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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 3008

Senator DURACK(12.36) —Any speech by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) on the subject of peace is a most important event because there is no question whatever that the subject of peace is the great issue of our time throughout the world. I place on record the Opposition's strong support for the cause of peace and for the work we believe we have done in a bipartisan cause during this International Year of Peace. The reason for the Prime Minister's statement is that it is the last opportunity in this International Year of Peace, 1986, to wrap up the debate that has been going on at a heightened level as a result of that occasion.

We in the Opposition have played our part in the International Year of Peace. We established at the Federal level a peace through security campaign which we have been running throughout Australia through all the State divisions and branches of the Liberal Party of Australia. We stand second to none in our belief that there is no greater moral or political issue than the securing of a just peace. We are most anxious to be able to promote that cause and also to promote our view as to how peace can be achieved. We agree with the lesson of history that peace will never be achieved if free nations unilaterally lay down their arms in the hope that totalitarian dictatorships will do the same. We are concerned that that argument, which is challenged in so many quarters in Australia, will be resisted, will not flourish and, indeed, will be reversed.

It is pleasing to see in this statement that the Government is committed to the same view as to how peace can be achieved. The Prime Minister dismisses those Utopians who are so eager for peace, those who trust the panaceas of international disarmament and isolationism, ignoring the unfortunate history of such policies. Certainly the Government and the Opposition, on this particular matter, have a bipartisan policy even though we may differ in other aspects of the peace issues. We do differ from the Government in the optimistic view it has of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty. This is not the time or place to debate that Treaty. In fact, we will be debating it on Monday next. We agree with the Government's broad policy, particularly the need to maintain ANZUS, to maintain the Western alliance and, in other words, as we see it in the Opposition, to maintain policies to achieve security as the means of achieving peace. In our view, that has been the effective road to peace over the past 40 years.

The need for disarmament is also paramount in our thinking but we believe that this can only be achieved by painstaking negotiations between, particularly, the nuclear powers but assisted and encouraged by other nations in the world such as Australia. Australia is playing a part in encouraging all those developments. We see this as the means, and the only means, of achieving effective peace. Of course, those agreements must lead to verifiable and mutual reductions in armaments. We will continue to give our support to those attempts but we believe that we also must maintain an effective deterrence as a pre-condition of maintaining peace in the world.

We are having a very attenuated debate this morning. I presume that Senator Macklin also wishes to say a few words. This is a subject that should be debated very fully in this chamber. I hope that the Government may be able to find time next week in the last week of our sittings to have a better debate than is possible in the short time we now have at our disposal. Therefore, I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.