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Tuesday, 25 November 1986
Page: 2668


Senator SIBRAA —On behalf of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, I present the report on disarmament and arms control in the nuclear age, together with the transcript of evidence and extracts from the Committee's minutes of proceedings.

Ordered that the report be printed.


Senator SIBRAA —by leave-I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

I have great pleasure in presenting the report from the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence entitled `Disarmament and Arms Control in the Nuclear Age', together with its companion volume `Recommended Strategies and Policies'. This second volume provides a summary of the major conclusions and recommendations contained in the full report and has been published as a separate document in order to facilitate a more widespread dissemination of the Committee's analysis and findings.

This report is the most extensive yet done by the Committee. It represents the culmination of nearly three years work in which the Disarmament and Arms Control Sub-Committee of the Joint Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee considered a large number of submissions from interested groups and individuals, conducted public hearings across Australia and held detailed discussions with Australian Government officials, delegations from both the United States and the Soviet Union and numerous Australian and internationally known arms control specialists.

From the beginning of the inquiry, the Sub-Committee was conscious of the considerable and growing interest being shown by Australians in nuclear matters, on the one hand, and the absence of detailed information or discussion in this country of many of the issues involved, on the other. As a result, this report was written: First, to provide a compendium of factual information on our current nuclear circumstances and our continuing efforts to control and eliminate nuclear arms; secondly, to describe and analyse Australia's contributions to disarmament and arms control and the maintenance of international peace and security; and thirdly, to help prepare an agenda for informed debate on our future direction and policies for reducing the risk of nuclear war.

The report is divided into five parts. Parts 1 to 4 deal with the world as we know it today and provide a summary of our global nuclear circumstances as well as a description of Australia's current role in seeking disarmament and arms control at both the international and regional levels. It also describes some global and regional issues of importance to Australia. These include the strategic defence initiative-popularly known as Star Wars-nuclear testing and the comprehensive test ban treaty, the joint facilities, the South Pacific nuclear free zone, and uranium mining and Australia's role in the nuclear fuel cycle.

Part 5 of the report goes beyond our current circumstances to examine future options and policies. It begins with an overview of where we are at present and where we are heading. It then describes some of the possible options and approaches that have been suggested for avoiding or reducing the risk of nuclear war in the future. Part 5 ends with the Committee's own recommended strategies and policies as well as a summary of the principal findings of the earlier chapters of the report.

The recommended strategies and policies cover both the short and the longer term. Our immediate goals should be to stabilise our current nuclear circumstances and begin moving towards a position of mutual deterrence at a reduced level of armaments. While nuclear weapons remain deployed, we must also pursue policies which minimise the chance of nuclear war breaking out. These objectives can be achieved by following four basic strategies. The first and most important strategy would seek to arrest the spread of and continuing competition in nuclear arms. The second basic strategy would seek to minimise the risk of nuclear war occurring by accident or miscalculation. The third basic strategy involves establishing mutual deterrence at a significantly reduced level of armaments. The fourth basic strategy for minimising the risk of nuclear war in the immediate future is to seek to improve United States-Soviet relations.

The greatest danger facing mankind today is the threat of nuclear war. We will be safe from this threat only when nuclear weapons have been abolished. Our overall objective, therefore, should be to eliminate all existing nuclear weapons, set in place a means of preventing their reappearance at some time in the future, and replace deterrence with a less threatening and destructive means of avoiding nuclear war.

Contrary to the opinion of some, total nuclear disarmament is not a simple matter to effect. Nuclear weapons now exist in large numbers and have been integrated into the conventional force structures of both sides. More importantly, nuclear weapons are equated with national security and the right of sovereign states to use military force to protect their basic interests. The reality is that total disarmament can occur only if individual states are satisfied that their security interests are not jeopardised. To be effective, the disarmament process has to set in place alternative and acceptable means of guaranteeing national sovereignty and international peace and security, both during and after the weapons are abolished.

A basic finding of the report is that there are no such measures currently in prospect. Concepts of world government are generally unacceptable as they would effectively amount to a world dictatorship. The role of the United Nations as an international peacekeeper is currently undermined by the veto powers of the major weapons states. Concepts of common interest or common security, while fine as philosophical ideals, are not easily translated into modes of action. A reliance on a system of non-nuclear deterrence could lead to a further expansion of the arms competition and the development of a new generation of conventional armaments which may be no less destructive than low-yield tactical nuclear weapons.

