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Tuesday, 19 March 1985
Page: 466

Mr HAWKE (Prime Minister)(2.36) —I will deal with each of the issues raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock) and demonstrate again the insatiable and regrettable desire he has to put Australia down and to put Australia's national interests down. Let me come first to the question of ANZUS, on which he spent some time. There is no doubt that the problems in regard to ANZUS which arose because of the decision of the New Zealand Government in regard to the access of United States naval vessels to her ports have created for Australia a most difficult and complex situation. It has created a problem for us, coming as we do into the situation concerning the United States and New Zealand. The facts are that this Government's steady response, in those difficult circumstances created by others, has preserved Australia's national security interests and it has in fact earned the respect of both of our allies, the United States and New Zealand. Moreover, it is important to understand that this Government's steady response to the difficulties created by others offers the basis for a full restoration of the trilateral operative arrangements under ANZUS when circumstances permit.

Since the decision of the New Zealand Government which has precipitated this problem, the Government has been guided by three major objectives. It is important that they be understood. The first is to preserve the ANZUS Treaty; the second is to ensure the continued strength and viability of the Australia-United States alliance; and the third is to maintain to the fullest extent possible Australia's traditional, friendly bilateral relationship with New Zealand. All that we have done to date, notwithstanding the best efforts of the Opposition to sow doubt in the minds of Australians and of foreign governments, has served those three major policy objectives. Let the first fact be made clear; that the ANZUS Treaty continues to exist, a point not in dispute between any of the three ANZUS partners. Nor is there any wish or intention on the part of any of those partners to do away with the Treaty.

Mr Hodgman —You must be joking.

Mr HAWKE —It is said that I must be joking. Perhaps those opposite will believe what is said by the President of the United States and what is said by other spokesmen for the United States. The United States in particular has made it clear through a number of statements, through various spokesmen, that it does not intend to replace the ANZUS Treaty.

Mr Hodgman —Have you read what they are writing about you in Pravda? In Moscow they think you are marvellous.

Mr HAWKE —Let us get those facts clear, particularly for the benefit of the honourable member who in his benighted way keeps dragging Moscow into it. Let me first of all refer to the statement by Mr Bernard Kolb, a State Department spokesman. This is what he had to say on 5 March:

There are 'no plans to terminate the ANZUS Treaty linking Australia, New Zealand and the United States in a South Pacific alliance . . . The United States regard the ANZUS Treaty as still in existence, there are no plans to terminate the Treaty or the alliance structure'.

That is the statement of a spokesman for the United States State Department on 5 March. Of course, what those opposite would say is that the spokesmen for the United States are lying. Is that what they say? Do they or do they not believe what they are saying?

On 6 March, the following day, in Kuala Lumpur, Assistant Secretary of State Wolfowitz, before meeting the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bill Hayden, said:

There is no basis for any speculation about a bilateral United States Treaty. We view the ANZUS Treaty as a very sound framework for security co-operation. We view the ANZUS Treaty relationships with Australia as solid and secure.

I believe the words that the President himself has used: These are the words of Assistant Secretary Wolfowitz:

We view the ANZUS Treaty relationships with Australia as solid and secure.

Then we had today the news which should totally nail the misrepresentations that have come from the Leader of the Opposition. On the 12.30 p.m. news today, Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist Middleton dealt with what is happening currently in the United States Congress. He said:

They are considering a draft resolution which would call on the United States to bring ANZUS to a formal conclusion.

Middleton continued:

At the congressional hearings the Assistant Secretary of State Wolfowitz indicated his opposition to such a move.

On the 12.30 news today Middleton said:

At the same hearings Mr Wolfowitz and a senior Defense Department official, Mr James Kelly, considered that the New Zealand ban had not given the Soviet Union the strategic edge in the South Pacific partly because of the maintenance of strong military ties with Australia.

There we have representatives of the United States Administration saying that these adverse results have not occurred. They had not occurred because, in the view of the United States Administration, the maintenance of the strong military ties with Australia had prevented that result. Those are the facts. Those are the statements of the United States Administration. If the people on the other side of this place want to say that the United States Administration is lying, they are entitled to say that but they will be judged accordingly.

