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Wednesday, 6 November 1985
Page: 1657

Senator DURACK(3.03) -I move:

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

The need to strengthen Australia's alliance with the United States through an effective ANZUS Treaty and the maintenance of joint defence facilities.

The Opposition makes no apology for bringing forward for debate as a matter of urgency, for the third time, I think, in the last 12 months or so, the subject of our alliance with the United States of America and, in particular, the situation in regard to the ANZUS alliance. We speak of it in much broader terms than simply the actual ANZUS Treaty. We do that by adding specifically in the motion reference to the need to maintain the joint defence facilities. There are, of course, the many other aspects of the alliance with the United States which I shall develop during my speech.

As I have said, I make no apology, because we are dealing with the most important subject that faces Australia and the most important subject which a responsible government and parliament have to deal with in the course of their work and deliberations-namely, the defence of the nation. There can be no doubt that in the last 12 months there have been grave threats to the future of the ANZUS alliance and the American alliance, and those threats have come from many quarters. In fairness to the Government, I must say that in many respects it has stood up very firmly. At least, the Government's rhetoric has been firm on the subject of the ANZUS Treaty and the American alliance and the maintenance of the bases. But there are many other aspects of the Government's performance and statements which have been made which I think add fuel to the worry that is widespread in the community about the future of the American alliance and particularly the ANZUS Treaty.

It is all very well for Senator Gareth Evans to have made statements on the subject, as he will no doubt do again today, as the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) has done on recent occasions and as the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has done in reaffirming the Government's commitment, but there is an old ditty which says: `I cannot believe what you say when I see what you do'. A number of things that have been said and done by members of the Government, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Hayden, I think need to be repudiated. First and foremost of these concerns is the statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs about a year ago when he talked about Australia exercising leverage in the United States of America because of its hosting of the American bases in this country. It is not surprising that Mr Hayden has less than a warm reception whenever he goes to the United States, and he would no doubt be very happy to accept a domestic portfolio as soon as possible.

Secondly, we have had the spectacle of the cancellation of the Sea Eagle exercise directly following the problems with New Zealand. I am not speaking here about the New Zealand problems, which are a separate subject that I will also mention later. I am speaking of what the Australian Government has participated in. There was the notorious MX missile backdown by the Prime Minister, also earlier this year-a repudiation of commitments which had been made by him on behalf of the Australian Government to the United States. I think one of the most serious matters of all was the statement by the Prime Minister on 4 March this year dealing with the cancellation of the annual ANZUS Council meeting when, in referring to the ANZUS Treaty-this is a classic example of Hawkespeak-he said:

I am saying it exists but it is not operative in respect of the significant elements of it which had previously been operating and without being exhaustive the trilateral exercises are not operating.

That is very helpful to everybody concerned. It has been widely reported both in Australia and abroad as a statement by the Prime Minister of Australia that the ANZUS Treaty is inoperative. A most unhelpful and serious impression has been created. Then we have the activities of the Western Australian branch of the Australian Labor Party led by senators from Western Australia-no doubt Senator McIntosh, Senator McKiernan and others-in the establishment of the Thomas committee in that branch of the ALP, which has been working to reduce the number of visits by United States warships to Western Australian ports. Their object is not just to rearrange or to share the burden, so to speak, of these visits amongst various ports in Australia but to reduce the Australian-American alliance under which we give rest and recreation to American sailors who are playing such an important role in protecting Australia in the Indian Ocean. In relation to that matter-this is another point-we know the attitudes of Victorian Premier Cain and New South Wales Premier Wran, who do not want visits by United States warships to either Port Phillip or Sydney Harbour. These very serious attitudes on the part of leading members of the Australian Labor Party are also giving widespread cause for concern.

Another matter of great and very visible concern was the cancellation in July of this year of the annual ANZUS Council meeting. All we had was a visit from Mr Shultz for a bilateral discussion between Australia and the United States instead of the annual ANZUS Council meeting which has been such a notable feature of our relationship with the United States for over 30 years. We have had the failure of the Hawke Government to exercise any effective influence whatsoever on Mr Lange and his Government in their virtual repudiation of the American alliance and the ANZUS Treaty in particular. That has been the most visible and serious threat to ANZUS and the American alliance in our region over this past 12 months. When this matter was discussed in the Senate in debate on a motion of mine in rather similar terms to this about a year ago, we were then facing the threat by Mr Lange-he had only just come into power then-of his Government preventing visits to New Zealand by American warships. He was then trying to indicate that that was not going to affect seriously the ANZUS Treaty. However, we all know now what a very serious impact the persistent action of the New Zealand Labor Government has had on the ANZUS Treaty. Indeed, as the Prime Minister said in that interview in March this year, it is not operating as a trilateral arrangement. Because it is a trilateral arrangement, clearly the Treaty is not operating in the way it had since its inception in the early 1950s. Indeed, when Mr Hawke was asked `Would you say that it is a treaty in name only?' he agreed that that was not an unfair description of it as a trilateral treaty.