These problems and difficulties do not negate the importance of seeking alternative means of facilitating disarmament. What they suggest is that there is no simple or quick solution to the problem of eliminating the threat of nuclear war. A measure of nuclear disarmament can be achieved through negotiations between the super-powers. Total nuclear disarmament, however, is a vastly more complex undertaking which would require no less than altering our present international political institutions and value structures. Such changes may take many decades, or even centuries, to achieve.

The second issue I want to say a few words about is the South Pacific nuclear free zone. The agreement which was signed on 6 August 1985 has been criticised by some for undermining our current security arrangements by restricting future United States access to the region, and by others for not going far enough in preventing the stationing or transit of nuclear weapons or related facilities in or through the zone. I would argue that the first criticism is not sustainable. As noted in the report, the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty in no way constrains the rights of sovereign powers to operate in international waters and air space. It allows each nation to determine for itself whether it will allow visits by nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed vessels and aircraft, and it does not constrain military co-operation between Australia and the United States.

The second criticism is theoretically true but misplaced. As the report makes clear, the nature of the zone itself-comprising predominantly international waterways-and the fact that any such treaty had to take account of the varying security concerns of the different states involved, made it impossible to establish a more radical proposal. The critics of the agreement tend also to underestimate the political importance of the Treaty. As noted in the report, the SPNFZ Treaty plays a useful role in extending the non-proliferation regime and in preventing the future stationing of nuclear weapons within the South Pacific. Subject to the concurrence of the nuclear weapon states, it also formalises United States and Soviet assurances that nuclear weapons would not be used or threatened against zone states. The SPNFZ also refocuses attention on the role of nuclear weapon free zones, places further pressure on the French to halt nuclear testing in the Pacific, and could stimulate the development or progress of other zone proposals, especially those affecting the adjoining areas in the Indian Ocean and South East Asia.

I note that the report contains three dissenting reports. This is something of a record for the Committee as the three reports involve 16 out of the 28 members of the Committee. The vast majority of reports produced by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence are bipartisan. As I remarked to the Committee, no wonder the super-powers cannot reach agreement on disarmament when 28 people come up with four different points of view. However, the dissents are only in relation to parts of the report and not the total report.

In conclusion, I must pay tribute to the members of the Sub-Committee who laboured many hours not only in hearing witnesses, but also in considering the issues. In particular, I would commend David Charles, the Chairman of the Sub-Committee in both this and the previous Parliament, who has over three years listened to the arguments and, after considering them, come up with this most comprehensive report. I hope that the Charles report will become a much quoted document.

The Deputy Chairman, Senator Teague, and the other members of the Sub-Committee are to be complimented for their contributions. Senator Teague was responsible for the very successful disarmament seminar that was held in Parliament House recently. I must also thank the staff of the Sub-Committee. Dr Graeme Cheeseman, who served as the Adviser for the duration of the inquiry, Mr Peter Grundy, Dr Lee Kerr, Mr Ian Booth, Julie Kinnane and June Andersen all made valuable contributions, as did the team of typists, Sue Loughton, Kelly Edwards, Sharon Fisher, Monica Barry and Wyn Kieweg who were so ably organised by Dianne Morrison, Margaret Tie and Pat Arentz. Finally, I mention Jack Cassells and Margaret Ray for ensuring that the administration went smoothly. I also thank Phil Bergin, the Secretary of the full Committee. The report is a magnificent achievement, not only for the Committee but also for the Parliament. I look forward to the debate on the report and the Government response to it. Mr Acting Deputy President, I seek leave to have the full speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

I have great pleasure in presenting the report from the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on `Disarmament and Arms Control in the Nuclear Age' together with its companion volume `Recommended Strategies and Policies'. This second volume incorporates the last two chapters, namely chapters 21 and 22, of the full report and provides a summary of the major conclusions and recommendations contained in the full report. The second volume has been published as a separate document in order to facilitate a more widespread dissemination of the Committee's analysis and findings.

The report is the most extensive yet done by the Joint Committee. It represents the culmination of nearly three years work in which the Disarmament and Arms Control Sub-Committee of the Joint Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee considered a large number of submissions from interested groups and individuals, conducted public hearings across Australia, and held detailed discussions with Australian Government officials, delegations from both the United States and the Soviet Union, and numerous Australian and internationally-known arms control specialists.

From the beginning of the inquiry, the Sub-Committee was conscious of the considerable and growing interest being shown by Australians in nuclear matters on the one hand, and the absence of detailed information or discussion in this country of many of the issues involved, on the other. As a result, this report was written:

(i) To provide a compendium of factual information on our current nuclear circumstances and our continuing efforts to control and eliminate nuclear arms;

(ii) To describe and analyse Australia's contributions to disarmament and arms control and the maintenance of international peace and security; and

(iii) to help prepare an agenda for informed debate over our future direction and policies for reducing the risk of nuclear war.

