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Tuesday, 26 February 1985
Page: 188

Senator KILGARIFF(3.37) —I wish to make a few brief comments on the Australian Waters (Nuclear-powered Ships and Nuclear Weapons Prohibition) Bill, on the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Chaney, and also on the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Gareth Evans, the Minister for Resources and Energy, which reads as follows:

The Senate is of the opinion that continued access by visiting allied war ships, within the framework of appropriate safety and environmental controls as laid down by successive Australian governments, is essential for the effective operation of the ANZUS Alliance.

It is true to say that Australia will be looking to the Government for strength and determination, but surely the introduction of such an amendment in this debate must be seen as nothing more than a wishy-washy proposal which typifies the problem of the Government at the moment. I refer to the fragmentation of the Australian Labor Party in government. Surely it must be recognised by all-certainly in the media where one sees reflections on the Government-that Australia must assume that the Labor party is in no shape to guide and control Australia's future. So much for that wishy-washy amendment.

On the other hand, the Leader of the Opposition in this place, Senator Chaney, some two days ago gave the Opposition's view as to how it sees the position of nuclear-powered ships and nuclear weapons and the suggestion by the Democrats that they should be prohibited from entering Australia. Our stance is one of strength and common sense. The amendment says:

The Senate is of the opinion that

(a) continued access by the US and UK 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.

The amendment goes on. Yesterday Senator Chaney introduced the amendment most capably, supported by Senator Sir John Carrick. I think that the speech made by Senator Sir John Carrick on that occasion will be long remembered and used on many occasions to understand the actual situation in the world today, particularly the stance that Australia should take. The amount of misinformation fed into the situation these days, particularly in the Senate, is amazing. The speech by Senator Sir John Carrick, I think, will bring a lot of relief to Australians who feel very strongly these days about means of recognising and overcoming the problem of the lack of unilateral disarmament.

In speaking to Senator Chaney's amendment and against the Bill, I remind the Senate that Senator Chipp's Bill was introduced last year following the announcement by the New Zealand Government that it would not be permitting nuclear powered or nuclear armed ships to visit its ports. At that time Senator Chipp could not have known that within six months the policy of the New Zealand Government would lead to a substantial breakdown in the ANZUS alliance. Indeed, during the debate on this Bill last year Senator Chipp seemed to take the view that New Zealand's decision could have no effect at all on New Zealand's relationship with the United States in the context of the ANZUS treaty, for Senator Chipp's view of affairs, as it appeared in Hansard, was as follows:

What did it-

that is the United States-

say when New Zealand said: 'No more nuclear armed warships'? The United States simply said: 'Okay, we will not send any more to you'. Has there been any talk about abrogating ANZUS? Of course there has not.

Senator Chipp must now acknowledge that he grossly underestimated the impact of the decision of the New Zealand Government on the ANZUS alliance and that, had Australia followed that lead of New Zealand on this issue, the alliance would not have held up. That Senator Chipp is persisting with this Bill in the light of recent events such as the cancellation of the joint exercises which were to take place between the ANZUS members shows either a continued naivete on the part of the honourable senator regarding the importance the United States places on access to Australian ports for its naval vessels or a complete dismissal of the ANZUS treaty as the keystone of Australia's defence.

The Labor Government has already done its fair share of damage to Australia's reputation with regard to our commitment to our American allies. The recent capitulation of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) over the MX missile issue must leave the United States wondering just how reliable Australia is as a treaty partner. Indeed, surely the United States must wonder what has happened to the Australian stomach. Mr Hawke has certainly left many Australians wondering just how reliable he is as the leader of our country when he is prepared to bow to internal party pressure to the detriment of our relationship with the United States and our national security at a time when Australia looks for strong leadership. What have we seen over the last few weeks? We have seen a cream puff government. One wonders what has happened to the Labor Party over the last few years, but when we see it as a coalition of many groups from the left wing through to the right wing. It is no longer the Labor Party of the Curtin or the Chifley days, when it was a very prominent party which gave quite strong leadership when it was in government. Now, of course, many Australians must wonder where the Labor Government is going to take us during the next two or three years. Australia's contribution to the stability of the free world is being jeopardised and is in danger of being destroyed by the unification of the left wing factions of the Labor Party. A Prime Minister who is incapable of withstanding the pressures of the warring factions within his Party, and who backs down at the first sign of difficulty in selling to the Left of his Party decisions taken in the national interest, is not only weak but also dangerous. Vacillation over our nuclear ships policy and the extent of our commitment to ANZUS at a time when the Soviet presence in our region is growing can lead only to a weakening of our relationship with America and the breakdown of Western deterrence in this region.

