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Monday, 25 February 1985
Page: 151

Senator GEORGES(8.29) —We are debating 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 airspace over them. I confess that I am attracted to the Bill. I find that its terms, expression and intention are worthy of support. It places those who sincerely support the Bill in the same position as the New Zealand Government and the New Zealand people who have taken a very firm stand which I believe is important. I believe this stand reverses a process which has been developing throughout the world, a process which has, over the past few years, made the world almost a complete armed camp. The New Zealand people have taken a courageous initiative to reverse the position. Therefore, I am attracted to the proposition.

To anticipate Senator Boswell's interjection, I say that it is not a matter of unilateralism. It is not a unilateral decision, as some would like to describe it. It is a decision which the New Zealand people had the courage and determination to make as an example for others to follow. If that trend develops-as it is developing in small ways as people determine that certain areas such as cities, provinces and shires shall be nuclear free areas-that will be part of the trend which reverses initiatives taken and supported by people such as Senator Collard who think our destruction is inevitable, that war is always with us, that slaughter, massacre and the destruction of our environment are inevitable and that therefore we should with some stoicism give it up and say there is nothing else we can do about it.

Senator Lewis —On the contrary.

Senator GEORGES —Unless of course Senator Lewis is looking for a pax Romana so that we can take action to destroy all opposition to our thoughts and ways and become so dominant that we impose a forced peace on everyone else. This in itself is a great corruption. This is not possible because we are faced at the present-we are making history at the moment-with the absolute and complete destruction of the world as we know it. I am not going to be moved away from the remarks I am making. I merely indicate that as far as I am concerned the Bill has its merits. However, I am puzzled by the direct negative of the Opposition's amendment. Also, for the first time, I find myself looking at an amendment from the Government's side. I will deal with those as they come before the Senate.

However, let me say that when we look at a Bill of this sort we cannot separate the Bill from those who have presented it. I am particularly disturbed that such a Bill should have been introduced by the Australian Democrats, and by Senator Chipp in particular. There is no chance of success for this Bill, because there are not the numbers to pass it, and Senator Chipp knows that. His motive, of course, is questionable. This Bill reminds me of a proposition put to a human rights conference in Teheran in 1968 by Haiti, a nation which at the time had the worst human rights record in the world. It was a record equal to that of Idi Amin of Uganda and Pol Pot of Kampuchea. The nations of the world voted on the proposition. It was absolutely exact and immaculate in what it proposed.

Senator Chipp —What year was that?

Senator GEORGES —That was in 1968. It was immaculate in what it expressed in terms of human rights. However, the motives of those who proposed it were questionable. In fact, they brought into question the very proposition they moved.

Senator Chipp —Papa Doc Duvalier.

Senator GEORGES —Exactly. Senator Chipp recalls him well.

Senator Chipp —I attacked them in Paris and Madrid in 1977-the same group from Haiti.

Senator GEORGES —I am pleased to hear it. I say to Senator Chipp that there is a comparison between what is happening here and what happened at that time. I question Senator Chipp's motives in this Bill. I believe that this Bill has been introduced for the meanest political motives. It is brought forward for a purpose.

Senator Mason —That is absolute rubbish. You know that we have put forward these views for the last seven or eight years. Don't put that sort of line across. Use your brains.

Senator GEORGES —Senator Mason is a bit late in the field. The Australian Democrats, having lost their constituency upon which they depended for their support, are now setting themselves up as champions of some of the most radical positions in Australian politics. The Australian Democrats are endeavouring to take up-

Senator Chipp —You are a sorry, devious old man who has lost his way.

Senator Grimes —Mr Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order-

Senator GEORGES —I am old, and I admit to being devious.

Senator Grimes —But you are not sorry, George.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Colston) —Order! Senator Grimes, do you have a point of order?

Senator Grimes —Yes, Mr Acting Deputy President. Senator Georges is making a very serious and telling contribution to this debate. I do not believe the interjections of the type made by Senator Chipp are within Standing Orders and I ask that what he said be withdrawn.

Senator Mason —Mr Acting Deputy President, I wish to speak to the point of order. I think that is absurd. If the Australian Labor Party cannot take that standard of debate it is so soft and unfortunate and I do not think it is likely to be with us as a government for very much longer.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Mason, by taking that point of order you are likely to make me reverse my decision. I do not think the comments that were made transgress any Standing Orders but I do think they transgress the dignity of this place. I ask Senator Georges to continue.

Senator GEORGES —The remarks Senator Chipp made are in keeping with the remark he made earlier in referring to the Premier of New South Wales as a creature.

Senator Chipp —Hear, hear!

Senator GEORGES —By the words 'Hear, hear' Senator Chipp will be judged. It makes fairly apparent that Senator Chipp's motives are always questionable. Certain actions, decisions and initiatives that he has taken in this place in the past few months have been directed by that malice which he has expressed against the Premier of New South Wales. In fact, every decision and every position that he has taken on a number of matters before the Senate have been directed to bringing down the New South Wales Government. The bitterness and malice which he has expressed against the Premier of New South Wales support what I am putting when I say that his motives are questionable. When he proposes something therefore it becomes questionable whether it ought to be supported.

