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Monday, 25 February 1985
Page: 148


Senator COLLARD(8.09) —Tonight the Senate is debating a Bill which was introduced by Senator Chipp on behalf of the Australian Democrats, namely, the Australian Waters (Nuclear-powered Ships and Nuclear Weapons Prohibition) Bill 1984. The Bill seeks to prohibit the passage of nuclear powered ships and vessels carrying nuclear weapons through Australian waters or in the air-space over them. The Leader of the Opposition, Senator Chaney, has introduced an amendment in the following terms:

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 view with concern and some sorrow the tone of the debate of both Australian Democrat speakers to date. It appeared to me that they took a very blatant anti-United States stance. Senator Haines commented that before the United States came into World War II it sat back while many thousands of allied troops were killed. Yet I put the question: Is that isolationist attitude not the attitude she expects Australia to take in 1985? Those of us who were alive at the time would remember with gratification the massive effort and the great sacrifice the people of the United States made in that major conflagration, and we are mindful of that. There is no doubt in my mind nor, I am sure, in the mind of anybody in the Liberal and National parties, of the resolve of the people of the United States towards her allies in the event of any future conflict. Senator Chipp in his contribution referred to the elderly insane leadership, or advisers to the leadership, of the United States.


Senator Chipp —And the Soviet Union.


Senator COLLARD —And the Soviet Union. It was a rather unfortunate term to use, particularly when it involved people who at this stage are our allies. The people of the United States equally might sit back and talk about the ancient and demented people in this debate who are taking this attitude towards them. One of the statements that are made quite regularly in these debates is that we are a nuclear target. Would we be any less a nuclear target if we were non-aligned? It is an interesting question. Are we a nuclear target just because we have some American installations within our shores or are we a nuclear target for what we are, for what we represent, for what we could contribute to any conquering nation? With our massive assets and resources we would obviously be good pickings for anybody who, in the course of a major war, saw fit to take us over. I do not think the American bases make one bit of difference. People who wanted to take over Australia would certainly not waste nuclear weapons, which are rather expensive, on Pine Gap and North West Cape. They could be put out of action considerably more easily in other ways. Our major airfields and large metropolises would be far more inviting targets to anybody bent on taking over this great country of ours. We should think seriously before we continue this rot about the bases being prime nuclear targets. Australia would be a prime nuclear target and, as I said, in any major conflict, our major airfields, naval bases and centres of population would, have to be more prime nuclear targets than the American bases.

All of us dislike war. That is not the sole preserve of any one person or party in this chamber or in the other place. I suppose all of us dislike nuclear war more because of all the horrors we envisage. We are living in an imperfect world, whether we like it or not. There is a real world outside with such things as greed, intolerance, racism and bigotry, which are the things that cause war. Senator Chipp and the Democrats have taken a rather idealistic point of view. I think the Premier of New South Wales, the Honourable Neville Wran, refers to 'mistaking the warm inner glow for the light on the hill'. I think we could accuse the Democrats of doing that in this instance.


Senator Chipp —Are you going to adopt him as your patron?


Senator COLLARD —Hardly, but it is not a bad quote.


Senator Chipp —That sort of creature! Why quote him on moral grounds?


Senator COLLARD —It is not a bad quote.


Senator Chipp —Why quote a creature like Wran on moral issues?


Senator COLLARD —It suits the-


Senator Georges —Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. That remark by Senator Chipp was a grave reflection on the Premier of New South Wales and I ask that it be withdrawn. It is in contradiction of the Standing Orders. The honourable senator obviously does not know them.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Chipp, the phrase was a reflection on the Premier of New South Wales. It should be withdrawn.


Senator Chipp —I have absolutely no intention of withdrawing anything I have just said.


Senator Grimes —Mr Deputy President, I urge you to remind Senator Chipp of the Standing Orders in this place, which refer to reflections on a Premier of a State, and ask that he be requested again to withdraw.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Chipp, regardless of your opinion, members of the State parliaments are protected by our Standing Orders, and the way you phrased the remark about the Premier of New South Wales was, in fact, a reflection on him. It would help the business of the Senate if you would withdraw it.


