believes . . . that we should have a capability of self sufficiency for any overt attack against this country from within the region, and we hope that we could be reinforced by military supplies under ANZUS if that is needed.

The same arguments were put forward by the Government's disarmament ambassador, Mr Butler, who said that our position is that deterrence is necessary so that there is no nuclear war.

Because of the MX decision, some doubt has been cast upon the Government's stance in these matters, but I have already quoted what Mr Hayden said on the very night of the Hawke capitulation. One can only hope that the Government will strongly reaffirm the sorts of views put forward by Mr Hayden at that time rather than the more wishy-washy approach adopted more recently. Indeed, I suggest that recent experience shows that the lesson of history has been taught yet again. A strong United States-and no one would deny that the United States has strengthened its position in the last couple of years-has led the Soviet Union back to the negotiating table. The fact has to be faced that we are not dealing with a regime whose behaviour suggests that weakness will be repaid with kindness. I was impressed the other night by a presentation of what Solzhenitsyn said on this issue. He made a point back in the mid-1970s that needs to be stressed time and again in this debate. In his Nobel lecture on literature, Solzhenitsyn said:

The spirit of Munich has by no means retreated into the past. It was not a brief episode. I would even be so bold as to say that the spirit of Munich dominates the twentieth century. The frightened civilised world found nothing better than concessions and smiles to counterpose to the sudden renewed assault of bare-fanged barbarism. The spirit of Munich is an illness of the will of prosperous people. It is the daily state of those who have given themselves over to their thirst for well-being at no matter what cost, to material prosperity as the principal goal of life on earth. Such people-and there are a multitude of them in the world today-choose passivity and retreat, anything so that their accustomed life should continue undisturbed, anything so as not to have to cross over into hardship today, while tomorrow, they hope, will take care of itself. (But tomorrow never will take care of itself! The retribution for cowardice will merely be all the more cruel. Courage and overcoming are given us only when we are willing to accept sacrifices.)

I think those words of Solzhenitsyn accurately sum up some of the decisions that Australia has to take. I believe that if we are to survive-and, beyond survival, if we are to advance the cause of peace-we must show some courage and be prepared to participate in the Western alliance in the positive way that has always been advocated by the Liberal Party, and indeed by the Opposition.

I can understand the attractiveness of an appeal to a moral lead which will lead bare-fanged barbarism to retreat, but only in the last few days we have received more recent information and evidence of the fundamental attitudes that permeate the Soviet Union. I remind the Senate of the pamphlet issued by the Australian Human Rights Society under the banner 'Save Dr Korjagin!'. One is reminded that one is dealing with a country which uses psychiatry as a method of suppressing dissent, which denies freedom, and which regards human rights as virtually irrelevant. Dr Korjagin is quoted in the pamphlet as saying:

. . . let there be no doubt that the Soviet authorities have turned psychiatry into an instrument for suppressing dissent.

I believe that that reality about the Soviet Union is one of the reasons why this debate is such a serious matter and one of the reasons why the disposal of this Bill is a serious matter. I believe that the reality is that the Western world, the world which does pay some regard to human rights, faces a determined foe, a country without respect for the values which I believe the Australian Democrats themselves would seek to promote in Australia. I believe that our only solution to the very vexed problems which we face in the field of arms, possible war and, worst of all, possible nuclear war is that we maintain our strength and, from a position of strength, we negotiate a better deal for the world. To adopt the sort of unilateralist approach which has been put forward by the Australian Democrats is, I believe, to court precisely the opposite result to that which they seek. It is, indeed, to put Australia at very great risk; it is indeed, to threaten war; it is indeed, to threaten us with subjection in a way that is totally unacceptable. To make the Opposition's point clear on this legislation, I move:

Leave out all words after 'That' insert:

'(1) The Senate is of the opinion that-

(a) continued access by the United States and United Kingdom nuclear-powered ships, and of nuclear-capable ships, is vital for the maintenance of peace and an effective stable deterrence; and

(b) unilateral disarmament measures can only undermine the cause of peace and contribute to instability.

(2) The Senate-

(a) expresses concern at the attempt unilaterally to place restrictions on the military forces of Australia and its allies, and strongly is of the view that disarmament measures should occur only as part of a mutual and balanced reduction of arms with effective verification and compliance; and

(b) is of the view that Australia has a significant role to play in the search for peace and disarmament but recognises that Australia's influence in disarmament fora is dependent upon our continuing to help in the maintenance of an effective deterrent.'.

I seek the support of the Senate for that amendment because I believe it expresses the principles which should activate the Australian Government of not just today, but also of tomorrow. I trust that the amendment will have the support of this Senate.


Senator Chipp —I do not propose to detain the Senate, but I raise what I believe to be a crucial point of order in the circumstances. My point of order is that Senator Chaney's amendment is a direct negative of the Bill, the second reading of which I have moved. I appreciate that in the Standing Orders there is no standing order that says that no senator shall move an amendment which is a direct negative. I am conscious of standing order 194 which says:

Amendments may be moved to such Question-

that is, a second reading question-

by leaving out 'now' and adding 'this day six months', which, if carried, shall finally dispose of the Bill; or the Previous Question may be moved.

I suggest, Mr Deputy President, that the conventions that govern the conduct of any public meeting democratically run in the English speaking world or the democratic world preserve the right of minority groups to have their questions put and voted upon. While it is not specifically in the Standing Orders of the Senate, I put to you that there is a convention governing meetings of all people in a democratic society that forbids the putting to a meeting, by the sheer weight of numbers, of a motion that is a direct negative of the original motion.

In conclusion, the Bill that the Australian Democrats have brought forward has the effect of banning totally from all Australian ports and waters nuclear powered and nuclear armed war ships. The amendment, which Senator Chaney did not read out because time beat him, would have the effect of doing the exact opposite by allowing the status quo to be preserved. I submit that that is a very dangerous precedent. I know that it has been established before, but I want to raise it now. It means that if a minority party in the Senate or an independent senator like Senator Harradine could raise something of enormous importance and have someone second it, by this subterfuge-and I say that to Senator Chaney in a kind sense, not in a nasty sense-the Senate by the sheer weight of numbers could prevent a vote being taken on that issue. I notice that the Government, with due respect, has another device after Senator Chaney's amendment has been disposed of. The use of a series of these devices by the major parties can result in important questions raised by minority parties and people never being put to a vote. I put that to you for your consideration.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I have heard enough argument to allow me to rule on the point of order. This is a point which I have given some consideration to, knowing that Senator Chipp was going to raise it. By the custom of this chamber, a direct negative is defined as an amendment which has the same effect as a vote against the motion. Senator Chaney's amendment goes further than just a mere negation of Senator Chipp's motion for the second reading of the Bill because it proposes further consideration of opinions and concern. Therefore, it is not a direct negative and is in order.