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Address by the opposition leader



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ADDRESS BY THE OPPOSITION DEADER. MR ANDREW PEACOCK 19 MARCH 1985 \

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It is only 25 days since I moved a Censure against this Government and this Prime Minister

- for their weakness, naivety and willingness tD compromise Australia's national interest *

The consequences of the Government's actions since then compel the Opposition to again censure the Government.

Since the House rose

- the ANZUS Pact, fundamental to our security aid our contribution to the Western Alliance has been declared by the Prime Minister to be no longer operative.

- The Prime Minister's policy on Indo-China, executed by the Foreign Minister, has left Australia isolated from ASEAN, criticised by China and lied to by the Vietnamese.

The Government despite the pleas of the Egyptian and Israeli Governments, has reaffirmed its j decision to end Australia's participation in the Sinai Peacekeeping Force to the detriment of the peace process in the Middle East. j

These events follow immediately on the Government's, reneging on its commitment to assist the United States in testing the MX. /

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-its refusal to support the US strategic modernisation program,

- its rejection of the United States measures that brought the Soviet Union back to the disarmament negotiations. j

This Government has given Australia a reputation for unreliability, inconsistency, naivety.

There is a common thread in this chaotic tapestry.

And it is this.

Inquiries: 0 6 2 - 7 2 6 9 9 4

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Wherever you look ,

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- be it towards the US and NZ. |

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to Asean and China,

to Israel and Egypt.

The Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister have let our friends and allies down.

- They have damaged the national interest, they have left our Alliances in tatters, and our foreign policy in disarray.

The causes of this are the totally distorted perspectives that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister bring to matters of national security and our basic regional and international interests.

■ i '

They see issues in isolation. [

They do not understand the total impact of their actions on Australia's vital interests.

Under pressure from the Left, - this Government continually deludes itself that the issues it compromises on are not central but merely marginal.

It does not understand that the centre will collapse if the flanks are surrendered.

Look at the outcomes of their incomprehension.

- ASEAN was declared to be the centrepiece of the Government's regional policies,

But at the same time the Government undertook the Vietnam sideshow to appease the Left.

The Vietnam excursion has eroded our credibility with ASEAN, and it has failed.

ANZUS was acknowledged as being central to our security

- the refusal to act in the ANZUS crisis was a sacrifice to Left Wing pacifism

ANZUS is now not operative.

The U.S. alliance and the avoidance of nuclear war is said to be fundamental.

But to appease the Left, the Government reneged on the MX commitment, undermined America's disarmament negotiating positions at the United Nations

- and rejected the very basis on which the United States successfully brought the Soviet Union to the negotiating table.

3.

While the Prime Minister was announcing that ANZUS vjfas no longer operative '

the Foreign Minister was on his way to Vietnam, a futile mission that alienated us from the ASEAN nations and China.

ASEAn has long been concerned about Australia's naiv attitude to Vietnam's attempts to fulfil its traditional imperial designs on Kampuchea;

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And the effect this naivety has had in undermining .ASEAN's diplomatic stance on Kampuchea. ,

When the Hawke Government assumed office it assured I the Australian people that it would give ASEAN high priority1 .

The Governor General's speech of 21 April 1983 stated: "my advisers seek to ensure that relations with the memtaer states of ASEAN are placed on the firmest possible footing." ■ ■ I

This was an apparent recognition that Australia's future security and well-being was inextricably linked with ASEAN.

Yet from the beginning, rather than support ASEAN on a position vital to its security, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister have acted in ways that have scarred otir relations with ASEAN, and increasingly been seen as appeasing Vietnam. -

They have progressively moved Australia's Indo-China policy away from the principled search for a peaceful solution to the Kampuchean problem

- to open sympathy with the Vietnamese.

Nothing more clearly indicates this than the Foreign Minister's March statement, in which he said:

"I understand the reasons why Vietnam went acrbss the border into Kampuchea. They have been provoked and their security breached a number of times by the Pol Pot forces." | -

He also said the Kampuchean people have to accept a second best situation and prefer to have the Vietnamese forces to guarantee their security."

Contrast this with the ASEAN joint statement of 11 February calling on the international community to increase support and assistance to the Kampuchean people

in their political and military struggle to liberate; their home land from foreign occupation. ;

There could be no greater chasm in perceptions and policies than this.

The Foreign Minister has said that the Prime Minister told him with respect to his Indo-China excursion, "I want it clearly understood that I support you. It was my initiative, and you've been faithfully carrying it out."

4.

