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Wednesday, 27 February 1985
Page: 268


Senator GEORGES(5.55) —We cannot proceed to a vote because I now have the call and I wish to make a few comments. I will comment firstly on what Senator Peter Baume had to say. It is not necessary that we go to a vote on such matters. A couple of days ago I made some unkind criticisms of Senator Chipp relating to people being forced to take positions on this very vital issue. My view is that, as Senator Tate suggested, this debate should continue and no doubt will continue, in the Senate for some time. It reminds me of the great debates on Vietnam, that took place in the Senate when honourable senators from both sides indicated just how strongly they felt about the issue. Those debates took place over a number of years until, finally, through the educating process of debate, we came to a common understanding. This did not really show up in the votes, but there was a common understanding that the Vietnam war should come to an end, that we ought to be out of it, and that in the first place we were wrongly involved. This debate is similar. It is an important debate and the motion before us is an important one. It could have been amended but it has not been. It has been debated and various people have put their points of view.


Senator Chipp —The Standing Orders say you cannot amend an urgency motion. We checked that out.


Senator GEORGES —That is possible but, if that were the case, we should not come to a vote on it. Senator Peter Baume should have moved that motion to put the question because he has now put me in the position of having to decide whether I should complete my remarks by three minutes past five. It is not a responsibility that Senator Baume ought to have put on me.


Senator Peter Baume —Old friends.


Senator GEORGES —That is exactly what you have done.


Senator Chaney —Always let your conscience be your guide.


Senator GEORGES —My conscience being my guide leads me into strange places. I think Senator Chipp indicated that the other night. For that I shall have to pay the consequences, not in this place but somewhere else, but I am prepared to face up to that as well.


Senator Chipp —You were put in gaol. You went there for your principles, which we all admire.


Senator GEORGES —Yes, but sometimes we are placed in a position and have to accept the leadership and sometimes we do it in a hesitating and cautious way.


Senator Chipp —Do not criticise others for doing what you did. We are trying to give a lead.


Senator GEORGES —If this debate continues, as I think it will continue in the Senate for some time, you might even establish your own sincerity. I am not being-


Senator Chipp —You are coming very close.


Senator GEORGES —You could establish it and you could even convince me.


Senator Chaney —Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I think it is the general desire of the Senate to see this motion brought to a vote. Whilst the conversation between Senator Georges and Senator Chipp is interesting to them, I ask you to ask Senator Georges to address the remarks he wishes to make to the Chair, in the hope that he will conclude them.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! I call Senator Georges.


Senator GEORGES —Let me get away from the conversation with Senator Chipp and look at the motion before the House. The motion states:

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 . . .

I would have thought that we could have debated that issue at another time and, perhaps, in line with what Senator Tate was proposing, we could have amended that motion to this effect: 'That in the opinion of the Senate: the following is a matter of urgency: The need to reassert that Australia's participation in ANZUS'-that is, if it needs be reasserted, with a proper understanding of what ANZUS is about-'and other alliances'-not just the Western alliance-'is vital to our defence'. If we had such a motion before us I doubt whether there would be much disagreement.

Paragraph (b) of the motion refers to 'a major contribution to the maintenance of an effective stable deterrence', on which there is considerable disagreement. As several speakers have indicated, stable deterrence no longer exists. We are talking about terms of the past and those terms need to be re-examined. Deterrence has now proved to be not relevant, not possible. In fact, it is even dangerous to think in those terms. Yet here we are trotting out these terms, as we always do, some 12 months behind world opinion and, for that matter, world knowledge. We still talk in terms of deterrence. I suggest we could have dropped that passage and referred instead to 'a major contribution to the maintenance and preservation of peace, and a means of increasing Australia's influence in disarmament negotiations'. By including the word 'deterrence', one makes of the matter far more than one should and something which cannot be accepted and which would require considerable re-examination. The last three lines of the motion could be deleted without any real diminution of the proposition.

I expressed the view that this debate will not go away. This debate should not be brought to a crisis point at which we have to vote and in relation to which some of us find ourselves in positions that we do not want to be in. We must recognise the reality that we face in this place. People should not be imprisoned in particular positions because of party disciplines on this vital matter. I suggest there not be a vote on this matter. We have expressed our view that it is a matter of urgency. Some of us have expressed reservations, some of us may have come to common agreement but we are going through a process of educating ourselves on this vital issue. On 31 March this year the Palm Sunday rallies will show increasing concern in the community and that concern cannot be ignored. No political party can ignore that concern and it will do so only at its peril.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The time allotted under Sessional Orders for consideration of an urgency matter has elapsed.