The report itself is divided into five parts. Parts 1 to 4 deal with the world as we know it today. Part 1 is largely descriptive and provides a summary of our global nuclear circumstances. It begins with the two super-powers, describing their current military arsenals, their strategic nuclear doctrines and policies, and their past and present attempts to regulate their arms competition through the disarmament and arms control process. It then examines the spread of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons beyond the super-powers, and the threat and consequences of both nuclear war and the very high and continuing world-wide expenditure on armaments.

Part 2 describes Australia's current role in seeking disarmament and arms control at both the international and regional levels. It also analyses some of the major criticisms that were raised during the inquiry. A number of these issues are treated in detail in Parts 3 and 4 of the report which respectively cover `some global issues of importance to Australia' and `Regional issues'. They include the Strategic Defence Initiative-popularly known as `Star Wars'-nuclear testing and the comprehensive test ban treaty, the joint facilities, the South Pacific nuclear free zone, and uranium mining and Australia's role in the nuclear fuel cycle.

Part 5 of the report goes beyond our current circumstances to examine future options and policies. It begins with an overview of where we are at present and where we are heading. It then describes some of the possible options and approaches that have been suggested for avoiding or reducing the risk of nuclear war in the future. Part 5 ends with the Committee's own recommended strategies and policies as well as a summary of the principal findings of the earlier chapters of the report.

Let me now turn to the Committee's findings. There is insufficient time for me to describe all the conclusions and recommendations that have been made. There are 58 final recommendations. I remind senators that these are summarised in the companion volume `Recommended Strategies and Policies'. I will instead confine myself to providing a brief synopsis of the major findings of the report and its principal recommendations.

The problem of avoiding nuclear war is one of the most important and most difficult intellectual questions of all time. It is important because nuclear weapons pose an unprecedented threat to mankind. The detonation of a single thermonuclear device over a city would result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and at least an equal number of injuries. A full-scale nuclear exchange would completely destroy the combatant nations and could probably end civilisation as we know it. We must do all we can to ensure that nuclear war, particularly war between the super-powers, does not take place.

This basic objective is easily stated and non-controversial. The major and most difficult question is how to achieve it. Some argue that the sheer consequences of nuclear war are sufficient to prevent it from ever occurring. No sane political leader would either initiate a nuclear war or take steps which could increase its danger substantially. They claim that the fear of nuclear war has been instrumental in preventing direct military conflict between the super-powers for 40 years and that it will continue to do so in the future.

A finding of this report, however, is that while we may have managed to avoid nuclear war to date, there is little room for either congratulations or complacency. To begin with, the costs of existing policies and approaches are exceptionally high. The United States and the Soviet Union have continued to engage in an expensive arms race which has resulted in the deployment of increasing numbers and kinds of weapons of mass destruction. Wars have continued to be fought across the globe, not least as a result of the competing ideologies and interests of the super-powers. World-wide military expenditure is now approaching $900 billion per annum.

More importantly, nuclear weapons, or the technologies for their production, have now spread well beyond the recognised nuclear powers. Basic trends in the development and deployment of the super-powers' nuclear arsenals are making the military component of their relationship less manageable and more difficult to control. The political relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union remains strained and is being complicated by developments in the third world, and by the deployment by each side of more threatening weapons systems.

Deterrence

The Committee has found that in the short term, we have no alternative than to continue with the concept of nuclear deterrence provided it is combined with substantial mutual force reductions. The principal advantage of deterrence is that, properly managed, it can provide us with the time to find a more lasting and less dangerous solution to our nuclear predicament.

We must also recognise, however, that the continuation of nuclear deterrence, even at reduced levels of armaments, will not eliminate the risk of nuclear war and so does not provide an adequate basis for global peace and security in the longer term. To achieve this, we need to develop a universal commitment to total nuclear disarmament. Our long-term goals should be to eliminate all remaining nuclear weapons and to replace deterrence with a doctrine of collective or common security. How are these objectives to be achieved? Let me take the short term goals first.

