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Tuesday, 2 December 1986
Page: 3164

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(4.08) —I rise for two reasons. First of all I rise because, not unexpectedly, there has been gross misrepresentation by Senator Sanders of both what I have said and what the coalition stands for. He said that I personally was gung ho about the use and export of uranium for all purposes. That is absolute nonsense; it is a corruption of the truth and he knows it. I simply point out, and make it perfectly clear to Senator Georges, that this is not a question of saying that somebody has a monopoly over peace and all others are scurvy knaves. The concept that someone has a monopoly is a conceited falsity. Indeed, anyone who puts that view does not have the maturity to understand that most right thinking people want peace, that there may be different roads to peace and that it might be a good idea occasionally to respect the other fellow's views and walk with him occasionally along that road to peace. So I say that there is no value at all in somebody suggesting that the Opposition may be gung ho for war. I state unequivocally-I speak for all my colleagues and as one who knows something about war and its havoc-that the whole of my parliamentary Party and the coalition have one goal: To achieve and to maintain peace with dignity and a non-nuclear world, a world in which there is also conventional disarmament so that we can have peace, justice and freedom. Anybody who gets up in this place and tries by some little trick to suggest that he has purity at heart and that the others want war, I think, does us a very grave disservice.

My own particular political Party and the coalition are the people who have put in place the real safeguards. I, for example, have been privileged, as Senator Gareth Evans is now privileged, to be the Minister responsible for safeguards. The fact that we may share a belief in respect of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is not surprising, since we share that belief with 134 nations in the world. Senator Sanders talked about a gung ho attitude. Let me just remind him that the Australian Science and Technology Council-the most prestigious scientific body in Australia, headed by Professor Ralph Slatyer, a great conservationist, a great scientist and a great seeker for peace and dignity in this world-has said that it would be in the best interests of peace in this world if Australia exported its uranium in all its market opportunities to all those countries which are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Does Senator Sanders suggest that ASTEC and Professor Slatyer are in fact gung ho and wrong? Does he suggest that everbody is wrong except himself? This is the dissertation of the snake-oil salesman. If ever I have seen the carpetbagger or the snake-oil salesman, I see him in the way that the Australian Democrats approach this matter.

The fact is that the Opposition stands for the maintenance and extension throughout the world of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, preferably to every country on earth; the maximum reinforcement of the safeguards; the observation by them of Australia; and, indeed, the strengthening of the International Atomic Energy Agency. I say: Let nobody in this place say that he has any monopoly or oligopoly on peace. Let us once and for all get out of this chamber this nonsense that somebody over there is standing for peace and some of us are gung ho for war and aggression. We are second to none in our desire for peace.

Let me just put the snake-oil salesmen in their true perspective. What they are saying, and the Minister will have to agree with this, is this: France should not buy its uranium from Australia, that uranium being subject to the most intense safeguards so that it cannot get into weaponry-I notice the Minister nods-but it can go and shop anywhere around the world from another nation where there are no safeguards so that it can get into weaponry. So what they are asking here today is that we allow France to buy uranium to put into weapons. Let us make no mistake about that. The Minister has acknowledged the situation. If one wanted to stop France from getting uranium to put into weapons one would sell it uranium from Australia.

Senator Sanders has said to the Minister that the safeguards are not such that we in Australia could say that no uranium has ever got into weapons. What we can say emphatically is that the safeguards are such that we monitor the whole of the uranium, from its mining and milling through its yellowcake stage and its enrichment, right through the whole process--

Senator Sanders —Right through Russia? Do you say that it is monitored in Russia?

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —This is a lovely situation. I take it that Senator Sanders is going to raise that famous red herring that some of the uranium goes to Russia for enrichment. Is that the kind of red herring we are going to have again-that it goes from Finland to Russia for enrichment? Let us have this nonsense out once and for all. If there is one thing that Russia would not want to do it is to steal some uranium or plutonium from somebody else. Russia has so much plutonium that it does not know what to do with it. In fact, as I said earlier today, it is thinking of setting up an international plutonium bank to retire the plutonium. In fact, anybody would know that, as nuclear missiles are sophisticated and refined, the warheads use less and less plutonium and there is more and more surplus plutonium. The nonsense that Russia would take some uranium or plutonium for itself for weaponry serves only to corrupt the message that is going to the people of Australia. Russia has its own sources of uranium and thorium; it does not need them from anybody else at all. Let us make it perfectly clear first of all that that red herring ought never be allowed to appear again in this place. It not only disgraces the Democrats but it says to the people of Australia: `We are projecting to you an untruth; we are projecting to you a fear that does not exist.' The fact is that the Australian Safeguards Office monitors and audits the uranium through the whole of its cycle.

