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Thursday, 20 November 1986
Page: 2648

Senator KILGARIFF(6.28) —I was very pleased to be able to table in the Senate earlier today a petition from 591 people, predominantly Alice Springs residents, who are opposed to any attempt to close the Pine Gap Joint Space Defence Research Facility near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. This facility is shared by the United States of America and Australia and employs many residents of the town of Alice Springs. In addition, the United States personnel make a positive contribution to the community life of the town.

The petition was circulated in the Alice Springs area by Mrs Bobbie Roth, a concerned Alice Springs citizen, who is one of the many people who want to ensure that the support of Alice Springs people for the joint facility is brought to the attention of the Federal Government and to the people of Australia. The petition was signed by people who are opposed to any attempt to close the joint facility which Australia shares with the United States and states that the petitioners believe that the facility contributes to world peace and stability. It urges the Federal Government to strengthen the alliance between the United States and Australia because our mutual interests will be served by a strong alliance.

I believe that the efforts of people such as Mrs Roth in circulating the petition are very commendable and I am aware that further petitions, along the same or similar lines, are in the pipeline. In addition to the petitions from Mrs Roth, who is a housewife employed in the town, I have received numerous other smaller petitions all calling for a commitment from the Federal Government that, when the existing agreement with the United States on the Pine Gap facility expires in October next year, it will renew the agreement for a further 10 years. These petitions, when taken as a whole, are indicative of the solid support in the Northern Territory, and particularly in Alice Springs, for the continued operation of the joint facility. The people who are circulating and signing these petitions refuse to be hoodwinked by the emotive rhetoric of so-called peace activists who come to Alice Springs to tell us when we will all be nuked. They realise that, far from making nuclear war, the facility and others like it in Australia are contributing to making nuclear conflict less likely.

The base at Pine Gap receives satellite signals which allow the United States to monitor the nuclear forces and activities of the Soviet Union. The arms limitation agreements between these countries, that is, the Soviet Union and the United States, specifically provide for such monitoring. They are crucial to arms control. These petitions from the people of Alice Springs are clearly showing that very many people support the need for the facility and are prepared to say so.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 6.31 p.m.