The left wing of the Labor Government has already made its mark on our defence policy. At the ALP National Conference last year an amendment successfully placed restrictions on the pattern and frequency of United States naval visits. Of course, those left wing members of the Government who advocated those restrictions would like to see the banning of visits by nuclear powered or armed ships, regardless of the result of any such ban. One wonders in whose interest the left wing members of the Labor Party are working in advocating a policy which would leave Australia weak and vulnerable, without a strong ally and exposed to the ever-growing Soviet presence in the Indian and Pacific oceans. One would be rather hard pressed to find that these people are really working in Australia's interests.

In bringing debate on this Bill back on, Senator Chipp may be hoping to capitalise on the irresponsible approach this Labor Government has taken to Australia's defence needs and our relationship with our allies, an approach which began with the refusal of docking facilities to HMS Invincible and which has most recently been demonstrated in the Government's refusal to provide assistance to the United States in the testing of its MX missiles. Of course, all that America wanted in that exercise was that aircraft that were following the testing of MX missiles in the Pacific Ocean, far from Australia, should be refuelled.

Even assuming that the Labor Government is prepared to carry its unrealistic attitude to the point of not allowing nuclear armed and powered ships to pass through Australian waters, is Senator Chipp or any other honourable senator opposite so naive as to think that, by our withdrawing from the United States and other friendly nations the right to have their ships pass through our waters, the Soviet Union will be influenced to reduce its military build-up, for example, in Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam? The Soviet Union has an exceptionally valuable facility at Cam Ranh Bay. On any given day up to 29 Soviet surface ships and four or more submarines are in that strategically located port. Until recently deployment of a few Soviet Bear long-range reconnaissance aircraft was the normal air presence. The Soviets now have Badger aircraft at Cam Ranh Bay. The significance of these aircraft is that they provide the Soviets with a capability to strike and interdict the vital sea lines of communication throughout South East Asia. We have also seen the presence of Soviet Kilo class submarines in the Indian Ocean. To demilitarise in the way Senator Chipp has suggested would not make Australia any less a target in a nuclear war; it would make us a weak victim, all the more easily overcome.

In Australia we are continually subjected to the protests of the left wing of the Australian Labor Party and other organisations which decry the role Australia has to play in the ANZUS alliance and our contribution to Western security. The ANZUS treaty and the joint United States-Australia bases in Australia are constantly under attack on the basis that they establish Australia as a nuclear target. I believe that there is more to it than that. I suspect the left wing of the Labor Party. It seems to me that it leans too closely to the influence of the Soviet Union. Yet how often do we hear these same groups calling for the demilitarisation of the Soviet bases in Vietnam? In this area too, Indo-Chinese countries, particularly Laos and Kampuchea, are being gathered, with Vietnam, into an Indo-China which now must be recognised as a puppet of the Soviet Union. How often these days do we hear protests against what the Soviets are doing not so far from us, in Afghanistan, where they are practising genocide? When one looks at the reports emanating from that country now one sees that village by village men, women and children are being wiped out. Why is there no protest in Australia regarding the actions of the Soviet Union there?

Australia has a role to play in disarmament but it cannot achieve a global balance by itself. World peace can be gained only by maintaining a balance. Disarmament will be achieved only on a planned basis. Disarming the Western allies while the Soviets continue to build up their defences will serve only to destabilise the situation further and bring about their main aim, that of world domination.