Senator Chipp —I hate corruption. It is as simple as that. I hate corrupt police, corrupt Ministers and corrupt bureaucrats. That is what I hate. That is why I hate the Administration in New South Wales. If you want to defend it, defend it to the end.

Senator GEORGES —I say to Senator Chipp that he is in a better position to understand those words, those terms and accusations than any other honourable senator in this place. That is the way his mind works.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Georges, I ask you to direct your remarks through the Chair.

Senator GEORGES —Through you, Mr Acting Deputy President, that is the way Senator Chipp has been performing in this place. That is the great question we have to face here. Before Senator Chipp goes I say clearly to him that he has called others in this place frauds and hypocrites. I level that against him. I do that clearly and without--

Senator Mason —Mr Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order. I ask you to require Senator Georges to withdraw those remarks, which I think are completely gratuitous and unnecessary and an expression of the tenuousness of the argument which he is trying to put forward and which he knows as well as everybody else has no substance. He is going away from substance and argument to abuse. I ask that his remarks be withdrawn.

Senator Grimes —On the point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President: It is my clear recollection that Senator Georges was referring to things that Senator Chipp said. He was not referring to Senator Chipp. Senator Mason levelled accusations at the Australian Labor Party earlier. Senator Chipp quite clearly cannot take this sort of thing because he left the chamber as Senator Georges was speaking. He just could not tolerate having his words thrown back at him. But I certainly cannot recall anything Senator Georges said which should be asked to be withdrawn.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —The way in which I heard the remarks was that Senator Georges was referring to Senator Chipp. Senator Georges, I have allowed a fairly easy rein at this stage but you have imputed improper motives to Senator Chipp. I ask you to withdraw those remarks which were the subject of the point of order.

Senator GEORGES —Perhaps I could be permitted to speak to the point of order.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I have made a ruling.

Senator GEORGES —The ruling has been made. I find it difficult to withdraw the remarks. Mr Acting Deputy President, you should allow me the latitude to express an opinion before I withdraw the words.


Senator GEORGES —The opinion I wish to express is that Senator Chipp--

Senator Jack Evans —Mr Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order. You have asked for a withdrawal and you are now being studiously ignored. Your ruling is being overruled by Senator Georges.

Senator GEORGES —I withdraw the words. I proceed to make my explanation as to why I was forced to use them. I hope that that satisfies Senator Jack Evans. I was forced to use them because the attitude that Senator Chipp takes in this place is that he, and he alone, is the master of the Standing Orders, that he can at any time dictate to the President and the Clerks with impunity. On Friday he made some most insulting remarks and revealed his motive for bringing forward this Bill; that is, to embarrass a number of people in our Party who took a very strong and firm view on the matter that is before us. He was saying: 'We will see where those who sent telegrams will be and we will see where Senator Georges puts his considerable posterior when it comes to the vote'. Those are rude, insulting and extremely patronising remarks. He can dish it out but he has left the chamber and he is not prepared to take it back. I am not prepared to make any further remarks about him. If he wishes to come back, I will tell him exactly what I think.

Let me point out also that Senator Chipp has now revealed that he is going to take portions out of Labor Party policy and bring them forward as a Bill. He will do so not for the purposes of supporting that policy, but for the purpose of embarrassing the Labor Party and substantial sections of the community that support the Labor Party. He has done that on a number of occasions. He did it in regard to a nuclear substances Bill. He put forward the proposition and he went out into the electorate and boasted that no one in the Labor Party opposed it. He could not count.

Senator Mason —We did not boast; we were just saying that you should stick with your principles.

Senator GEORGES —Yes, you were boasting. The Democrats insulted the intelligence of people. The Nuclear Disarmament Party received so much support because people could see through the hoax and the fraud which the Democrats have shown themselves to be. Half a million people went away--

Senator Jack Evans —From the Labor Party.

Senator GEORGES —Yes, perhaps from the Labor Party. But they did not go to the Democrats. They found somewhere to go, but they did not go to the Democrats. The Democrats' greatest fear is that next time an election takes place they will be finished. They will be a thing of the past. In three years time they will be scratching. All they can do is to find themselves a new constituency, and that is what this is about. That is what they are trying to do in this regard. They are trying to take over the leadership of the Left. I was amazed to find that the Democrats were against the introduction of foreign banks, another initiative of the Left. They continue on this subject to try to gain the support which they will not get at the next election.

I will explain to the Senate how insulting Senator Chipp can become. In a speech headlined 'Embargoed'-the Australian Democrats policy speech for the 1984 Federal election-he stated:

Good Evening.

This is a different kind of policy speech. It contains no personal abuse. There are no tricky promises of how to put more dollars in your pockets.

He said that it contained no personal abuse. He then said some things about nuclear disarmament, things on which I support him, about the problems that we face, and the possibility of instant and immediate destruction. He continued:

You don't have to take my word for that or the word of some left-wing fruitcake.

