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Wednesday, 27 February 1985
Page: 252


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(3.22) —It is difficult to understand why the Opposition has brought forward this motion at all, let alone as a matter of urgency. Labor's support for ANZUS is complete and unequivocal. In every contribution to every debate on the subject since Parliament has resumed, and in every answer to every question on the subject, that has been made clear. The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has made it clear, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) has made it clear, the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) has made it clear, and certainly I have made it clear in this place that that is so. All of us have been speaking not just for ourselves but for the Labor Government and for the Labor Party in government. The Cabinet made clear its position on 12 February with a statement in the following terms:

Federal Cabinet today reaffirmed Australian Government policy on the basic issues of the Australia/U.S. Alliance, ANZUS Treaty and on disarmament and deterrence.

Then a little further down:

There was also general agreement that both the Australia/U.S. Alliance and the need to do all in our power to ensure the maximum possible progress on disarmament were essential to Australian foreign policy.

That language picks up the theme of the review of the operations of ANZUS, which was conducted in 1983 and which led Mr Hayden in reporting upon it to the Parliament on 15 September in that year to say:

The review has led us to a firm and unequivocal affirmation of the Alliance as fundamental to Australia's national security and foreign and defence policies.

Caucus of the Labor Party made its position clear on 19 February when it endorsed specifically the terms of the Cabinet decision of 12 February. So the situation is that Caucus, the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, has also reaffirmed Australian Government policy on the basic issues of the Australian-United States alliance, the ANZUS Treaty, and disarmament and deterrence, and has done so without any dissenting voice at all.

Not only is there no doubt about the Labor Government's position and the Labor Party's position, but there is also no doubt whatever that there is complete understanding and acceptance of our position in the United States. That could not have been made clearer than by the United States Secretary of State, George Shultz, who issued a Press statement on 20 February, a few days ago, in the following terms:

I am pleased by the announcement of Prime Minister Hawke of Australia on 19 February that his Cabinet has reaffirmed Australia's support for the ANZUS Alliance and for the full responsibilities that the Alliance entails. We note that the Prime Minister described ship visits and U.S./Australian joint facilities as continuing fundamentals of the Australian/U.S. Alliance relationship. We welcome these reaffirmations of Australia's commitment to its ties with the United States.

With this degree of clarity and certainty about the Australian position and the United States's understanding of it, why then is the Senate debating this urgency motion, which calls on us yet again to reaffirm that commitment? The reason cannot be any confusion shown by the words or actions of a Labor government. It can only be because the Liberal-National Party Opposition feels a compelling need today to set its own credentials in order, following its extraordinary behaviour yesterday in voting against the Labor Party motion that was moved in this place. I read that into the record to remind you, Mr Deputy President, and others in this chamber how incongrous and extraordinary it was. The amendment in question was in the following terms:

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.

The Opposition in this place voted against that, as it did against the second paragraph, which reads:

The Senate is further of the view that Australia's membership of the ANZUS Alliance has a significant role to play in advancing Australia's influence in disarmament forums.

Despite all the rhetoric, that particular proposition, obvious and self-evident as it may seem, was voted against by the Opposition yesterday. It is obvious that the Opposition is in complete disarray on the question of ANZUS. For all its rhetoric, it is not committed to keeping that very delicate trilateral relationship intact. There is further evidence for that proposition.


Senator Chipp —There is another reason. Opposition members realise that their amendment yesterday let your left wingers off the hook, so they are trying to redeem the situation.


Senator GARETH EVANS —They can redeem themselves to their hearts' content today, because we will be supporting quite cheerfully the terms of their motion, and let there be no doubt about that. The other reason for the disarray that is evident in the Opposition has been the example set by their Leader, Mr Peacock. His blundering, charging, bull-at-a-gate approach to the New Zealand issue and to the New Zealand Government has been the kind of behaviour over the last few weeks calculated to tear apart not only Australia and New Zealand bilateral relationships, but the whole delicate interrelationship between the three treaty powers. (Quorum formed) I am not surprised at that diversion called by Senator Chaney because the Liberals do not like the unpalatable truth that Mr Peacock's approach to the whole question of New Zealand and ANZUS has been utterly and thoroughly destructive of the relationship and designed to do nothing less than to wreck it. His behaviour has been properly described by the Prime Minister as reckless, shallow and posturing. The Senate has had another demonstration of that today in Senator Chaney's contribution to this debate.