The Opposition urges the Government to recognise that the United States regards access to Australian and New Zealand ports as a central plank of the ANZUS alliance and any decision to restrict or deny access will threaten Australia's long term security. The ANZUS alliance, which is now over 30 years old, has continued to be the cornerstone of our defence policy since it was first established in the 1950s. Prior to the ANZUS treaty there was the Second World War. I remind honourable senators that 19 February, only a week ago, was the forty-third anniversary of the bombing of Darwin. I take the opportunity here, as I believe it is very much in line with the debate, to show how much we owe our friends and allies from the United States who in those days lost so many of their young men defending Australia. Have we forgotten what they did in flying, sailing and fighting alongside our own people?

Senator Walters —Yes, Janine Haines has.

Senator KILGARIFF —I believe Senator Walters is right. Australia is forgetting. Many Australians are deliberately forgetting and endeavouring to bring about some antagonistic attitude towards our friends and allies the Americans, people with the same ethnic background as ours. Indeed, when one looks back just a few generations one sees that parts of the families of many people who emigrated to Australia went to America too.

Talking briefly of the bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942, it is interesting to note that the Japanese used a total of 135 aircraft for the two raids, 81 from the carriers and 54 from the first attack force. I will read out a little about the history of that incident. The report of the heavy losses of 18 and 19 February 1942 states:

Under cover of night the combined forces of Admirals Nagumo and Kondo-an armada of 4 aircraft carriers, 2 battleships, 5 cruisers and about 20 destroyers-had steamed southward from Staring Bay, the outer harbour of Kendari, on 18th February and entered the Banda Sea. At dawn on the 19th speed was reduced and the 4 carriers altered course to turn into wind while their aircraft crews made final preparations for their greatest assault since Pearl Harbour.

The Darwin raid was known in Darwin as the mini-Pearl Harbour. I can assure the Senate that the people there remember that. Very many Australians who lost members of their families on that day are still living in Darwin today. The report continues:

Nagumo's force was at its peak. The 4 carriers-Akagi and Kaga . . . Hiryu and Soryu . . . together with the 5th Division . . . had triumphed at Pearl Harbour.

Next they took on Darwin. In Darwin, many civilians-men, women and children-and men working on the wharf were killed. American sailors on the Perry and other boats were blown up and killed in the explosion or burnt in the sea alongside the wharfies. Young American pilots, some aged 20, 21 or 22 years, had been brought out from the United States to fly in that inhospitable part of the world to defend Darwin and Australia. Many American personnel were left there alongside the Australians-dead. I for one, and I believe most people in the north, remember the Americans for what they were and what they are to Australia today-necessary allies and friends. When Australia was almost overwhelmed by the holocaust of the Japanese attack they saved the day. Just off Cairns, in the Coral Sea battle, Australia was almost overwhelmed but the Australian forces, with the assistance of American forces, put the thrust aside. Here today the left wing and others have the audacity to endeavour to bring about a situation in which Australia is thrown against our allies, the Americans.

The ANZUS treaty is an alliance for the mutual benefit of the parties to the treaty. It involves a two-way process, and responsibilities exist on all sides. Australia must make its position clear. We must state our intention to continue to allow access to the nuclear vessels of our allies and to meet our responsibilities. Those people who advocate unilateral disarmament and the abandonment of our treaty obligations to our allies do not only their fellow Australians but also the rest of the world a great disservice. If Senator Mason, who is trying to interject, wants to include himself in that number he may do so. The fact is that the Australian facilities are absolutely fundamental to world security. Australia should continue to make its contribution to maintaining the balance, particularly in this part of the world, with the Soviet buildup in Vietnam. The future security of Australia is threatened by both the Democrats and the Australian Labor Party. Both parties stand for the erosion and eventual destruction of the ANZUS alliance. They should stand back and take stock of the opinions of the Australian people-and I would say by far the majority of Australian people-before they jeopardise further the future of our defence policy.