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Tuesday, 26 February 1985
Page: 201


Senator MACKLIN(5.03) —I wish to speak to the amendment moved by Senator Chaney to the original motion that the Australian Waters (Nuclear-powered Ships and Nuclear Weapons Prohibition) Bill be read a second time. On 12 September last year I spoke on the original Bill. I believe that Senator Chaney and other speakers in the points of view they have put forward in this debate have actually succeeded in missing what seems to me to be a critical and crucial question, namely, whether or not in the exuberance of the debate the senators who have been proposing to oppose the Bill that the Australian Democrats have brought forward have gone beyond discussion of that Bill. I find that that is the case in regard to the amendment moved by Senator Chaney. These senators have gone beyond the subject of the Bill in such a way that I am forced to ask whether any senator proposes or supports the use of nuclear weapons. I believe that the criticalness of that question has been missed in much of the debate because on that question really hinges what type of activity we feel able and capable of undertaking as a country and as part of the human race. Is it the case that honourable senators are in agreement with Admiral Gayler, who was the former Commander-in-Chief of the United States Forces in the Pacific, when he made a statement three years ago that there was no sensible military use for any of our nuclear forces? I hope that every senator in this place would actually agree with such a statement. If they do agree with such a statement, they have therefore been arguing the absolute and crucial necessity to have forces which we have no intention of ever using. That argument displays the essential lack of logic in what is being put forward in opposition to our proposal. If honourable senators do not agree with that statement, presumably they are asserting, albeit should an unusual situation arise, that they will still ultimately support Australia's involvement in alliances that intend to use nuclear weapons.

I am speaking quite specifically on this point because speaker after speaker in this debate has raised the question of intentions. For example, Senator Georges said that he would not vote for the Bill because he doubted our intentions. Other speakers, such as Senator Walters, have suggested that we have anti-American and pro-Soviet intentions. Intentions have been a focal point on which many speakers have hung their contributions to this debate. I wish to put forward my intentions and beliefs in this area. The stand that I am taking is one that I have taken for a long period, both in my political career and preceding it. In taking such a stand I do not believe that I am being disloyal to the Western alliance or to my country; rather I believe that this stand reflects the desire I have for the continuation of the human race.

I believe that on an issue like the nuclear arms race we are all forced to take a stance. The stance that we take must be one that supersedes our allegiance to political parties and to various groups. My basic belief is that all nuclear war is immoral because I cannot perceive of any situation which could justify the obliteration of the human race. I believe, and I believe it is accepted by most people who have religious or moral beliefs, that the intention to commit an act is of the same moral quality as committing that act. To intend to use nuclear weapons is to intend to bring about the mass destruction of the human race. I believe this is immoral. Therefore, I believe that participation in any intention to use nuclear weapons-that, after all, is precisely what deterrence is; there is no intention to use nuclear weapons, there is no such concept-is an intention to commit mass suicide and mass murder. I believe that if each individual has eventually to confront this question he ought not to confront it on the basis of politics or partisan allegiances but he should confront it within himself, taking account of his moral stance. I quote from an encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI entitled 'On the Developments of Peoples' in which he said:

While so many people are going hungry, while so many families are suffering destitution, while so many people spend their lives submerged in the darkness of ignorance, while so many schools, hospitals, homes worthy of the name, are needed, every public or private squandering . . . every financially depleting arms race-all these we say become a scandalous and intolerable crime. The most serious obligation enjoined on us demands that we openly denounce it.

Those are true, powerful words which ultimately, if one accepts them, direct the stance that one may take in this regard, but the response to our Bill is that such a position is naive. Honourable senators who have taken part in this debate have already said that we are naive, and have said worse. I believe that it is even more naive to think we can continue a nuclear arms race that does not lead to the devastation of the human race. If there are any here who believe that, they should put it on record.

I have been told in this debate by at least two honourable senators that disarmament in the face of apparent Soviet intentions is insanity. I cannot but observe that nuclear armament is itself the very antithesis of sanity. We must choose, first personally and then nationally, not to participate in this immoral race. Disarmament, personally and nationally, is the choice to stop this insane competition. We must bring ourselves up short in this frantic activity of destruction and examine the incredible state to which we have brought ourselves and the more incredible direction in which we intend to take the world. From a moral standpoint-I believe this is shared by every religious tradition I know of-there can be no justification whatever for the killing of millions of people, much less the extermination of the entire human race. The intention alone to wage nuclear war is an inconceivable sin. That intention can never be morally justified, and if we cannot morally use such arms or intend to use them, how can we justify having them?

As Australians we have proclaimed to the world that we are prepared-reluctantly perhaps, but we are prepared-to kill tens and hundreds of millions of human beings. That is what we have said, reluctantly, but we are prepared to do that, and we are prepared to use nuclear weapons. That is what this Government has said, and it is this Government's official policy. In supporting deterrence, it has to be that. The logic of the argument requires it to be that, because there is no deterrent without intention and no moral stance that can separate that intention from the act. Further, we have now taken the additional step of enmeshing ourselves in the intention to undertake that act if the government of those people should attack us, and to contemplate the necessity of attacking it prior to any attack on ourselves. The suggestion that that cannot be contemplated is absurd. Not only has it been contemplated but it has been contemplated at the very highest level. We are all aware of the discussions that have taken place since the possession of nuclear weapons, both in the United States and in the Soviet Union, at various stages of contemplating such a pre-emptive use. Governments in such times are not likely to act rationally, morally or reasonably. I do not believe there is any moral or international law that can support us in taking a posture of enmeshing ourselves in that type of alliance. The Second Vatican Council made an interesting point when it said:

Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and humanity itself.

