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Wednesday, 19 November 1986
Page: 2487

Senator MACKLIN —I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the fact that the Liberal Party is producing a video on nuclear issues featuring Ian `Molly' Meldrum interviewing the honour- able member for Kooyong, Andrew Peacock. The video will be distributed to South Australian schools with the Liberal pamphlet entitled `Living in a Nuclear World' which assures our young people that nuclear weapons are the only protection we have against a nuclear war. In the interests of presenting a range of views on the nuclear issue, will the Minister commission a booklet describing the different approaches to nuclear disarmament of the Government, conservative parties and groups, the Australian Democrats and the peace movement for distribution in schools in Australia?

Senator Teague —Mr President, I raise a point of order. The basis of the question is false.

The PRESIDENT —There is no point of order.

Senator GARETH EVANS —As I said in the Senate on 16 October in reply to a question from Senator Haines, I have seen the pamphlet to which Senator Macklin referred. As I indicated then, the Government regards it as something of a curate's egg in both the character of its information and the views it conveys. I was not aware that it was being distributed to South Australian schools along with the video mentioned by Senator Macklin. It beggars the imagination a little to contemplate a video with those two in it, each competing to hog the limelight, no doubt in a grotesque fashion.

The question of the propriety of the distribution of the video is one essentially for the South Australian education authorities to examine. However, I would assume that the education authorities in South Australia would make it clear that such material reflects solely the views of one political party in that it is balanced by ensuring that schools in that State are aware of the availability of information material which reflects the Government's views on these matters. Among other things, its view would be that the nuclear deterrence is justified only as a means of holding the line, as it were, until disarmament is achieved rather than being something good or desirable in itself, which seems the implication that flowed through the pamphlet in question and no doubt the video.

The Government already produces a whole variety of information material on the field of peace, disarmament and arms control questions. This material is freely available to community groups, including schools, on request. Many non-government organisations also disseminate their views. We would certainly expect that any responsible school or teacher would seek information on this vital issue from a variety of sources. I am not at all sure whether there is a need for the Federal Government to produce and to distribute any compendium of views such as Senator Macklin proposes or whether the expense of doing so could be justified. No doubt the Minister will bear in mind the honourable senator's suggestion.