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Monday, 23 February 1987
Page: 479

Senator HILL(10.29) —Thank you, Mr President. There does not seem to be a lot of time remaining tonight, but it is worth while to look at the subject matter of the debate. We are debating the reasons why it is necessary and urgent that the defence statement brought down by the Government be debated in the Senate today. One reason is that it deals with the subject matter of defence in the South Pacific. It is the view on this side of the chamber that there is probably no more important matter that the Senate could debate than the question of Australia's defence capacity and its defence obligations.

Senator Vigor —What about plant variety rights?

Senator HILL —The Australian Democrats say that they regard plant variety rights as more important than defence. That is typical of the priorities of the Democrats. It is the view on this side of the chamber that there is no more important subject that we could debate than what should be our role and responsibility in matters of defence in the South Pacific.

Mr President, you will be aware of why it is urgent that this matter be debated on this occasion. You will be aware of the complexities of the subject of the Soviet Union's intentions in the South Pacific and of Mikhail Gorbachev's speech in Vladivostok last year in which he flagged the intention of the Soviet Union to play a new role in the South Pacific-to take a much greater role in affairs in the South Pacific, particularly through means of trade, aid, diplomatic measures, cultural exchanges, scientific exchanges, and so on, and through that to gain greater influence in the newly independent Pacific states. Mr President, you will be aware that what is to follow in the traditional Soviet way of doing things is the gradual projection of power-

The PRESIDENT —Order! It being 10.30 p.m., pursuant to sessional order, I put the question:

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.