Senator Chipp —To the extent that you, Mr Deputy President, believe that I made a reflection on the Premier of New South Wales, I shall withdraw, in deference to your ruling. I am still somewhat puzzled as to why my questioning the honourable senator quoting such a person as Mr Wran as a moral criterion is a reflection, but in deference to your ruling I withdraw.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Chipp, I should make it clear that the remark I ordered you to withdraw was the one that referred to the Premier of New South Wales as a creature.


Senator Chipp —I withdraw that term.


Senator COLLARD —If it is balm to Senator Chipp's troubled conscience, I was not in any way discussing the morals of the Premier of New South Wales or anybody else. I thought it was rather a good quote-'the warm inner glow'. The Democrats have mistaken the warm inner glow for the light on the hill. Peace is like motherhood. We all believe in it, but it certainly does not come cheaply, as has been proved down through the centuries. We are in a nuclear age and, whether we like it or not, that is a fact of life. Senator Tate discussed that aspect quite adequately. The nuclear age is with us and we can use it either for power or for weapons of destruction, just as we have used plenty of things in times past for weapons of destruction. Steel has been made into swords instead of ploughshares, explosives have been used for bombs rather than for clearing roads, and so it goes on. I guess it is the pattern of history that man's inhumanity to man has always existed. We are in the nuclear age. We cannot be like the Luddites and try to turn it back. As when coal was first used during the Industrial Revolution, it would be like saying that we are not going to go down that track. The same sort of thing happened when electricity was discovered and when the motor vehicle first came into use. There were those with a Luddite mentality who said: 'We cannot have this; it will mean the destruction of society.' It is ironic that that electricity can now be generated more cheaply and probably more cleanly by nuclear power than by any other method. Whether we as a society decide to use that nuclear capacity for power generation or for weapons of destruction is in our hands.

People wage wars. Weapons are the means of destruction in those wars. If a person is dead it really does not matter whether he or she was killed by cold steel or a bullet, or blown up or roasted with nuclear power. That is one of the unfortunate aspects of this society. Once we go down the track of war we are committed to destruction and killing. It is interesting that in all the conflicts since World War II well over 5 million people have been killed, and not one of them by nuclear means. Over 103 million people were killed during World War II. People have been trying to limit arms for over 2,000 years. Even the ancient Greek states attempted to keep some degree of control over the citizens army. They did not succeed, of course, and successive generations have seen that man cannot and will not succeed in his bid to eradicate armaments or the need for armaments.

Today in a society that is primed to a world of increasing tension there are two camps-one seeking unilateral disarmament, and the other seeking multilateral disarmament. Whilst the latter principle is based on the policy of arms control by negotiation on a one to one basis, the former principle, to which Senator Chipp and the Democrats subscribe, advocates the complete laying down of arms by individuals nations. Unilateral disarmament includes also the revoking of any treaties, and in Australia's case this, of course, would have to mean ANZUS. Unilateral disarmament is, at best, a questionable goal. Costa Rica is the only nation I can recall to have attempted such methods of arms control. A series of military coups in this Latin American country led to the abolition of armed forces. Now, instead of instituting a state of beauteous tranquillity and Shangri-la revisited, a state of internal turmoil has unfortunately ensued. Of course, Costa Rica now finds its territories being used as operating bases by people waging guerrilla wars against Nicaragua.

As for multilateral arms control-this is a problem that presents itself today-it is imperative, if negotiations are to succeed, that all parties participating in a treaty recognise their similar interests, recognise that the control of the buildup of arms will serve those interests and recognise also that they must trust their negotiating partners. ANZUS not only provides Australia with formal agreements and formal opportunities to persuade a great ally, America, to follow those directions which we would prefer, it also provides us with far improved informal contacts with the administrative forces of America.

