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Thursday, 21 March 1985
Page: 615


Senator MISSEN(9.16) —In speaking to the Address-in-Reply I want firstly to say that we have already heard in this debate a number of speeches from new senators who will contribute very valuably to the work of the Senate in coming years. I congratulate them on their speeches. I make particular reference to my colleague Senator Jim Short, who comes to this chamber after serving a period of apprenticeship in the House of Representatives. It is obvious from his very fine maiden speech that he will be making a great contribution to the work of the Senate. In the course of his excellent address he pointed out, among other things, the very substantial debts which this country is incurring. He was able to point to the very great dangers that lie ahead of us. When he was speaking about the extent to which debt will be incurred and is being incurred and the effect on our posterity I could not help thinking about the remarks which Groucho Marx once made on this subject. When asked about posterity and what he was doing about it he said: 'Why should I worry about it? What has posterity ever done for me?' I do not suggest that Senator Short will take that view but it appears to me that the present Government takes that view because it is increasing the burdens for the posterity of this country. It may be that this Government of ours is a Marxist government. Perhaps it is a Groucho Marxist government rather than a Karl Marxist government. Nonetheless, it is facing the future in a way which does not account for the difficulties it is now creating for future generations.

I support the amendment which has been moved by Senator Chaney to the Address-in-Reply motion. The Governor-General's Speech, of course, is a speech which puts into the Governor-General's words many things which the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has decided should be said. As Senator Chaney has pointed out, it is a curious speech because it appears to take no account of what has happened in this country in the last four months. It takes no account of the disastrous consequences which have occurred as far as we are concerned not only in foreign affairs but also elsewhere. I remind honourable senators of part of the terms of Senator Chaney's amendment which criticises the situation and the Government's program in this way:

(a) it fails to reassure the Australian people that the country's defence arrangements within the Western alliance will be preserved and strengthened following-

(i) the Prime Minister's capitulation to internal party pressures on the issue of Australia providing logistical assistance to the United States for its testing of the MX missile, and

(ii) increasing uncertainty as to the future of the ANZUS Treaty fuelled by members of the Labor Government, including a Cabinet Minister

The amendment which Senator Chaney moved goes on to deal with a number of other salient matters in respect of the economy of this country but I will be concentrating substantially on the serious questions of the Australian community's loss of reputation arising from the Government's mistakes over the last few months. We have before us in this session a program which one might say is a conservative, pragmatic program. It lacks flair and any attempt to deal with the most urgent and serious matters which are facing this country.

We should pause for a moment to remind ourselves that this is the first opportunity that most of us have had to comment on the situation in this country since the election of 1 December 1984. We knew then that the Government was proceeding to an early poll in order to obtain, it hoped, an early re-endorsement, because of the difficulties it foresaw within a very short period. Now we can understand why it went for such an unnecessarily early election. It was so that the Prime Minister could, with his charismatic appeal, or so he thought, go to the Australian people and receive an overwhelming endorsement. As we all know, he did not receive that overwhelming endorsement. Indeed, it was a very near miss for the Government.

Of course, the Australian Labor Party was able to hold together during that election period. We know that within its ranks and factions there are gross and enormous divisions. We know that those divisions existed but that the members of the Labor Party looked forward to another meal ticket by being re-elected. Because of the prospect of a meal ticket being offered to them, they were prepared to keep quiet before the election. But they have not been prepared to keep quiet after the election. They have very carefully proceeded with their own views, and the leftist forces in the Government have humiliated the Prime Minister since that time. They would not have dared to do that before the election. If the people had known then what they know now, the Government would not have been re-elected. Of course, we have also seen the slide in the value of the Australian dollar and the slide in many other aspects that were glowingly put before the people in the course of the election campaign. Despite the advances and the great opportunities which were expected for this country in the next few years, we now see that most estimates are that the Government is not facing up to major issues and its performance will probably not lead to a very good result in the next few years.

