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Friday, 11 October 1985
Page: 1095


Senator GARETH EVANS —Yesterday Senator Chipp asked me in my capacity as Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs a question about ANZUS in a number of parts. I undertook to give him a considered supplementary answer. Since it is a substantial answer, I seek leave to incorporate the text in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

1. This Government can not be accused of misleading the Australian public about the meaning of the provisions of the ANZUS Treaty. Indeed, the Government has gone to some lengths to dispel popular misconceptions about ANZUS and to clarify its value and effectiveness.

In the opening sentences of his statement to Parliament (on 15 September 1983) on the outcome of the review of ANZUS undertaken when this Government came into office, Mr Hayden said:

``. . . I do not say that the Treaty guarantees Australia's national security and welfare, nor do I place us in that posture of happy dependence that has satisfied the foreign policy ambitions of many Australians in the past both within and without this Parliament.''

Further on in that same statement, in discussing the conclusions reached as a result of that review (including formal discussions at the Washington meeting of the ANZUS Council in July that year), Mr Hayden said:

Support from Treaty partners can be expressed in a range of responses. The Treaty does not provide any automatic guarantee of military support in the event of attack or major threat. We were reassured by the Americans as to their understanding of the requirement for prompt and effective fulfilment of ANZUS obligations. As Secretary of State Shultz said at the joint press conference following the Council meeting: `. . . the hard kernel is the undertaking to respond in the event of attack on any of the countries involved'. In the United States view any armed attack on the ally would require, and would receive from the other allies, full and prompt fulfilment of the ANZUS security commitment-including, if necessary military support. But, as I said at the same press conference, and as Mr Shultz acknowledged earlier at the ANZUS Council meeting, the obligation to repond and to assist would not automatically involve the provision of military forces in support of the country subjected to threat or attacks-because of the requirement to observe constitutional processes. These would allow each country opportunity to assess the requirements of the situation and to determine its national interests and obligations and the mode and extent of its response. A range of responses might be available, and it would be up to the other partners to judge which response would be appropriate in a given situation. It may be in certain circumstances that diplomatic action, or political or economic sanctions against the adversary, or the supply of equipment or military logistical support for the ally would be judged a more appropriate response than direct military involvement. In other circumstances direct military support may be appropriate.

Those points have been consistently stressed by Mr Hayden and Ministerial colleagues in their major public statements on ANZUS since then.

2. As there are no foreign bases on Australian soil, the question presumably refers to the joint Australian-US defence facilities, the general purpose and functions of which were explained by the Prime Minister in his statement to Parliament on 6 June 1984.

As the Prime Minister noted then and as he and other Ministers have noted on several occasions since then, the Government accepts that in certain circumstances the joint facilities could be nuclear targets in the event of a nuclear conflict and that in that sense the hosting of the facilities does bring with it some degree of added risk of nuclear attack.

In passing, though, I would draw to the honourable senator's attention remarks made during a visit to Australia earlier this year by Mr Victor Afanasyev, editor-in-chief of the official Soviet Communist Party newspaper, Pravda, to the effect that, if war broke out between the superpowers, the Soviet Union would not attack Australia with nuclear weapons and would ``probably not strike'' against the joint Australian-US defence facilities.

As we cannot enter into the minds of possibly hostile foreign military planners, it is not possible to be categoric about the specific risk of nuclear attack on the joint facilities.

Our intelligence and defence authorities have for many years now assessed the risk of nuclear war as remote and improbable, provided effective deterrence is maintained.

As Australia would suffer the consequences of nuclear war whether or not we have the facilities, as we cannot therefore gain immunity by removing the facilities, and as the facilities contribute fundamentally to deterrence of nuclear war, the Government firmly believes that the tangible benefit of their contribution to avoidance of nuclear war outweighs any possible future risk to our security through our hosting of the facilities.

3. and 4. French Prime Minister Fabius has admitted that agents of the DGSE sank the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour. New Zealand has not sought consultations on the matter under ANZUS.

5. On 26 September the United States Department spokesman said that the United States viewed with deep concern the sinking of the ship Rainbow Warrior and the loss of life involved and that the United States deplored such acts wherever they occurred. The United States has made it clear that it will make no further comment on the matter while it is under investigation by the Governments of New Zealand and France.

6. For the above reasons, no.