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Wednesday, 27 February 1985
Page: 296

Mr HAYDEN (Minister for Foreign Affairs)(4.15) —We have heard a great deal from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock) about what is wrong with the Australian Labor Party. We have seen a strong display of rhetoric, posturing and moralising. However, I challenge him to identify one area, just one sentence, even one short phrase, where he came up with a constructive, positive, practical proposal to have New Zealand change its mind. It is all very well to moralise about factions. The Leader of the Opposition has more than enough factions in his own ranks, more than enough dissidents who are out there sharpening their pen knives to cut into the problems of his own leadership. What is the single, central, constructive proposal he puts forward whereby New Zealand will be curbed and brought back uncomplaining into a full participation in the ANZUS arrangement? What is he going to do? It is all very well to engage in rhetoric, it is all very well to engage in a little bluster, but what would he do? Would he, if he were in a position to do so, suspend defence participation with New Zealand on a bilateral basis? We are not going to do that.

Mr Peacock —No.

Mr HAYDEN —No, he would do the same thing. Would he suspend the intelligence exchange, the collection of which we are responsible for and therefore it belongs within our autonomous decision-making authority to distribute? Of course he would not. What would he do? What sorts of reprisals would he take? What sort of leverage would he exercise on New Zealand to turn it about? Does he propose to cower New Zealand? If that is his intent, he is sadly mistaken. He would embark on an impossible mission. The only thing the Leader of the Opposition said is that the Government should take a mediatory role. What sort of mediatory role? Against whom or with whom? What sorts of processes? With the Labour Party in New Zealand? That would be a rather novel and, I think, demanding undertaking, with public opinion in New Zealand being what it is, because there is overwhelming support for this decision of the Labour Government's in New Zealand. It is not a view we share, but it is a clear indication of the atmospherics within which that decision making took place in that country.

What the Leader of the Opposition sought to do was to pick up, out of context, some comments which were made, to enlarge them, to elaborate on them in a somewhat whimsical way and then to beat the stuffing out of them. Here is a classic illustration: Referring to a comment I made that the Government did not propose to carry messages for the United States this year, he said that that clearly indicated that there would be no messages from us to New Zealand on a bilateral basis. That is nonsense. I conveyed our views on this matter, not once but on several occasions, to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of New Zealand, Mr Lange. The Australian Prime Minister had conveyed views not once and not just in writing but personally, orally, to the New Zealand Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. We made our views known. We made our unshameable commitment to ANZUS patently obvious to the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of New Zealand. The views were conveyed.

Let us recall the circumstances leading up to quite recently. It was not as though this Government sat down, cross-eyed with perplexity, wondering what step it should take next. If that is the assertion, the allegation should be launched equally against the United States, because the United States Administration and this Government adopted a similar tactic. We discussed the situation. We discussed the circumstances in which it was developing. We concluded, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, that the problem was not going to be resolved with a megaphone exchange and the brandishing of some sort of rhetorical waddie publicly. New Zealand would be unmoved by bluster. What had to be borne in mind was that the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of New Zealand publicly declared, as he elaborated in detail privately, the need for time for the New Zealand Government to develop responses to the situation that had occurred there where there was a party policy decision that nuclear powered and nuclear capable vessels of the United States, or any other country for that matter, would not be allowed to use New Zealand port facilities. He said, not once but on many occasions, that he believed that a resolution could be developed which would be mutally satisfactory to New Zealand and the United States on a bilateral basis and to all three parties to ANZUS on a trilateral basis. The United States was hopeful, even reasonably confident at one stage, having had some dialogue on this matter with New Zealand officials, that time would be the essence of success, and went along with that proposal. We wished that it would prove to be so. We had some caution. We expressed our views to our friends in New Zealand that both the United States and Australia agreed on the common tactic which was adopted up to very recently. I repeat that that tactic was to respond positively to the request of New Zealand to be given time to try to resolve the situation.

The Leader of the Opposition, with all of the virtues and advantages that Opposition provides-it means that one can declare without ever having to be brought to account by performing-has asserted that this matter should have been resolved well before this. If he blames this Government for shortcomings in this matter, he must at least equally, and I would suggest on a commensurate basis to a much greater degree, impugn the United States Administration for not resolving the situation. But neither of us concluded that the propositions being put by the Leader of the Opposition now were practical in any way at all. They were the sorts of things that were considered and they were rejected by the United States Administration because, in its view, they were impractical. Similarly, they were not accepted by us because they were not practical.

