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Thursday, 22 August 1985
Page: 198


Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(5.10) —It is entirely appropriate that the Parliament of Australia should be debating the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at this stage, given that the review conference is to be held in five days time. To that extent the Senate should be indebted to Senator Hill. However, it is unfortunate and tragic that such a blatantly shallow motion should be before the Senate and supported by the Australian Labor Party. Senator Hill and Senator Evans made several mentions of safeguards and surveillance. I have never been one to doubt Senator Hill's integrity or sincerity, but I say with great respect to him: How naive can a person get when he says that United States aircraft crossing Australia are unarmed? I would be fascinated to know how he knows that. Has he received an assurance from the United States Government? I think it has been that Government's policy for a long time neither to confirm nor to deny that proposition. All we have is a gentleperson's agreement signed in 1981.

In answer to a question I asked some months ago Senator Evans, reading a brief from the Department of Foreign Affairs, admonished me for even asking the Government to ask the United States whether B52s are armed or loaded with bombs. He virtually said: `How dare you, Senator Chipp, ask us to question the United States on such a delicate question'. Senator Evans said that Senator Chipp knows very well that the Americans will neither confirm nor deny that proposition. So how can we talk about surveillance when we have these aircraft which we know next year will be loaded with cruise missiles, one of the most deadly of modern weapons? How will we be able to find out whether they are carrying these weapons on low flying exercises over Queensland and the Northern Territory? The Government will not even ask the United States whether its aircraft are carrying weapons or whether they are armed.

I am astonished at the breathtaking naivety of Senator Hill who says simply that the aircraft are not armed. He then said that by being in the NPT and not rocking the boat we can influence the United States. Again, I would have been fascinated to hear from him the last time we influenced the United States on anything. That Government treats us with absolute contempt on every proposition we put.

Senator Evans and Senator Hill talked about safeguards. I want point out how dangerous it is even to assume that we can place any reliance on the International Atomic Energy Agency. As Senator Evans just usefully informed us, there are 290-odd reactors in the world today, and 200 more are being built.


Senator Gareth Evans —That was in December 1982.


Senator CHIPP —I thank the Minister and acknowledge the interjection. That is over 500 reactors. Yet the IAEA has fewer than 150 inspectors to protect the world from that sort of danger. I find it mindboggling that any adult person can rely on the IAEA or the NPT to protect the non-nuclear states. I believe that our position at this conference could be crucial to the future of the of the world. I believe that the Government has been intentionally vague and secretive about what specific proposals it will be supporting and the initiatives it will be taking. It has chosen not to consult at all with any non-governmental groups or organisations vitally concerned with peace issues. I find it incredible that the Government will be going to this conference, the most important conference this planet will have this decade or maybe this century, and it has not consulted the expert people in the Movement Against Uranium Mining and the People for Nuclear Disarmament, or the dozens of other respectable organisations such as the women for peace, the doctors for peace and the scientists for peace. There are dozens of them. They are respectable organisations whose members are pledging their whole lives to this cause. They have not been consulted and they will not be assisted with observer status at the conference.

Yesterday, less than a week before the conference starts, the Government, in reply to my question, said that no non-government person will be going as a member of the Australian delegation of 12. Other nations have seen fit to include a non-government delegate but not ours, even though it has been asked and has discussed the possibility. It is my belief that the Government has decided to underplay the NPT review so that its performance at the conference will not be compared with the initiatives and proposals of other nations, as that would show that the Government's disarmament and peace policy is all words and no action or bright ideas on actually doing anything. I ask the Government now a simple question. After the review will the Government be briefing non-government groups on the review and discussing with them moves or initiatives for the second last conference in 1990 so that the Australian public can be informed? Will the Government discuss with these groups the implications for the Government's policy arising out of the Geneva review?

The matter before us today includes the proposal that there should be a renewed commitment of all existing members of the Treaty to the principles of the Treaty. These principles include Article VI, under which each of the parties undertakes to pursue negotiations on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. This article has been flagrantly ignored by the super-powers over the past several decades. The pathetic reliance placed upon it by people such as Senator Hill and Senator Sir John Carrick is hard to understand. Maybe one can understand that pathetic reliance placed upon it by those on the conservative side of Australian politics.