When the links with the United States are severed, the right to voice protest or support for moves initiated by this vital ally will be silenced. India serves to exemplify this, leading, as it does, the group of non-aligned nations. The United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics tend to discount virtually everything India has to say. India, in its bid for non-aligned status, has forgone its capacity to influence policies of arms control. Let us face facts: India is a major nation and it could have far more influence if it decided it wanted to, rather than just sit on the non-aligned fence. With ANZUS Australia at least maintains its right and ability to intercede.

When the Democrats advocate unilateral disarmament the natural presumption is that they are advocating that Australia undertake non-aligned status. A revoking of the ANZUS Treaty or any refusal to co-operate with the United States in its nuclear policies could be seen as a condemnation of its policies. Australia would then become a non-aligned nation. But becoming non-aligned does not come cheaply. I recall when this issue first blew up. In a recent State by-election campaign in my town of Rockhampton the new member for Capricornia, Keith Wright, went public in the Press, saying that he believed that Australia should become non-aligned and neutral and that when he got to the party room he would be seeing to it that that sort of thing happened. I am not quite sure what has happened and what his contribution has been within the confines of that party room.

Let us look at Switzerland. In Switzerland 21.3 per cent of the national budget is spent on defence. In Australia only 9.1 per cent is spent on defence. Whilst in Australia we have a paid professional and civilian armed contingent whose members can choose to serve for a minimum of three years and after that sign on again for another three years, in Switzerland every fit male is conscripted into regular, unpaid military training from the time he is 19 years old. This training continues until he is 60 years of age. This non-aligned nation is so primed to respond to war that within 48 hours 400,000 men can be called into action. Sweden also is a non-aligned or neutral country. It has more men under arms than we have. It has been estimated that to attain the same level of defence preparedness as Sweden now has we would have to expend $1.3 billion more per annum than we are already spending on our defence preparedness. So non-alignment or neutrality does not come cheaply.

Therefore, one has to look at what one could do in this instance. We are but a small nation and I suppose that to get the best value for our dollar we must recognise that we have to have alliances and we have to team up with out friends. Not only do we have to keep teaming up with them and have those friendships but we have to keep them in good repair. When we were at school, we remember, the bully always picked on the person who was weak, but when that weak person had friends who were fairly big and strong the bully did not dare go about his bullying tactics. It is the same with arms limitations. If we want to go into arms limitation talks we can do so only from a position of strength. We can negotiate only from a position of strength. If we do not do it from a position of strength but rather from a position of weakness I submit that we do not negotiate; we just succumb. To us ANZUS is part of that strength.

As well as being part of ANZUS we have the technology transfers that are available to us. We could not afford to do the massive amount of research and development that unfortunately go into the weapons systems and the means of delivery in the world today. We can take part in joint exercises. We can keep our armed forces, small though they might be, at peak strength and peak readiness because we can exercise with other nations. We can bring our troops up to standard because we are exercising in fields in which we would not exercise by ourselves. We can exercise our naval forces with nuclear submarines. We can exercise in over-shore activities and so on down the line. So we can operate at very much reduced expense and keep our troops in a great state of readiness.

In the year 4 BC a Roman writer by the name of Vegetius wrote: 'Let him who desires peace, prepare for war'. I think those words are as true today as they were then. We live in a very imperfect world, even though it might be different. Unilateral disarmament is based on the fairy godmother syndrome-if we do it, the rest of the world will do it. Like heck they will do it! We know darn well they will not.

Tonight we are dealing with this Bill and with the amendments put forward by Senator Chaney on behalf of the Opposition and by Senator Evans on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. It was interesting to note in the Bill Senator Chipp introduced that the Government is to be given the power to implement this Bill. I find that rather unusual. I am not quite sure how it could be implemented. Maybe Senator Chipp had better buy himself a horse. Surely this provision in the Bill authorising the use of force to remove any nuclear powered or nuclear armed ships from Australia is nothing short of quixotic in the extreme. The only trouble is, who plays Sancho Panza?