The Prime Minister has made it quite clear what Australia's attitude is. In a letter, a paraphrase of which appeared in the media in the latter part of January, he made a number of points. I will repeat some of them. He said:

I stressed that I had no wish or intention to act in any way as an emissary. But I knew that the New Zealand and United States governments had had a number of bilateral exchanges on the subject, and that it would be helpful to have his (Mr Lange's) judgment on where the matter now stood and the prospects of an agreed outcome.

We were signalling that the appeal for more time had been responded to but that the provision of time was starting to run short. We had to find out what the situation was so that we could make deliberative judgments. The Prime Minister said:


that is, Australia-

had firmly concluded from that review that ANZUS continued to serve fundamental Australian security interests.

There is no ambiguity about where Australia stood, under this Government, in respect of its commitment to ANZUS and we left no ambiguity in the minds of the New Zealand Administration. The Prime Minister went on:

. . . Australia . . . had its own well-known and clearly expressed position on visits by United States warships and the importance of maintaining the neither confirm nor deny principle-

That is, in relation to the carriage of nuclear weaponry. We clearly put on record, in case there was any uncertainty about it, what had been well placed on record successively over many years, namely, that under a Labor government-we declared it in opposition and in government it is a practice that we apply-the ships of the United States, whether nuclear powered or capable, are able to use our port facilities in transit. We made it clear that we would oppose home porting of foreign warships in Australia, the storage of nuclear weapons on Australian territory and the launching of operations involving nuclear weapons from Australian territory. But, those very important principles to one side, we do provide the facilities that I have just mentioned.

We must understand that there is a different nature in important respects-not all respects-in the relationship between Australia and New Zealand as against that between the United States and New Zealand. We are much closer. That is fairly obvious. Historically there are many reasons why we are very close. Culturally we have a similar background. Commercially we are closely integrated. Regionally and geographically we can share, though not exclusively, similar interests. If Australia were to adopt what the Leader of the Opposition seems to imply-that is, a policy of going out and giving the New Zealanders a thoroughly good buffeting to teach them a lesson, which is what he is getting at; apply pressure; push them about and perhaps imply some sort of threats-it would be counter-productive. I repeat that the atmospherics in New Zealand are vastly different from the attitudes in this country and heavy-handedness will not be successful. If there is to be any success, it will be through persuasiveness.

Let us look at the implications of what the Leader of the Opposition is talking about. He implies that we should take a tougher, stronger line. Let us look at the relationship in trade alone. I use this not to uphold single-mindedly the dominance of commercial relationships-that is not a view to which I would assert-but because it is part of the ingredients of the important relationships and it is part of a very important set of relationships between Australian and New Zealand. Trade between the two countries in 1983-84 amounted to $2,323m as opposed to a little over $1,850m a year earlier; that is, a 25 per cent increase. New Zealand is Australia's third largest export market. The relationship is developing all the time. Instead of taking the clumsy line that the Leader of the Opposition seems to imply-he spelt out nothing, except some sort of mediation; I do not know whether he is proposing a trans-Tasman arbitration commission or some such thing, but that is nonsense-he should recall from his days as Foreign Minister that the processes for these things if they are to be resolved are often painstaking, quite frequently difficult and require application most often at a discreet level. Shouting across the fence line at New Zealand will be counter-productive. Shouting publicly that the New Zealanders are so empty and mindless that they are unable to attend to this situation themselves will guarantee a counter reaction rather than a productive response.

It will not be easy to sort out this situation. The Prime Minister made that clear today. But if we take steps which imply that we are going to become heavy-handed and that we will apply some sort of threat against New Zealand, I would be quite concerned about the potential consequences. It could well be, given the atmospherics in New Zealand at present, that any tendency there to feel isolated or cut off could be emphasised and aggravated. Indeed, there could be an incitement for some more active people there to embark on isolationist rhetoric. That is not a line of conduct that we want to encourage or provoke in any way at all.

I repeat that there are differences of view within New Zealand as against Australia in respect of the ANZUS Treaty. For all of that, the important thing to bear in mind is that the Government of New Zealand has declared that it is firmly committed to the ANZUS Treaty and wants to work out some arrangement so that it can come back effectively to operate within it. If it is possible to do so, we should take steps to encourage it to do so. If it is not possible to do so immediately, we should take the advice of the United States Administration, which we endorse completely. That simply is that there are problems within ANZUS but ANZUS still exists, it still functions--

Mr Tuckey —Not according to Mr Lange. Mr Lange says it does not.

Mr HAYDEN —The United States Administration said it does. Mr Paul Wolfowitz, the Secretary of State for East Asia, is on record as publicly declaring that. We accept what the United States Administration says and we will persevere. Our exchanges will be discreet, practical and sensible and we will not resort to the public megaphone diplomacy preferred by the Opposition.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs Darling) —Order! The Minister's time has expired.