The Prime Minister must explain why he sent his Foreign Minister to talk on a grand peace settlement at the height of Vietnam's onslaught on the Kampuchean resistance. i \

He must explain why he authorised his Foreign Minister to meet the Kampuchean Prime Minister, Mr Hun Sen. =

Presumably he knows Sen's background. He was, like his leader Heng Samrin, one of Pol Pot's senior military aides in the Khmer Rouge.

The major difference between Pol Pot and Hun Sen is that the latter is aligned with the Soviet Union while the former is aligned with Peking.

It is not sufficient for the Government to say that it sits down with a person like Hun Sen because it needs to know what he thinks. You don't ask Hun Sen what he thinks, you ask Hanoi.

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The Government's disarray and naivety in foreign policy is manifest in the contradictory statements made within 24 hours by the Foreign Minister.

On 9 March he described the Vietnamese Government's so-called clarifications as "the most important development to take place in the Kampuchean border situation to this point."

He also accepted Vietnamese assurances that they had not gone into Thailand.

But on 10 March, the Foreign Minister, confronted by irrefutable evidence from the Thais that Vietnamese forces had crossed the border, was forced to completely back down and accuse the Vietnamese of lying.

He admitted the Vietnamese "have not been honest in the assurances they gave me. Whilst the conflict continues there is no prospect of any matter being considered seriously."

The fact is that the Vietnamese assurances should never have been accepted.

Presumably, our intelligence was telling him what the situation was. Alternatively he could have learned about it from the 5 March United States State Department public briefing on the Vietnamese incursions into Thailand.

But then of course one doesn't believe or trust friends - and increasingly our friends reciprocate.

The Government has sought to shore up its credibility by claiming the clarifications it received from the Vietnamese Government,

- on what they mean by the elimination of Pol Pot and one party "free" elections, is a significant breakthrough.

Singapore's Foreign Minister Mr Dhanabalan spelt out very clearly what these clarifications amounted to.

έ.

- in "The Age" today he stated that they revealed "nothing new" and in some respects made it plain \

that what the Vietnamese sought was "over-lordship in Indo-China",

The Thai Foreign Minister said exactly the same thing. ;

The one thing that is clear from these so-called clarifications

- is that the Vietnamese have no intention whatsoever of allowing a free and independent Kampuchea.

Labor's Left Wing supports the Vietnamese for ideological reasons. They would ultimately like to resume aid to Vietnam. And in the meantime, they force the Government to stumble down the path of appeasement in Indo-China.

And what has been the result. The Thais are asking whether we are still friends.

The official Chinese Press has called Australia's Foreign Minister a cats paw of the Vietnamese.

Dr Mochtar, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, said gently that the events did not help Mr Hayden's credibility.

And where does this leave Australia's role in Indo China.

As Dr Mochtar said, "it rather makes it difficult now I think. I mean Australia would have to restore the confidence of some of her neighbours."

What we have done in Indo-China is wrong in practice. We have let down our friends and allies in the region, and eroded their diplomatic stand on Kampuchea.

It is also wrong in principle.

It was Vietnam which brutally invaded Kampuchea six years ago and still refuses to withdraw.

Vietnam did this not for any reasons of humanity, but to install a puppet government.

Vietnam has imposed further massive changes on Cambodian society and administration.

And has re-settled three hundred thousand Vietnamese in Cambodia, giving them priority over local citizens.

Mr Speaker,

The concern that our behaviour in Kampuchea has caused our friends and neighbours in the region runs parallel with the concern they feel about the breakdown of ANZUS.

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For it is clear that what has underpinned the remarkable and growing economic dynamism in the region has been the United States presence and the ANZUS alliance.

- let me recall that part of the basis for the last censure motion, was the belief that the Government's failure to act in the ANZUS crisii

under pressure from its Left Wing, would result in the destruction of ANZUS. inevitably

The Prime Minister on 22 February moved an amendment that "this House reaffirms the Government's firm commitment to the ANZUS alliance." i

On February 28, on the termination of US defence j co-operation and intelligence sharing with NZ the Prime Minister refused to come into the House and explain the situation to the Australian people.

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When I asked the Prime Minister whether he would call a special meeting of the ANZUS Council to address the ANZtlS crisis, he told the House !

- "the question of the calling of a meeting of the ANZUS Council, to which the Honourable Gentleman referred, is also under consideration."

The Prime Minister misled the House, because when he answered the question,

- He knew that the US had already made the decision which made ANZUS inoperative.

The Americans had advised him in early February of final blow to ANZUS the

- - that they would not participate in the scheduled meeting of the ANZUS Council. j

The Prime Minister hid this from the House, and hid;this from the Australian people, j «

and hid it from the New Zealand Government.

The reasons for his deception are clear. '

He had already caved in to the Left on the MX, because of the left he had refused to play a constructive role in the ANZUS crisis.

