Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 25 February 1985
Page: 163

Senator HARRADINE(9.58) —I will not speak for long because I believe that we should proceed very quickly to a vote on the Australian Waters (Nuclear-powered Ships and Nuclear Weapons Prohibition) Bill. Almost everything that needs to be said on this question has been said during the debate, which has ranged from early this afternoon until now. However, a couple of matters have not been addressed and I will deal with those very shortly. I refer to the remarks made by Senator Jack Evans, who has just spoken to the Bill. I am concerned that a climate of mindless fear is being generated which could, in the short term, isolate Australia from our allies and, in the long term, make war more inevitable by undermining the will of democracies to continue their painstaking search for a mutual, progressive and verifiable arms reduction agreement without which lasting peace is impossible to achieve.

Senator Evans referred to the fear among young people that they may not live for more than a few days. I have probably more reason than most members of this chamber to be concerned about peace and the need for peace. I do not think anybody in this chamber can have a trademark on the desire for peace. It is a desire that dwells in the hearts of all of us. The question is: How is that to be achieved? I believe that it cannot be achieved by generating a mindless fear which does not address itself to the realities of the situation. Furthermore, that fear engenders a type of nuclear numbing which ignores the need to eradicate inequalities both at home and abroad and the violation of human rights as a prerequisite for a genuine, lasting world peace with freedom.

I would like to go over a number of matters that have been addressed, including the question of deterrence and how this action would be perceived not only by our immediate allies but also by those on the periphery, but I desist from doing so because this would normally be covered by other speakers. A couple of points that have not been covered are: Firstly, the failure of successive governments to provide the information upon which the Australian people can have an intellectual commitment to the ANZUS Treaty and the American alliance; and, secondly, the role of sections of the Press in this area, particularly over the last two or three weeks. As to the first point, over a number of years, successive governments have asked the Australian public to take, almost as a matter of faith, the Australian-American alliance. It was said recently by the Executive Director of the Australian Defence Association in a public statement which was printed in the Hobart Mercury on, I think, 5 February that what governments do not understand is that Australians under the age of 40 years have had fed to them in the education system, particularly at universities, a diet of anti-Americanism. Certainly those over the age of 40 years either have had personal experience of war or were in their childhood days during or just shortly after the war when the realities of the American alliance were clear cut. What governments need to do-I include this Government, the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden)-is to provide the information upon which an intellectual commitment can be based in support of the Australian-American alliance and to challenge those who seek to destroy it with the question as to what the alternative would be and whether it would be too costly to consider as it may lead to the conclusion that we should develop our own nuclear capacity. I am not one to support them. In fact, I believe that if information is provided to the general public about the importance of the alliance we will be able to avoid the quite unnecessary expense in which we would have to engage in developing our own type of defence posture.

The second matter that has not been referred to is the role that sections of the media play. For example the National Times gloated on its front page about 'Hawke's humiliation' over the MX question. On 1 February, I think, it regurgitated a story that was around just before the election about whether Australia would be involved in any way in the MX tests. One week later it was able to blazen on its front page the headline: 'The Treaty Trembles. Hawke's humiliation signals the end of an era'. It played a partisan part in this whole sordid affair, and so did the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The ABC acted in a most biased way on the critical day that this question was being considered. It took up the story which was printed in the National Times. I do not know how many honourable senators listened to the ABC's AM program on 5 February but those who did will not have heard any balance at all in that program. Who did the ABC have on that AM program that morning? It canvassed the views of Mr Alan Griffiths MP, of Senator Peter Cook and of a person it described as an expert of Australian-New Zealand military affairs, Peter Hayes. I am advised by experts in the field that Hayes's name is unknown as a specialist in that area and that he actually demonstrated an abysmal ignorance of the technical aspects of his subject. All of those who were interviewed to that point were hostile to a greater or lesser degree to the announced policy of the Australian Government, the United States Government and the Prime Minister. The only defender was Richard Butler, who is our Ambassador for Disarmament. He, as a public servant, was placed in a difficult and awkward position and of course was somewhat muted in what he could say.

