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Defence exports review vindicates opposition's stand

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SENATOR PETER DURACK, QC Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Shadow Minister for Defence


Reports that the Government will review defence export guidelines next week vindicate the Opposition's stand on this issue.

In view of the Government's mishandling of the issue last year and the confusion created about the guidelines, the Opposition initiated its own review of defence export guidelines some ^months ago.

The Shadow Minister for Defence, Senator Peter Durack, said that the review was well under way and had shown that defence industry is worried about Labor's willingness to support defence exports, even though this is essential for keeping a viable defence industry in Australia.

In reviewing the export guidelines, Senator Durack said it was necessary to give more explicit guidance to companies on why some exports would not be permitted.

It is difficult to see the logic in the current system which bans exporting equipment to Israel but approved it to go to Iraq before its invasion of Kuwait.

It will be necessary to do more than simply make a few

administrative changes to the export procedures. The Government needs to make the current approval system more open, it needs to heal the rift between Defence and Foreign Affairs and ensure that

all agencies concerned support the final policy.

Senator Ray should also make a statement showing that the

Government continues to support defence exports as part of maintaining a viable defence industry.


March 8, 1991. (13)

More Information: Peter Jennings (06) 277 3725



Telephone: 09/221 1277 06/277 3725. Facsimile: 09/221 3350 06/277 3169


The Government's public comments on defence exports have been muddled and contradictory. Some examples follow:

On the Mirage sale to Pakistan

Ray: "The Government has said that it's somewhat concerned by that sale. It was impossible though, given the time table of documents etcetera for us to intervene"

National Press Club, 6 February 1991.

Fact: The Government was the authoritv which approved the sale.

Ray: "The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the

Department of Defence liaise closely on policy

concerning defence exports. The sale of the Mirage aircraft was in accordance with Government policy and implemented with both Departments in accordance with

that policy."

Hansard (Senate) 9 May 1990

Evans: "We did not in fact know, as a foreign affairs

department, because of a small breakdown in

communications, that the [Mirage] contract was actually being brought to finality at the time. It was only effectively after the event that we knew, and that created a sensitive situation with which you are


Senate Estimates Committee B Hearings 11 September 1990 (p. B29)

Ray: "... the agreement of the Department of Foreign

Affairs and Trade is always obtained in regard to the disposal of surplus defence equipment and this

included the sale of the Mirage aircraft to Pakistan."

Hansard (Senate) 22 August 1990 (p. 1949)

Evans: " was only after irrevocable commitments had

finally been entered into in Islamabad that we [DFAT] became aware in Canberra that this had actually

happened. ... We were confronted with something of a fait accompli [by Defence]."

Press Conference transcript, New Delhi, 3 August 1990.

Ray on defence exports.../2

Ray: "One of the things I've been most pleased about coming to this portfolio is the increasing co-operation that there's been on all issues between Foreign Affairs and Defence Departments."

National Press Club, 6 February 1991.

On the sale of aircraft parts to Iraq

Ray: "We were selling trainer parts to Iraq. Well, there

was a proposal to sell trainer parts to Iraq that was knocked over in the long run."

Press Conference, Parliament House, 1 February 1991.

Fact: It was not just a proposal, Senator Ray approved the sale on 28 May 1990. UN mandatory sanctions stopped the sale from going ahead.

Hansard (Senate) Question Without Notice 22 August, 1990 (p. 1948)

On Israel and the Middle East

Ray: "Israel is not a country that we sell arms to. It has

been debarred or barred for a number of years."

Press Conference, Parliament House, 1 February 1991.

Ray: "Israel has not been particularly picked out as a

country. . . it is simply the region we are talking


"Hansard (Senate) Question Without Notice 13 February, 1991 (p. 416)

Ray: At the Press Club (February 6), Senator Ray said that there was no specific ban on Israel, but rather a ban on selling "into that general region"

Fact: In 1989-90, Australia exported defence equipment to the following Middle Eastern countries: Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Nearby Somalia and

Turkey also had export approvals.

Defence Department answers to Senate Estimates Committee B questions 17 September, 1990.

Ray on defence exports.../3

On the Standing Interdepartmental Coimnittee on Defence Exports

Ray: "We've also set up an Interdepartmental Committee

which every proposed export proposal goes to first of all..."

National Press Club, 6 February, 1991

Fact: " Meetings [of the Committee] have been primarily

concerned with policy issues rather than consideration of export applications..."

Hansard (Senate) Question On Notice 6 March 1991 (p. 1348)

Fact: Having said that the Committee considered every

application, Ray later said that the $450 million deal he rejected in January 1991 "was not sufficient" to warrant holding a formal committee meeting. But in 1989-90 total defence exports were worth only $157 million.

Hansard (Senate) 13 February, 1991 (p. 419.)

Ray: At the Press Club Senator Ray said 'no' when he was

asked if Senator Durack was correct in saying that the Standing Interdepartmental Committee on Defence Exports had met only once in 1990.

National Press Club, 6 February 1991.

Fact: The Committee met only once in 1990 - on 27 June.

Hansard (Senate) Question On Notice 6 March 1991 (p. 1349.

On the administration of the Defence export guidelines

Ray: "No. I don't believe we've been any tighter in my

administration than my predecessor."

Press Conference, Parliament House, 1 February 1991.

Ray: (On the Standing Interdepartmental Committee on

Defence Exports) "Its guidelines were last reinforced around about November, October/November last year..."

Same press conference.

Ray on defence exports.../4

On the value of defence exports

Ray: "I think its nearer 300 [million annually] at the


Press Conference, Parliament House, 1 February 1991.

Fact: The last year for which we have complete data is 1989­ 90, when we sold $157 million.

Defence Department answers to Senate Estimates Committee B questions 17 September, 1990.

Senator Peter Durack Shadow Minister for Defence

March 8, 1991