It confounds me that a party such as the Australian Labor Palrty is placing the same reliance on a treaty which allegedly has an article designed for disarmament and to stop proliferation of nuclear weapons when there has been allowed to develop a situation where in 1985 50,000 nuclear weapons are in existence. Some treaty! What a sham to say that it is working. What a sham to say that this is the possible saviour of mankind. Yet this Government and this country are going to Geneva and we will not say a word about enforcing Article VI. That seems to be the view of both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party in this Parliament. I would be more than delighted if all honourable senators were to make this the number one principle of the NPT and to urge our Government to propose or support any proposal for the immediate conclusion of a comprehensive test ban treaty. Yet when I moved to suspend Standing Orders so that I could have my amendment included in this motion which is before the Senate, it was overwhelming defeated with every member of the Liberal Party, most members of the Labor Party and all members of the National Party voting against it.


Senator Sir John Carrick —All members of the Labor Party.


Senator CHIPP —No, it was not all members of the Labor Party. I pay tribute to one very sincere member who at least had the decency to abstain. Maybe there were more. There are 50,000 bombs now in existence. Such weapons have flourished under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. I remind honourable senators that we are talking about a situation the danger of which can be compared to what happened in 1945. The bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima killed 200,000 people. By today's standards that was a toy. On average each of the 50,000 bombs in existence now is 30 times move destructive than the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. In theory such a bomb could kill in one hit something like five million human beings. That is the magnitude of the problem we are facing. It is my hope that the Australian Government will see this review conference as a step towards a new treaty. Otherwise the world will march inevitably down the path of nuclear destruction.

One principle of the Treaty which is so flawed as to actually put in jeopardy the world's ecological survival is Article IV. I was refreshed to learn after eight years in this place that Senator Sir John Carrick discovered today that the Australian Democrats are totally, inequivocally and passionately opposed to the export, milling and mining of uranium. I am glad that after eight years we have got that through to him. I hope that will give him some extra cause for concern. One principle of the Treaty, which Article IV advocates, is nuclear energy for civilian purposes. I am opposed to a treaty that has allowed 50,000 nuclear bombs to be built under it. How many times do I have to say that to at least suggest to people of average intellectual capacity to contemplate whether this Treaty been a success or has been the grossest of failures? A treaty that is failure is of no use. It is a positive danger, because what the Treaty does to men and women of goodwill throughout the world is give them a sense of complacency. The pro-nuclear people say: `Don't worry about the nuclear extinction; we have a nuclear non-proliferation treaty'. That allays the concern of the populace and to that extent it is a positive danger.

The IAEA safeguards procedures should be amended to include greater funding and open reporting procedures and the promotion of energy should be the domain of the energy for development fund, which we support. I was disappointed to know that the Government would not agree to the amendment which the Democrats wanted to make to the original motion.

If the matter of urgency proposed by Senator Hill is to have any meaning at all, it is not enough that Australia and members of the Treaty commit themselves to `meaningful multilateral disarmament and surveillance'. What the hell does that mean? That is classic bureaucratic gobbledegook for not touching the Treaty now. What the Liberals are saying is: `For God's sake, don't amend Article VI. Let the Soviets and the Americans keep their promise made by President Reagan, supported by Mr Gorbachev, to build another 10,000 to 20,000 nuclear bombs in the next decade'. Not touching Article VI of the Treaty will allow both of them to do that. I would not like to live in that sort of a world.

One of the saddest facts of life on the planet earth at present is that the two super-powers-the United States of America and the Soviet Union-disagree on almost every topic that is ever put before them. However, it is even sadder and totally ironical that at the forthcoming nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference to be held in Geneva five days from now these two nations will be desperate to achieve a common purpose; that is, to ensure that no meaningful alterations will be made to Article VI of the Treaty which would place any constraints on them in the next decade in restraining the proliferation of nuclear weapons. They do not want a thorough evaluation of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and they must especially fear a thorough evaluation which would enhance their compliance with Article VI. Will our `peace loving' Government be, through its inaction, helping the super-powers get through this conference unscathed and, in so doing, reducing this vital conference to a four-week talkfest? Is it any wonder that at the end of his life Albert Einstein, the reluctant father of the atom, when asked would he do it again, said: `No, I think it would have been better had I been a plumber'.

If this conference fulfils the hopes of the United States and the Soviets that the loopholes remain in Article VI, if the conference makes no real strengthening of the Treaty and if it is allowed to remain the farce that it is, it will be to the external shame of Australia to have helped such a non-result. If the Soviet and the United State plans to reduce it to a talkfest succeed, the chilling words of Arthur Koestler could have keener meaning; namely, that man's self-induced extinction of life on this planet will have become a statistical certainty.