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Friday, 12 September 1969

Mr GORTON - The honourable member's question is based, I believe, on his own belief and my own belief that Communist China is a country which is a dogmatic supporter of the hard Communist line - that Communism and freedom cannot live together side by side in the world and that Communism must be spread over the world by all means including force. I believe that this country is giving all indications and has been giving all indications that that is the policy to which it adheres. We would, of course, like to see it abandon such a policy, but 1 speak of what I see the matter to be at the moment.

With regard to the question about a nuclear free zone, I have never been able to understand what was meant by a 'nuclear free zone'. If what is meant is an area in which no nuclear weapons are stationed at all, then clearly the Southern Hemisphere could not be a nuclear free zone, could not be policed because clearly there would be Russian, Chinese and other submarines armed with nuclear weapons. Quite apart from that, the whole proposition appears to be something of a dream proposition because anybody from outside the zone is able to deliver weapons into the zone whereupon it immediately ceases to become a nuclear free zone. I have never been able to understand at all what the proposition once put forward - and perhaps still sustained - by the Opposition means. In relation to the nuclear non-proliferation treat}' to which I think the honourable member referred, we would need - and this is a matter of well known knowledge - to be assured in our own minds of a number of points but the most significant one would be that the signature and ratification of this treaty would in no way impair the safety of Australia. We are not so satisfied and until we are so satisfied we would not sign the treaty.

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