The Australian Labor Government's position on the New Zealand question is that, respecting as it does the sovereignty and dignity of New Zealand as an independent nation, we have seen it as not our business or our role to be heavying anybody or making public judgments about positions taken by our treaty partners. We want to maintain the closest possible relationship with both our treaty partners and this is the role we will continue to play. It is the only possible role for alliance partners, but it is a role that seems to have been very much misunderstood, whether through ignorance or folly I am not sure, by the Opposition and by its Leader.

What is the justification for ANZUS that makes us happy to endorse the kinds of sentiments, unnecessary as they are, contained in this motion? There are two basic reasons and they are reflected both in the terms of this motion and in the Hayden statement of 1983 to which I earlier referred. The first is that ANZUS is fundamental to our national security. That is something which has long been very well understood by the Australian people. It has been the traditional centrepiece of the debate about ANZUS. It was this aspect of the relationship that was particularly considered in the 1983 operational review of ANZUS, given that it was a generation old and that a generation had elapsed since the treaty was entered into, with all the innumerable changes in the world and in regional and defence issues and situations during that time. I cannot do better than again quote in that respect the findings of the 1983 review so far as national security is concerned, but, given the shortage of time which I am forced into by that quorum call, I seek leave to incorporate the relevant passages into Hansard.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

It is in Australia's interests to maintain the ANZUS Treaty. Although concluded in very different circumstances the ANZUS Treaty has continuing relevance. It supports Australia's security in current and prospective strategic circumstances and reflects a coincidence of strategic interest between Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.

This coincidence of interest provides the basis for co-operation which yields substantial benefits for Australia's defence effort and which affords substantial benefit to the U.S. also;

The provisions of the Treaty have been a significant factor in the development of consultation and co-operation with the US and provide a firm basis on which US military support could be sought in the event of major threat to the security of Australia (or New Zealand).

While the provisions of the Treaty do not define precisely the nature of the response which partners might provide according to their constitutional processes in the event of attack or major threat, the Treaty has significant deterrent value;

ANZUS has facilitated the development of valuable co-operation in defence matters with benefits much wider than the scope of the Treaty's provisions;

The Treaty provisions do not derogate from Australia's right of national decisions in foreign and defence policy matters.


Senator GARETH EVANS —The second aspect of the justification for ANZUS is perhaps something that needs to be spelt out by me at some greater length because it has not been as well appreciated and has given rise to a belief in some quarters that there is something inconsistent about our membership of and continuing support for ANZUS in the context of our simultaneous support for peace and disarmament. As I have been doing in recent days, let me try to spell it out again. ANZUS is important not only for immediate Australian national security reasons but for what it contributes to, and what it enables Australia to contribute to, on the larger world security scene.

There are a number of different ways of putting this. In the first place, ANZUS is the vehicle through which Australia demonstrates its commitment to the larger Western alliance. As Mr Hayden put it in 1983 and a number of times since, Australia is neither neutral nor non-aligned and ANZUS is proof of that. The importance of that commitment is that it contributes in a very direct way to the achievement, paradoxical as some people seem to continue to find this, of peace and disarmament. I spelt out why this was so at some length in debate on the Chipp nuclear ships Bill a couple of days ago in discussing different possible approaches to the avoidance of nuclear war, the mutually assured destruction or MAD I approach, the mutually assured defence or Star Wars or MAD II approach, and the approach of common security. I explained then, and I state again now, that it is only the common security approach that offers hope, common security involving, as it does, at its very essence, the possibility of moving the superpowers, in a way that no other approach to this issue is likely to, towards that downwards spiral or divestment of nuclear arms which we all want to see occur. The very essence of the common security approach is the existence of a stable and secure network of bilateral and multilateral alliance and treaty arrangements whereby both the nuclear super-powers can confidently abandon that upwards spiral of expenditure, which they are currently locked into by the present philosophy of the arms race, and embark on that downwards spiral of arms shedding which is the only way we are ever going to secure ultimate nuclear disarmament.

