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Thursday, 23 March 1972
Page: 857

Senator CARRICK - I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether his attention has been drawn to the recent warning by the United States Defence Secretary, Mr Melvin Laird, that the Soviet Union is aiming to achieve overall military supremacy by the late 1970s and that the existing, dwindling margin of military superiority of the United States on present trends will disappear within the next 2 or 3 years? Does not this armaments race present a serious threat to world peace and does it not indicate a tragic failure of the United Nations Committee on Disarmament? Will the Government give consideration to the preparation of a paper setting out the basic facts and implications of this critical situation?

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON I understand that the Minister for Defence is going to put down a paper. He may be putting it down in another place today but if it is not done today it will certainly be done on the next day of sitting. Naturally I shall be putting the paper down here under the normal process. It may well be - I believe it will be - that some of the implications of the very issues which Senator Carrick raises will be dealt with in depth by the Minister for Defence. But with more particularity in response to the question I think I should say that in Australia we follow closely statements made from time to time by the United States Defence Secretary, Mr Laird, on matters of relevant strength of the United States and the Soviet Union. Naturally we are aware that some changes are taking place in military capabilities. We are watching these developments very carefully. We would not describe the military preparedness being undertaken by these countries as necessarily an armaments race. We hope that the competition in armaments will be reduced as a result of the bilateral discussions which are proceeding in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, commonly known as 'SALT'.

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