He had not even read a dozen paragraphs before he said, 'You don't have to take the word of some left-wing fruitcake', referring to me, I suppose, and a number of others. But it contained no personal abuse! I am proud to say that I am a member of the left wing and possibly at times I am a fruitcake. But I do not need to be told by Senator Chipp who, incidentally, is taking the positions that I had taken for many years before he changed his mind. He said today that he has a right in 16 years to change his mind. But he does not have the right to change it every month and that is virtually what he is doing.

I return to the Bill that is before us. The Bill is so serious that I determined to look at Labor Party policy and my view is that that is what Labor Party policy intended. Maybe I have not been attending conferences or maybe I have not read the policy lately. But I find that the policy is like the Bible. It can be quoted by anyone to suit his own purposes. I suppose I can quote certain sections of it that support my point of view and the point of view contained in the Bill. But what I have found to my astonishment is that the policy is not as clear as I thought it was. What position do I take? Do I say: 'I believe in this Bill. It is part of party policy, therefore I will support party policy and I will do what I did last time when we debated a Bill like this'? I did not speak to anyone else. I did not consult anyone else. I did not try to influence anyone else. When the bells rang I just did not vote during the division and, to the credit of my Party, it did not question me about it. So much for Senator Chipp.

Senator Mason —You got a lot of respect from the community.

Senator GEORGES —Obviously I got none from the Democrats.

Senator Mason —Yes, you did.

Senator GEORGES —None at all, according to the way in which Senator Chipp has been going on and the way in which he went out to the electorate.

Senator Mason —You are the only person on that side who is honest.

Senator GEORGES —I do not know about honesty. You can say what you like, but you have real problems, Senator.

Senator Mason —I do not have any problems.

Senator GEORGES —You have problems. The problem is, so have I. So what is the situation? I strongly believe that the initiative taken by New Zealand is the correct positions for any Labor Party to take. I look at my Party's policy and I find that it is not clear. If it were clear on that point, I would have no difficulty in supporting Labor Party policy, because that is my prime consideration. Policy is laid down by conferences of the Party-I ask all honourable senators to remember this-in order to keep us nicely in line so we will not start doing things on the run. If we are in difficulties with our policy we can always fall back and say: 'But the Party policy says so and so. That is what is in the document. Until that is changed that is what we support. That is our position'. That is what Party policy is all about.

One of the problems in trying to amend Party policy to suit a variety of opinions is that finally it means nothing, and that is the problem with our policy in this regard. So what is the option now? Should I support this questionable initiative of Senator Chipp's or discard it for what it is worth and risk the challenges out in the community as to why I, or others, did not support it? Do I take that course or do I just push it to one side and do what all of us would normally do, namely, go back to the party forums and seek to change the policy? Until it is changed, I have no right to take any other position. I could possibly do the sneaky thing that I did last time and without telling anyone not answer the bells. But I have already indicated what I did last time and I am not prepared to do it this time because the motives of the Democrats are absolutely suspect and they will be shown up for what they are. I was almost going to say that they were a bunch of frauds and hypocrites; but they would jump to their feet and ask for those words to be withdrawn. I would not be in contravention of the Standing Orders because the comment would be all-encompassing. Even though the Democrats are small in number, there are two or three honourable senators who could be excluded from being called frauds and hypocrites, but there are some who could not be excluded. If they can find out who they are, they can then complain to the Acting Deputy President.

Senator Lewis —Can you narrow it down a bit further, like the Leader or Deputy Leader?

Senator GEORGES —I have narrowed it down to three, maybe two. I suggest that this debate ought not to be discarded lightly. We should look to our various policies and see what commitments we have made under ANZUS. Might I say that these commitments do not in any way intend us to become subservient to someone else's dictates. New Zealand has proved what the United States would like to do but is not prepared to do. What New Zealand has been able to do we also can do and I suggest that we should follow its example.

The real problem that we face is that there are some people-this applies across the parties-who believe that we are so vulnerable and so expendable in world affairs that the only way to obtain protection and defence is to commit ourselves heavily to the United States and to involve the United States heavily in this area. Such people wish to hand out large slabs of our sovereignty to allow the Americans to create bases here so that they become so firmly involved that we cannot be ignored. That is a most despicable position for anyone to take.

Senator Townley —Would you rather have the Russians?

Senator GEORGES —It could safely be said that we have had a great fear of them even as far back as 1870 when we put cannons at the mouth of the Brisbane River to prevent a Russian invasion. It goes on and on. Unless we have something to fear, nothing will be done; nothing can be justified. Our subservience to the United States is based on some empty fear of the Soviet Union.

Opposition senators interjecting-

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Colston) —Order! I ask that the interjections on my left cease and that Senator Georges be allowed to continue.

Senator GEORGES —I notice that Senator Chipp has returned. Last Friday, Senator Chipp, in his usual way as part of his contribution to a debate on the Government's legislation program, said to the President, in effect: 'If you do not deal with Senator Georges, I will have to'. I say to Senator Chipp: 'I accept the challenge; you try'.