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Monday, 25 March 1985
Page: 859

Mr SCOTT(8.49) —In this Address-in-Reply debate I wish to canvass a number of areas and, in doing so, mention this Government's achievements. I heard the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Cunningham) canvass quite widely many of those achievements and I will avoid repeating them. I wish to congratulate Ministers, chairpersons and Mr Speaker on their election to their responsible positions. I congratulate the Special Minister of State, the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young). It was his new Electoral Act, put through the last Parliament, that enabled so many new faces to be present in this Thirty-fourth Parliament. It was that same Electoral Act that improved the Senate voting system and brought in public funding of election campaigns. Those who have spent a number of years in this House will recall the determination of the Minister to see the reforms and the introduction of public funding.

The first Hawke Labor Government seriously addressed the problems of the unemployed and those on community welfare benefits. This is a continuing task but one on which we in government will not turn our back. There is still very much to do. Thankfully, gone are the days when the ill and the infirm were treated like third class citizens when they applied for an invalid pension. Now they do not need to feel like street beggars, unwanted and uncared for. We have a government that is responsive to their problems.

In the period available to me I would like to address some specific matters of great concern to Australia's standing as a nation in today's world. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) has recently in this House condemned the outrageous killing of black people in South Africa on 21 March this year. Similar killings at Sharpeville were carried out by the South African Government 25 years to the day before these recent killings. The Minister, speaking on behalf of this Labor Government, reaffirmed the Government's total opposition to the injustice and inhumanity of apartheid. The shadow Minister, the honourable member for Goldstein (Mr Macphee), wholeheartedly endorsed this Government's statement. I applaud the shadow Minister for his stand. I hope he can hold that line.

We respond when such an outrage as the recent South African killings is given world-wide publicity, but support for the black people of South Africa is needed on a continuing and increasing basis. The conditions of the South African blacks are without parallel in today's world. Let me give some facts to help illustrate the evil of South African apartheid. In South Africa last year 114 men were hanged. I repeat: 114 men were hanged. That is 24 more than in 1983 and 15 more than in 1982. All 114 were men, of whom 87 were black, 24 were coloured, two were white and one was of Asian origin. Just as evil and terrifying is the number of deaths behind bars. In 1984, 126 people died in police custody due, according to official reports, to injuries before arrests, 21; suicide, 38; natural causes, 61; assault by other prisoners, 6; and detainees taken to hospital, 15. The Minister for Foreign Affairs was correct when he said:

The Government believes that the vile and repugnant apartheid system remains the basic cause of the unrest and discontent amongst South Africa's majority black population. Twenty three million blacks, 77 per cent of the population, cannot be deliberately excluded from the political life of their country.

I am pleased to advise this House of the fine work being carried out in Australia by such organisations as the Campaign Against Racial Exploitation. The driving force is Jim and Irene Gale, two wonderfully dedicated people. There is also the work of Eddie Funde, the representative of the African National Congress. I try to assist as a trustee of the African Liberation Trust Fund. I commend the Minister for Foreign Affairs on his statement. I congratulate the Opposition shadow Minister for his support. I would be delighted to see more of my colleagues support the Campaign Against Racial Exploitation and the African Liberation Trust Fund.

The people of New Zealand have shown an amount of courage, almost unequalled, in their stand against South African apartheid. In a land where rugby is a national sport it speaks volumes that the New Zealand people stood up against the South African rugby tour of 1981. Again, one of our oldest and closest allies, New Zealand, has shown that special kind of courage. I refer of course to its determination to struggle to secure a nuclear-free environment. The people of New Zealand in a general election on 4 July 1984 voted for a Labor Government and a policy of no nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered ships to enter their ports. The people of New Zealand are to be congratulated on their decision and their determination. In today's mad nuclear arms race, we must surely hope and pray that their lead will be successful and that it will be followed by many other nations.

In the Governor-General's Speech at the opening of this Thirty-fourth Parliament, in outlining our Government's position the Governor-General said:

The Government remains deeply committed to advancing the cause of peace, arms control and disarmament.

He went on to say:

. . . will actively promote programs for the International Year of Peace in 1986, and will advance the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone proposal.

The stand taken by the people and the Government of New Zealand can and will greatly assist our Government in pursuing and, indeed, achieving a South Pacific nuclear-free zone. Indeed, the South Pacific Forum held in Tuvalu in August 1984 adopted Australia's set of principles to establish a nuclear-free zone. It should also be stressed that the South Pacific Forum accepted unanimously that individual Forum countries were free to make their own decisions about visits of United States nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered ships. That principle was as follows:

That South Pacific countries retain their unqualified sovereign rights to decide for themselves, consistent with their support for these objectives, their security arrangements, and such questions as the access to their ports and airfields by vessels and aircraft of other countries.

The concern for things nuclear is world wide. Tens of thousands of concerned anti-nuclear demonstrators recently took to the streets in Belgium protesting at the proposed siting of cruise and Pershing II missiles; likewise in the Netherlands.

Canada, America's closest ally, does not permit the stationing of nuclear weapons on Canadian soil. What is more, it does not consider that such a policy is incompatible with its obligations to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. United States nuclear weapons were removed from Canada at the request of the Canadian Government in the late 1950s. The Canadian Government's official policy was most clearly expressed by the Minister of External Affairs, Mr Clark, in the House of Commons on 15 February 1985. The Minister made the following observations:

The position of the Government of Canada on the question of nuclear arms on Canadian soil is abundantly clear. We do not allow nuclear arms to be stationed on Canadian soil. In the event of any contingency plan which might call for the stationing of nuclear arms here, this Government retains its right to refuse nuclear arms on Canadian soil, and this Government would be prepared to exercise our option to refuse nuclear arms on Canadian soil if we believed that to be in the interests of Canada.

It is my view that those who would criticise New Zealand for its stand are out of touch. They are batting on the wrong side. The concern around the globe about things nuclear is growing. New Zealand has taken a courageous, forward-thinking stand and I sincerely hope that the Australian Labor Party Government will give New Zealand every possible help and support. We can demonstrate such support at the South Pacific Forum to be held in August 1985 in the Cook Islands, where the Forum countries are to discuss a nuclear free zone in the region. Support for the principled stand taken by New Zealand will be echoed in many countries around the globe. Even the United States has nuclear free zones covering 80 communities and nearly 10 million people. In Japan more and more people are concerned over possible visits by United States nuclear-armed ships. Declarations of local nuclear weapons free zones by Japanese towns and townships more than doubled between 1982 and 1984, from 64 to 146, and included at least five of Japan's 47 prefectures. It is accepted there will be nearly 300 such declarations by the end of 1985. No, New Zealand is not out of step.

The New Zealand position has been determined by the belief that the nuclear arms race is the single greatest threat to international security and that the nuclear powers have no right to involve every other country in the risks of nuclear confrontation. This position was spelt out by Prime Minister Lange in his opening speech in the foreign affairs debate of 9 October 1984 when he said:

Many believe the nuclear arms race to be the greatest single threat to their security. The Government commits itself to do all it can to reduce that threat. In the end realism dictates that nuclear powers will begin to exercise the responsibility they have to all of us when they are prepared to consider two basic propositions. The first is that the security provided by their competition to build more and improved weapons is illusory, and the second is that their security and ours can be enhanced only through agreement to slash the nuclear arsenals . . . The nuclear States have absolutely no mandate for imposing the risks of nuclear confrontation on all other countries and holding the world at ransom.