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Wednesday, 27 February 1985
Page: 266


Senator TATE(4.39) —This debate is untimely and inappropriate because I believe honourable senators would have been well served to listen to the ordinary common sense of the Australian people over the next few weeks and months and allowing debate in the general community to mature somewhat so that we, as democratically elected representatives, could listen to the voice of the Australian people and gather some new thoughts rather than be locked into inflexible postures so early in the life of this Parliament. Nevertheless, the motion is before us and I find that it is flawed because it takes too simplistic an approach to the necessity to secure Australia's independence and freedom amongst the free and independent nations of the world.

Of course, we in Australia value that association with the democracies, not only in the Western alliance but in various other parts of the world, which are arrayed against and in confrontation with the totalitarian regimes and authoritarian despots who control the lives of people and the armed forces in so many parts of this world. It is unfortunate to try to lock us into an inflexible posture so early. I find, in particular, the idea that a partnership is not a treaty between sovereign nations but somehow an association in which we, being a minor partner, must be servile, something that I as an Australian do not want to accept. I believe that drawing a line on occasion, such as with the testing of the MX missile, does not threaten our alliance with the United States. The United States President has said that it has not threatened it.

Does Senator Sir John Carrick say that the conservative Government of Canada, which stated in the first week of February this year that it would refuse to have United States nuclear weapons on its soil, or to co-operate in any part with the strategic defence initiative, is undermining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance? No one has said that that action, that drawing of the line, is undermining, threatening or undercutting the NATO alliance. The fact is that one can draw the line, and sometimes one is politically compelled by the morality of a situation to draw the line.

What is at fault in this motion, or at least not adequately expressed, is the idea that the ANZUS alliance was ever meant to bear the sort of weight which the Opposition parties in the chamber today are asking it to bear. It was constructed as a reaction to Australia and New Zealand seeking to counter the rearming of Japan. The United States, which wanted the rearming of Japan, agreed to counterbalance that by entering into an association with, and thus nullifying, Australia and New Zealand, which had historic and very real reasons for fearing a rearmed Japan. But to say that that sort of treaty should now bear the weight of the whole confrontation between those nations which are linked with the United States against those linked with the Soviet Union is, I think, to ask too much of it. To say that it is vital to our defence is to speak too narrowly of those things which are vital to our defence.

There are other factors. Our relations not only with the Western alliance but also with the non-aligned nations are very important. What about our relationship with Indonesia? Can anyone deny that the fostering of relations with Indonesia in a non-servile way is very important to our future security? Of course it is, as is the fostering of relations with India, the leader of the non-aligned nations, a country which now, thank goodness, has a strong agricultural base and a growing industrial base. Our relations with India are just as important to our future security. The visits of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) to China are just as important to our security when one looks forward to the turn of the century as are his visits to Washington, London or wherever else he might visit. There are other ways to pursue the very vital relations which we need to foster for our defence. To put all the eggs in the ANZUS basket, to ask it to bear all the weight, is, I think, to take too narrow a view. To equate defence with armed forces ready to go into combat-whether our own armed forces are in alliance with others-is to take too narrow a view. There are diplomatic, trade and other steps that we need to take, not only with members of the Western alliance but also with members of the non-aligned nations. That will help to secure our independence and integrity as a nation.

How many people in this chamber have read the ANZUS Treaty? The preamble to the Treaty states:

Desiring further to co-ordinate their efforts for collective defence for the preservation of peace and security pending the development of a more comprehensive system of regional security in the Pacific area.

Article VIII states:

Pending the development of a more comprehensive system of regional security in the Pacific . . .

In other words, the terms of the ANZUS Treaty recognise that the arrangements are transitional and they are meant to be a step towards devising a more comprehensive regional security arrangement. We, as senators, should not be stagnating in the terms of a treaty drafted in the circumstances I have outlined. We should not be discarding these historically important expressions of our relationship with the United States. They are important; I do not say that the Treaty should be abrogated. But it should be subsumed within a wider Pacific regional security arrangement, so that all the national states within the Pacific and on the shores of the Pacific can be linked in a mutual arrangement to secure our security.

As I say, the motion puts too much reliance on the ANZUS Treaty. It asks it to bear a weight which it should not have to bear. In any case, it does not take sufficient notice of the fact that the ANZUS Treaty is meant to be a step towards something more comprehensive. I believe that we will be doing Australians of this generation and future generations a great service if we can move beyond-not abrogate, but move beyond-the ANZUS arrangement to a more comprehensive expression of our security arrangements in the Pacific.