As I have indicated, the report concludes that we have little alternative other than to continue with the concept of nuclear deterrence as the basic means of avoiding nuclear war in the immediate future. The principal question is: What form should deterrence take? The report describes in some detail the strategic nuclear doctrines of the two super-powers and the different schools of thought that have characterised both the development of, and the continuing debate over, deterrence in the United States. It further notes that there appears to be some disagreement within the Australian Government over how deterrence should be carried out. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and his Department seem to favour a system of deterrence based solely on the concept of assured destruction-sometimes described as basic deterrence. However, evidence presented to the Committee by the Department of Defence suggested that it supports an extended system of deterrence which is close to the present United States `countervailing' model. This latter form of deterrence emphasises `counterforce' capabilities and doctrines and countenances the idea of fighting a limited nuclear war. It is also very similar in practice to the current Soviet approach.

The report acknowledges that there are problems associated with both basic and extended deterrence. In particular, it expresses reservations about the continued stability of the `countervailing' theory of deterrence-and its Soviet counterpart-and its suitability for facilitating progress towards nuclear disarmament. Under this approach, the United States and its allies seek to deter the Soviet Union from attempting to achieve a range of foreign policy and defence objectives by demonstrating an ability to deny the Soviets' victory at whatever level of aggression they may choose. While the `countervailing' theory of deterrence may provide greater flexibility than assured destruction, it is far more complex to manage and encourages a continuation of the arms race since it seeks to provide a counter to a broad range of possible Soviet activities. In the view of the majority of the Committee the continuing development and increase in nuclear capabilities are serving to decrease rather than enhance international security. The world would be far safer if the nuclear weapon states were to reduce and ultimately remove their reliance on nuclear weapons as instruments of national policy.

The report does not advocate a return to basic deterrence per se, although it argues that mutual deterrence should be sought at much lower levels of armaments than currently exist; that both super-powers should reverse the trend towards the `conventionalisation' of nuclear weapons; and that they should agree to return to a situation where nuclear weapons are maintained only to deter nuclear attack by another nuclear power.

Our immediate goals then should be to stabilise our current nuclear circumstances and begin moving towards a position of mutual deterrence at a reduced level of armaments. While nuclear weapons remain deployed, we must also pursue policies which minimise the chance of nuclear war breaking out. These objectives can be achieved by following four basic strategies.

The first and most important strategy would seek to arrest the spread and continuing competition in nuclear arms. The report concludes that this could be achieved by:

1. Reaffirming existing arms control agreements especially SALT II and the 1972 ABM Treaty;

2. Freezing the further production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons;

3. Concluding a comprehensive test ban treaty. It should be noted here that the report concludes that a CTB could be adequately verified using existing technologies, and that it would not undermine deterrence or prevent some modernisation of the strategic forces of either side;

4. Strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime; and

5. Prohibiting certain destabilising technologies in particular the further development and deployment of anti-satellite weapons, the continued deployment of the Cruise missile, and the unilateral deployment of space-based ballistic missile defences.

On the question of the Strategic Defence Initiative, the report has concluded that `the continued pursuit of SDI will not lead to a more stable system of deterrence nor would it result in the abolition, or significant reductions in, nuclear weapons. Rather, SDI-or any similar Soviet program-is likely to set in motion a chain of events and reactions that would destabilise the current strategic balance and undermine the limited progress that has been made in arms control to date'. The report further argues that the United States `should be prepared to defer further progress in the SDI program in return for similar assurances by the Soviet Union and progress in negotiations in Geneva on mutual reductions in offensive forces', and it recommends that Australia should decline to participate in the SDI research program.

In fact, the most frightening aspect of SDI and possibly the biggest threat to world peace could well be if it actually works. Let us enter that fairyland for one moment. We have a perfect space-based defensive shield in place. Both sides have the technology, that is, the United States has shared its SDI technology with the Soviet Union, warts and all. This, of course, is a near impossible feat in the first place as the US would have to relay all of the weak spots about SDI as well as its strengths and its working technology. Well, then, what happens next?

Something that man has been doing since the start of time-trying to find a crack in his opponents' defences. Man has put up walls, castles, moats, indeed anything and everything to help defend himself. However, that proverbial crack has always been found-and so it will be in space.

The second basic strategy would seek to minimise the risk of nuclear war occurring by accident or miscalculation.

As long as nuclear weapons continue to exist, there is a chance that they may be used in combat. The greatest danger is that a future international crisis involving the two super-powers may get out of control and lead to direct military confrontation and conflict. The report encourages the two super-powers to institute a range of measures which would prevent any political crisis from escalating out of control.

The third basic strategy involves establishing mutual deterrence at a significantly reduced level of armaments.

The United States and the Soviet Union have far more nuclear weapons than they need for achieving nuclear deterrence. Accordingly, the Committee considers that both super-powers should seek to move to a position of mutual deterrence at much lower levels of armaments than currently exists.

