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Thursday, 28 February 1985
Page: 381

Mr PEACOCK —Will the Prime Minister call an immediate meeting of the ANZUS Council-that is, at the Foreign and Defence Minister level-so that all three alliance partners can work together to prevent the utter destruction of the ANZUS alliance, which is, as we have said, fundamental to our nation's security interests? I remind the Prime Minister that Article VII of the ANZUS Treaty provides that 'the Council should be so organised as to be able to meet at any time'.

Mr HAWKE —I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question. I assure him that discussions took place with our friends in the United States of America when I was there about what are the best sorts of things to do to ensure that relations between Australia and the United States can be maintained. We are concerned also with trying to maintain relations between Australia and New Zealand at the operative levels. The question of the calling of a meeting of the ANZUS Council, to which the honourable gentleman referred, is also under consideration. We are handling this aspect of the matter, as indeed all others, in a way which, by our calculations and those of our friends, is best calculated to minimise the damage to the trilateral relationship which may occur.

I assure the Leader of the Opposition that, as a government, we will be doing nothing which will exacerbate the real difficulties which exist. In that respect we are at one with the Administration of the United States. I am quite prepared to keep the Leader of the Opposition informed of developments in this regard. I hope and indeed believe from his reaction that he would not want to see anything done which unduly damaged the relationship. We all want to get back to the most effective operation between the three of us. I am more than pleased to give him an undertaking that I will keep him informed of what develops.