Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 2 December 1986
Page: 3159

Senator POWELL(3.36) —I rise to support the Australian Democrats amendments to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty Bill 1986 which were moved by Senator Sanders, not because they are written in terms of Australian Democrats' policy but because, as has been pointed out in this debate by other honourable senators and as Senator Sanders has pointed out, they have been written in the exact words of Australian Labor Party policy. This was noted with some vehemence by Senator McIntosh who suggested that this had been done simply as a political stunt, that it was hypocritical and that it was done just to make it difficult for Government senators. This is not so. In fact we are trying to help Government senators to do just what Senator McIntosh suggested they should do, by using their own policy.

Senator McIntosh has reminded us that a party needs to be in government to take positive steps, in this case towards nuclear disarmament and peace. One can only agree with him. Presumably-and this has been our presumption-ALP members sitting in government would find their policy as good a starting point as any to take positive steps. Apparently that is not so. I am sure that a great many Australian voters agreed with Senator McIntosh that the ALP needed to be in government to take positive steps towards nuclear disarmament. No doubt they will be disappointed, as will the Australian Democrats, with the failure of the Government to support these amendments.

At the outset I want to make it clear that our policy, as distinct from ALP policy which these amendments represent, as other honourable senators have noted, indeed calls for no uranium mining at all and no uranium sales to anyone. It is not the case that we are limiting ourselves. As I have said, we are attempting here to be of assistance. In the debate on these amendments we have seen in operation once again that grand coalition that was identified recently by the Australian Financial Review which, however, inaccurately suggested that that grand coalition does not or will not occur very often. It seems to me that it is almost par for the course.

The eulogies delivered on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in this debate by Senator Sir John Carrick on the one side and Senator Gareth Evans on the other side bore an absolutely amazing resemblance each to the other. The simple facts of that Treaty clearly demonstrate its failure to achieve non-proliferation. On this planet we now have 50,000 nuclear weapons of all kinds, from the big blockbusters down to the little tactical ones that could be used in some kind of limited nuclear war. Those are the weapons which are in the hands of the official nuclear weapons states. That is horizontal proliferation, to the level of 50,000 weapons. Then there is vertical proliferation. In the hands of this Treaty we have not even been able to ensure that we are not getting to a stage at which a number of other nations have nuclear capability-nations of such instability as South Africa, Israel, India, Pakistan, China and who knows who else. This, of course, puts the whole world at enormous risk. The safeguards mentioned in the debate on this amendment and lauded on both sides, and the monitoring that we are to believe is undertaken by France of the uranium we sell to it, do not give me very much confidence or comfort. Again, we must make clear the nature of that monitoring which arises out of the nature of the product which we are selling. Sure, it is monitored-in much the same way as is the money I invest in my bank. I can put in a certain amount of dollars and I am quite happy that the bank is monitoring my dollars and that the dollars are there; the bank notifies me of that. But when I want to withdraw a dollar, I have no illusions whatsoever that the dollar I withdraw is the one that I put in. It is exactly the same situation as that of the monitoring of our uranium sold to France or to any other country.

We have been accused of opportunism in this amendment. Nothing could be further from the truth. Senator McIntosh actually suggested that we were trying to appeal to our dwindling constituency. We may be trying to appeal to a dwindling constituency, but it is not ours; it is the constituency of the ALP and of the Liberal-National Party coalition which appears to be dwindling. Both sides are addressing much attention at the moment to how to get back the vote, particularly of the young people who have had enough of this. It will take more than dropping a few names of pop stars and sports idols into speeches, as the Liberal strategists have proposed, and more than sending the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the Treasurer (Mr Keating) out into the wider world, even into the supermarkets, to win back the votes of the discerning voters-I am pleased to see that it is the young people who have been most discerning-who have had enough of spineless compromises on nuclear and other issues on which they have been so badly let down. I very strongly support this amendment and I categorically state that it is not our policy to be so compromising. Our policy is for a total ban on the mining and the exporting of uranium. That, of course, is our ultimate goal.