The report does not attempt to specify what this position should be, although it provides an analysis of the latest Soviet and American proposals and advances some thoughts on the preconditions for any successful reduction agreement. These include the view that any future proposal for a reduction in armaments should be:

1. Significant enough to represent a real change, but without threatening to upset the strategic balance or undermining the security of either super-power. Here an overall reduction of 50 per cent of existing forces was considered to be a reasonable initial target;

2. Needs to facilitate progress towards significant nuclear disarmament. This can be best achieved by aiming to simplify the roles, categories and characteristics of the residual nuclear forces; and

3. Should be feasible and achievable over the short and middle term. This is likely to require that the reductions be fair, verifiable and avoid as much as possible arguments over technical detail.

It was also recognised that, in practical terms, a successful arms reduction proposal should allow for a degree of modernisation, enable each side to structure its own forces in accordance with its particular national security requirements and perceptions, and take into account all categories or types of forces which have a bearing on the strategic balance.

An important consideration in seeking nuclear arms reductions is that they do not increase the risk of conventional war between the super-powers since any protracted armed conflict would probably see the introduction of nuclear weapons.

One issue of particular concern to the Committee was the question of chemical and biological weapons. The report notes that there are increasing incidents of alleged chemical weapons usage throughout the world. Further, the present CBW arms control regime and efforts to extend it are being subjected to pressures which could undermine it and lead to the vertical and horizontal proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. The report concludes that, like nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons pose a serious and unnecessary threat to the civilian populations of countries in which this kind of warfare would take place. Unlike the case of nuclear weapons, however, there are no reasons why existing stocks of chemical weapons could not be rapidly disposed of and the current CBW arms control regime be strengthened by an agreement banning all further development, possession and use of such weapons or related products.

The fourth basic strategy for minimising the risk of nuclear war in the immediate future is to seek to improve United States-Soviet relations.

Many of the policies and changes that are required even in the short term will not be possible without a significant improvement in the relations between the super-powers. Such a change will not be easy. The two societies are quite different and cannot be treated on equal grounds or in equal ways. Moreover, the respective national leaderships of the United States and the Soviet Union are subject to a range of domestic and international pressures which serve to limit their freedom of action in determining and announcing public policies.

For many years now, the official relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union has been characterised by a high degree of mutual suspicion and distrust. The two countries have also become locked into a confrontationist stance which is being reinforced by the continued development of powerful and threatening strategic arsenals, and by an uncompromising political dialogue which has tended to portray the super-power competition in terms appropriate to a new `Cold War'.

The report notes that relations between the United States and the Soviet Union have improved marginally over the last year or so. However, despite this progress, the relationship remains strained and is entirely susceptible to internal political pressures, or the international behaviour of either side, or even statements by the two leaders or their representatives.

Any real progress towards arms reduction and eventual total disarmament will require political will. It is interesting to note that the former United States Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, has written along similar lines over the past few years. The technocrats will have to eventually be directed to find a solution by the political leadership. If this does not occur, we will languish in the maze of long and never-ending arms control negotiations and related conferences.

Turning now to the longer term, I stated at the beginning of this speech that the greatest danger facing mankind today is the threat of nuclear war. We will only be safe from this threat when nuclear weapons have been abolished. Our overall objective therefore should be to eliminate all existing nuclear weapons, set in place a means of preventing their reappearance at some time in the future, and replace deterrence with a less threatening and destructive means of avoiding nuclear war.

Contrary to the opinion of some, total nuclear disarmament is not a simple matter to effect. Nuclear weapons now exist in large numbers and have been integrated into the conventional force structures of both sides. However, unless the correct policies are in place, any reliance on a system of non-nuclear deterrence could lead to a further expansion of the arms competition and the development of a new generation of conventional armaments which may be no less destructive than low-yield tactical nuclear weapons.

It therefore becomes imperative to select the `correct' strategies and policies to follow in the short term. It is particularly important that these policies lead toward the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, not away from it.

