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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2821

Senator HAMER(4.19) —There is no such thing as a winnable nuclear war . I believe there is no such thing as a limited nuclear war because it will inevitably escalate into a global nuclear war. Such escalation will mean the destruction of civilisation and, quite possibly, the destruction of the human race itself. It is, therefore, both our duty and in our interests to do all that we can to prevent the outbreak of such a war. Whether we are an immediate target or not is basically irrelevant. We must do all we can to prevent the outbreak of such a war. I have great sympathy with the purposes of the 250,000 protesters who are campaigning against nuclear war. No one wants nuclear war. What I worry about though is their gullibility. The measures they were proposing, the banning of exports of uranium and the elimination of United States of America bases, facilities, or whatever they are called, in Australia would have an effect directly contrary to what they are attempting to achieve. Instead of making nuclear war less likely it would make it more likely. That is the importance of a bipartisan approach to the United States bases.

The motion we are debating today is framed in these words:

The need for the Senate to support the Prime Minister's view that the joint Australian-United States defence facilities in Australia directly contribute to Australia's security, that their operations in no way derogate from Australian sovereignty and that removal of the facilities would dash hopes of ordinary men and women for peace and disarmament because of the contribution of those facilities to stability in the strategic relationship between the super-powers.

Until Senator Chipp spoke it might have appeared that the Senate was unanimous on this issue, despite the rather mindless vitriol with which the Attorney- General (Senator Gareth Evans) opened and closed his speech. I think I should correct one point that the Attorney-General made. He endeavoured to give the impression that the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Peacock, opposed the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) on these fundamental issues. I would like to quote two short passages from page 2992 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 6 June. Mr Peacock then said:

The Prime Minister, in that part of his statement on defence facilities, correctly emphasised their role in the preservation of peace between the nuclear powers by saying: 'This has for many years been dependent upon a situation of stable deterrence.' That is a view which the coalition has constantly held, both in government and in opposition.

He went on to say:

But I wish the Prime Minister well in his efforts to establish some degree of consistency in the policy of his Party towards the Western alliance, ANZUS and defence facilities.

The opposition does not come from the Liberal Party of Australia or the National Party of Australia; it comes from within the Australian Labor Party itself. Twenty-eight members of parliament, including 11 senators, sent a message to their Caucus colleagues on 6 June. The senators were: Senators Childs, McIntosh, Coates, Giles, Coleman, Georges, Hearn, Primmer, Zakharov, Reynolds and Bolkus. In their letter they said, among other things:

We wish to express our deep concern about the content, timing and manner in which the statement--

that is the statement of the Prime Minister--

was made.

They said later:

We do not believe that the Prime Minister's statement adequately addresses these issues.

What are the issues? The first one I want to cover briefly because it is not really relevant to this debate is the export of uranium. The Ambassador for Disarmament, Mr Richard Butler, recently said:

Australia had been urged to continue responsible uranium exports under nuclear non-proliferation safeguards.

That was said by the Ambassador for Disarmament. He further said:

. . . people who were against the export of uranium because it might end up in nuclear weapons were unaware that if Australia did not sell its uranium the market would open to other producers without the same safeguards.

Senator Chipp said there are 50,000 nuclear weapons in the world now. If we export our uranium or leave it in the ground I do not believe it will make the slightest difference to the number of nuclear weapons in the world. But what we would lose is the chance to influence the proliferation of nuclear weapons. In my view it would be an act of supreme irresponsibility to take such a step.

The main issue before us today is the United States bases or facilities. I do not argue on the words; it is just a matter of semantics. Three are relevant to the Prime Minister's statement. The only justification for our having them in this country is that by their activities they reduce the likelihood of a nuclear war. The North West Cape communications station, a very low frequency communications station designed to communicate with submerged submarines, is primarily intended to communicate with ballistic missile submarines which are second strike weapons designed by their existence and invulnerability to be able to inflict unacceptable damage on a country that launches a first strike. Their purpose is to deter-Senator Chipp raised the issue of deterrence-and to make it much less likely or even inconceivable that anyone would dare to launch a first strike. Their existence and the existence of the stations to communicate with them is a great contribution towards lessening the likelihood of a nuclear war. Pine Gap is primarily concerned with signals intelligence satellites. Nurrungar is concerned with DSP/647--

Senator Chipp —How do you know that?

Senator HAMER —I know it. Nurrungar is concerned with early warning satellites.

Senator Chipp —Did Bill Hayden have a word with you?

Senator HAMER —No. I did not get that information from Bill Hayden.

Senator Chipp —I don't know, and I can't find out.

Senator HAMER —I am afraid that Senator Chipp does not know a great many things. I am trying to explain some of them to him. What these satellites do, among other things, is detect the launching of a first strike of Soviet missiles or any other country's missiles. By their existence they make it much less likely that anyone would attempt such a venture. They have rapid communications facilities to Washington, again with the effect of making a surprise first strike almost inconceivable. By their activities they are making a nuclear war much less likely and they are a contribution, therefore, to world peace. But as Senator Chipp said, with great vehemence, deterrence is not enough. We have been living now with a balance of terror for nearly 30 years. There is a continual danger of mistake, accident, or even madness. We must try to reduce the level of world armaments. Australia has a fairly limited leverage here. But again, the existence of American facilities in Australia gives us a chance to contribute to the objective we all have-the reduction of the level of terror in the world.

Let us look at Pine Gap. The satellites at Pine Gap can monitor the telemetry of the test flights of missiles. This is very important in ensuring the continuation of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks agreement, or the implementation of a new strategic arms agreement, for instance, the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks. Without verification an agreement is impossible. Pine Gap, by its existence, makes this verification possible. Therefore it is a major contribution towards the possibility of a future strategic arms limitation agreement. To destroy that, to wipe it away, again would be an act of irresponsible madness.

Another area where these stations can contribute is in the verification and control of anti-ballistic missile systems. These can be monitored by satellites. The development of anti-ballistic missile systems without verification would destabilise the world balance and might do great harm. Finally, by their existence, the satellites can monitor a comprehensive test ban on the testing of nuclear weapons. This again is a contribution to mutual confidence, to the chance of getting verifiable agreements. Without these stations the chances of such verifiable agreements would be greatly reduced.

I hope that those who long for a future free of nuclear war will open their minds to the facts and will realise that, for us to fail to make the contribution we can make to the prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons and the deterrence of global nuclear war, to fail to take the steps which are within our power, would be a crime not only against Australia but also against the rest of humanity.