Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 1 April 1987
Page: 1561


Senator SANDERS(10.05) —by leave-I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have my second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

This Bill represents the first attempt to establish parliamentary control over foreign bases on Australian soil. It requires the Government to wind up operations at the Joint Defence Space Research Facility-better known as Pine Gap-by terminating the agreement under which it operates here.

This is the first in a series of Bills which the Australian Democrats will introduce to remove all foreign bases from Australian soil, including Nurrungar and North West Cape.

The Australian Democrats believe that it is high time that Australia was governed in the interests of Australians; foreign bases are not in our interests. Pine Gap, North West Cape, Nurrungar and others are integral parts of the United States nuclear war machine. They threaten the world with holocaust, and make Australia a nuclear target.

The Government is taking this threat seriously enough to be drawing up civil defence plans to cope with an attack on the bases. These plans are only good for salving the consciences of politicians and those in the military who have exposed us to this risk. They can not protect the public; civil defence against nuclear attack is a dangerous fantasy.

The Government and Opposition claim that the bases contribute to nuclear deterrence, which they say keeps the peace. The theory of deterrence is that each side will launch a massive nuclear attack in response to a first strike by the other. This is an appalling policy; it threatens to kill billions of people and destroy the global environment in the name of defence. It is immoral and illegal, and Australia should have no part in it.

But in any case, deterrence is dead. Instead, the United States-and probably the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics-has plans to use nuclear weapons during a previously non-nuclear conflict. They do not intend to sit and wait to be attacked with nuclear weapons before using theirs. In fact, the United States has had a formal blueprint for launching a nuclear first strike since the dawn of the nuclear age. It is called the Single Integrated Operational Plan-SIOP for short.

The Government and Opposition also say that the bases contribute to the United States' ability to verify arms control treaties, which they believe also keeps the peace. The best response is to look at the dismal history of arms control, which has done nothing to reverse or even curb the nuclear arms race. Verification has been manipulated to help weaken and destroy arms control agreements, setting back the search for peace rather than advancing it.

There is no doubt that treaties do need to be verified. However, the US and USSR are not the countries which should be doing it. Australia should be contributing to an international disarmament monitoring agency, which could not be manipulated for political purposes. Hosting the bases is a completely unhelpful contribution to verification.

Perhaps the most powerful reason that the bases enjoy political support in Australia is the belief in an economic quid pro quo. In other words, if we allow the bases to stay, then we will get preferential economic treatment from the United States of America.

This notion has taken a severe beating as a result of the wheat war, in which the US is paying no heed whatsoever to Australia's economic interests. They are unlikely to do so in the future, as they try to fund a massive military budget through exports from a declining economy. There is no economic kickback from the bases.

Having decided that the bases are contrary to our interests, it is quite another matter to try and get rid of them. This Bill seeks to direct the Australian Government to use the termination clause of the current agreement covering Pine Gap. This clause states that 12 months notice to quit can be given any time after 19 October 1986, meaning that this Bill could be acted on as soon as it became law.

This assumes that Parliament has the right to direct the Government to give the U.S. notice to quit. But treaties are made and broken under the external affairs power, which resides in the Executive Council-the Governor-General, Prime Minister and Cabinet-and not in Parliament. However, Parliament does have constitutional power over defence matters, for which purpose the bases exist. It is arguable, therefore, that Parliament can remove the bases, but it is not certain. It may be that this question can only be resolved by a test case in the High Court.

As well as requiring the Pine Gap agreement to be terminated, the Bill also requires all US personnel working at the base to leave. It provides for American equipment to be shipped back to the US, and also allows for an agreement between Australia and the US to wind up operations.

Finally, the Bill prevents the Government from renegotiating the agreement during the 12 months after which notice has been given. This is an important provision, because a renegotiated agreement could include a long period during which the agreement cannot be terminated.

The Pine Gap agreement has included two non-terminable periods of 10 years. In other words, past Australian governments have signed away control over the base for a total of 20 years. This is a shameful abdication of control which should never happen again.

Conservatives in this country have a knee-jerk reaction to any talk of closing the bases. Nuclear winter will get us all even if we are not a nuclear target, they cry. Getting rid of the bases is pointless isolationism which will not protect Australians from the effects of a nuclear war.

This argument misses the point completely. Removing the bases is not simply a health and safety measure. It is a political act. It would demonstrate that Australia is a sovereign nation, and not the servant of one of the two most dangerous nations on earth.

If we had the courage to ban all foreign bases from Australian soil, the world would stand and take notice of Australia's views on peace and disarmament. At the moment the nations of the world nod politely when we talk-if they bother to listen at all-and smile behind their hands. We are too compromised to be taken seriously.

Removing the bases would not be isolationism-quite the reverse. It would give Australia a credible voice in world affairs. At present, the Government cannot criticise US military policy because it is under the United States' thumb, and it cannot criticise Soviet military policy because to do so would be hypocritical. It is a little difficult to protest loudly about the Soviet presence at Cam Ranh Bay while saying nothing about US bases in the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Micronesia, and, of course, Australia.

The US alliance is not compatible with an independent foreign policy. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty. Because the Hawke Government bent over backwards to allow US nuclear weapons to transit through this fake nuclear free zone, it lost an opportunity to lock the Soviet Union out forever as well.