Additional actions to facilitate progress towards total nuclear disarmament in the longer term should involve establishing a mechanism for facilitating total nuclear disarmament. Initially this would mean seeking significant reductions in nuclear arsenals and reducing the different types of nuclear weapons and forces. Ultimately, we should aim to:

(i) Replace the present system of deterrence by one based solely on the deployment of defensive weapons systems, including defences against ballistic missile attack. Unlike President Reagan's SDI proposal, the ballistic missile defences would be restricted to ground-based systems which would be put in place only after the super-powers-and other nuclear weapon states-had abolished their nuclear stockpiles;

(ii) develop in all countries and among all peoples a belief in the need for disarmament and a commitment by all nations to achieve it. A crucial element in developing such a consensus is really to understand the nature and scope of the threat posed by the existence of nuclear weapons and by modern war generally; and

(iii) transform the focus of international relations from military confrontation to co-operation and non-military competition. This involves improving both the existing super-power relations and the social and economic condition of all nations.

Equally important is the need to reduce the prospect of major conventional war. In the past, the presence of nuclear weapons has served as a restraint against conventional conflict between nuclear weapons States. The removal of, or a significant reduction in, nuclear weapons could possibly lead to an erosion of this restraint.

Before turning to Australia's role, I would like to say a few words regarding one of my major concerns, horizontal proliferation. The Committee heard about the possibility of an `Islamic' bomb and the concerns of many people regarding the spread of nuclear weapons to a number of States not at present in the nuclear school.

Horizontal proliferation could well cause major longterm problems as the entry of more States into the nuclear field complicates our global circumstances. Both vertical and horizontal proliferation are important areas to tackle, however, if one concludes that the super-powers can manage their relationship, then the stopping of nuclear activity among other states, particularly those in sensitive areas, becomes of paramount importance. Further, the accidental start of a global conflict in a similar way to 1914, is more likely if nuclear weapons have a significant horizontal spread over the next few decades.

I wish now to say a few words about Australia's contribution to ensuring peace in the nuclear age. It is a matter of public record that successive Australian Governments have placed increasing emphasis on pursuing disarmament and arms control initiatives at both the international and regional levels. Our continuing efforts and activities in the disarmament and arms control arena are documented in the report and were the principal focus of the submissions that were made in the inquiry.

I believe that it would be fair to say that the majority of submissions from the public were supportive of many of the policies of the Australian Government, particularly those relating to nuclear testing, chemical weapons control, and limiting the extension of the arms race into outer space. It was generally recognised that Australia could only exert a small amount of influence in the super-powers but that we are probably doing more than most equivalent nations in seeking to enhance global peace and security. This is reflected in Australia's standing within the international arms control community and the status we enjoy in the Conference of Disarmament. This is due in no small part to the continuing efforts of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and his Department. The Foreign Minister should be congratulated for his work on disarmament and arms control; in particular, his elevation of the issue to a relatively high level within his Department and the Government since his election in 1983.

Whilst I have already dealt with the question of deterrence, it is worth noting that while many submissions were critical of deterrence they were unable to suggest an alternative means of avoiding nuclear war in the short term. When questioned on this matter, most advocated an approach similar to that of this report. On the other matters, the report makes the following recommendations and observations:

1. that greater publicity be given to Australia's present efforts to achieve global nuclear disarmament, as opposed to arms control;

2. that the Government identify appropriate unilateral initiatives that could be made by each super-power to help break the current impasse in arms control, and exert political pressure on them to undertake such moves;

3. that the concept of a nuclear freeze is a valid means of curbing the development and potentially destabilising effects of new weapons systems and technologies. It should be kept in mind that a freeze needs to be considered in concert with other initiatives or proposals which seek to provide for stable deterrence at reduced levels of armaments;

4. that it is in Australia's interests to continue its alliance relationship with the United States;

5. that Australia should join with other like-minded states to present a concerted view on issues of common concern and to develop means of improving the relationships between the super-powers;

6. that the Government should do more to inform the Australian public at large of disarmament and arms control issues and the rationale for its present policies and approaches; and

7. that the Government establish either a separate body similar to the Office of National Assessment or an office within the Department of Foreign Affairs similar to ADAB which would be responsible to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and which would be required to develop and oversee Australia's disarmament and arms control policies. This Office would also provide specialist advice to the Government on issues relating to disarmament and arms control, and provide liaison with the Australian community.

The report also examines a number of specific policy issues of concern to Australia. These include strategic defences and the ABM Treaty; the Strategic Defence Initiative; verification technologies and anti-satellite warfare; the joint United States-Australian defence facilities; the South Pacific nuclear free zone; uranium mining and Australia's role in the nuclear fuel cycle; and peace education and peace research in Australia. The report's findings and recommendations relating to some of these issues have been dealt with earlier.

