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Wednesday, 27 February 1985
Page: 249

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(3.03) —On behalf of the Opposition, I move:

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

The need to reassert that Australia's participation in ANZUS and the western alliance is-

(a) vital to our defence;

(b) a major contribution to the maintenance of an effective stable deterrence and the preservation of peace; and

(c) a means of increasing Australia's influence in disarmament negotiations,

and to unequivocally reject the attractive but unrealistic idea that unilateral nuclear disarmament would be an effective way to bring about an end to the arms race.

In Australia it has been possible to forget from time to time that the primary objective of a national government must be to ensure the nation's security. We have been able to overlook that because for much of our history we have not felt ourselves under threat and the world has seemed to be a reasonably secure place for us. But I think that over the last few months we have been dramatically reminded that the framework within which we have seen our national survival remain intact is a framework which has been threatened. I suppose that in the modern world, too, it is necessary to say that the idea of national survival is not merely a matter of defence; it is also a matter of the maintenance of peace throughout the world. There does seem to be a good deal of common ground in this chamber and in the community that Australia's peaceful existence is dependent upon the existence of peace elsewhere. The threat of the wholesale destruction of the world by nuclear war is a threat which is taken very seriously in Australia and, indeed, around the world. It is often possible to tuck that primary concern out of the way and to worry about the more immediate, usually economic, concerns such as unemployment, strikes, interest rates and the many issues that hit our hip pockets.

I have brought forward this motion of urgency this afternoon because we have had a sharp reminder of the prime concern that we should look to our country's security. There have been two triggers which have led me to bring it forward. We have had a Question Time in which again we have heard bland assurances that all is well with ANZUS and all is well with Australia's relationship with the United States of America. It is quite extraordinary, when one examines the tone of the answers which were given by the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Gareth Evans, to realise that today the Prime Minister of New Zealand, speaking in Los Angeles, has said that the United States would be stopping bilateral defence exercises, that it would be stopping the sharing of intelligence information of a raw military type and, in his words, 'this constitutes an end to the United States-New Zealand defence relationship'. We have had bland assurances from Senator Evans that all is well, on a day when the Prime Minister of New Zealand has suggested that the United States-New Zealand defence relationship has ended. That is the first trigger. We see that as a most significant event, and an event which proves that the sorts of assurances which Government Ministers have sought to give over recent weeks are simply ignoring the harsh realities of what is happening.

The second trigger, though, is the attitude of the Government yesterday to the amendment moved by the Opposition to the motion for the second reading of the Australian Waters (Nuclear-powered Ships and Nuclear Weapons Prohibition) Bill which was brought forward by the Australian Democrats. We sought in that amendment to make clear some of the fundamental points which we believe should have had bipartisan support and which, because of the statements of people like Senator Evans, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Hayden, and the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), ought to have been common ground in this Parliament. There ought to have been common ground on all of the points that we put forward; namely, that there should be continued access by the ships of our allies, whether nuclear powered or nuclear capable, because that is an important part of the Western world's defence alliance, and that there ought to be agreement that unilateral disarmament measures can only undermine the cause of peace and contribute to instability. That is, after all, what the Prime Minister said when he addressed the Parliament last June.

There ought to have been concern at the attempt by the Australian Democrats to lead Australia down the path of putting unilateral restrictions-that is, one set of restrictions-on the United States without regard for the need of the United States to balance the armed might of the Soviet Union. There ought to have been support for the view that disarmament measures should occur only as part of a mutual and balanced reduction of arms with effective verification and compliance. Again, according to the words that the Government has used in this place and elsewhere, there should have been general acceptance of the view that Australia's influence in disarmament forums is dependent upon our continuing to help in the maintenance of an effective deterrent. The fact is that the Government has used words very much in those terms, and yet it voted against that amendment. Senator Georges is in the chamber on this occasion. He can be well pleased with that result, even if the people of Australia cannot, because undoubtedly it was the presence of people like Senator Georges and Senator McIntosh which prevented the Government from voting in accordance with the pious expressions that we have heard from the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and others. Instead, what we had from Senator Evans was a play on words. I will not quote from Hansard, but a reading of Hansard shows the pathetic weakness of the reasons he put forward for seeking to water down that amendment.

Today's developments in relation to New Zealand expose the folly of the quite ridiculous assertion that one can have a one-sided alliance, that one can have one's cake and eat it, too. That is really what is being defended by members of the Australian Labor Party. That is what is being defended by the Government when it supports what New Zealand has been doing. One cannot have one's cake and eat it, too. If one is a member of an alliance, one must be prepared to bear the responsibilities of it as well as to take the advantages which it brings.