We in this place and the people of Australia are entitled to ask: What is the position of the Leader of the Opposition in regard to the ANZUS Treaty? I remind the House that from the election of the New Zealand Labour Party Government last year until the banning of the entry of USS Buchanan from New Zealand, the Leader of the Opposition consistently called for the booting out of New Zealand from ANZUS and for its replacement by a bilateral treaty. That was the position adopted from the outset by the Leader of the Opposition: 'Boot New Zealand out of the alliance and create a new bilateral treaty'. On 8 October in this Parliament he called on us to take on the New Zealand Government and to lay the groundwork of negotiation for a bilateral treaty. He said the same thing just a little later. He said 'Take on New Zealand. Boot it out. If by three months it has not changed its position, kick it out'. That was the position of the Leader of the Opposition in regard to the ANZUS Treaty. He said quite clearly: 'Get rid of New Zealand; kick it out'.

Mr Goodluck —That's right.

Mr HAWKE —The honourable member for Franklin says: 'That's right'. The honourable member had a lot of sense in not going to Thredbo. It could not have been worth while. Having said well back into last year that we should kick New Zealand out, having adopted the role of arsonist, of trying to set fire to the Treaty and trying to get rid of New Zealand, the Leader of the Opposition-the man who talks about consistency of approach-then decided that he would take another tack. Having said: 'Get rid of them; kick them out; bully them', he said 'Oh, no' and attacked the Government on another course. On 28 February this man who had been the proponent of the destruction of New Zealand, the excommunication of New Zealand, having called upon me for three months to kick New Zealand out, said: 'No, I have changed my view now. It is your role and duty to call a special meeting of the ANZUS Council'. On 4 March, having consistently adopted this bullying and hectoring approach towards New Zealand, he went on AM and said that we in Australia should in fact mediate and try to get the parties together. There is absolutely no consistency in his approach-kick New Zealand out one month and the next month try to bring it back in.

I will not spend any time on the contribution of the honourable member for Goldstein (Mr Macphee) because I have too much respect for him. I usually respect what the honourable member has to say. So, with charity, I will overlook his proposition about what we should do. He said that we should call a conference to determine Australia's security responsibilities. Just listen to whom he said one should call to that conference. He said that we should call a conference of representatives of ASEAN, the South Pacific Forum, China, Japan, Canada and the United States to form the basis for an evaluation of ANZUS. Has one ever heard anything more ridiculous? He said that we should get this collection of aligned, non-aligned, communist, non-communist, developed and undeveloped countries together and ask them to establish the processes for determining Australia's national security interests. What a ridiculous proposition!

The Leader of the National Party of Australia, the right honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), weighed in with the proposition that we should undertake economic sanctions against New Zealand. I invite members of the House to look at what he had to say on 27 February. He said:

Just going to cutting off intelligence is not enough.

He said:

You should also look at what you may be able to do under the Closer Economic Relations-start imposing economic sanctions on them.

One therefore has only to look at the way in which the Leader of the Opposition, the shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have vacillated to see what credence one can give to their approach in this matter.

Another persistent strain in the approach by the Opposition in this area over recent weeks has been its calling into question, which it had done again today, of the American alliance-the alliance between the United States and Australia. This is a deeply dishonest line and the Opposition knows it is dishonest. It is a tragedy that the Opposition and the Leader of the Opposition have so little real concern for the welfare of this country that they will lie about this matter, knowing that the American-Australian alliance has not been damaged in any way. In pushing this line it is important that the people of Australia should understand that the Leader of the Opposition is not simply calling into question the credibility of this Government, myself as Prime Minister or the Foreign Minister (Mr Hayden). What must be understood is that the Opposition is bringing into question the credibility of the President of the United States, the Secretary of State of the United States and all the spokespersons who, since this matter has arisen, have expressed the view of the United States Administration. Cutting out all the cant, it is as simple as this: The Leader of the Opposition is calling the President of the United States a liar, and that is something with which he has to live. He is calling Reagan a liar, he is calling Shultz a liar and he is calling all spokespersons for the United States liars on this issue. That is something with which he will have to live.

I will not take up the time of the House going to all of the sources that I could on this issue. However, I remind the House again of the following statement of President Reagan on 7 February in the United States:

Australia is a reliable ally, an important trading partner, a trusted friend and a fellow democracy.

