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Thursday, 29 March 1984
Page: 904


Senator HEARN(4.52) —In speaking to this matter of public importance I am very mindful of the United Nations Charter which begins in its Preamble with these words:

We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war . . .

I believe this points to the fact that it is the political will of the people of a country as well as those people who represent them in the parliament who must be active in seeking peace. But peace is not the absence of war. Peace is an activity using three capacities of the human being: Thinking, feeling and willing. An ever-increasing number of people throughout the world are acting on the responsibility placed upon them by that Preamble to the Charter. As we see the growing movement of people protesting against nuclear weapons in the world, we realise that it is this activity, this participation in the democratic process, which will be important. The scourge of war is already with us. I ask the Senate to picture just for a moment the latest nuclear missile, together with a child suffering from starvation in one of the under privileged countries. If we picture that we see the ultimate in obscenity. The world spends $1.4m a minute for military purposes and every minute 30 children die for want of food. In developed wealthy countries production of food is being cut. In a year when United States farmers were paid to take nearly 40 million hectares of crop land out of production, 450 million people in the world were starving.

The North-South report calls for the implementation of a new international economic order. Only people and the will of people can implement that new order. It calls for a change not only in our governments' arrangements and planning, but also in people's values. John Kenneth Galbraith said that there is a technological trap in military expenditure, with each country striving to develop weapons that protect it from obsolescence. More than $18.3 billion worth of major weapons were exported to the Third World in 1980. Military institutions represent a major force influencing the social, political and ideological development of a country. Military expenditure is a drain on resources which should be used for civilian purposes, to accelerate growth and modernisation in industry and agriculture, to promote health and education, and to raise the standard of living and the quality of life.

If we look at the comparison of per capita income for 1978-79, the latest figures available, we see that Australia is comparatively wealthy. It had a per capita income of $9,100; India, $190; Ethiopia, $130; Chad, $110; Tonga, $355; and so on. John Kenneth Galbraith again reminded us that however large or small a nuclear exchange, socialism, capitalism, communism, whatever system we develop these weapons to protect, will be shattered. They will not exist. We are the curators of the earth. It is we the people of the earth who are responsible to future generations. We are responsible for the plant and animal kingdoms and we hold all that has been given to us in the past by humanity, all that people have struggled for. The face of the earth in the future will be the result of our action or inaction today.

At present the most dangerous thing after a nuclear weapon is for people to think they do not mean much, that they are of no value, that they are merely grains of sand on a stormy beach. Though there is alarm for the future of humanity in many people's hearts, it should not engender blind fear and despair. It should not deprive us of the intelligence and courage which all people need, the capacity to face and probe the reasons for the present situation. It is the courage to oppose the values which lead to war and to develop the political will to bring change that we need. If we look at our society we see that the beginning of those nuclear weapons, the beginning of any weapons, has its roots in the values we support. Thus, it is very necessary that we oppose those values , which many of us recognise as being destructive. We must not remain silent. We have to remember that much of technology is now getting out of hand. It is controlling people's destinies, people are not controlling their own destinies. We have to look at the kinds of weapons that are being developed by scientists. It was recently announced that a laser weapon was being developed which would blind people, and yet there was hardly a ripple in the community about that announcement.

I think we have to look at our education system. Over the last 20 or 30 years very great emphasis has been placed on the development of the intellectual side of the human being at the expense of the emotional and creative side. I think there is a need for a much greater and more effective democracy in our country. An effective democracy demands informed participation. I think it is the duty of everyone, and particularly of people in the Parliament, to ensure that they have the information which is necessary for them to make informed and democratic decisions. One of Einstein's more remembered quotes is this:

The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.

It is in people's thinking and in people's values that we are going to bring about the changes that will build peace in our world. I do not think we can any longer make national interest our one and only priority. International threats demand international co-operation and care. They demand international work for peace. The Mayor of Nagasaki, in an address on the anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Japan, said:

. . . just now we are standing at the edge of the abyss of mankind's destruction. Stop producing nuclear arms. If part of the expenses for the production of nuclear arms would be used, the hunger of millions in the world would be alleviated, the poor of the Third World would disappear.

He said we must establish an endeavour of never looking at any other country in the world as our enemy. Archbishop Hunthausen stated:

I have not dealt directly with the question always asked in regard to unilateral disarmament: What about the Russians?

What about our enemies? He continued:

I do not believe that we are the only nation in the world to cherish our homes, to love our children, to yearn for peace and to feel compassion for human misery .

Nor do I believe that all the people of Russia are pounding their shoes in the forums of the world in a universal cry for war.

The tragedy of today is that the youth of the world sees no future. A report on the North-South dialogue expressed special concern for the place of the youth in the world. It is very important that peace studies in schools are developed urgently because peace studies in our education system are the right of all children. In listening to Mr Martenson, the Assistant Secretary-General for the Centre for Disarmament at the United Nations, it became very apparent that he hoped the people of the different countries of the world-he was speaking to the people of Australia-would promote the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration that came from the United Nations and encourage the community to communicate its wishes to governments, as the United Nations must be the focus of international activities devoted to disarmament. It was Lord Louis Mountbatten who said what I think is the final thing that anybody can say when speaking about nuclear weapons. He said:

In the event of a nuclear war there will be no chances-there will be no survivors, all will be obliterated. Nuclear devastation is not science fiction- it is a matter of fact. Let us all resolve to take all possible practical steps to ensure that we do not through our own folly go over the edge.

There are many people in every small community who deeply long to be able to do something to prevent the thing that they fear most. I think it is our responsibility to find the ways to do that. The Palme reports make particular emphasis of the fact that people must recognise that because they share a common threat they must also work together for a common security. Each of us in our own way does that. I hope that those of us who have joined together in the Parliamentary Disarmament Group will demonstrate that differences between individuals and individuals' thinking can be overcome. We can work together and demonstrate that it is possible. I remind honourable senators that tonight we are showing the film Bringing Greenham Home. This is not a film about Greenham Common; it is about the effect of a peace activity on the development of the human personality and the capacity to care. I hope everybody will be able to attend.