The second way of looking at the advantages of the alliance relationship in the larger global context is that a side benefit of our participation in these alliance networks in general, and more particularly the ANZUS alliance, is that they give us some influence, some clout with our major ally in the peace and disarmament process in a way that would not be the case were we to be simply standing wistfully on the sidelines. The fruits of that influence may be slow to appear and may be slow on occasion to ripen, but they are there. Australia is a crucially important player on the world multilateral disarmament stage, and I say that notwithstanding the churlish and inaccurate article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald a couple of days ago suggesting to the contrary. There is something special and especially worth preserving about the ANZUS relationship which is important in generating that influence with our major treaty partner. The reason for the influence that Australia enjoys is that, in the excellent words of the Canberra Times editorial this morning, ANZUS is 'a special relationship of trust and mutual respect among long-standing if relatively unevenly contributing mates'.

The third role that flows from our alliance relationship, although not flowing directly from anything in the ANZUS Treaty itself, is our contribution to world strategic stability through our hosting of the United States-Australian joint facilities in this country. It is a necessary part of the common security approach that in the short run, while getting people and super-powers to the point where they feel that they can confidently embark on the disarmament process, it is the case that a continued emphasis on deterrence is an indispensable part of that process, as much as we might wish otherwise, with all the dangers that are associated with any doctrine of deterrence operating in practice. There is no doubt that the joint facilities, especially Pine Gap and Nurrungar with their early warning and verification roles, are a crucial part of the West's deterrent capacity. The point was made again in Mr Hayden's 1983 statement, and I quote from the relevant passage:

None of these activities--

referring to the joint defence facilities at North West Cape, Pine Gap and Nurrungar--

involves a specific ANZUS obligation, and they are in any case bilateral arrangements as New Zealand is not involved. While the agreements establishing the joint defence facilities do refer to ANZUS in their preambular paragraphs, they are not a necessary consequence of ANZUS itself. However, the facilities clearly represent an important reflection and instance of the shared interests which the Treaty embodies, and the Government regards this form of co-operation with the United States as of unique value.

As the Prime Minister and I have indicated on several occasions recently, the contribution made by the joint defence facilities to deterrence of nuclear war fully justifies any risks that might be seen as arising from our having those facilities in Australia. In addition--

here he picks up the point I was making earlier about the kind of influence that is associated with an alliance relationship of the ANZUS kind--

the operation of the joint defence facilities gives us some moral standing in the position we intend to take more actively in the United Nations and other international fora in support of arms control and arms reduction.

In short, whether one approaches this from the point of view of straightforward traditional considerations of Australian domestic security or whether one approaches this from the much larger, and in many ways more difficult immediately to grasp, context of foreign defence policy generally and the pursuit of peace and disarmament on a world scale, there is in both respects a crucial role for ANZUS and the alliance relationship represented by ANZUS to play. There are no paradoxes, there are no inconsistencies, in this position and it is a position that we, the Labor Party in government, will continue to espouse. Our consistency of commitment to ANZUS has been and will remain complete. Our commitment to ANZUS remains obvious. The only thing that has not been obvious in this debate is why the Opposition should have thought it necessary to bring the motion on at all today. The kind of speech we heard from Senator Chaney contributes very little to our understanding or appreciation of the issues. It has, however, for which I and the Government are duly grateful, given as yet another opportunity to add to the long list of earlier opportunities to put on the record our own complete commitment to the ANZUS Treaty and to the ANZUS relationship and our determination to ensure that it survives, is maintained and strengthened, notwithstanding the difficulties that are presently being experienced in one sector of its operation.