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Thursday, 15 December 1983
Page: 3837


Senator HARRADINE(11.11) — I will speak very briefly on this matter. I realise that the matter is very important but we are constrained by time. I will take only five minutes of the Senate's time. It is, indeed, ironical that the issue surrounds the vessel HMS Invincible. Only two years ago this vessel was, in fact, offered to Australia. It was described by the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Hayden, as a spruce goose. I think time has told that it is a vessel with manifest capabilities. It is certainly not a spruce goose. It is a unfortunate situation that we in Australia and the government of the day allowed the United Kingdom to get away with reneging on the agreement that had been entered into between Australia and the British Government at that time. I believe we should not have done that. We should have stuck to our guns and, if that were the case, Invincible would have been Australia's. We are now in a less defensible position than we would have been in had the government of the day stuck to its guns.

I come to the other matter and that is the availability of docking facilities for such vessels of not only friendly allied nations but also of direct parties to the ANZUS Treaty-for example, the United States of America. This controversy has raised concern, rightly or wrongly, in the minds of people in the United States. It has certainly raised concern among those of us in Australia who are most concerned about the defence of this country. Whatever is able to be said about the ANZUS Treaty, one thing can be said, that is, that much depends upon the interpretation of the imprecise terms of the Treaty.

Nevertheless, on even the worst interpretation of those terms-that is, the interpretation given by Nixon at Guam, which has now been shorthanded to the Guam Doctrine-there is no doubt that, if Australia were attacked either by proxy or directly by a super-power such as the, Soviet Union, the United States would come to Australia's defence. That is clear under the terms, and even on the worst interpretation, of the ANZUS Treaty. For that reason alone, the ANZUS Treaty is of national strategic importance, given the fact that Australia could not withstand the onslaught of a super-power without increasing tenfold its defence expenditure and, for the information of Senator Mason and the Australian Democrats, without obtaining a nuclear capability. That is what is missing in this debate. It must be recognised by the Australian Democrats, and by the people who may be influenced by the fears being engendered by them, that the alternative option for Australia is to obtain a nuclear capability.

I believe, therefore, that it is absolutely vital that what the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) said and the commitment that he gave when he was in America to the upkeep and the honouring of the ANZUS Treaty must be observed in practice in this case so that an example can be given to our direct partners in the ANZUS Treaty that we are serious about that Treaty, we regard the obligations under that Treaty seriously and that we expect that in the event of the worst coming to the worst the terms and obligations of the other parts of the Treaty will also be honoured.