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Monday, 4 May 1987
Page: 2551

Ms JAKOBSEN(10.07) —In speaking to the defence White Paper this evening, I wish to bring a slightly different perspective to it than that that has been put by the majority of my colleagues and also, respectfully, those members of the Opposition who have spoken to it. For instance, I wish to mention briefly the ANZUS pact and the significance of New Zealand's position vis-a-vis the United States of America as a result of its continued opposition to visits by nuclear armed or powered ships.

Mr Barry Jones —You should be declaring your interest.

Ms JAKOBSEN —I will declare my interest. The Minister for Science has indicated that I should declare my interest. I am of New Zealand origin. Obviously I am now a naturalised Australian.

Mr O'Neil —We won't hold that against you.

Ms JAKOBSEN —The honourable member for Grey is very tolerant. I am extremely pleased that Australia did not undertake approaches through economic or other pressure to overturn the stand that New Zealand had taken, as I believe that our best protection at any time is that of having independent neighbours that will stand up for their own rights. Indeed, it was interesting to hear the honourable member for Groom (Mr McVeigh) comment on the comparative size of New Zealand's population and that population's awareness of defence matters relating to its region and our region, which was unexpected when he visited that country recently. I put it to him that it is precisely because of its diminutive size that New Zealanders have that awareness. They cannot afford to ignore the world around them and must remain sensitive to the policies of neighbouring countries-including, of course, Australia.

It was also interesting to hear the Leader of the National Party of Australia (Mr Sinclair) earlier in this debate-some days ago-upbraiding the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) and the Government over its attitude to New Zealand. Perhaps he needs to know that there are people in this country also who would like Australia to follow New Zealand's lead with regard to the visits of nuclear armed and/or powered ships. Likewise, there are people in this country who question the expenditure of large amounts of money on defence, and there are others who would advocate a more non-aligned defence for Australia.

Many of these people fear that Australia's relationship with the United States of America is not a positive one. They are concerned that Australia is not an equal partner in the liaison and has no real say in the cut and thrust of America's activities in this region or elsewhere in the world. In short, they believe that we are not masters of our own destiny. Unfortunately these fears are fuelled by the existence and the mystery surrounding the so-called joint facilities.

While I may have a different view from the Minister on the prospect of a self-reliant defence policy leading to neutrality in the longer term-and I am sure I do have a very different view from his-I congratulate him on this honest attempt, which the White Paper is, to assess Australia's defence needs within the framework of existing relationships. I am pleased to note the decision to disperse and diversify our defence forces and equipment more meaningfully, and I acknowledge the excellent work that he has done in honing down our defence expenditure to ensure greater value for money. That change was desperately needed. As the Minister himself has said: `People and equipment must be appropriately deployed to deal with Australia's perceived defence needs'.

Many people in Western Australia will be pleased and relieved by the decision to develop a two-ocean navy policy and to expand the emphasis of defence in Western Australia. But others will be sorry, particularly given the prospect of a top secret Defence Signals Directorate satellite listening station being built in Western Australia to intercept signals from Soviet, Chinese and Indonesian satellites. There is already considerable concern in Western Australia that our involvement in the joint facilities predisposes an attack on Australia in any nuclear strike, no matter how limited. I believe that the campaign to take back North West Cape-which is well and truly on its way-will be heightened as a consequence of this decision. Even so, I acknowledge the need for a properly deployed Defence Force around Australia to offer protection to population centres in the unlikely event of hostilities utilising conventional weapons. No amount of appropriately placed defence equipment could save us should a nuclear strike occur.

This defence policy is not the brainchild of a paranoid administration. It represents a realistic attempt to assess the possibility of specific types of threats to Australia's security, and as such I support it. The Government has carefully analysed the defence capabilities within our region, including those of the Soviet Union. Two important assessments emerge. The first is that no regional power has the capability to mount a major attack on Australia, with such an attack being defined as one involving the seizure and occupation of a substantial portion of our territory. The second is that the capability to mount smaller scale-but still serious-military operations against us already exists in our region. The Minister calls the military strategy behind the policy layered defence, or defence in depth, and this does differ from the Dibb report proposals to some extent. This strategy dictates that we develop an Australian Defence Force capable of meeting any hostile force within our area of direct military interest with successive layers of forces capable of detecting, identifying and engaging any hostile approach. The defence in depth strategy proposes three layers of defence made up of long range radar surveillance, aerial and naval patrols, and land forces.

The White Paper also foreshadows a significant shift of regular and reserve forces to the north of Australia, while emphasising that no regional power has the capability to mount a major attack on Australia in the foreseeable future. It does not mean that Australia forswears offensive military operations in defence of its territory and interests, but I am sure that, as the Minister points out-and most members of this House would agree-we are fortunate in sharing a region with peace-loving nations.

Debate interrupted.