In talking about stable deterrence, many members of the Opposition seem to think that if one speaks of deterrence, one has said all that needs to be said, as though just because it is a deterrence it is morally right. There are moral limits to deterrence. Senator Macklin quite rightly pointed out, for example, that to deter by threatening and intending to devastate innocent civilian populations-populations which are subjected to totalitarian regimes, by the way, and have had no part in voting for those regimes in a democratic fashion-with massive destruction is immoral and places a limitation on the sort of deterrence which one can undertake. That has been stated by all of those who have any interest in the 'just war' theory and of course, as Senator Macklin pointed out, by the Catholic Church at Vatican II. The United States Catholic bishops, who would not be the most notorious group of left wingers to be found in any particular meeting hall around the world, have issued a statement called 'The Challenge of Peace'. It is a pastoral letter of the National Conference of United States Bishops on these issues. They state:

. . . criteria demonstrate that we cannot approve of every weapons system, strategic doctrine or policy initiative advanced in the name of strengthening deterrence.

They state that, on the contrary, those decisions by governments require public scrutiny, and that is what they undertake. In undertaking that scrutiny they say, for example-and Senator Chipp was correct in this regard-that if deterrence is to be permitted at all, sufficiency, enough to deter an adversary, is adequate and the quest for nuclear superiority, which is implicit in much of present preparations, is to be regarded as immoral. I am trying to say, in the short time allowed, that merely to conjure up the word 'deterrence' is not to justify every step taken in adding to the arsenals of destruction.

The final part of the motion that we are asked to approve this afternoon, and which with some reluctance I go along with-as I say, it is totally inadequate in expression of the fullness of the considerations that this chamber should undertake-unequivocally rejects the attractive but unrealistic idea that unilateral nuclear disarmament would be an effective way to bring about an end to the arms race.


Senator Chaney —They are Bob Hawke's words.


Senator TATE —Yes, it is true. But to talk of unilateral nuclear disarmament stirs such emotions that I am afraid it may blind those in decision-making positions among the super-powers-the masters of our destiny in these matters-to the possibility of taking unilateral initiatives as a sign of good faith, to encourage multilateral or bilateral and verifiable disarmament. There is a danger that, in conjuring up all the emotions that are aroused by terms like unilateral disarmament, one may cut off the possibility of a sign of good faith being offered by one side by way of a unilateral initiative. It may be a pause in the escalation of a weapons system; a decision not to deploy a particular weapon; a decision not to move towards the production of a particular weapons system; or a decision not to undertake research which would otherwise be within the capacity of the nation. Having said that-and wanting to encourage some signs of good faith-I say that the Australian Labor Party does not support the idea of unilateral nuclear disarmament. It believes that unilateral disarmament would not reduce the risk of war; in fact it may enhance it. Certainly, unilateral nuclear disarmament does not itself empty the arsenals of destruction. Even if it occurred it would still leave horrendous weapons of the so-called conventional type in those arsenals of destruction.

Of course, the political intention and will to use those destructive armaments is at the core of the prospect that we are confronting the destruction of humanity's civilisations, cultures and history on this planet. I do not suppose that the people of Hiroshima or the people of Dresden would have been too concerned about whether the extinguishing of the lives of families or the consuming of habitations by fires was triggered by the splitting of the atom or the dropping of some so-called conventional incendiary device. The fact is that destruction of human life, whether by conventional or nuclear arms, is to be abhorred. There is no doubt that there is a difference of scale in the possibility of global nuclear warfare, but let us not think that by unilateral nuclear disarmament one would automatically bring about a moderating of that political will to kill which lies at the heart of the problem we are confronting.

In my view, we should be asking the super-powers to take some steps that would indicate their good faith. Had the Soviet Union shown a capacity, when confronted with what it perceived as a crisis in Kabul, to react in any other way than by invasion, had the United States shown a capacity, when faced with the problems in Central America, to do anything other than mount covert operations against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the world would have had indications that the super-powers had learnt that there were means other than military force to try to deal with what they perceived as destabilising problems near their borders.

I believe that we should be asking the super-powers for such signs of good faith. We should be asking for unilateral initiatives on behalf of one or of both. We should try particularly to use our new position on the United Nations Security Council-a very responsible position-to encourage such moves. The fact is that Senator Chaney's motion talks of unequivocally rejecting this and unequivocally condemning that. Would it not have been better to speak of unequivocally supporting the resumption of the talks in Geneva and unequivocally applauding the super-powers for eventually coming to the table for negotiations. I know the Socialist International is taking steps to go to both Moscow and Washington to encourage these developments. I hope that Bill Hayden is on that delegation. I believe that what we need from this chamber, and what future generations of Australians would thank us for, is not a closing off of the options for development beyond ANZUS by way of regional security amongst Pacific countries, not a closing off of the moral assessment of the limits of deterrence, not a closing off of the possibilities of coming to agreement but a gathering of all our resources, in the diplomatic and trade arenas, using our voices in forums such as the United Nations Security Council and other places to encourage the super-powers. I would have much preferred that Senator Chaney's motion be drafted in such terms.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sibraa) —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.