We saw various features in that election campaign. Of course, one was the magnificent performance by Mr Andrew Peacock as Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. The Government thought that that would not happen but it did happen and it resulted in a very near loss for the Government in the election. We saw also the smashing of the idea that Mr Bob Hawke was the idol whom the people would follow under any circumstances. Certainly, that has been broken for all time and he is seen as an ordinary politician held together by a group of ordinary politicians of various factions. He no longer has that charisma of leadership.

We also saw in that election the bonanza enjoyed by the Nuclear Disarmament Party. It rose from nothing, and I suppose will return to nothing, but with the assistance of the media, hundreds of thousands of dollars of publicity and its quirkiness which appealed to the media it was able to have quite an influence in that election campaign and, indeed, had one senator elected. We noted the arrogance which that organisation displayed by coming to the people on one policy issue and suggesting that it had all the ideas, that its emotions were pure whereas nobody else's were pure and for that reason its members should be elected. It is thanks to the wisdom of the Australian people that by and large that appeal was rejected. One can say that at least the Australian Democrats went before the people with policies in many areas. They were very often policies which they hoped would appeal to people but which they knew they would not have to implement. But at least they did come forward with policies in various areas whereas the Nuclear Disarmament Party had but one idea in mind.

I am afraid that in that election campaign we also saw the temporary destruction of any prospect of constitutional change in this country. That was due mostly to the fact that the Labor Government decided to bring constitutional amendments forward at the time of the election. One of those proposals, the interchange of powers one, which had unanimous endorsement from the Australian Constitutional Convention not so very long before, was defeated because of the obscurity and the political involvement surrounding it. It was put forward by a Labor Government as a popular make-weight for another proposal which was unpopular. The Government stands condemned for the fact that it destroyed prospects for decent constitutional change in the near future. I hope that will not be more than a temporary decision by the people.

Since the election we have seen the unfolding disaster which the Hawke Government has displayed, particularly in respect of its refusal to undertake its obligations to the United States of America in respect of the facilities for the testing of the MX missile. The result of the Prime Minister's backdown in this area is that we will not give that assistance. In fact, one can say rightly, as the Prime Minister does say, that at present the ANZUS pact on which we so dearly depend is inoperative. In the last few days I have seen that the former Attorney-General, now Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Gareth Evans)-I want to make it quite clear that he is the former discredited Attorney-General; he is still discredited and he is still former-


Senator Ryan —He is not here, also.


Senator MISSEN —He is not here. I cannot help that. He does not often seem to be here to listen to speeches by members of the Opposition.


Senator Ryan —Well, why would he? For goodness sake, he would have something better to do with his time.


Senator MISSEN —That is very interesting. I am told that he has much better things to do than to attend Parliament. The problem with the mentality of Government senators is that they think that attendance in Parliament is not important and that they have more important things to do.


Senator Ryan —It depends on who is talking.


Senator MISSEN —I suggest that attendance in Parliament is the major responsibility of members. I will not be distracted by Senator Ryan's warblings.


Senator Ryan —I thought you had. Too late.


Senator MISSEN —I was being generous here and I insist on being generous if it kills me.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Haines) —Order! Senator Missen, you will draw yourself back to the genuine topic of your speech.


Senator MISSEN —I will draw myself back. I am pointing out that, unlike the Prime Minister who suggests that ANZUS is inoperative, yesterday Senator Gareth Evans told us that in fact it is still intact. Are we not very lucky that in this community Senator Evans did not become a doctor instead of a lawyer? If he had become a doctor we can imagine him attending a person who had two broken arms and a broken leg and probably saying cheerfully to him: 'You are still intact'. Of course, that is how intact the ANZUS Treaty is at present. We have seen that the strength of the Western world is very dependent upon the support which is given to our major ally. That includes periods of difficulty as well as periods when it is easy.