We have had a whole lot of shillyshallying about where we stand with respect to ANZUS and the visits of warships. This has continued up till today. It is very easy to lose sight in this debate of the fundamental importance of ANZUS to Australia, to New Zealand and, indeed, to the whole world. Restricting my comment for the moment to the advantages of ANZUS to Australia, I wish to remind the Senate of what Mr Hayden had to say on his return from the ANZUS Council meeting held in Wellington in July 1984. Mr Hayden, in response to questions asked on that occasion-this is particularly pertinent, given the statement that Mr Lange has made today-pointed out that quite apart from the direct protection which ANZUS might give against threats, the benefits of ANZUS 'come in many other directions as well as the security undertakings that are provided in it in the event of problems'. He continued:

They come for instance in the effective eyes and ears of the support we get, the sharing of intelligence information which is important to a small country like Australia. We make our contribution and share it and we get a share of the contribution from the United States and New Zealand. Secondly, we have access without any problems to some of the most advanced military technology which the Americans produce. Now, America doesn't provide that access for a great number of countries in the world, and that's important to a country like Australia where, because of small numbers, quality is important.

Those are the views that Mr Hayden expressed last July. They support the first leg of the motion which we have moved today, namely, that the ANZUS alliance is vital to our defence. That is a matter which ought to be beyond argument in this chamber. I wish also to refer to something that was said by Mr Hayden early this year-indeed, only a few days ago. He said:

The only effective arrangement against nuclear war at present in operation, is the system of deterrence.

That proposition, again, is part of what we have put before the Senate today. I will quote the supposed view of the Prime Minister and honourable senators will find some reflection of his words in the words of the motion which we have moved in the Senate today. I refer to a statement, made in June last year, which related to the whole nuclear issue and that of bases and facilities in Australia in which the Prime Minister said:

In approaching this responsibility, the Government unequivocally rejects the attractive but unrealistic idea that unilateral disarmament would be an effective way to bring about an end to the arms race.

Those are the words of the Prime Minister taken from a paper in which he was talking about the risk of nuclear war, and he purports to put himself squarely in the camp of those who reject the unrealistic idea that unilateral disarmament would be an effective way to bring about an end to the arms race. One might ask, having heard those quotations from Mr Hayden and Mr Hawke, why it is therefore necessary to bring forward this matter of urgency which asserts things which are common ground.

Senator Gareth Evans —Hear, hear!

Senator CHANEY —I note that the Attorney-General nods. He says, in effect: 'Why should that be necessary?'

Senator Gareth Evans —The former discredited Attorney-General!

Senator CHANEY —I thank the Minister. What the former discredited Attorney-General is suggesting is that there should be no need to bring this matter forward because it covers common ground. He says that the Government agrees with the propositions in this motion. The important thing to note is the sequence of events which have given rise to doubts about these questions, events which are thoroughly in the hands of the Government and its Party, the Australian Labor Party, events which demonstrate that there are concerns which at the moment ought to be at the heart of the concerns of every Australian. The fact is that this Government, the Hawke Labor Government, does not live up to its word. It is a fact that doubts have been raised; they have been raised continuously since the Government came into office. It is a fact that the New Zealand-United States arrangements have been-again, I use the words of Mr Lange reported on Australian radio today-'drastically scaled down'. Those words preceded his comments that this situation constitutes an end to the United States-New Zealand defence relationship. That is a fact and it cannot be papered over in this debate today. It is a fact that impinges on Australia. It is a fact that impinges on the responsibilities of this Government and of this Parliament.

I list-certainly it is not an exclusive or total list-some of the matters which have given rise to doubts in the Australian community and in the minds of our allies in the Western world. One of the doubts, of course, was first raised by the actions of Mr Cain, the Premier of Victoria who shortly will cease to be the Premier of Victoria. He, of course, is in many respects the captive of the Left in his own State. He set out to say that nuclear-capable ships or nuclear-propelled ships should not use the port of Melbourne. That was as long as July 1982, before the advent of the Hawke Government. Mr Cain had to be instructed in his duties by the then Prime Minister, Mr Fraser.

The Premier of Victoria sought to take out of the hands of the Federal Government its ability to admit the ships of its allies to Australian ports. Indeed, he even made a statement that as far as he was concerned it was a provocative act on the part of the United States to expect the USS Goldsborough to visit Melbourne. That matter was cleared up by the Fraser Government. It was cleared up then because we had a Government that had a clear policy in those areas. It was Mr Cain in Victoria, who first exposed the preparedness of the Labor Party to put at risk what Federal Labor Ministers now say is a fundamental part of our ANZUS obligation, namely, the visits of ships of our allies to our ports. That proposal was described by that well-known Melbourne newspaper, the Age, as 'compounding nuclear folly'. I think that is a very good description of Mr Cain's contribution to this essential area.

