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Wednesday, 3 December 1986
Page: 3285

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(5.19) —The Senate has before it a massive report of very great significance by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence of this Parliament. It is a report in two volumes, one largely containing the recommendations, the other containing the discourse or the analysis. I have to confess that in the time available I have read the first; I have had no chance to read the second. I rise basically to make a plea to the Government that this report should not simply disappear from the Notice Paper but that it should be made the subject of a major debate in the autumn session of Parliament so that there can be a full understanding of it. The Minister for Veterans' Affairs (Senator Gietzelt) has nodded and I accept his undertaking by that acknowledgment that that will be so.

That being so, I commend the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on its work. It has produced a majority report and a minority report. A community of viewpoint has been largely established within this Parliament on the whole concept of peace and disarmament. On very major issues the government of the day, the Australian Labor Party, and the Liberal and National parties have found a community of journey and a community of action. I commend that greatly. In the majority report there is an absolute understanding of the vital nature of the ANZUS Treaty. It is good to know that the great majority of members of this Parliament find themselves in agreement that it is essential to Australia's defence and security, and indeed to the basis of stability in the world, that the ANZUS Treaty should be upheld and strengthened. I have to pass sad comment that that is not the overall and universal viewpoint of this chamber or of this Parliament. The sad fact is that there is a minority view here, the Australian Democrats view.

Senator Georges —It is a sound fact; not a sad fact.

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —Should I take it from the interjection that Senator Georges does not favour the ANZUS Treaty?

Senator Georges —Not exactly. I think it should be re-examined.

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —Senator Georges has made his comment. I say it is a sad fact that we do not have unanimity in this Parliament in support of the ANZUS Treaty. If that means that the Australian Democrats and Senator Georges do not support it I am deeply sad. It is certain that the Australian Democrats do not support it; I was not aware that there is a breach in the Labor Party ranks on it.

Senator Gietzelt —Seek leave to continue your remarks and make it an order of the day for the next day of sitting.

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —No, I have some minutes yet in which to speak, unless the Minister has some urgency.

Senator Gietzelt —I thought you wanted to debate it at length at some other time.

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —I said that I wanted a major debate but I wanted to sketch out the importance of the subject. I can understand the desire of the Government to have this debate interrupted at this moment and I do not intend to support that desire. What I was saying ought to have been commended by the Minister in this chamber. I was saying that it is good that there should be agreement over most of the area between the Government, the Liberal Party and the National Party. For the life of me, I cannot understand why a Minister would want to interrupt on that note. But of course it has been exposed that the Labor Party has chinks in it on this matter. I am saddened to think that inside the Labor Party there are people who doubt or oppose the ANZUS Treaty.

The report indicates that in seeking disarmament and peace there should be first of all multilateral disarmament. It rejects unilateral disarmament. It points out that if only one side disarms that leaves it totally vulnerable. It is important that there is majority agreement basically on multilateral disarmament, that there should be substantial, progressive, verifiable and equivalent disarmament between the great powers so that they step by step disarm and take out their major nuclear weaponry until, desirably, there is no nuclear weaponry. There should be a similar approach on conventional weapons. The Liberal and National parties totally commend that. The majority viewpoint is that the deterrent of the ugly phrase `mutually assured destruction' at this moment is the only facility available to preserve the world against nuclear war. It suggests that the world powers should be balanced-however much the threshold can be lowered-so that no country can make a pre-emptive strike against another because it knows that there will be retaliation and substantial and even lethal damage to itself. There is a recognition that no one can win a nuclear war. The Liberal and National parties absolutely support the view that a nuclear war must never be fought. The majority of senators from both sides recognise that for the time being the deterrent is the only substantial available method of keeping the peace-a sad situation.

Senator Georges —Why don't you catch up with events?

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —If Senator Georges wants to get up subsequently to attack his Party and its policies he is at liberty to do so. I wish only that others in his party who hold similar views would do the same. It is sad that this is so. One of the unfortunate aspects of the report is that there is disagreement on the one proposal that has been put forward in this world to replace nuclear aggressive defence-the nuclear missiles which exist today-with a non-nuclear defence system. The Liberal and National parties want to get rid of all nuclear weapons and to replace them with non-nuclear defence systems-not aggressive but defensive systems. The strategic defence initiative, the SDI, or so called Star Wars concept, proposes ways of rendering nuclear weapons obsolete and unworkable by stopping them from being launched. By so doing it would create a non-nuclear defence system to remove nuclear weapons from the world.

The American Government has said: `For those of you who are cynics, we give this promise: We will not do any development past the point of research. If the research proves that the system is incapable of being effective we will not develop it at all and at that point you will be no better or worse off, the deterrent will be functioning in the world. If the research proves that it is workable we will step by step exchange all the information with the Russians and others. We will undertake an equivalent disarmament of our weaponry with the Warsaw Pact countries. We will at all times keep them fully informed about this so that there can be no one-upmanship and we will progressively disarm'. I cannot think of anything more shiney eyed in its idealism and more in the hearts of the Australian people. It is sad that the Labor Party opposes the proposal. Let us try to find a solution that does not depend upon nuclear weapons. At the moment the Labor Party rests purely on keeping the peace in the interminable future by the use of nuclear weapons. That is the ugliest thing in the world. We want to get total disarmament. This is too big a subject for a 10-minute discourse. I rose to speak now to stress the enormity of it and to express the view that it is good that we have come so far in parallel; it is sad that on a number of significant things we vary.