I remind the Senate of the way that this was put some years ago by Senator Chipp. Of course, back in 1969 he was a Minister on our side of the House. He was dealing then with the ANZUS Treaty and the importance of it. Of particular importance was the fair sharing of burdens involved in the defence of the free world. In a speech which Senator Chipp made on 22 May 1969 in the other House with respect to the Treaty he said:

If we set any store by that treaty what sort of morality is it to accept what the treaty gives and to give nothing back in return? We on this side of the House believe that we have this sense of morality. If we enter into a treaty for the security of the people of this country for the rest of this century, we cannot have it one sided. We have to give and take.

That was a very worthy comment. I am only sorry that Senator Chipp has not remained firm to that view on the ANZUS Treaty. I also point out, in regard to the importance of the activities and decisions which were made and forced upon the Prime Minister, something that was said by someone appointed by the Prime Minister. I refer to the Ambassador for Disarmament, Mr Butler, who in an interview on 5 February 1985 was asked what would be the effect of Australia's participation in tests to develop the MX missile and how it would aid the cause of disarmament in any way. He replied.

. . . Participating in tests to aid the development of MX missiles, that is exactly what I am talking about. That is a fairly extravagant interpretation of what we have been asked to do and I gather has been agreed to.

The question was then asked:

But could the Americans proceed with their plans without our assistance?

His answer was:

I don't know. But my concern is disarmament and I think the question that you are posing is: Where does this leave us with disarmament. I put it back to you the other way. Where would we be in seeking to pursue real means of disarmament with the United States if we refused them the right to land a couple of planes in Australia, which they are going to use to monitor this missile shot? Now, our credibility would be completely reduced.

We know, of course, that that is what has happened. When the Prime Minister decided to keep his factions together and had to withdraw the offers which we had made so publicly throughout the world, it had the effect that the Ambassador pointed out. We have done many of these things, of course, under New Zealand influence. It is rather strange that New Zealand should be figuring so largely in debate in Australia now. Since the War we have taken very little notice of and certainly have not endeavoured to follow the leadership of New Zealand. We have seen the failures New Zealand has experienced, such as the failure to increase its population and its failures when it relied upon Britain to take its trade. So it fell behind and its standard of living decreased. We have seen what I might call the effect of the two fat boys from New Zealand, who have both had some influence. Mr Muldoon, in his worst moments, would come to Australia, as he did for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and throw his weight around and suggest that Australia and others--


Senator Ryan —That is a most unfortunate metaphor you are pursuing.


Senator MISSEN —I am not worried about that. The honourable senator and I do not have the problem of fatness.


Senator Puplick —The Minister has a fixation on these things, apparently.


Senator MISSEN —The Minister may have a fixation, yes. However, firstly there was Mr Muldoon, and now there is Mr Lange who is, of course, regarded as some sort of infant.


Senator Ryan —Who?


Senator MISSEN —Mr Lange is the name, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I am glad that the honourable senator has not heard of him. It is the first encouraging thing I have heard from her side of the chamber for some time. Let us realise that Mr Lange's election has been encouraging not only to the nuclear disarmament people but also particularly to the Soviets. He was elected on 14 July 1984, and the following day Radio Moscow's domestic service expressed the Soviets' appreciation of what was happening and its importance for the South Pacific. It said:

Implementation of New Zealand Labour's election pledges might set off a chain reaction leading to the collapse of the ANZUS block. The example of New Zealand might also be followed by Australia.

That is what I think we fear and what I am sure the Americans fear. If we take notice of New Zealand's decision, not letting it stew in its own juice and suffer the consequences-if it will not assist its allies it cannot expect its allies to assist it-then this is a result that it may suffer. But we should not follow. We must ensure that there is not this following reaction in Australia and that we do not take New Zealand's idea as one we should follow. We have clear obligations under our Treaty, and we certainly should not repudiate our arrangements with the United States. I remind honourable senators opposite of the importance of ANZUS and of the reasons for its value, which Mr Beazley, the Minister for Defence in their own Government, recently enumerated. An article in the National Times for the week 8 to 14 March stated:

Mr Beazley said he believed that there were five areas of defence and foreign policy where this relationship was significant.

