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Tuesday, 2 December 1986
Page: 3160


Senator GEORGES(3.42) —Before the lunch break I was on my feet talking about the amendments before the Committee and about my view of those amendments. I indicated that I was sympathetic to the intention of the Australian Democrats-to remind the Australian Labor Party of its basic policy. I had made some comments about the Rambo approach of the Opposition to matters of peace and disarmament.


Senator Crichton-Browne —Rambo?


Senator GEORGES —How else can it be described? Senator Crichton-Browne was in here this morning sabre-rattling and carrying on as if we were back in 1914 and in the 1930s. He goes on and on with the same old approach to a very serious problem that mankind faces.


Senator Crichton-Browne —What do you think the Soviets are doing in the South Pacific? Do you think they are there to look after my interests?


Senator GEORGES —I suggest that if the honourable senator supported this Bill, or if this Bill had been put in an honest fashion and we were to have a nuclear free zone in the Pacific, we would exclude all nuclear powered vessels from the ports and the seas of the area. There would be no exceptions. The Government's proposition, as I indicated this morning, is the beginning of a change to support a nuclear free zone or area, be it a municipality, a city, or even this place. It is a redirection of thinking, in the right direction, to change the processes which lead us to destruction. That is the point I was endeavouring to make. The problem with the Government's proposition is that it is inconsistent in that it proposes a worthwhile initiative, on the one hand, and denies it on the other-in that the Government has allowed the mining and the export of uranium. It has allowed the export of uranium to France at the same time as it criticises France's testing in the Pacific. It allows the porting of nuclear vessels in Australia. Yet it puts a proposition in support of a nuclear free zone. It cannot be a nuclear free zone unless the other positions are also taken. The Democrats have a point in endeavouring to re-establish the position of the Government as it ought to be.

I was also saying this morning that there is a change in world affairs, a very promising change, and we should be encouraging that fact. The great leaders are beginning to meet and to talk. As they talk, person to person, there is hope for the rest of us. We ought to be concerned that there is interference in what they are doing. It is an interference and an undermining of their positions, and that is to be regretted. That undermining is an extension of the debate that takes place here. We are forgetting that there need to be substantial changes, and that those substantial changes are taking place. Events are passing us by. We are in a little backwater fighting the battles of the past in the Senate, attacking one another, not realising, of course, that it has got beyond the petty disputation that takes place in the Senate. For that reason, I would very much like to see before this Senate a proposition which would ban the export and mining of uranium. I am now in a position where I would support such a proposition.

I would also like to see a Bill before the Senate which would reimpose a ban on the export of uranium to France. I would support that proposition. We are here, today, faced with a rather tortuous initiative by the Democrats which will in a way impede the little good that the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty Bill does do. The Bill endeavours to establish the concept of a nuclear free zone, irrespective of the fact that other decisions compromise that. It does do that. That Democrats' amendment seems to impede the passage of that legislation.


Senator Sanders —I shall explain it.


Senator GEORGES —I am sorry. I have been scratching my head about the Democrats' proposition as it is not clearly understandable. It may be because I am dumb, but nevertheless it is not clearly understandable. Therefore, if it is not clearly understandable to people like me, it must be defective. If it is defective and is likely to impede the passage of this Bill it ought not be supported.


Senator Sanders —I shall explain it to your total satisfaction.


Senator GEORGES —I hope the honourable senator endeavours to do so, and the debate might get to a reasonable level-although I notice that Senator Crichton-Browne is stirring himself into further debate. I suggest that he forget about the strong attacks he has made on a variety of people, especially people in the peace movement, and that he start to be a little more understanding of what the peace movement is endeavouring to do. What the peace movement has achieved in the past five years is to make governments rethink. There was a government and a leader of a government who said that those who support the peace movement had nowhere else to go but to support the government. They found somewhere else to go.


Senator Crichton-Browne —How does that influence Reagan?


Senator GEORGES —President Reagan, to his credit, has changed his position remarkably over the last five years. I would suggest that it is possibly because of the strength of the peace movement in the United States and the fact that the peace movement can now influence government to support a nuclear freeze. The peace movement and those who support the peace movement have forced the leaders of the super-powers to consult and to talk as people, not as heads of government. As I said before, what worries me is the undermining of that position. We should be grateful that Reagan, in spite of the pressures imposed upon him and the limitations of his own basic position, has been prepared to talk. We also ought to be grateful for the emerging new approach of the Soviet Union. There is hope there.

We ought to press for and support that hope, and look very critically at those who are endeavouring to undermine those initiatives, especially the smaller nations which, in spite of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, are testing their own devices and imprisoning those who are prepared to reveal the fact that they are engaging in that sort of research. We ought to be concerned now with the machinations, intrigues and attitudes of these smaller powers which, incidentally, remind me of the attitude of this Opposition-gung ho, let us get at it, let us fight it out, let us knock them down when we see them, and it is better to be dead and right than to live in peace. I suggest to Senator Sir John Carrick that, when we come to look at it, that is really--


Senator Sir John Carrick —You have never heard us say that. You have never heard me say that at all.


Senator GEORGES —I am just testing out the honourable senator to see whether or not I misunderstood what he has been saying. What Senator Crichton-Browne has said is fairly clear, that we ought to get out there and fight it out tomorrow.


Senator Crichton-Browne —No, I didn't.


Senator GEORGES —He said something of the sort. That is the impression I got.


Senator Crichton-Browne —No, I said I don't approve of the--


Senator GEORGES —Well, obviously, so what does he suggest we do-take up a gun and start shooting?


Senator Crichton-Browne —No, have constructive deterrents.


Senator GEORGES —`Deterrents' is an old fashioned term. He knows well enough that deterrence has passed. Both super-powers are determined to place themselves in a position where they can fight a nuclear war and survive, no matter what the cost. I believe that the United States' view is very clearly in that direction. I know that there are militarists on both sides and I know that militarists will have their own way. That is a danger. Produce the weapon and the systems and the militarists will want to try them out. The consequences of that are very clear, even to Senator Crichton-Browne. They are certainly clear to Senator Sir John Carrick because I know that he reflects on these matters and that he is concerned about the inevitability of universal destruction. All I am saying is: Let us forget about the arguments and disagreements and get down to some constructive way in which we can improve the cause of peace in a meaningful way. One of the meaningful ways might be to support nuclear free zones, which this particular proposition put by the Government endeavours to do.