That is ultimately where one must stand. Initially, one must take a personal moral stance. On this matter we are not talking at the level of the type of metaphor that has been bandied about in this debate. We are not talking at the level of the schoolyard bully. If I may examine that analogy, we are talking about the difference between a punch-up and wiping out the entire school. Those analogies no longer hold, for the reason that we are not talking about conventional warfare. We are talking about something that is materially different-and it is different in kind, not just in degree. This is where constantly the arguments break down.

Analogies are drawn as though this were a mere continuation of the Second World War. Senator Chaney, for example, raised the issue of Munich and, presumably, the issue of appeasement, as though that had a bearing on what is now a materially different situation. It is a situation in which there is no discussion as to where we will go afterwards, since there will not be an afterwards. The discussion must be on prevention. We will not get into a stand-off or a fight. We will merely get closer and closer to annihilation. I believe, as Senator Hamer put the matter in his contribution, that the argument revolves around not considerations of that type but rather the considerations on which he and I still disagree-at least I believe that they are the correct considerations-as to how one should move to prevent nuclear war. There are people in this place, who are relatively representative of the wider community, who feel that it is morally acceptable to use nuclear weapons. I am not one of those people.

My political stance is informed by that moral stance I take. I put that on the record because the debate has been about what our intentions are in bringing in this Bill and that is my intention in supporting it. I believe that we are duty bound to take whatever steps lie within our grasp. We are not talking about moving a law to ban the Soviet Union in this area because we have no jurisdiction in that area. This House must be able to look at our actions and our activities. I am quite happy for any of those honourable senators who have raised what I consider to be basically a scurrilous and schoolboy debating point in that regard to look back through the speeches that I have made, through the Press releases that I have issued and through the speeches that I have given outside this place on my abhorrence not only of what the United States is doing but also of what the Soviet Union is doing. I make no distinction between those two because on a moral ground there are no distinctions to be made. I believe that that is where we must go and where we must look.

We have brought forward a Bill aimed at what this country may do in that area. Senator Hamer said that it was 'cutting ourselves off'. I believe rather that what we were seeking to do was to link ourselves with like-minded people around the world. I agree that they are certainly not in the majority, but a number of countries have taken this stance and certainly people in every country wish to take such a stance. Since 1957 Denmark, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation country, has refused to have nuclear weapons on its territory. India has not accepted the United States policy of refusing to confirm or deny whether nuclear weapons are on ships and hence does not accept United States warships. The Association of South East Asian Nations has agreed to create a nuclear weapons-free zone, banning the transit of all nuclear armed ships. All members of the South Pacific Forum, with the exception of Australia, want to adopt the same position as New Zealand. In other words, there are countries such as Australia which are not powerful and determinant in what will eventually happen, but which are countries, I believe, of good will, and which seek to say to the United States and to the Soviet Union that the insanity upon which they are launched is an insanity that involves not only them but also us.

I agree with the point that Senator Hamer raised when he said that if such a war breaks out we will definitely be involved. Certainly one can look at the speeches that the Australian Democrats have made in this regard. We have never suggested that we would not be involved. After all, that is the point we are raising, that we are intimately involved. Because we are intimately involved it is all so important for us to take some type of stand, some type of step forward. It may be small and it may even be designated as symbolic, but it is a hope that it is a step forward. It is not anti-American. Senator Mason, when he spoke to the motion for the second reading of this Bill, said that he was part of that million people in New York who marched on this very issue.

Last year I was in the United States at the Democratic Party Convention. The types of points that we have been proposing in this Senate were proposed by each major speaker on that platform. They were not successful and they did not have the majority support in the United States; nevertheless a significant group of people in the United States did vote for Mondale in the presidential election and he voiced in his speech at the Convention views identical to those we have voiced here, saying that that is where the United States ought be moving. The Bill is not anti-American. Indeed, it is a seeking of a new view and a new way. We can certainly disagree over whether or not these are the correct tactics, but they are certainly not seeking to divide us from the United States or from any other like-minded people in the world.

The final point which I wish to make and which has been made before by my colleagues is that war, when eventually waged, may very well be waged at the initiation of governments, but is waged always on people. If we wish to whip ourselves into that paranoic state of frenzy in relation to the Soviet Union and want us to declare ourselves anti-Soviet Union, I wish to make the distinction, as I have made a distinction in relation to the United States, that the vast bulk of people in Russia, as in the United States, desire only to live out their lives in their own family and in their own work. They do not desire the destruction of any other country. I cannot say that that is necessarily the view of the octogenarian leaders, but then again in that country the people do not have any control over their leaders. We, in a democratic country, say that we are ultimately the representatives of the people and that our obligation extends to our own people, but I believe we also have a moral obligation to consider ourselves the representatives of people in the world. The actions which we take in this country and in our alliances will determine not only the fate of people in the geographical boundaries that we draw in calling ourselves Australians but also now the fate of the whole of the earth which, under this new nuclear regime, those boundaries in fact encompass. No longer can we permit ourselves to think in those insular terms; we must take that wider view. It is not presumptuous to take that wider view, as I believe it will be immoral not to take such a view.