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Thursday, 19 February 1987
Page: 235


Senator MacGIBBON(10.58) —I did talk about the technology involved in weapons, but there has been as much research put into human behavioural actions and means of securing command and control of the weapons systems as has gone into the technology. People who handle nuclear weapons are very rigorously screened from a personality point of view; they undergo very rigorous training. There are all sorts of things like permissive active links which require complex and duplicated chains of command before the weapons can be detonated, let alone released. To go down that path is to show one's ignorance of contemporary nuclear technology. I come to a point that is very dear to the hearts of the Australian Democrats and the Australian Labor Party-that is, the comprehensive test ban treaty; the belief that if we ban the testing of nuclear weapons, which is attractive to a lot of us in many ways, somehow or other we will be safer. The need or ability to test nuclear weapons has resulted--


Senator Gareth Evans —On a point of order, Madam Temporary Chair: I do not mind Senator MacGibbon having a word or two on the subject of the test ban treaty, but I suspect that in doing so he will stimulate another debate in this place. This point is of exceedingly marginal relevance to the Bill and the amendment now before us. I ask you to draw his attention to the question of relevance.


Senator MacGIBBON —I hope that I have not opened a Pandora's box on this, but quite simply the ability to test new generations of weapons has resulted in the far safer storage of those weapons than we have had.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Giles) —I suggest that the honourable senator is straying a little wide of the matter under discussion, which is the set of amendments before us. I draw that fact to the attention of the chamber generally. I am sure that there will be an opportunity to discuss the question of a nuclear test ban treaty on some other occasion.