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Tuesday, 7 May 1985
Page: 1415

Senator CHIPP —I ask the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs whether the Government is aware of the report in the National Times of 26 April that the repositioning of the satellite at Pine Gap was essentially not to spy on Greece but to spy on Israel. Is there technical evidence available which indicates that Pine Gap could be used to spy on Israel? Is the Government aware that the National Times has described its source as impeccable? Does the Government believe that, given the fact that Israel is a close ally of the United States and close friend of this country, any such move to spy on Israel would be immoral and outrageous?

Senator Jessop —What about the Russians spying on it?

Senator CHIPP —If Senator Jessop wants us to help spy on Israel, let him say so. I further ask: In the light of the Prime Minister's much self-professed support for the state of Israel, can his Government categorically and unequivocally deny that it assists or has assisted the United States of America in spying on Israel?

Senator GARETH EVANS —Senator Chipp has been around long enough to know perfectly well that it is the Government's policy not to confirm or deny reports of this kind. I do not propose to vary that practice today. I add in more general terms only that the general purposes and functions of the joint facilities at Pine Gap and Nurrungar in Australia were described by the Prime Minister in his statement to Parliament on 6 June last year. Those facilities are seen by us as contributing to the security of all our allies in the Western strategic community by providing timely knowledge of developments of military significance. The facilities provide information relevant to maintaining stability in the super-power relationship, including through contributing to early warning of missile launches, to the verification of arms limitation and to nuclear non-proliferation measures.

All activities-I repeat, again, what has been put so often on the public record-at the facilities take place with the full knowledge and concurrence of the Australian Government. Decisions on these matters are taken by Ministers, not by officials, and are made on the basis of government policies for foreign affairs, defence and intelligence. The facilities operate in accordance with the principles laid down in the Australian Labor Party platform, which require that the facilities do not derogate from Australian authority and sovereignty, or involve Australia in hostilities without our consent.