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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2636


Mr STAPLES(9.24) —Tomorrow, 11 November, is Remembrance Day. Since the first anniversary of the Armistice on 11 November 1919 this day has been set aside every year for us to reflect upon those who died. More than 102, 000 Australian servicemen and women have died in war. World War I was a war that should never have been. There was untrammelled butchery, military stupidity and criminal arrogance. World War I was no different from any of the other thousands of big wars and little wars that have wrecked our planet since man first picked up a stick and a stone as weapons.

I think it is well worth it that while we remember the Australians who died we have a good think about where we will go after tomorrow. What did these people die for? What did the wounded suffer for and what did their loved ones mourn for ? There is a lot of jingoistic drum-beating, which railroaded those men and women to war. I think we have just heard a good example of it in this House. All that jingoism and nationalism and all the rest of it bear reflection upon tomorrow. There is a lot of nationalistic claptrap. People are saying: 'We are the best at this; we are the best at that. We are the goodies, we fight for freedom and democracy. We are fighting for peace with our bombs, our bullets, our bayonets and our bombers. Other people are the baddies; they are not like us . Look at what they are doing. They want to take us over. They do not believe in God'. The reality is that we live in a small shrinking and delicate world that has been brought to the verge of extinction by nations, leaders and people who build and threaten the use of weapons of world destruction in the name of peace, democracy and assorted ideologies.

In 1983 world military spending is rapidly approaching $800,000m. Australia's estimated contribution this year will be $5,280m. If this $800,000m were distributed this year among the member states of the United Nations it would amount to about $5,000m per nation. What a difference that would make to the economic and social development of the Third World. The total military budget for one day would feed, clothe and house all the people in the world for one year. In the United States of America 240,000 bridges are technically unsafe, while New York loses 400 million litres of water every day because of a rotting drainage system. Between the two super powers there are 50,000 nuclear warheads. Each day they add eight or nine more to their stockpile. Each super power has enough nuclear warheads to destroy the world 1,000 times. Yet each side wants more. Each side demands of its people more money, more nationalistic commitment, more sacrifice and more subservience. The equivalent of 4 tonnes of TNT is aimed at every person on this earth, and yet the maniacs want more. The concept of mutually assured destruction has been abandoned. There are maniacs who believe that a limited nuclear war can be won. No one wins a nuclear war; no one wins any war and the innocent have the least chance of all of surviving. After a nuclear war only the cockroaches and the rats will be left. Of one thing we can be sure: There will not be a World War IV. Having made sure of that, what can we do to ensure there is not a World War III?

On 12 June 1982 more than one million people walked for peace through the streets of New York. If we read the newspapers closely and perhaps if we watch Channel 0-28 we will probably see that every day more and more people in Europe are mobilising for peace. Only a month or so ago one million people turned out in a single West German protest against the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation missiles in that country. Recently in London a quarter of a million people turned out for a peace demonstration. Peace marches and rallies in Australia are now reaching the dimensions of the Vietnam moratorium rallies of the 1970s.

At the British election in June this year 48 per cent of voters backed the deployment of Cruise missiles in that country. Now, only five months later, 47 per cent of the voters are against that deployment and only 37 per cent are in favour. Many people in authority, many people in this House and many people in the general public would have us believe that these ordinary people are simple, misguided fools or, at the other extreme, evil, atheistic socialists intent on wreaking hegemony and destroying democracy. How many times have we heard that sort of claptrap in this House from certain members of the Opposition? These peace loving people are not like that. They are basically ordinary people from the width of the political, social and economic spectrums. Some believe in God, others do not. Some are socialists, others are capitalists, others do not care.

Tomorrow a group of Australian women will go to the Pine Gap communication base near Alice Springs to protest at a secret installation on Australian soil, an installation that without question is the target of a Soviet missile. How will the Opposition react to this statement of peace? How will the media report it? Will it highlight the confrontation? Will it talk about the issue? Will it present these women as women concerned about our future or will it present them as women attacking the United States?

The people who live in front of Parliament House and who protest against uranium mining have been scorned by many in this House as ratbags and bludgers but they are not. They are there because they believe that Australian uranium is contributing to the nuclear arms race. They are concerned about this planet and our future. Participation in any part of the nuclear fuel cycle is participation in the total nuclear system. All parts are interlocked. If this belief needs documentation it is in chapters 12 to 16 of the first Fox report, the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry 1976.

Australia's involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle through the mining and export of uranium is part of our contribution, for whatever economic, political or military reason, to the world arms race. It seems that some of us can accept that reality more readily than others. I ask Australians tomorrow, when they remember the thousands of Australians who died in war, to begin to think what they as individuals and groups can do to prevent or delay World War III, or for that matter any future hostility, nuclear or not. Alone we cannot move at all, but together we can move governments. The Vietnam war was stopped mainly because the opinions of the American people, the Australian people and many others, turned again against the opinions of their political leaders. Political leaders will respond to the pressure of public opinion and public action.

If people only knew how much power they really have to change the opinion of their friends, neighbours and politicians, we might be able to move toward peace much faster. If Australians joined groups such as the People for Nuclear Disarmament, the Movement Against Uranium Mining, Pax Christi, or any of the many other groups which campaign for peace, opinion in this world would start to change. Hundreds of municipal and shire councils have declared their areas to be nuclear free zones. Victoria is a nuclear free State. More than 350 Australian scientists recently formed a group called Scientists Against Nuclear Arms, SANA. Last year, the European network of Scientists for Nuclear Disarmament was formed . The mobilisation for peace continues.

Some honourable members in this House and some people in the community scoff at these ideals and actions. But at least they are actions for peace. But the challenge exists for us all. It exists for the Government, the Opposition, the media and the general community. We should not look at peace in the belief that if we have more nuclear missiles than someone else has we will have peace; that we must confront each other with ideologies, flags and guns; that we are right and they are wrong. We must challenge our leaders and the leaders of the super- powers to reduce world paranoia, to reduce the race for space and arms weaponry and to reduce the buildup of nuclear arms. Confrontation has always produced more confrontation. Military spending produces more military spending. It is not a simplistic argument and it is not pie in the sky. If we are to have peace-and if we realise that war and the defeat that comes with nuclear war must first be in our minds, then victory also must first be in our minds. Tomorrow on Remembrance Day, while we reflect upon the 102,000 Australian men and women who died in wars, let each of us make a decision to take action to ensure that we move towards world disarmament, mutual acceptance of each other's position and world peace.