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Tuesday, 25 November 1986
Page: 3656

Dr KLUGMAN —by leave-Even though I have some minor disagreements with the report from the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, I point out that I would certainly consider myself as a non-extremist, to use the term of the previous speaker, the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Charles), with whom I generally concur. The Opposition spokesman on foreign affairs, the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock), has asked me to apologise for his non-participation in the debate today. I understand that, because of time factors which have intruded today, he will participate tomorrow for the purpose of explaining the minority report signed by many of his colleagues.

This is potentially the most valuable report I have seen in my 16 years in Parliament. Some of the recommendations are obviously controversial, but the main volume, the first volume, admittedly of some 700-plus pages, contains a lot of valuable and important information. Knowing the media as I do, I know that none of their employees will read the main report; they will concentrate on the recommendations and on the dissents. I believe that the factual information is essential but generally unknown to the vast majority of people, even those who take an active part in the so-called peace movements. For example, most of the so-called peace marchers believe that the strategic defence initiative-which they call Star Wars-is a form of nuclear aggression in outer space rather than what it is, an attempt to abolish the use of nuclear missiles. I hope that every secondary school library in Australia will obtain a copy of this report for the benefit of both students and teachers. I emphasise that I support nearly all the conclusions, though some of them are compromises. My reservations are mainly on two points. The first point is a general one; the other point is more specific. Rather than paraphrase those points, I shall read what I stated under the heading `General Approach' as part of my dissent. I stated:

It is relevant to remember that there has not been a war between democracies since World War I, whilst there have been hundreds of major and minor wars, sometimes between democracies and authoritarian regimes, but most often between the latter.

One important, long term objective at least, of all opponents of war must therefore be the spread of democracy with its associated civil rights and liberties.

It is not possible to discuss the threat of nuclear war and the methods of preventing it, without pointing out the vast differences between the member countries of the Warsaw Pact and Western societies.

The democracies are relatively open societies and especially in the U.S.A. the executive has to justify all military expenditure in some detail to Congress and the public. Everybody can therefore be aware of the proposals for new weapons and the arguments for and against them.

Dr Theophanous —Like sales to Iran.

Dr KLUGMAN —I note the interjection from the honourable member. That is exactly the point. The President of the United States of America has to justify and explain, and is exposed for doing the sorts of things he has done, such as sending arms to Iran. The first time that that sort of public discussion takes place in the Soviet People's Congress, I will join the honourable member in his defence of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I continued:

In the closed society of the Soviet Union no such public discussion takes place and in many cases the existence of new weapon systems or the extent of existing ones can only be obtained by traditional intelligence gathering or the use of highly sophisticated surveillance of the U.S.A.

The question of verification therefore becomes more important.

This is important from our point of view:

Additionally Soviet propaganda and disinformation is much more effective in Western societies where public opinion can actually change government policies.

That is an important point to remember. I point out again to the honourable member for Calwell (Dr Theophanous) that public opinion does not have very much influence in a society such as the closed societies of the Warsaw Pact. On the strategic defence initiative, my reservation is along these lines:

Whilst far from convinced SDI will work and accepting that there is a significant risk of destabilisation of the current position, it is my view that agreement between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union to share the results of any successful research and its installation by all nuclear powers, would be the only path likely to lead to complete nuclear disarmament.

I accept that this is not very likely, but the alternative of continuing to live permanently `protected' only by the use of `mutually assured destruction' is not one that can be faced with equanimity.

There is a lot of debate on so-called peace issues in the Australian community. What depresses me most is the lack of factual information used-I suppose I am biased on this-by people criticising the policies of the Western countries, but there is also a lack of information on the part of people who are defending the Western position. That is why I strongly recommend the first part of the report especially.

Let us take the current issues that are being pushed by the Soviet Union. I have already mentioned SDI. The general belief in the community is that SDI, which is called Star Wars, is really an offensive method of delivering nuclear missiles via space. We have got slogans about demilitarising space, about keeping nuclear war out of space and all that sort of thing. I hope the people who use those slogans will read the report.

Another question currently being pushed by the Soviet Union, by its supporters and by many others who are sucked in by the attractiveness of slogans is that of nuclear tests. Everybody supports the banning of nuclear testing, but nobody on the side of the Soviet Union ever mentioned what happened during the three years preceding the Soviet Union moratorium on nuclear tests. I will cite some figures from an answer to me which is contained in Hansard of 13 November.

I asked how many undergound nuclear tests were carried out by the United States and the Soviet Union in the three years 1982, 1983 and 1984. In 1982 the United States carried out 18 and the Soviet Union 31. In 1983, 15 were carried out by the United States and 27 by the Soviet Union. In 1984, 15 were carried out by the United States and 27 by the Soviet Union. During the three years, 48 nuclear tests were carried out by the United States and 85 nuclear tests were carried out by the Soviet Union. As soon as the Soviets had carried out their 85 tests they started a big propaganda campaign and announced that unilaterally they would end nuclear tests as of 6 August 1985. I think those are important points that have to be considered when we are talking about disarmament, about peace or about what kinds of policies should be pushed for the purposes of lowering tension between the super-powers.

I said earlier that this was an exercise, which should be conducted much more often by parliamentary committees, in actually trying to obtain a large amount of information which is available if one tries hard enough to obtain it but which is generally not known to the community at large. I pay tribute to the staff of the Committee obviously, but especially-and it is important to remember that the Committee was set up on 8 December 1983 and has been going for a long time-to the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Charles), who acted as Chairman, to Senator Teague, to Senator Crichton-Browne, to the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Baldwin), and I think I can add myself, who attended most of the meetings and prepared the report. Obviously we did not agree on everything and on certain technical issues we had to accept, in any case, the advice from the so-called experts. We could well be wrong, but I hope that we are not. I hope that the report is distributed generally in the community.

I come back to my original point: When we talk about war and peace and what ought to be done, it is my view that much of the so-called peace propaganda tries to emphasise and get across certain Soviet objectives. There is no doubt that the Soviet objectives include arms control, and I think there is a chance, following the Reykjavik meetings and other recent events, that there will be some progress as far as arms control is concerned. The Soviets want to stop SDI on the part of the United States, although I note that a mid-day news item today said that the British publishers of Jane's Defence claimed that the Soviet Union was far ahead as far as SDI is concerned, having been working on it for over 10 years. The Soviets want to encourage neutralism in the Western democracies, and that includes Australia. They want to split Europe from America. They want to make Mr Reagan appear hawkish, inflexible and foolish, and in many ways that is not all that difficult, I am sorry to say. They are all objectives from the Russian perspective, and I think they are reasonable objectives.

To me it is remarkable that people in the West can seriously speculate about the viability of neutralism or unilateral surrender, ignorant of or indifferent to the most telling evidence about the character and motivation of the Soviet regime-the denial of human rights, the incarceration and in some cases even the torture of critics and opponents. The existence of a world in which people are free to think, to express ideas, to move about and to seek change and improvement will always be an embarrassment and a threat to the rulers of countries whose unfortunate inhabitants are denied these rights. I emphasise again that no two countries which were both democracies have been at war with one another since the First World War. I hope that people will read the report and will use it as a reference book when they participate in debates on the question of armament and disarmament.

Debate interrupted.