The first issue I would like to deal with is verification. Like deterrence, verification is a key consideration in Australia's approach since it provides the justification and rationale for much of what we do and say. It is true that arms control agreements are not possible unless the parties to that agreement can verify their adversaries' compliance with the terms of the agreement. This view underlies the Government's current policy on verification and is acknowledged by the report. It is also true, however, that no arms control agreement is perfectly verifiable. This may be due to the basic limitations of the measuring techniques or because the provisions to be monitored either have not or cannot be defined precisely enough. Thus there will always be risks involved in establishing arms control agreements. The principal issue is to decide how much risk is acceptable. This is largely a matter of judgment and is determined by how much we value arms control and what we think are the motives and intentions of our opponents.

The majority of the Committee believes that monitoring standards should not be so exacting as to foreclose agreements, since such agreements can deliver substantial benefits in terms of limiting the arms competition or channelling it in certain directions. Moreover, these mutual benefits, together with the political costs of violating an internationally recognised agreement, reduce the incentives to cheat.

In line with this view, the report concludes that the verification tail should not be allowed to wag the arms control dog. Verification standards should be sufficient, or adequate, to use official jargon, to prevent violations that would undermine the basic purposes of an agreement or threaten the strategic balance. This level of verification can be achieved in most areas using existing national technical means supplemented by various co-operative measures such as on-site inspections.

I wish to make it quite clear that the Committee is not advocating arms control agreements at any price. Rather it sees agreements becoming increasingly difficult to reach as unnecessarily high obstacles are placed in their path.

The report further notes that Australia's public statements on verification tend to advocate both effective and adequate means of verification without defining exactly what it means by these terms. The report recommends that the Government release a detailed statement on Australia's verification policy including the basic aim of verification, the minimum standards required, means of satisfying these standards, and Australia's own contribution to verification. Given the agreed importance of verification to arms control, the report further argues that Australia should continue to contribute to the development of independent means of monitoring compliance with bilateral and multilateral arms control treaties.

The second issue I want to say a few words about is the South Pacific nuclear free zone. The agreement which was signed on 6 August 1985 has been criticised by some for undermining our current security arrangements by restricting future United States access to the region, and by others for not going far enough in preventing the stationing or transit of nuclear weapons or related facilities in or through the zone. I would argue that the first criticism is not sustainable. As noted in the report, the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty in no way constrains the rights of sovereign powers to operate in international waters and air space. It allows each nation to determine for itself whether it will allow visits by nuclear powered or nuclear armed vessels and aircraft. Further, it does not constrain military co-operation between Australia and the United States.

The second criticism is theoretically true but misplaced. As the report makes clear, the nature of the zone itself-comprising predominantly international waterways-and the fact that any such treaty had to take account of the varying security concerns of the different states involved, made it impossible to establish a more radical proposal. The critics of the agreement tend also to underestimate the political importance of the treaty. As noted in the report, the SPNFZ Treaty plays a useful role in extending the non-proliferation regime and in preventing the future stationing of nuclear weapons within the South Pacific. Subject to the concurrence of the nuclear weapon states, it also formalises United States and Soviet assurances that nuclear weapons would not be used or threatened to be used against zone states. The SPNFZ also re-focuses attention on the role of nuclear weapon free zones, places further pressure on the French to halt nuclear testing in the Pacific, and it could stimulate the development or progress of other zone proposals, especially those affecting the adjoining areas in the Indian Ocean and South East Asia.

I shall make a few comments regarding the coalition's dissent on this matter a little later.

From Australia's viewpoint, one of the major findings of the Committee is the recommendation to establish a separate office for disarmament and arms control within the Government, similar to ONA or ADAB. My preference is for the ADAB model, that is, a separate office within the Department of Foreign Affairs. The new office would report directly to the Foreign Minister in a similar fashion as ADAB does at present, and not through the various channels of the Department as all other areas of foreign affairs must do. I believe the separate office would be able to gather a growing number of highly qualified and professional people in the area of disarmament and arms control. As a united and independent unit they would be more responsive and responsible to the Minister and thus the government of the day. They would also provide specialist advice and provide liaison with the community.

`Effective' and `efficient' are the key words and I believe a separate office for disarmament and arms control would be able to provide these key elements to government.

Unfortunately many people believe that simple notions such as port visits for ships, dismantling the joint facilities or the banning of uranium mining would solve Australia's and the world's nuclear problems. Such simplistic nonsense should be dismissed out of hand. I do not doubt the sincerity of the vast majority of these people, whether they are involved in the peace movement or not. However, there is a small and influential element that deliberately pursues and promotes these topics purely in an attempt to destabilise the Western alliance as a whole.

