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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 3008


Senator MACKLIN —by leave-The Australian Democrats welcome the statement from the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) on the International Year of Peace-Australia's Contribution. I was privileged three or four weeks ago to be in Assisi where there was an international day of prayer for peace at which all the major world religions and ecclesiastic communities gathered to pray that the world be at peace, that the wars that are currently raging around the world-of course, wars are always in continuous progress around the world-may cease and that the major nations around the world which are currently threatening one another with ultimate destruction may come to see that as the insanity that it is.

The Prime Minister's statement rehearses a number of matters, some of which will be the subject of other legislation, as Senator Durack has already said. I do not propose at this time to canvass those. However, I draw attention to some other subjects. On page 5 of the statement the Government raised the matter of chemical weapons. This is a subject which, in fits and starts, appears on the debating table. It is an extremely important subject, probably overshadowed in many ways by the nuclear debate, but I believe that the Prime Minister quite rightly has drawn attention to the problem of chemical weapons in the world and the heinous type of weapons which are currently being prepared.

We believe that the decision by the United States of America to recommence the production of chemical weapons for any possible chemical warfare was a massive retrograde step in moving to the eventual abolition of these weapons. It seems to us that all efforts must be made in this area, that it must not be pushed aside, because of the concentration in terms of nuclear weapons, and that close attention must be paid to this matter. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) has had a personal interest in this matter and has been quite successful in a number of the operations he has been engaged in internationally in getting the attention of various nations around the world to concentrate on this. Australia should support the efforts of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in this regard and I am glad that the Prime Minister has drawn attention to those efforts.