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Tuesday, 26 October 1971
Page: 2485

Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) - I ask the

Minister for Defence: Has it been drawn to his attention that a report has appeared in a normally authoritative publication 'Janes' indicating that an American station in Australia is being used to spy on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? I ask: Is this true? If it is true is it being done with the consent and approval of the Australian Government? If it is true would one of the consequences be, as indicated by one of the Minister's predecessors, that in the event of nuclear war this base would be a nuclear target? Are there now available any other technical means of achieving what this station does?

Mr FAIRBAIRN (FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am sorry that the honourable member was not here when I made a full statement to the House and I would suggest that he look the statement up. I have constantly made it clear that the Government has no intention whatsoever of reacting to the many rumours which are constantly brought out in an attempt to try and undermine the security of the American bases in Australia. We believe that only harm can come out of any of these and it is an obvious attempt by certain members of the Press and by certain members of the Opposition to try and break the security of these bases. These installations are part of the defence of the free world. Australia believes that there is every reason why we should co-operate with our great allies and particularly with the United States as part of the ANZUS agreement, and I have no intention whatsoever of either confirming or denying any rumours which are published in the papers.

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) - I rise to order. I do not know, Mr Acting Speaker, whether the Minister's answer appeared to you as it appeared to me, but to me it was a straightout statement that this question and other questions had been asked for the purpose of undermining security. It seems to me that this is a very serious charge that should be made only on a substantive motion. I think the Standing Orders are quite clear about that and if the Minister wants to make this charge I ask him to make it in the form of a substantive motion so it can be debated and not just splashed across the House and the radio stations of this country in this way.

Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock) - Order! The honourable member for Lalor has stated his point of order. I rule on the point of order that the question was answered by the Minister in general terms and while I would not be dogmatic about it until I see the answer in print, I would at this moment rule that there is no substance in the point of order.

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