When people have placed before me the so-called achievements of the New Zealand Government's ship visits policy, I have simply asked: Has the New Zealand policy of the banning of port visits added one morsel to the cause of disarmament or arms control, particularly in our region? The simple answer is, of course: No, it has not.

Simplistic answers are not to be found for this great issue. The report makes that clear and basically supports the government's views on the issues of port visits, the joint facilities and uranium.

A few words regarding the coalition's dissenting report: the coalition's opening paragraph states:

The coalition categorically rejects one of the primary assumptions on which this report is based, namely the equation of the two super-powers on the same moral level. The adoption of such a spurious `even-handedness' defies history, morality and our basic national security interests.

During the three years of the inquiry, that question was never raised by any coalition member of the Committee. The coalition therefore appears never to have had any intention of investigating the many issues involved in disarmament and arms control objectively. They have, quite obviously, viewed the whole subject from the viewpoint of the goodies and the baddies-I assumed we were the goodies. From the opening comments of its dissenting report and indeed a reading of its whole dissent, the coalition seems to indicate that the `west' has never been wrong and the `east' has never been right. It reminds me a little of President Reagan's `evil empire' speech.

The Committee states quite clearly its position on this subject. It is stated at the start of chapter 22, paragraph 22-3, which, in part, says `the report attempts to take, as far as possible, an objective approach'; further, `it can be argued that it is not possible to discuss the threat of nuclear war and the methods of preventing it, without pointing out the vast difference between the member countries of the Warsaw Pact and Western societies'; and finally `Australia is part of a community of nations that shares certain values and ideals and that we should be prepared to defend those values'.

I believe I have made my point. However, I must add that, notwithstanding Australia's natural starting position and its place in the Western alliance, no report could be credible if it did not at least attempt to objectively look at all the issues involved in a subject that affects everyone through the world.

The coalition's dissent on the South Pacific nuclear free zone has a number of incredibly big holes which a reading of the report quickly puts to bed. My major concerns are on page 701, when the coalition states that the treaty, firstly, `creates the conditions for eroding the capacity of the U.S. to match growing Soviet power in the Pacific' and, secondly, `rejects the maintenance support role for U.S. deployment of nuclear-armed ships and aircraft'.

Further on page 702 it states: `It undermines existing security arrangements-particularly ANZUS'.

All three statements are total eyewash and after a careful reading of the report I am sure the majority of primary school students could shoot holes in all of those statements.

As the Chairman of the Disarmament and Arms Control Sub-Committee in both 33rd and 34th Parliaments, I would like to thank the other members of the Sub-Committee for their perseverance and hard work over the course of the inquiry. I am particularly indebted to the Deputy Chairman, Senator Baden Teague from South Australia.

I would like also to thank the members of the present Sub-Committee for their participation and frank expression of sometimes divergent views. These are Senator Crichton-Browne from Western Australia, Senator Jones from Queensland, Senator Hill from South Australia, the member for Sydney, Mr Baldwin, the member for Riverina-Darling, Mr Hicks, the member for Prospect, Dr Klugman, and the member for Calwell, Dr Theophanous.

While the final report contains dissenting views on a number of specific issues, the extent of bipartisan agreement is quite significant given the complexity and scope of the inquiry topic. It should also be noted that the dissents to the report are all from the so-called `Left' and `Right' of the political spectrum. I have therefore concluded that the report will be substantially supported by the vast majority of Australians. As an old political saying states, `If you are being attacked from both extremes of the political fence, you must have done something right'.

Finally, I would like to place on record the Sub-committee's gratitude to those who have assisted in the conduct of this very long arduous, but very important inquiry, and who have contributed to the production of the report. The list, though not exhaustive, includes.

Dr Graeme Cheeseman, the defence adviser to the Committee, who served as specialist adviser to the Disarmament and Arms Control Sub-Committee throughout the inquiry;

Mr Peter Grundy from the Department of Foreign Affairs and formerly of ONA, who assisted the Sub-Committee in its considerations between September 1985 and April 1986;

The Secretary of the Joint Committee, Mr Phil Bergin, for his continual assistance and guidance. The members of the Disarmament and Arms Control Sub-committee secretariat, especially Dr Lee Kerr and Mr Ian Booth, who both served as Secretary to the Sub-Committee, and Ms June Andersen, for their dedication and hard work in editing and preparing the final report; and

All those witnesses who appeared at public hearings and those who made submissions to the inquiry; in particular, Mr Richard Butler, Australia's Ambassador for Disarmament and the officers from the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Defence who briefed the Sub-Committee and provided evidence and submissions on Australia's role.