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Friday, 20 March 1987
Page: 1238

Mr HODGMAN(12.29) —Not even laryngitis would prevent my participating in this historic debate. Like the honourable member for Lindsay (Mr Free) who preceded me, I too feel very honoured that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) is present in the chamber while I am speaking. I commend to the Minister, who on many occasions I have said would have made a far better Prime Minister of Australia than the honourable member for Wills (Mr Hawke), that he take the time to read in Hansard what I believe is one of the finest foreign affairs strategy speeches delivered in this Parliament for many years, namely, the speech of the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) in this Parliament this morning. It was an excellent exposition.

The defence White Paper is simply not good enough for Australia. It is a penny-pinching policy based on wishful thinking and pious hopes. As a member of the Opposition Defence Committee, I have no hesitation in saying that about the only good thing I can say about this White Paper is that the Hawke socialist Government should be given a medal for at long last discovering that Cam Ranh Bay actually exists and that a real and threatening Soviet presence is in the Pacific. I guess that that discovery is better late than never. For too long members of the Hawke socialist Government, particularly those who reside in Moscow corner, have been peddling the line that Cam Ranh Bay does not exist, that there is no Soviet base in Cam Ranh Bay and that there is no threat to Australia. That line has been peddled at the highest level from Moscow and was repeated, I am informed, only this morning by the Soviet Ambassador who, once again, claimed that there was no Soviet base at Cam Ranh Bay.

This Parliament, and indeed this nation, is greatly indebted to one man who almost single- handedly took on the Soviets on this issue and beat them. I refer to Major Peter Young, a former distinguished and gallant serving officer, defence editor of the Australian newspaper and, in my view, the most experienced and capable defence writer in this country today. This followed statements by the Soviet Embassy counsellor, Mr Valery Zenskov, in a letter to the Australian earlier this year that there has never been such a base at Cam Ranh Bay and never will one be established there. Major Young took on the Soviets on this issue and beat them. On 14 February this year the Australian published on its front page a very detailed photograph above which was the headline `The base the Soviets say isn't there'. I want to read out the article in full because I think it is appropriate that it be in the Hansard of this Parliament. Even today I worry as to why the Soviets sent such a high ranking Soviet diplomat-Soviet Ambassador Samoteikin is no novice; he is a very senior, experienced diplomat-to this country unless it underlines my firm and fundamental view that the Soviet Union regards Australia as the richest prize in the Pacific. Ambassador Samoteikin continues to deny the existence of a Soviet naval base at Cam Ranh Bay which threatens not only just the immediate region but also the security of Australia.

Australians who do not want to believe that there is a Soviet presence, Australians who do not want to believe that Cam Ranh Bay exists, are living in cloud-cuckoo-land. They are about as thick as the 600-plus members of the House of Commons who, in August 1938, jeered and scorned Winston Churchill when he warned of the threat of nazi Germany. On that day Churchill could muster only four supporters in the House of Commons-three of them being Duff Cooper, Bracken and his own son-in-law, Duncan Sandys. The report of that speech-it was made just after Berchtesgaden; I think it was delivered on 15 August 1938-shows that Churchill was consistently jeered by his conservative colleagues as he said to the House of Commons: `I am now going to tell you the ugly truth you do not want to hear'. Australians who do not believe there is a Soviet threat in our region are living again the ghosts of the mistakes of the past. One cannot dream away the Soviet threat; it is reality. So I want to read this article into the Hansard because I want it on record. I want Ambassador Samoteikin to know and I want the Soviet Embassy to report back to Moscow that, once again from this side of the House, there has been a member prepared to stand and nail the Soviets for the lie that they peddle, a lie which Australia will ignore at its peril. The article states:

The release by United States sources yesterday of high-resolution satellite photographs of Cam Ranh Bay of a quality suitable for reproduction has provided conclusive proof that the Soviets maintain a permanent military base in Vietnam.

The photographs show Soviet warships and planes deployed in the port and airfield areas and provide confirmation of claims in The Australian that Cam Ranh Bay is the largest Soviet naval base outside of the Soviet Union.

I repeat: It is the largest Soviet naval base outside the Soviet Union. The article continues:

They clearly show the presence of three Soviet Echo and Foxtrot submarines, one Grisha III-class fast guided-missile corvette and three Nanuchka-class guided-missile patrol combatants.

The satellite photographs were checked for veracity by an independent air photographic interpretation analyst and declared genuine.

They have been forwarded to the minister-counsellor at the Soviet Embassy in Canberra, Mr Valery Zemskov, who recently claimed in a letter to The Australian that ``there never has been such a base and never will it be established there''.

The 6200-tonne Echo II-class cruise missile submarine is powered by two nuclear reactors.

Between 1961 and 1967, 29 vessels of this class were built and they are split between the Soviet Pacific and Northern fleets.

They take 20 torpedoes and have been modified to carry the SS-N-12 nuclear missile, which has a range of 480km.

The diesel-electric-powered Foxtrot-class patrol submarines have a range of 32,000km.

The Foxtrots, which carry 22 torpedoes, were built between 1958 and 1971. Only 62 of the total program of 160 were completed as the change to nuclear boats took effect.

