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Tuesday, 7 May 1985
Page: 1429


Senator MASON(3.34) —The Australian Democrats are concerned at the failure of the Australian Government to address itself to the real issues of disarmament. We as a nation are playing about with this whole issue on the fringes rather than trying to tackle it centrally. Whilst many of the diplomatic initiatives we are taking in this area are unexceptionable, and some may even be applauded, that does not excuse us from turning a blind eye to the major issues. I think I ought to reply to Senator Chaney's point. I ask him only whether Sir William McMahon and President Nixon, when they agreed in 1972 that in no circumstances should United States nuclear-armed warships come to Australian ports, were unilateralists or multilateralists. I think that distinguished Liberal Prime Minister and that by no means left wing American President took a sensible and sane view. The regular arrival of American warships at an Australian port, especially in a city such as Sydney or Perth, places that port at risk and the risk cannot be justified in terms of any perceived advantage.

To quote from the Australian Democrats' international relations policy, policy item no. 6 states:

Australia will ratify all existing multi-lateral arms control and disarmament treaties.

Polity item no. 7 states:

Australia will work for new multi-lateral arms control and disarmament agreements.

A number of times the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) has said that our relationship with the United States of America enables us to put pressure on that country to further the cause of disarmament. Of course, it is both fitting and proper that our Government should exercise independent judgments on such matters as a comprehensive test ban treaty, the strategic defence initiative, an Indian Ocean zone of peace and chemical weapons, and that we should try to use whatever channels are available to us to persuade the United States to alter its course on these issues. I look at just one of them-chemical weapons. Page 14 of the report before us states:

A chemical weapons convention is a high priority objective for the Australian Government.

Yet less than two months ago the Pentagon stated its intention to end the 16-year moratorium on the production of chemical weapons. Never could there have been a more apt or suitable time for the Hawke Government to declare its objection to such a move and to pressure the United States, but to our knowledge not one word was said publicly by our Government. There is a significant difference between what we say as a nation and what we do.

Nor can it be said that we are not in a position to pressure the Soviet Union. I get back to the matter of multilateralism. I say to Senator Chaney that if we want a multilateral approach to disarmament we have to look probably to the four nuclear powers other than the Soviet Union-that is, the USA, France, Great Britain and China. If they could agree on a basis for disarmament the means would exist for an enormous amount of economic pressure to be exerted on the Soviet Union. That would involve, of course, the fact that the Soviet grain harvests have fallen heavily in recent years. This year the Soviets will have to import as much as 52 million tonnes of grain-20 million tonnes of it from the USA and much of the rest from other Western nations. I feel that the last thing Mr Gorbachev wants is longer food queues in the Soviet Union.

The only issue to be decided is whether the Western nations, including ourselves, regard a serious approach to disarmament as being more important than money in the bank for grain growers, not that our grain growers would suffer in any case. The fact is that a united threat of a trade embargo of that sort should be sufficient and it is unlikely that it would ever have to be implemented. I suggest that if we are seriously going to look at this subject we should look at it along those lines.

The Democrats are unhappy about the Pine Gap situation. I see no reason why the Pine Gap base should be seen as sacrosanct and completely beyond question in this place. After all, it is Australian territory and a part of Australia. Any suggestion that we should totally surrender our sovereignty to it is, of course, outrageous. The Weekend Australian on Saturday quoted a book entitled the 'US Intelligence Community' written by an assistant professor of government at the American University in Washington, Dr Jeffrey Richelson. The book stated:

Pine Gap is strictly under US Central Intelligence Agency control . . . Very few Australians are permitted in the top secret sector of Pine Gap.

That has been suspected and stated many times before. But later in the report the book is quoted as describing collaboration between our own security service, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, and the CIA and says that ASIS had received many hundreds of 'human intelligence' reports from the CIA. Later this week I will be asking some questions designed to elucidate this statement and to establish what seems to be its meaning-that Pine Gap has been used to spy on Australians, probably in large numbers, and that the proceeds of that spying have been passed back to ASIS.

It is self-evident that if this is true the same information is also in the hands of the CIA, an agency of a foreign government which is notorious for its record of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, often through illegal and violent means. It has been claimed many times that Pine Gap has the capability to tap virtually all telephone traffic within and into and out of Australia. One presumes that it was in this way that the many hundreds of human intelligence reports were obtained. Is this still going on? What association does it have with Pine Gap's role in world nuclear deterrence? Who is being spied on and for what reasons? It is time the Government levelled with Australians on all these issues and the Australian Democrats intend to remind it of this at every possible opportunity.