The Australian Government believes that Australia can influence the peace process most by staying loyal to the United States. But the fact is that nuclear disarmament will not happen until the so-called super-powers are forced to do something by international opinion. They are not going to act out of goodwill, because the nuclear threat serves a useful purpose, namely, alliance control. While they continue their endless negotiations in Geneva, their smaller allies dutifully stay in line to avoid disrupting this delicate process.

However, alliance control can only work if, while the negotiations go on, the actual threat escalates. If the negotiations were to succeed in reducing the threat of war, there would be less need for military alliances. To stay on top of the international heap, the US and USSR must appear to be doing something about disarmament without actually succeeding.

This is precisely what is happening today. No agreement covering nuclear disarmament or even arms control has been signed since SALT 2 in 1979. That treaty was never ratified, and was abandoned last year by the United States. Another major treaty, the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, will be grossly violated by the first test of Star Wars weapons outside the laboratory. The Soviet Union has helped to set the stage for US violations of these treaties by pushing each of them to their limits.

Meanwhile, the nuclear weapons arsenals of both countries are burgeoning. Plans for a `limited' nuclear war are being drawn up, which if executed would result in a global holocaust. Highly accurate nuclear missiles are being developed and deployed to support these plans. They include the Tomahawk and SS-N-21 cruise missiles, the Trident-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile, and the MX, Midgetman, SS-X-24 and SS-X-25 inter-continental ballistic missiles.

Because the arms race is really about alliance control, it follows that there will be no point in building more bombs if enough countries leave alliances. New Zealand has given a lead to the rest of the world. Australia should go next.

For the record, I want to describe what Pine Gap does, as far as we know.

Pine Gap's most important role is gathering and decoding radio communications intercepted by satellites hovering above the equator. The satellites are from the Rhyolite, Argus, Chalet and Magnum programs, and are amongst the most secret of the United States' surveillance satellites.

They have been described as electronic vacuum cleaners, which suck up radio transmissions across the electromagnetic spectrum, from the Soviet Union, China and other Asian countries. The transmissions are decoded using powerful computers at Pine Gap, and the decoded messages are sent to the US by satellite or radio link.

Pine Gap is essential to the planning and execution of any war in the Pacific region involving the United States. It allows the US to monitor ship and troop movements, from which the Soviet Union's military readiness can be assessed. Pine Gap also allows the air defence radar network on the Soviet east coast to be mapped. Gaps in this network can be identified for bombers and cruise missiles to pass through undetected to their targets.

Pine Gap also monitors telemetry from the Soviet Union's ballistic missile tests, for the purposes of verifying SALT 2. It verifies the ABM Treaty by measuring the characteristics of Soviet early warning radars.

It should be understood that verification is only a secondary function of Pine Gap, which is first and foremost a military base. In any case, as I mentioned before, SALT 2 is dead, and the ABM Treaty is dying. Furthermore, verification as practised by the US and USSR has become just another pawn in the competition between those two countries.

A key example of this is the United States' allegations that the phased-array radar at Krasnoyarsk in the Soviet Union violates the ABM Treaty. While there is no doubt that it is a technical breach, it does not violate the Treaty's spirit. This has been acknowledged by the CIA and the British Intelligence. However, the Reagan Administration is persisting with the claim to prepare the ground for the complete destruction of the ABM Treaty by Star Wars.

As I mentioned before, Australia should not be involved in helping either the US or the USSR verify arms control agreements. Instead, the Government should be promoting the establishment of an international disarmament monitoring agency, or IDMA for short, an IDMA would not be under super-power control, and would prevent the manipulation of verification for political purposes.

However, if anyone is worried about the US losing its ability to verify Soviet radars and missile tests, he need not fear. The US could compensate for the loss of Pine Gap by placing more low-orbit ferret satellites in space. Ferret satellites are not monitored at Pine Gap or any other base in Australia, and the US already has plans to increase the number of them in orbit.

There have been suggestions in the past that Pine Gap itself could be taken out of US control and handed to an IDMA for verification purposes. This is not a realistic suggestion, as it would require the active technical co-operation of the US. They are about as likely to help out as they are to throw open the CIA's files to inspection by the KGB.

There have also been suggestions that the base be handed over to Australian control. The US again would never agree to this, but even if it did, all that would happen is that Australia would be directly involved in nuclear war preparations, rather than indirectly as we are now. Pine Gap exists for American purposes; Australian control would only mean installing a new monkey, without changing the organ grinder.

The Government has often claimed that Pine Gap serves Australian purposes, by giving us access to intelligence gathered by the base. While I am sure a great deal of the intelligence gathered on the Soviet Union and China is interesting, I doubt that much of it is directly relevant to our security needs. The intelligence Australia needs is from our nearest neighbours, which I presume is one of the reasons for establishing the spy base at Geraldton.

In any case, we should learn the lesson that the US is a fickle sharer of intelligence. Christopher Boyce, and other CIA employees have revealed that intelligence flows from Pine Gap to Australia were virtually cut off during the Whitlam years because the US did not like the colour of our government. If this Government is serious about achieving defence self-reliance, it should not be relying on the US to supply intelligence.

In conclusion, Australia, and the world, would be better off if Pine Gap were to be dismantled. The cause of peace, nuclear disarmament and Australian sovereignty would be helped enormously. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Robertson) adjourned.