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Thursday, 13 September 1984
Page: 1269


Mr MORRISON —by leave-I present the official report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to European Parliamentary Institutions and France from 22 September to 22 October 1983. I seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.

Leave granted.


Mr MORRISON —The report covers the delegation's participation in a number of the parliamentary institutions in Europe, the first being the Council of Europe, where the delegation issued a statement outlining Australian criticisms of the European Community's common agricultural policy and presented Australian views on the state and future of the steel industry. I draw the House's attention to the statements contained in the report at annexe B and annexe C. The delegation also participated in the debate of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and again the delegation was able to put an Australian perspective on the economic issues of the European sector following the statement by the Secretary-General of the OECD. I note that the speech of the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Groom) and my speech on that subject are contained in annexe D of the report.

The delegation also participated in the Strasbourg conference, and I was honoured, on behalf of the Australian Parliament, to be appointed as a rapporteur for the conference. I think this is the first time that an Australian has been given such a responsibility in the European parliamentary institutions. The paper which I prepared is contained at annexe E. The speeches of our delegates, the Deputy Speaker of the House, Mrs Child, the honourable member for Curtin, Mr Rocher, and the honourable member for Braddon, Mr Groom, are contained at annexe F.

We also participated in the European Parliament. Our participation in the European Parliament is facilitated through the European Parliament's own permanent delegation for relations with Australia and New Zealand. In these meetings, the delegation was able to put forward again Australia's very significant and substantial criticisms of the common agricultural policy of Europe. During our visit a draft resolution was being considered by a group within the European Parliament which would have had the effect of banning the importation into Europe of kangaroo products. The delegation was invited to address that group. As a result, the group modified its approach. At the same time, the delegation indicated the support that the Australian Government would give to assisting in providing information on kangaroo management in Australia.

The delegation had to be split for participation in the North Atlantic Assembly . This is the second time that the Australian Parliament has been represented at the North Atlantic Assembly but, because of the coincidence of timing of the Strasbourg conference and the North Atlantic Assembly, we split the delegation. I am indebted to the honourable member for Grayndler, Mr Leo McLeay, and to Senator Peter Rae for their participation on the delegation's behalf at the meeting of the North Atlantic Assembly in The Hague. I was able to visit The Hague briefly during the time when the delegation had discussions with the Japanese delegation. I refer the House to the record of that meeting at annexe J . It covers the essential similarity of views of Japan and Australia in relation to strategic and security matters. Our contribution there is important in bringing a Pacific perspective to the consideration of West European security.

Whilst we were at The Hague, the delegation was approached by the President and the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Assembly who extended an invitation to the Australian Parliament to become an accredited observer to the North Atlantic Assembly. In its report, the delegation has indicated that this invitation should be taken up. We have also made some recommendations relating to a more effective participation by Australia in the North Atlantic Assembly, and we trust that the Presiding Officers of this Parliament will consider those recommendations.

I want to mention in particular the significance of our participation in these sorts of organisations. For instance, last Monday the Sydney Morning Herald contained a report headed, 'US would launch a first strike: Pentagon'. A Pentagon spokesman observed that:

The current deterrence policy rests upon the doctrine of flexible response, which would include the use, as required, of conventional weapons, non-strategic nuclear weapons and strategic nuclear weapons.

That is in terms of the flexible response. That would certainly not come as any surprise to this Parliament, because in the previous report of the delegation that visited the European parliaments, we had this to say:

The Delegation noted that reservations about the feasibility of putting into effect the traditional NATO strategy of flexible response, relying heavily on early first use of nuclear weapons, are now so wide spread in both military and political circles that military planners in NATO are calling for upgrading of conventional forces. Traditionally NATO relies on the threat of the use of nuclear weapons early in conflict as a deterrent against the Soviet Union launching a conventional attack in Europe. The first step was to use theatre nuclear weapons with a so-called graduated response to strategic nuclear attack on the Soviet Union heartland. The doctrine of first use of nuclear weapons was essential to the deterrent theory.

It is essential to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation concept. In that previous report the delegation concluded:

Increasingly, the whole strategy is being seen as a transparent bluff.

In the report before the House the delegation notes that some representatives at the meeting argued that the deployment of the Pershing and cruise missiles was of doubtful military worth and had become, instead, a test of the fidelity of the NATO member nations. These are the sorts of perspectives that we get from being actually involved in these meetings. I had an opportunity of going to the Military Committee of the North Atlantic Assembly, and in one of the papers presented this observation was made about intermediate-range nuclear forces:

The political significance of INF deployment-the coupling of Western Europe to the US strategic guarantee-has always outweighed the military utility of the INF systems as the targets against which Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles would be aimed can be adequately covered with other nuclear systems.

We have had many debates on the Pershing and cruise missiles, but it is only through active participation in organisations such as the North Atlantic Assembly that we get the stated views of those participating governments that are much more directly involved than Australia. It is because of this access to this type of information, access to the expert debates that take place in organisations such as the North Atlantic Assembly, that this Parliament should certainly respond to the invitation made on the basis of our previous participation in the North Atlantic Assembly by the Secretary-General and the President to participate more actively in the work of the Assembly.

The delegation also paid an official visit to France. We appreciated the hospitality of the National Assembly and the Senate in the arrangements that they made for our visit. I direct the House's attention to those sections of the report which deal with the delegation's assessment of France's nuclear policy including nuclear tests in the South Pacific. Very briefly, the Force de Frappe, France's independent nuclear force, is regarded as synonymous with French independence. This is right across the board, across the spectrum of French political views, from the Communist Party right through to the right wing parties of the De Gaullists. There is a consensus that France has, should have and should continue to have an independent nuclear force, and that, as part of that force, the capacity to test nuclear weapons in the South Pacific is also synonymous with independence.

We got very short shrift. We argued our case up and down France and in Paris with the National Assembly, with the Senate, and with the French Government. But they made it very clear that their independence is dependent upon the independent nuclear capacity and that, in order to maintain and enhance that nuclear capacity, testing is not only necessary but also desirable, and that that is the French attitude and view.

We have also gone into some details of the French civil nuclear program. There are those who argue that the nuclear energy industry for power production is on the way down. That point of view is in stark contrast to the attitude taken by the French Government to the further development of nuclear energy in France.

On behalf of the delegation, I should like to express our thanks for the assistance and support given by the Australian Ambassador to France, Mr Peter Curtis, and the Australian Ambassador to Belgium, Mr David Anderson, and to their staff, who gave us considerable support, particularly during the Strasbourg meetings when we were well away from an Australian mission. I also acknowledge the contribution of the delegation's secretary, Mr Diamond.

In conclusion, I place on record my personal appreciation to our Madam Deputy Speaker, to the honourable members for Braddon, Curtin and Grayndler and to Senator Peter Rae for their amiable co-operation in making the delegation's mission a success. I believe that the delegation was an adornment to the international reputation of this Parliament.