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Tuesday, 24 March 1987
Page: 1198


Senator SANDERS —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I refer to the announcement by the Minister for Defence, Mr Beazley, that a satellite spy base will be built at Geraldton in Western Australia to monitor Soviet, Chinese and Indonesian satellites. Firstly, under the terms of our intelligence-sharing arrangements, is it not inevitable that the United States will receive full access to the intelligence gathered by the Geraldton base, thus making it a de facto joint facility? Secondly, what role did the United States have in formulating plans for the base, and what role will it play in assisting Australia to design, build and operate the base? Thirdly, and finally, what steps will the Government take to ensure that none of the intelligence passed to the United States from the Geraldton base will be used in star wars, nuclear war plans and other offensive military operations?


Senator GARETH EVANS —Let me comment first on the preface to Senator Sanders's question, which was even more outrageously expressed than his normal contributions in this place, when he said that a satellite spy base would be built at Geraldton to monitor Soviet, Chinese and Indonesian satellites. The announcement of the Minister for Defence concerning the location of the Australian defence satellite communications station was in no way in the terms referred to in the purported paraphrase by Senator Sanders. The Minister's announcement stated the Australian station would enhance our independent intelligence capability. It would contribute to security in our area of strategic interest and it would be totally Australian owned and manned-or `staffed', in deference to Senator Vallentine's preoccupation, and mine these days-by the Defence Signals Directorate.

Consistent with the position taken by this and previous governments on the handling of intelligence matters, no details were provided, nor will they be provided, of the proposed mission of the station. The honourable senator's questions all relate to intelligence matters and, as a consequence, I do not intend to provide, on behalf of the Minister for Defence or any other Minister, detailed responses, again other than to confirm, as I did in answer to an earlier question from Senator Vallentine, that Australia collaborates with the United States on intelligence matters. I can, however, assure the honourable senator that the role of the station has no application in the United States strategic defence initiative program.