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Monday, 16 September 1985
Page: 541


Senator CHIPP —I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Does the Government agree that the French Government has shown incredible impertinence and arrogance in, firstly, testing bombs in the Pacific and, secondly, allowing its agents into New Zealand? Is President Mitterrand coming to the Pacific to gloat about those things? Does the Government believe that countries exercising their rights--


Senator Hill —Mitterrand is a socialist-a typical socialist.


Senator CHIPP —The Liberals seem to agree--


The PRESIDENT —Order! Will the honourable senator ask his question?


Senator CHIPP —I have to answer interjections.


The PRESIDENT —I did not hear the interjection.


Senator CHIPP —The Liberals seem to be on the French side.


The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the honourable senator to ask his question.

Opposition senators interjecting-


The PRESIDENT —Order! I went to a great football game yesterday, but we are on other matters today. I call Senator Chipp.


Senator CHIPP —Does the Government believe that countries exercising their rights, as have the countries of the South Pacific, can be fairly described, as President Mitterrand has, as adversaries? Does the Government concur with Mr Lange that the French are declaring such countries as enemies? What is the Government's response to the editorial in Le Figaro yesterday which decided that `Australians are primitive' and `not refined'; that their `identification with the Pacific is like a peasant's view of his plot of land'; and that Australia's and New Zealand's objections to French testing are a `primitive rejection reaction', analogous to `French peasants in the 1930s refusing to accept daylight saving'?


Senator GARETH EVANS —The Australian Government has already expressed its position in relation to French nuclear testing in the Pacific, to the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior and to President Mitterrand's visit to Mururoa, and I do not need to repeat any of those statements in detail now. I note that President Mitterrand's spokesman is reported as having said in Mururoa that no country can take decisions in France's place, where its interests in the Pacific are concerned, unless it wants to be seen as an adversary. I noticed New Zealand Prime Minister Lange's entirely apt reaction to that. The Government has also noted, and endorsed, what Prime Minister Lange said on 27 August on the question of intelligence officers on New Zealand soil. He said:

It is totally unacceptable that a government should authorise, and at the highest levels, such clandestine illegal activities in the territory of a friendly country.

The French spokesman's statement, to which I referred a moment ago, appears to go out of its way to be uncompromising and to rule out a flexible or reasoned French response to the approach which the regional signatories to the South Pacific nuclear free zone treaty will be making to France, among other nuclear powers, to sign the protocols associated with that treaty. This is greatly to be regretted. It is not Australia or indeed any other South Pacific country which is picking an argument with France. It is France which is picking an argument with the region, and that is helpful to no one, nor to the Western interests in the Pacific.

Finally, on the subject of the quoted editorial opinion of Le Figaro: As to the allegation that Australians are primitive, not refined and have a peasant's view of the Pacific as our plot of land, I would only say that Australia is happy with the company in which it finds itself in this respect. Certainly it has no shame in believing and articulating with a great deal of vigour our continued belief that nuclear testing in the South Pacific should cease. If Le Figaro is interested in the reaction of the peasantry, it might be an instructive exercise for it to run a survey in various parts of rural France as to the reaction of the locals to nuclear tests in their own back yard.