Not to be outdone, the PM program on the same day made no attempt to present other than a hostile point of view towards the United States and to the leadership of the Prime Minister of his Party. Those who contributed to PM on that day-the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is supposed to be unbiased but it was obviously playing a partisan role in this affair-were Senator Chipp and Mr Tickner MP, who actually used the program to attack his leader. The ABC even dragged out Rear Admiral Gene La Rocque.

Senator MacGibbon —Him?

Senator HARRADINE —Yes. It was scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Senator MacGibbon —Is he older or younger than President Reagan?

Senator HARRADINE —La Rocque's history ought to be well known to anyone who has held a vague interest in the area of defence.

Senator Chipp —Have you as distinguished a war service as he? Have you served your country as he did?

Senator HARRADINE —As a matter of fact, I am not that old. Of course, I was a member of the 27th Infantry Battalion, but I did not see overseas service. I was too young. He has been the subject of articles appearing in the Australian and anyone, including the ABC, should have known of his record. We are talking about Admiral La Rocque in respect of this matter. Admiral La Rocque has a magazine called the Defense Monitor. The Defense Monitor has consistently taken an anti-Western view on defence matters ever since his organisation was established by the so-called Fund for Peace. La Rocque has attended and spoken at KGB sponsored conferences and often appears as a commentator on Moscow television. Of course, the ABC program trots him out.

Senator MacGibbon —That's right, Trotsky.

Senator HARRADINE —That was a slip of the tongue. The point I am simply making, with due respect to Trotsky, is that the ABC was playing a partisan role in a matter of great major national importance. It was not only an ordinary partisan role but also a party political partisan role because the ABC did not attempt to give the view of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs or any of those factions. It simply gave the view of one faction which happened to be opposing the Prime Minister's view. I thought it was necessary to raise those two points because they had not been raised before. There is further information about the role of the ABC and the role of the National Times in respect of this matter. But I believe that I probably would be transgressing Standing Orders if I were to elaborate on those matters at this point because the matter before the Chair is a Bill introduced by Senator Chipp to ensure that nuclear powered or nuclear armed vessels are not given authority to come to the ports of Australia or that nuclear capable aircraft are not given landing facilities in Australia. It has been admitted all round that this would destroy the ANZUS Treaty and the Australian-American alliance.

Senator Jack Evans —It has not been admitted all round.

Senator HARRADINE —That is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn from this.

Senator Jack Evans —That is not admitting it.

Senator HARRADINE —You do not admit it then?

Senator Jack Evans —No.

Senator HARRADINE —I can only repeat that it is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn. This applies not only to the fleet and aircraft of the United States forces but also to those of our other allies-the United Kingdom, for example. It is strategically unacceptable even to ask the navies of those countries to declare publicly whether a specific vessel is nuclear armed. That ought to be recognised. It is a strategic nonsense to suggest that that could be done. Of course, to implement this Bill that question would have to be asked and answered. Of course, that is not on because that would then destroy the effectiveness of a very significant part of the treaty.

As to the treaty and the perception of Australians of the Australian-American alliance, if Australians were asked the question 'Who could Australia rely on if faced with an attack from a superior force?' undoubtedly most Australians would answer 'The United States of America'. The basis for the assumption that America would act as our ultimate protector is to be found in the ANZUS Treaty and-this is also a very significant point to which I think the Democrats have not adverted-in the economic and diplomatic linkages between the two countries. That applies also to arms procurement. Imagine if the treaty did not exist and the linkages were broken. Imagine the cost, not to mention the lead time, that would be involved in establishing the industries necessary to make ourselves self-sufficient. Over a number of years in this place I have advocated a greater reliance on our defence industries. But it is inconceivable that the high technology material now required for a modern army could be produced in this country without unacceptable lead times.