ASTEC-the gung ho people according to Senator Sanders, because nobody is right except himself, and that of course is the marketability of the snake-oil salesman; where else in the world can one produce snake-oil with such characteristics-says not only that should Australia sell to all those signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that want uranium for peaceful purposes, something which it advocates so that every ounce of it can be monitored but also that we should enrich uranium and go through the nuclear cycle, because the more that a responsible country such as Australia does these things, the less is the risk for the world.

It does nobody any credit at all to indulge in scare tactics. The nuclear threat is an overwhelming scare on its own. What we need to do is to understand what I said earlier: The world now has the knowledge to make nuclear weapons and we cannot take that away. Every country in the world has fissile material, in the sea and on the earth. One does not need to sell the material to anyone who wants to make a bomb. Such people can get it without that. But if we do not sell it, market it and control it around the world, we let the snake-oil salesmen sell it, for their own purposes-the carpetbaggers of this world. We, in fact, would be encouraging France to buy uranium that is not monitored at all. That is the message that is coming from the Democrats today. I repeat: That is the message that is coming from a party whose platform is to abandon ANZUS, abandon the installations so that we have no monitoring for the checking, verification and surveillance of what is going on, to abandon the Western alliance, to abandon the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to leave Australia isolated. Every argument that the Democrats put up is fallacious.

I come to an argument that has been going on here today. In passing, I say to Senator Georges, because I respect so much of his philosophy in these matters: Please understand that others may share the same goal of peace and that they want to achieve this goal; please respect the genuineness of their approach and their policies, and let us walk together on that. So much now of what the right wing of the Australian Labor Party and the coalition think in terms of peace and security is in parallel. The arguments of both sides-certainly in respect of the right wing of the Labor Party-are in parallel. Let us not poke tongues out at each other. If there is to be a message for the International Year of Peace, let it be this: All right thinking people want peace; let there be a respectable dialogue as to the methods of getting that peace.

In the course of this discussion people have said: `We know Labor's policy; Labor's policy is opposed to the exporting of uranium to France'.

Government senators interjecting-

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —Well, I think I heard that; I think I heard the Minister say it. If I did not, I would like to be corrected. I listened to the Budget and I heard Labor's policy stated in the Budget. I ask the Minister to correct me if I am wrong, but Labor's policy in the Budget was that it proposes to export uranium to France-not this Budget, not next Budget and a half, but that that is Labor's future policy. I ask the Minister whether I am wrong in that. Is this just a oncer to balance this Budget, or is Labor's policy now to export to France? How can the Labor Party say that its policy is not to export uranium to France when the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has said that its previous policy to ban it was just a shop window, that it had no legs to run and was just an empty gesture? Is it Labor's policy to ban it and is it an empty gesture? One cannot have it both ways. The Prime Minister is very facile on both sides of the argument and has some skills on this. He has schizophrenic policies in this regard and has said quite clearly that the policy Labor embarked upon was a policy of gesture, of shop window. He said that it could not be enforceable, that it meant nothing to France, it did not punish France. Far more importantly, let it be said, and I repeat it, that what that meant, and what the Democrats are now proposing, is to say to France: `No, you cannot buy our uranium, which will be monitored and you can't put it into weapons, but you can shop all over the world and get it on the cheap, where there is no such monitoring and you can put it into weapons'. What kind of disarmament policy is that? What kind of hypocritical policy is it?

I ask the Minister whether he will help me: Is it the policy of the Labor Party to prohibit the export of uranium to France? Should France understand that at some time in the near or distant future this will stop? Are we to say to those who want uranium from Australia: `No, you cannot have it from us, even though we have the strongest safeguards on earth and we can ensure that you use it only for peaceful purposes, but you are at liberty to shop anywhere you like, get it as secretly as you like, and get it without safeguards'? I cannot think of a more disastrous policy, and that is what the Democrats' amendment would lead to.