As honourable members will recall, he went on to say that he could not overstate the value that the United States placed on its friendship with Australia. On 20 February, Secretary of State Shultz issued a Press statement which included the following:

I am pleased by the announcement of Prime Minister Hawke of Australia on 19 February that his Cabinet has reaffirmed Australia's support for the ANZUS Alliance and for the full responsibilities that the Alliance entails.

That was the statement of firstly, the President of the United States and then Secretary of State Shultz. The Government could, if it wished, refer to a considerably larger number of statements from other spokespersons for the United States which have made it clear from their point of view that the alliance relationship between Australia and the United States has never been in a sounder position.

What about New Zealand? Of course, just as the Opposition's approach to more powerful countries than ours is one of mindless deference, when it comes to smaller countries the Opposition simply takes the attitude of the bully. We are not, and we will not be, in the business of attempting to bully New Zealand. It is a reflection upon the integrity of the Opposition that it would seek to do so. The national security interests of this country demand that we maintain an effective bilateral defence relationship with New Zealand because, unfortunately, there are signs of potential increases in instability in the South Pacific region. It would be an act of gross derogation of our duties to the people of Australia if we did not maintain in the best possible shape our bilateral defence relationships with New Zealand. For that reason the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) will go to New Zealand at the end of this month for three or four days to conduct and continue discussions with his counterparts in New Zealand so that our bilateral relationship will be maintained in good shape. I will be meeting in Canberra with Mr Lange at his request in a few weeks.

Whilst one could go on talking about the way in which the Opposition has played havoc with the national interest of this country, I simply content myself with the observations that were made in the Sun Herald on 10 March. I ask those on the opposite side of the House to listen to what was said by the distinguished commentator, Peter Robinson, and I ask all members of this House and the people of Australia to make their judgment on the Leader of the Opposition in the light of Peter Robinson's statement. There is no doubt that honourable members opposite will want to make a lot of noise because they will not like the independent assessment that has been made of them and their leader and their posturing on this matter. Despite the fact that honourable members opposite will not like it, I ask the House to notice what Peter Robinson said in his column 'Candid Comment' on 10 March. He stated:

As for Andrew Peacock, it was said after the last election that he would return to the political battlefield with renewed vigour and increased stature as an Opposition leader.

There is precious little sign of this to date.

His attempts to castigate the Hawke Government for being ''weak'' over ANZUS have not only been crudely unconvincing, but seem to me to reek of the flaw which all too often characterises conservative oppositions-

I ask the House to note this-

the willingness to undermine national interests in order to score minor political points . . .

After having said that the Leader of the Opposition was about undermining Australia's national interests Peter Robinson went on to say:

It also seems to me to be bad politics . . . if his remarks have any effect at all it will be to sow seeds of doubt about Australia in American minds.

He asked the question: Can this really be in the national interest? The answer is obvious. What Robinson is saying and what the people of Australia are saying is that the way in which the Leader of the Opposition is going on is manifestly against the interests of this country.

I leave ANZUS to come to the question of Indo-China. I simply say at the outset how appalled the members of this House and the people of Australia must be with this Leader of the Opposition getting up and referring to the 'Vietnam side-show'. He, the man who from 1969 to 1972 was Minister for the Army in the Fraser Government, comes along and talks about the efforts of Bill Hayden and this Government to achieve peace in that tortured area and refers to a 'Vietnam side-show' when the truth is that that Party of which he is now Leader presided over Australia's involvement in the Vietnam war, which was one of the most divisive and discredited episodes in Australia's history.

Let me make it quite clear that when the Government decided in April 1983 to do what we could to facilitate a settlement in Cambodia, Bill Hayden and I fully appreciated the difficulties and the risks involved. We did so because the Cambodian crisis represents the greatest threat to stability in our region, not just because it offers the opportunity for unwanted external influence to involve ourselves in our region but also because of the enormous suffering of the Cambodian people, the suffering that they have endured for more than a decade and the suffering for which the policies of the previous conservative governments have to bear a full share of responsibility. So when Bill Hayden and I began this initiative we did it for all those basic reasons, knowing full well that it would be a difficult and delicate task. We at no point overestimated our capacity or our influence, but we did believe we owed it to the people of Australia, for the reasons I have given, and that we owed it to the people of the region to do what we could to try to bring the parties together.