First was intelligence co-operation, which was enormously important to Australia. Second was the opportunity for Australian direct influence with the United States which the Government used 'quite vigourously' to get an understanding of American global strategy in nuclear terms and an input for Australia's views on arms control. Third was special access to American equipment purchases and favoured-nation treatment in that regard. Fourth was the opportunity to exercise with armed forces with perhaps the highest technology in the world. Fifth was co-operation in defence science matters.

These matters must not be prejudiced, although they have to an extent been prejudiced because the United States now has reason to fear the extent to which our country necessarily will remain firm. I know the Prime Minister has said that he believes in the maintenance of the ANZUS alliance and that we should allow the ships of that alliance to come into the country. However, one must remember that Mr Hawke had different views a few years ago. I refer you, Madam Acting Deputy President, to the fact that an advertisement appeared in the National Times on 13 August 1976 'For an Independent and Non-Aligned Australia'. One of the hundred or so signatories to that was Mr R. J. Hawke. Included in that list were a great number of left wingers, communists and all kinds of persons well known for espousing leftist causes. This is what they gave their names to:

We, the undersigned consider that:

Military alliances are a source of international tensions

They lead to subordination of weaker nations to bigger powers, and often involve the aligned nations in military interventions.

Honourable members should especially note the following:

Foreign military bases on our soil are detrimental to Australia's safety.

They constitute a threat to other nations, make this continent a potential nuclear target, and could be used by the USA contrary to our wishes and safety.

USA-Australian alliance dragged us into the Vietnam war.

Australia's military arrangements with the USA, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia could involve us in military actions in South East Asia in support of unpopular regimes . . . . in new Vietnams. Therefore, we the undersigned--

honourable senators should remember that the undersigned included Mr R. J. Hawke-

support the campaign for an independent and non-aligned Australia which stands for:

Mutual respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all nations; equality of national rights; opposition to military alliances, foreign military bases and military interventions; and support for national and social liberation.

I know that the Prime Minister has changed his mind since then. However, one can imagine that, after the Prime Minister had so humbly to withdraw his promises of assistance, the United States of America cannot feel the same confidence it felt previously. Ten years ago the Prime Minister had those views. I am glad he converted to other views, but can one feel that he has the strength to uphold the undertakings Australia must give to its ally? It is factions of the Australian Labor Party that are being served, not the national interest. Therefore one feels that the trust the United States has given and the very noble and sensible attitude it adopted, because it saw in the Prime Minister of this country someone who appeared to be trying to do the right thing but failed, so did not humiliate him to the nth degree, cannot be felt that any longer.

Since the election we have had a great deal of talk about this matter. We know that even the Prime Minister, since he changed his mind, has gone on record-this was on the Tuesday before 8 March this year-and publicly proclaimed that he would not be 'a Prime Minister of a country . . . where issues of central continuing importance to our security are at risk'. He specifically referred to 'the hosting of the joint facilities in Australia' and to 'visits of American ships to our ports'. The Prime Minister has felt it necessary to emphasise that fact and even to threaten that he would not be the Prime Minister if these things were threatened. We know that the threat is there. It comes from the left wing areas of the Labor Party. Unfortunately, that threat continues.

A couple of days ago we read in the newspapers that the Prime Minister had done rather well in a foreign affairs debate in the House of Representatives, and I thought I would read his speech to see what he said. It is a speech filled with a great deal of obscurantism and very curious logic indeed. He was trying to maintain that when the United States did not repudiate him, but said 'All right, you will not carry out your undertakings; we will go ahead without you', it was not something we should worry about. The Prime Minister referred to a journalist called Middleton who said that the United States Congress was considering a draft resolution which would call on the United States to bring ANZUS to a formal conclusion. Middleton said:

At the Congressional hearings the Assistant Secretary of State Wolfowitz indicated his opposition to such a move.