The Grisha-class boats, which started production in 1970, are often used by the KGB, while the Nanuchka missile corvettes, which carry 20 missiles, are commonly deployed in coastal waters, or in groups of two or three in the Mediterranean and Pacific.

The satellite photographs show the key development of port facilities during the past 10 years-

it has been going on for 10 years-

since the Soviets are believed to have taken over.

The two piers left by the Americans in 1975 have grown to seven-

so they have not been sitting on their hands-

while there is evidence of new warehouses, fuel and other support facilities and ammunition dumps, which are believed to contain the latest cruise and surface-to-surface missiles.

More important, the photographs confirm the permanent deployment of one squadron of the latest fourth-generation MiG 23 Flogger fighters, and a squadron each of Bear and Badger long-range strike bombers.

Some of these bombers are used in an anti-submarine role and for long-range maritime reconnaissance. The strike versions are armed with long-range cruise missiles and are capable of reaching Australia.

The Soviets lie, saying there is not even a base there; yet they have the capacity to hit Australia from Cam Ranh Bay and this sleeping Government has until recently pretended that Cam Ranh Bay did not exist. Where on earth are we going? The article continues:

At a recent press conference in Sydney, the commander of the United States Pacific fleet, Admiral James Lyons, said that despite Soviet denials there was no doubt ``Cam Ranh Bay was a fully operating base''.

He said that on any given day, ``you will find 20 to 25 surface combatants, three to five submarines, a squadron of fighter interceptor aircraft, strike bombers, and submarine and reconnaissance aircraft, naval infantry and surface-to-air missiles-all of them nuclear capable''.

But the Soviet Union says it is not there. I note that my colleagues the honourable member for Bass (Mr Smith), the honourable member for Mayo (Mr Downer) and others are in the chamber. We must pin the Soviet lie. The lie is repeated over and over again. Do people not realise the implications of the Gorbachev statement in Vladivostok last year when he said that the Soviet is now a Pacific power? It was not `will be'; he says it is now. How many in this Parliament have stopped on the way back from the United States and taken a CINPAC briefing in Hawaii? One is not allowed to say what one has been told, but it scares the pants off one to realise that the Soviet presence is so great, so threatening, and yet, with great respect to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is at the table, and others of the Hawke socialist Government, they have been saying for the last four years: `Don't worry about it. It does not exist. The reds under the beds people are screaming again'. In the White Paper one has to go to page 15 before Cam Ranh Bay even gets a damn mention. What does it get? It gets one line. It gets:

The . . . Soviet naval and air . . . presence at Cam Ranh Bay . . . is a significant concern for Australian defence policy.

`A significant concern'! My colleague the shadow Minister for Communications, the honourable member for Goldstein (Mr Macphee), who is at the table, is a master of the English language. I would think he would agree with me that this has to be the greatest understatement of the decade. It is written in Russell Hillese. That is the new language of defence in this country. It comes from the same people who propose a new flag for the Defence Department-all white. In Russell Hillese we are told that it is a significant concern. It is the greatest threat that Australia has been confronted with since World War II. That is what sort of a concern it is, and I am sick and tired of the way Australia sleeps. The proposition of Fortress Australia or `She'll be right, Jack' has been this Government's policy. It is: `Don't worry, mate. She'll be right. It's not a worry. It's not going to get to us'. The Soviets have nuclear missiles at Cam Ranh Bay right now with a capacity to land in Australia, and the best that the Defence Department can say is that it is a significant concern. It is the 1930s all over again. I thought policies of appeasement died with Neville Chamberlain. We have a situation today of a nation being lulled into a false sense of security.

Time is running out for me but, more importantly, it is running out for Australia. The Tasman Sea, since ANZUS went, has become a Soviet maritime playground-no surveillance whatsoever. The Royal Australian Navy cannot carry out surveillance; the New Zealand Navy is too tiny; the United States Navy cannot do it because its ships cannot get in there as they cannot get port access in New Zealand. On a recent Antarctic expedition some 23 Soviet maritime vessels were sighted along the Antarctic coastline. The Soviets already have four Antarctic bases on Australian territory.

We really are living in a marvellous world. We have a defence policy which virtually says as far as Northern Australia is concerned `Let's whack up two signs instructing the enemy to please invade between these two signs', and we are totally ignoring the threat from the south. Does the Defence Department not know that when the Soviet marine science vessel broke down some four to six years ago and came into Hobart for urgent repairs it was accompanied by a Soviet submarine? Half my ethnic community voters in Tasmania went out of their trees to see a Soviet submarine locked up at Prince's Wharf.

Time has now almost run out for me, but it will run out for Australia if this Government does not wake up to the fact that Australia today is naked, defenceless. This White Paper is weak, penny-pinching and inadequate. If we want to defend Australia we should double defence expenditure for the next three years and give our men and women in uniform the chance to fight, and the equipment to fight with, to keep Australia free, as we should be, for future generations.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar) —Order! It being 12.45 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with sessional order 101a. The debate may be resumed at a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 until 2 p.m.