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Palm Sunday peace rallies: disarmament message

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15 April 1984

NEWS RELEASE Embargoed u n t i l midnight 14 April 1984


Following is the text of a message from the M inister for

Foreign Affairs/· Mr B i l l Hayden MPz to the Palm Sunday peace r a l l i e s :

On this Palm Sunday/ when thousands of Australians w i l l be gathering to demonstrate th e ir demand for peace and disarma­ ment/ I want you to know that the Government shares that commitment and that i t places a high p r i o r it y on policies

for peace/ arms control and disarmament.

The most pressing area is the nuclear arms race. The Govern­ ment believes that the United States and Soviet Union should resume as soon as possible th e ir negotiations on lim itin g and reducing nuclear weapons. I t has urged both the United

States and the Soviet Union to consider th e ir prime responsi­ b i l i t y to humanity. We believe that the current level of

nuclear stockpiles must be reduced sub stantially without pre­ judicing the legitimate security interests of e i t h e r / and that

we must a l l work for th e ir ultimate elim ination .

We have been vigorously pursuing the conclusion of a compre­ hensive nuclear test ban tr e a ty . Such a tre a ty would be a

major b a rrier against the spread of nuclear weapons and against further spirals of the nuclear arms race.

We are also working through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. As a party to

this treaty Australia has a binding obligation not to acquire

nuclear weapons. We w il l honour that obligation and we w i l l

continue work to have more countries jo in the 124 nations which have accepted the same obligation and the related in te rn atio n a l safeguards.

We are also working in other areas to achieve progress in arms

control such as the negotiation of a new convention which would outlaw the production of chemical weapons and require the destruction of existing stocks. Recent events in the Ira n / Iraq war where these repugnant weapons have been used should demonstrate to the world the need to move forward as quickly

as possible to achieve a comprehensive agreement which would

. ./2,


ban these weapons fo re v e r. Australia can be proud of having contributed an expert to the United Nations teams which in ­ vestigated the situ ation in Ira n .

The Government is deploying i t s resources in the cause of disarmament:

An Ambassador for Disarmament/ more Foreign A ffa irs o ffic e rs working f u l l time on disarmament; scientists from the Defence Department working for a ban on chemical weapons; seismolo­ gists of the Bureau of Mineral Resources working towards an

inte rn ationa l network to detect nuclear tests and so on. We

are funding these and other s c ie n t ific and technical a c t i v i ­ tie s in support of peace and disarmament/ and the new Peace Research I n s t it u t e at the Australian National University. We have raised a strong/ independent national voice in the

forums of the world/ urgently demanding e ffe c tiv e agreements for peace and disarmament.

Today's r a l l i e s in many Australian c itie s show that in these

endeavours we have the support of Australians from a l l walks of l i f e .