Later on, Middleton said:

At the same hearings Mr Wolfowitz and a Senior Defence Department official, Mr James Kelly, considered that the New Zealand ban had not given the Soviet Union the strategic edge in the South Pacific partly because of the maintenance of strong military ties with Australia.

From that, the Prime Minister concluded:

There we have representatives of the United States Administration saying that these adverse results have not occurred.

Not at all. What they said was that they had not yet given the Soviet Union the strategic edge or brought the Treaty to a formal conclusion. The Prime Minister is quite wrong to think that these matters mean that our position and standing in the world are not prejudiced to a considerable degree.

I wish I had been able to make these remarks before the Victorian election. Victoria has a Premier who has long sought to intervene in foreign policy and has tried to stop ships from coming into Victorian ports. He has had a great deal to do with undermining the Prime Minister's once strong stand in this area. The pressure he has exerted has been such that unfortunately it has led to a loss of confidence. That same Premier has now indicated that he has put up a proposal to help the milk producers in Victoria. That proposal has been turned down by the Hawke Government and the Premier has shown that he is not worthy of the trust which the people recently put in his hands. I fear that what we have seen is only the beginning of withdrawal of our support.

In the last few days this Government has insisted that it will withdraw our people from the Sinai and that it will go back on our undertakings in that area. Demands are constantly being made for us to withdraw in other areas. No one in this chamber wants this country to do only what America wants all the time. I welcome the motion that our country must stand up and express views. If it does not like what the United States does in Nicaragua or what is happening in the Philippines it should say so. We must take a stand because we are supporters of the United States and we will be listened to when we criticise some of its policies, as we should. Unfortunately, if we go too far and are not careful enough there will be a continuation of the demand that we withdraw one thing after another. Ultimately, we might withdraw our support for American bases and thereby destroy the very deterrence which is the saviour of Australia and other democratic countries in the world.

We are faced always with the call for unilateral disarmament. The Australian Democrats constantly tell us that they are not for unilateral disarmament. In fact, by the decisions they have made on the withdrawal of support for the missile testing and by refusing to help the Americans they have shown they support universal disarmament. They have a part to play, but they will not play it and have said they will go their own way. Before it is too late their attention should be drawn to where their policies would take Australia. It is important that the Western world see that the Soviet Union is brought back to the field and takes its part at the negotiating table. Earlier today I spoke on Afghanistan and what we should do there. The gallant resistance in Afghanistan may ultimately force the Soviets back to the negotiation table. We know that negotiations are starting and that they will be important only if they are based on American strength and on the idea that the allies of the United States will support it.

This country has lost a great deal of clout already. We have lost much of the respect which the American public had for us. We cannot criticise the American public which feels it should protect its own people and its position. I remind honourable senators of something which Senator Gareth Evans said in debate here on 25 February when talking about this general matter. He said:

The other particular point that needs to be made under the general heading of the counter-productivity of the Democrats legislation is simply this: To get ourselves into a position where that alliance is put at risk is not only debilitating for all the reasons that I have mentioned already but also it would undoubtedly have the effect of removing entirely such clout or such influence as Australia does have with the United States both in terms of bilateral discussions and perhaps more immediately obviously in the context of debates and treaty negotiations in international forums.

Sometimes Senator Evans can be right. Sometimes he can express these views.


Senator MacGibbon —Strange!


Senator MISSEN —Yes, it is strange, but passing strange. But let us give credit where credit is due. I am always of that opinion. Let us say that we ought to follow that lead. Since the election the Government is a government in decline. It is now falling apart and its individual members and sections are now in for the kill; they are in for what they can get. They are past the situation in which they need a meal ticket for the next election. They now want to have an influence. We in this Parliament and this country must ensure that Australia sticks firmly to its alliances and its principles and that we do not allow the country to be discredited by further terrible disasters brought on by the Hawke Government since its re-election.