The key clause of the ANZUS Treaty requires each party to recognise that an armed attack in our area on any of the parties to the treaty would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and requires each party to declare that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes. On the basis of ANZUS and our joint wartime experiences Australia and the United States have developed a close strategic relationship which includes the installation on Australian soil of sensitive United States communications equipment. Honourable senators have heard what the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister have said about the importance for peace of those installations. Yet some people now say that the ANZUS Treaty should be scrapped. That is, in effect, what is proposed by this legislation.

Clearly, Australia could not withstand the onslaught of a super-power without increasing a hundred times its defence expenditure and, as I have said, possibly obtaining a nuclear strike capability. It has been said in the Senate that much depends on the interpretation of the imprecise terms of the ANZUS Treaty. But on the worst interpretation-that of Nixon's Guam doctrine-there is no doubt that, if Australia were attacked either by proxy or directly by a super-power such as the Soviet Union, the United States would come to Australia's defence. I emphasise the word 'proxy' because that is how it is done these days. Generally it is not done directly.

I admit that according to the interpretation of the Guam doctrine other security problems for Australia such as regional warfare or the blocking of trading sea lanes vital to the economic survival of Australia may not attract an immediate American response desired by Australia. However, in view of the increased Soviet interests in the Asia-Pacific area and the decline of the United States naval presence in the area which, of course, would be accelerated by a Bill such as this, Australia needs to accept more responsibility as a regional power. But I believe it cannot do so unless it does this in close co-operation with the United States of America. By 'co-operation' I mean a continued close co-operation such as we have seen over a long period and such as was born out of the blood of World War II and developed in economic and diplomatic linkages since then.

The United States of America is, of course, anxious that regional powers, including Japan, ourselves and the countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations, accept more responsibilities for their own defence. Of course, that is important for our own economic reasons as well as for security reasons. After all, the five nearest countries to our north comprising ASEAN have 260 million people and an annual growth rate of 7.5 per cent. It is well for us to consider at this point whether we should enhance and develop a common cause with our neighbours in the international arena as a basis for the establishment of a South East Asia and Pacific community with common trade, economic and security policies. I believe that that would be consistent with our responsibilities as a regional power. However, in order to do this we need to maintain and improve our alliances with our ally, the United States of America.

Let me remind the Senate that the Singapore Foreign Minister expressed his concern about the possibility that the ANZUS treaty was trembling. I believe that if we are to uphold our place in this part of the world we should do everything in our power to maintain and develop our alliances with the United States and to ensure that the public of Australia has the information which provides it with the basis for an intellectual commitment to that alliance.

The view that I am expressing today is consistent with the view I have had for many years. In fact, I fought this fight back in 1976 when, as I recall, it was the leaders of the pro-communist left unions who were attempting to place a black ban on the visits of United States nuclear powered or nuclear armed vessels at that time. I well recall it because it was being said by the Prime Minister of the day that the Government could not get the USS Enterprise into any port in Australia. As a matter of fact, in conjunction with the then Labor Premier, Bill Neilson, and the various authorities in Tasmania it was our union that made possible the very successful visit of the USS Enterprise to the port of Hobart. That was done in a democratic manner because the workers involved, the members of the unions, had a meeting and unanimously decided that the port of Hobart always welcomed friendly naval and commercial vessels. The vessel was made by union labour and we were not going to see anybody but union labour work on it. I believe that those people who made that unanimous decision recognised the importance of the alliance. This is an alliance which, of course, would be destroyed by Senator Chipp's Bill.

Senator Chipp —What's the point of all this?

Senator HARRADINE —Senator Chipp is interjecting. Perhaps it is true-

Senator Chipp —I have treated your speech with the total contempt it deserves. I have not been interjecting.

Senator HARRADINE —I have attempted to be objective. I have not attacked you. I have heard what you have been saying sotto voce, including that last remark. Senator Georges made a very perceptive comment in his speech when he said that it seems that the Australian Democrats now are attempting to take control of the leadership of the Left in Australia. Perhaps that is correct, because Senator Georges ought to know.