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Nuclear ships

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THURSDAY, JANUARY 22, 1976 ■ no. 14/76


The following statement by the Minister for Defence,

Mr. D.J.Killen, is in .reply to letters to editors by

the Member for Fremantle, Mr. Beazley, which have appeared in .

the West Australian (19 Jan) and the Sydney Morning Herald (21 Jan)

I am sorry that a Parliamentarian of Mr Beazley's experience

and eminence should present the argument he did against the '

Government’s decision to encourage the Navies of allied powers

to use the Cockburn Sound Naval Facility in WA. His argument

is based upon false, assumption, grievous . error and spurious

emotion. . .

Let one thing be clear; no nuclear ship will be allowed "die

use of Cockburn Sound, or for that mat-ter any other Australian

port, without all necessary precautions being taken- to protect

the environment and people living in close proximity.

If the United States and Great Britain are"to be denied the.

use of Cockburn Sound then it.seems clear that the Australian/

American alliance becomes meaningless and our historic links

with Britain will evaporate. There seems to be something

utterly pusillanimous and selfish in proposing a; policy which .

says to our allies: "We welcome your ultimate protection, but

please don't ask us to assume any risks Whatsoever, however

remote these risks may be."

. The United States Navy is placing a growing emphasis upon

nuclear-powered ships. One hundred of the 117 submarines presently

in service with the United States Navy are nuclear-powered. The

. United States is not building any more conventional submarines.

But not

all nuclear powered ships carry nuclear weapons, and Mr

Beazley would do well to acknowledge the fact that many

conventionally powered ships are capable of carrying nuclear


Mr Beazley1s contention that Australia's

willingness to allow the presence of a nuclear powered ship

in an Australian port is tantamount to inviting attack

and strips the country of its independence, seems, at best,

curious. r

Between i960 and 1971, there were 14

visits to Australian.ports by nuclear powered ships. The United

States nuclear-powered aircraft carrier ENTERRRi, Ul was in the '

Port of Sydney - yes, Mr Beazley, in the Port of Sydney-several

years ago. Its presence did not bring doom nor did it result

in any diminution of Australia's independence in foreign affairs.

What weapons the ENTERPRISE carried during her visit is a matter

of sheer speculation. .

To avert total war and nuclear holocaust is surely

the aim of all men of goodwill. It must remain so. There is,

however, precious little evidence before us to encourage us

that : goal will be achieved by succumbing to a

doctrine having any affinity with neutralism and ,

pacificism. ■ ! ' · - . · ‘ · . . .