It should be understood by those who have a broad conceptual grasp of the nature of this problem what the Leader of the Opposition said. He said: 'We do not want little bits here, little bits there, decisions on this issue and decisions on that issue. What we want is a broad conceptual framework'. That is right. The great tragedy is that the Opposition will not demonstrate that broad conceptual grasp. The situation in Indo-China does not lend itself to some easy magical solution. There are deep, fundamental national antagonisms of long-standing duration. Let me just refer to some of those deep-seated conflicting interests that are involved in the problem. First of all we have the centuries old antagonism between China and Vietnam. Secondly, we have the situation of Vietnam's historical pretensions to leadership in the region. Thirdly, we have the horrendous memories and legacy associated with the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. Fourthly, we have the apprehension amongst some of the ASEAN countries about China. Fifthly, we have the Soviet Union's drive to spread its influence globally, including on China's borders. When we have those fundamental, deep-seated factors operating, some of them spreading back over the centuries, it is absurd to believe that we can produce a magic wand and provide an answer. Given that mixture of deep and long-standing antagonisms and apprehension, our Government believes it has no alternative to the slow and difficult process of trying to get the countries involved in understanding that their interests are going to be better served by having peace in this region than by wasting enormous resources in the mutually antagonistic set piece which has emerged in that area.

I say in this place without equivocation-and I will say it anywhere in Australia-that Bill Hayden, the Foreign Minister of this Government, has assiduously pursued Australia's interests and he has pursued those interests with honesty and integrity. The Foreign Minister and I have kept in close contact at all points in these endeavours. In doing so, Bill Hayden has established close co-operative and consultative relationships with his counterparts throughout the region which put totally into the shade any activities or actions of any of his conservative predecessors.

The Government's policies on Indo-China are based on five principles which we share with our ASEAN neighbours. Those principles are these: Before there can be a settlement there must be a withdrawal of Vietnamese forces from Cambodia. There must be an act of self-determination in Cambodia. Cambodia should enjoy a healthy and productive association with the nations of the region. The territorial integrity of all nations of the region should be guaranteed and the boundaries should be respected. In light of that, I repeat without the slightest element of equivocation whatsoever that I have the fullest confidence in Bill Hayden as Foreign Minister of this Government. He has, as I say, worked assiduously for two years on this initiative and he has earned the respect of all parties involved. Let me make it quite clear without referring to any other source that we know that Bill Hayden has the confidence of his counterparts. Let me simply refer to an article in the Age newspaper of today. Under the heading, 'Hanoi peace visit a convenient stick, Singapore Minister', it states:

Singapore's Foreign Minister, Mr Dhanabalan, says he believes some of the reactions in Australia to the recent visit to Vietnam by the Foreign Minister, Mr Hayden, 'seem to be hysterical'.

Mr Dhanabalan said that reactions here are hysterical. Mr Dhanabalan is quite clearly saying that conservative forces in this country are simply seeking to take advantage of a particular situation to hit Mr Hayden with a stick. He is saying that the reaction is hysterical. If Mr Dhanabalan is saying that the reaction of the Opposition on this issue is hysterical, we can rest assured that that is what the people of Australia are also saying. The basic truth is that, throughout the Indo-Chinese tragedy, as we look back over the years the conservative parties in this country in regard to that tragedy have consistently supported confrontation, divisiveness and war. Against that consistent approach of the conservative forces of this country to the tragedy of Indo-China by their emphasis on confrontation, divisiveness and war, my Party and this Government have consistently pursued the path of peace and we will continue to do so.

Finally, I turn to the reference by the Leader of the Opposition to the Middle East. In his snide way, he sought to suggest that this Government and I have sold out some commitment to the integrity and viability of the state of Israel. That is not true. It is as well to remember what was said in this place in May of last year when the Foreign Minister announced that we would extend our participation in the multinational force and observer group for another two years, and that involved a total period of three years following the election in March 1983. In making that announcement on 7 May, the Foreign Minister made it clear that we would not play any part in bringing about any increased stability. During that period our extension would involve looking for a replacement. That is going ahead. At no stage in the past, present or future have we or will we play a role in destabilising that region. We will not do that. We have every reason to believe that a suitable replacement for the Australian force will be found. I conclude by saying that the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition in this place has shown a combination of ignorance and prejudice and has been irremediably stained by a determination on the Opposition's part to repudiate the basic national strategic interests of this country. For that reason the Opposition will earn not only the censure but also the contempt of the Australian people.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister's time has expired.