The problem was compounded by another State Labor Premier, Mr Wran, who only today has stepped back and said that perhaps visits of allied ships are the responsibility of the Commonwealth. The fact is that Mr Wran has sought to interfere with the freedom of Australia to co-operate with the United States and other allies in the exercise of its strategic and defence responsibilities. It has been compounded--

Senator McIntosh —Tell us about Gorton and New York.

Senator CHANEY —The doubts which exist in Australia have been compounded by Senator McIntosh's branch of the ALP in a way with which he is in complete agreement. I notice that Senator McKiernan is sitting next to Senator McIntosh. Perhaps both honourable senators are in complete agreement with the efforts of the Western Australian branch of the ALP to reduce Australia's ability to co-operate with the United States. We all know that this branch sought at the Federal conferences of the ALP to bar admission of United States ships to Australian ports. Senator McIntosh told us in debate in this place only in the last day or so that he regretted having lost that argument and that he was hopeful of winning it next time around. What more could be done by Senator McIntosh to cast doubts on the future of the ANZUS alliance and our ability to co-operate in it?

Worst of all, these doubts have been compounded by the Foreign Minister, Mr Hayden, who cannot resist throwaway lines about not being a messenger boy for the United States and who cannot resist showing off, trying to be tough and saying as he did in Geneva: 'We will have the power to remove American access to bases and that will be our bargaining chip'. What a wonderful way for Australia to behave-not to discuss the matter with our allies but to raise it in a way which simply curries favour with the Left faction of the ALP, does something to establish Mr Hayden's internal reputation within that party and has nothing to do with Australia's long term national interest.

Senator Georges —You give us more evidence.

Senator CHANEY —We have just heard some sort of response from Senator Georges. It needs to be remembered that Mr Hawke and Mr Hayden were in active disagreement on that issue in August of last year. The Prime Minister had to rush to plug widening gaps in ANZUS. That was how his action was described in the Australian Financial Review. Back in August 1984 there was a serious difference of opinion between the two most senior members of the Government about the extent to which we should be co-operating with ANZUS. When we see that sort of behaviour on the part of the Foreign Minister, how can we expect others in the free world, the Western world, those who are part of the Western alliance, to take Australia seriously?

Doubts have been compounded by the then Minister for Defence, the present Minister for Territories (Mr Scholes), who in his refusal to co-operate with the British with respect to the visit of HMS Invincible left another scar on Australia's reputation as a nation which stands behind its responsibilities. More recently, these doubts have been compounded by Senator Susan Ryan, who finds conflict between two basic elements of the Government's policy. We find that for Senator Ryan there is serious conflict between the desire to promote disarmament and the desire to be part of the free world's deterrence system. We in the Opposition do not see that as a conflict. That is not claimed to be a conflict by the Government when it makes its official statements. Yet, one of the most senior members of the Government can make such a claim and ask for the revision and review of ANZUS.

Again, more recently, doubts have been compounded by people who, if I may use the words of the Treasurer (Mr Keating), were described as 'long-tongued fourth graders'. Two of those people come from this chamber. Of course, they are not interested enough in this subject to take part in this debate. But we all heard Senator Peter Cook and Senator Crowley--

Senator Georges —Wait a minute. We are not allowed.

Senator CHANEY —I thank Senator Georges very much. He has exposed the structure of the debating list of the ALP. The Labor Government is not prepared to let its long-tongued fourth graders loose in this debate. Senator Crowley no doubt has been banished to the afternoon tea room, along with Senator Peter Cook. We will not be hearing the long-tongued fourth graders this afternoon, but the important thing is that this is not an amusing matter because the long-tongued fourth graders are heard outside Australia as well as within it. They are heard as people who will destabilise this Government and its approach to the fundamental issues. It may be amusing to Senator McIntosh, who wants to turn the world on its head, but it is certainly not amusing to me to see these fourth graders with their long tongues interfering in national security.

Most recently the doubts which have arisen in Australia and elsewhere about our commitment to ANZUS and our preparedness to play an active and proper part in the free world and to pursue peace in a responsible way in line with the Government's own rhetoric have been compounded by Senators Georges and McIntosh, who in debate in this place made clear that they adopt a fundamentally different approach to the problems which beset Australia in this region. They have made it clear that they will be doing everything they can to produce what I would describe as a unilateral approach to disarmament. The Opposition has continually warned the Government of the folly of the New Zealand approach and of the fact that Australia has responsibilities in this area. Today, one has the situation that, in the opinion of the New Zealand Prime Minister, there has been a substantial rift created within the ANZUS alliance and an end to the defence co-operation between the United States and New Zealand. With the doubts that have been raised by the Government and its minions over Australia's approach and responsibilities, we believe that there are serious doubts about the future for Australia and we call upon the Senate to support this motion of urgency.