He was afraid that the combination of the burden of our MX commitment to the United States, and the destruction of ANZUS ,

- would lead the Australian people to understand the magnitude of the damage that this Government has done to our national security.

The Prime Minister was right to be afraid. The U.S. is our main ally, we let them down

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- ANZUS has been the cornerstone of our security for 34 years. It is inoperative. .

The Government now seeks to justify its dereliction iover ANZUS by saying that they will preserve the bilateral l defence relationship between Australia and the United States.

This misses the point.

The ANZUS Treaty is now a hollow shell and we are left with something much less.

The termination of defence co-operation between the United States and New Zealand has diminished Australia's and the region's security.

The co-ordination, intelligence sharing, and defence co-operation made possible by ANZUS, and the authority Alliance membership gave each of the three partners

- have been vital to effective regional responses to the Soviet Union's attempts to make strategic inroads into the Pacific.

A bilateral relationship between Australia with the U.S. on the one hand and Australia and New Zealand on the other is a poor substitute for the tripartite influence made possible by ANZUS.

A three columned structure has had one column knocked from under it.

The fact that the Hawke Government allowed ANZUS to become inoperative

- can only encourage renewed Soviet attempts to make new strategic inroads into the Pacific,

- while hampering our capacity to resist the erosion of regional integrity.

Mr Speaker,

The unrealiability in our foreign policy is not confined to our friends on both sides of the Pacific.

Australia has a long and honourable involvement in the Middle East.

In 1981 the Fraser Government decided to provide 100 men and some helicopters to the multi-national peace-keeping force in the Sinai.

This Force was formed outside the United Nations auspices as a vital part of the implementation of the Camp David Accords.

There was no possibility of United Nations action because of the Soviet veto and opposition to the Force from radical Arab states.

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We participated because it was one of the few tangible things we could do for peace in the Middle East and for.our friends in Israel. '

When the Hawke Government came to power the Left-wing of the Labor Party built up the pressure to renege on this ‘ commitment.

So we had a typical compromise of principles. The Hawke Government decided to withdraw the Force though in 1986. . - i

Both the Israel and Egyptian Governments have asked the Government to reconsider its decision. *

The Coalition believes that Australia's contribution should remain while necessary and while contributing to1, peace. It is clear that it is still doing this. j

Yet this Govenrment under pressure from its Left Wing is pulling the Force out. · j f

Once again we are letting down our friends. j

There is no consideration of whether the Australian contingent is doing its job, whether they are still required. j

The Government is implementing a policy foisted upon it by the Left Wing and the Bill Hartley's of this world. I

Mr Speaker,

The Prime Minister stated on the Willessee Show that he would his job on the line over national security - "I won't be Prime Minister of this country where those issues of! central and continuing importance to our securiuty are at

risk." '

These are empty words, what matters is the substance*.

What has become increasingly clear is that the Prime Minister's basic philosophy in the conduct of foreign policy is appeasement, both at home and abroad. ‘

- He appeased the virulently anti-American wingj/of his party factions by abandoning the commitment on the testing of the MX missile, ^

- He has helped destroy the ANZUS treaty,

- He encouraged the Foreign Minister, to the dismay of our ASEAN allies, to sit down and talk with the Vietnamese, when their troops were invading the sovereign territory of a valued trusted friend,

Thailand.

- He has decided that we no longer have any part to play in Sinai, as part of the search for peace between Israel and the Arab nations.

9.

The consequences of the Prime Minister's administration over the last two years has been the undermining of our credibility as a responsible member of the Western Alliance, an undermining of our position in the Asian region and

towards ASEAN, and an undermining of our own security and position in the world. ’

These consequences flow not from judgements made clamly and rationally, bn the basis of an understanding of Australian national interests

- not from judgements made in consultation with senior Ministers,

- not from thoughtful and searching debate about the issues involved.

On the contrary they flow from the Prime Minister's flawed judgement of the national interest, compounded by fear of the threatening noises from the turbulent factions within his own Party. ;

What he does not realise is that you cannot treat matters of national security by wheeling and dealing with factional Party interests.

Nor can you make the sort of deals that the ACTU makes - give a bit here, talk a bit there.

- When it comes to foreign policy, where the fundamental interests of Australia, and its friends and allies are at stake.

If the Prime Minister does not start standing up to the Left Wing of his own Party, if he continues to let Australia's foreign policy slide in its present direction.

' Then the epitaph that will be written on his administration may well be a cruel parody of John Kennedy's grand statement. We will not pay the price, nor bear the burdens, we will shirk hardships, dump friends and appease

foes,because we no longer care enough about the survival and success of liberty.

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