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Tuesday, 7 May 1985
Page: 1428

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(3.28) —I was privileged in August last year to spend a few days as an observer in Geneva at the 1984 Session of the Conference on Disarmament. Having talked to many of the ambassadors for disarmament and having since read many of the papers and much of the discussion, my impression is that the mood of pessimism about the work of the conference is quite wrong. One must not measure progress in terms of treaties made and signed. What happens at that conference cannot happen any faster than the speed at which the super-powers or the nations outside the conference reach agreement between themselves. The conference is a debate, honing down the essential points. It has done a great deal of work, particularly in preparing documents for treaties on chemical weapons and similar matters, the only missing step being not that the conference has not decided but that the nations have not decided to instruct their ambassadors. So it is not a reflection on the conference. I wanted, firstly, to point out that. Secondly, I want to say that Geneva is a good study place for members of parliament to go because they can, in a very small cosmos, meet and talk to the ambassadors of some 40 nations, including both sides of the Iron Curtain, and get more quickly a picture of both sides and what the argument is all about.

I cannot refrain from mentioning a speech made by Mr Hayden in early August, which I think was greatly unfortunate for Australia and a great misrepresentation of fact. In that speech Mr Hayden, being impatient as we all are with the slow progress of nuclear disarmament, issued what amounted to a threat to the Americans. That is the only way to construe it. He said that if they did not do something about reducing arms and get on with the job, Australia may take action with regard to the joint facilities in Australia.

I want to point out what a gross misrepresentation of fact that was. The fact was that when Mr Hayden was speaking he knew and the whole of the Hawke Government knew that for two solid years the American Government had put before the Russians the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks proposals which were an offer of drastic reductions. It was the Americans who where pushing to cut in half the number of missiles and by one-third the number of nuclear warheads and to wipe out one whole class of intermediate nuclear weapons. This was grossly misrepresented by our Foreign Minister. That was quite inexcusable and I think it ought to be roundly condemned as such because it was only the Russians' refusal to come to the conference table that in fact stopped those discussions going on and stopped some fulfilment of Article 6 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

To threaten the joint facilities is to fail to understand one thing. It is a suggestion that we are doing some special favour to the Americans at a cost to us by having these joint facilities in Australia. The simple fact is that, however one looks at the communication installations at Exmouth Gulf, Pine Gap and Nurrungar, they are the peacekeepers. Nurrungar and Pine Gap are the surveillance and verification peacekeepers for Australia. They are not a second prize for Australia at all; they are a first prize. If the verification succeeds, if the monitoring succeeds and if the deterrent holds up, Australia's peacekeeping is the prize as well as the peacekeeping of the world.

It is a disastrously perverted view indeed to threaten to take that away. That would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. Mr Hayden knew then, because he said in his speech that it was important to have a treaty protecting not only satellites but also the installations of the satellites, that an anti-satellite treaty was important for peacekeeping. He recognised in his speech that Nurrungar and Pine Gap were important for peacekeeping, but he threatened in a form of words to withdraw our support, as though that would hurt America. Any withdrawal of support for those facilities would hurt Australia. I simply say that I know of nothing that more perverted the truth.