We have had it bruited abroad by Prime Minister Hawke that, as a result of the New Zealand Government's intransigence on this matter, the ANZUS Treaty is not only inoperative but is a treaty in name only. He may have been talking only about its trilateral aspects but, of course, that goes to the heart of the treaty and it goes very seriously to the future of our defence arrangements in our region. I think there has been a grave dereliction of duty and responsibility by Mr Hawke and by senior Ministers in not doing anything about this very serious problem which has arisen as a result of the New Zealand Government's attitude to the treaty. That is only going to get worse because the New Zealand Government is now threatening to legislate--

Senator Chipp —What would you have done? Sent the Navy over? Sent a few shots across their bows?

Senator DURACK —In the same way as Senator Chipp, who interjects, would like this Parliament, Heaven help us, to legislate on this subject-a matter which we may be debating later-the New Zealand Government is now threatening to legislate to prevent visits by American warships to New Zealand ports. It has been made perfectly clear by the United States Secretary of State, Mr Shultz, that if that is done clearly it will be seen by the United States as a repudiation of the ANZUS Treaty by New Zealand. It was announced as recently as the end of last month that the New Zealand Government is going to proceed with that legislation. That has left us all in an enormously vulnerable and serious position, and I would think that the Hawke Government ought to be telling us what it is going to do about that situation and whether it is going to try at the eleventh hour to head off the final breach between New Zealand and the United States as a result of the threat New Zealand is making to the ANZUS Treaty.

Finally, in respect of the Hawke Government's misdemeanours in this matter, the last of the catalogue I read this afternoon is that not only has the Hawke Government's attitude to America's strategic defence initiative been less than lukewarm, but it also has clearly given the impression to the United States that it does not favour United States efforts to research this area-efforts which would be so important in ending the nuclear arms race.

From the United States point of view, no matter what rhetoric is used, no matter how matey Hawke or the Minister for Defence or the Foreign Minister or the Acting Foreign Minister appear, and I concede genuinely appear as far as the alliance is concerned, it is the actions and inactions of the Hawke Government over the last 12 months which must be perceived by the United States as the actions of a less than effective ally. Clearly these ought to be matters of very deep concern to us all, particularly those who are responsible in the Parliament.

There are other concerns about ANZUS; that is, the whole rise and role of the Nuclear Disarmament Party and the statements that Senator Vallentine has been making both before and since she came into the Senate. No doubt she will make those statements again today. She is calling for a winding up of ANZUS and the closing down of the American bases and joint facilities in this country. We have had constant denigration of ANZUS by Senator Chipp and his party. No doubt we will have another example of that denigration from him today when he tries to say that the ANZUS Treaty is not effective and might as well be torn up, which is a complete misreading of the Treaty, a total misreading of the whole nature and breadth of that alliance over the last 30-odd years and a repudiation of the attitudes he used to take when he was a Liberal Minister. Lately we have had-this is a very disturbing development-the report of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace to the Catholic bishops of Australia to which they have given some sort of a nod; I do not know what it is exactly. There is a widespread perception that the Catholic Church is calling for the dismemberment of the American bases in Australia. I think it is time that the Catholic bishops of Australia promptly made it perfectly clear where they stand in relation to the extraordinary report they received from the Commission.

Clearly, there have been a number of growing threats to this nation, particularly by the Soviet Union. We are well aware and reminded constantly of the Soviet bases in Vietnam, at Cam Ranh Bay and Da Nang, and the fact that the Soviet aircraft operating from those bases could operate directly against Australia. But probably of more concern is the growth of the Soviet Pacific fleet, a matter which I noted to some extent when I spoke in the Senate about a year ago on the subject. I will not repeat what I said then, but I bring it up to date by referring the Senate to a most interesting and important article in the Age newspaper of 4 November. The headline is `US alarm as Soviets boost navy power in the Pacific'. The article points out that an American officer of the Seventh Fleet, in a recent briefing, said that the Soviet Union had about 800 vessels in its Pacific fleet, making it the largest of the four Russian ocean-going naval fleets. The Soviet Pacific command, as it is called, has responsibility for patrolling the South East Asian and Indian Ocean waters as well as the Pacific. The US Seventh Fleet has the same responsibility. There is reference in the article to the recent heavy movement of Soviet warships, including the most modern cruiser, armed with nearly 250 surface to air and surface to surface missiles, which recently passed through the Straits of Malacca, adding to the fire power and strength of the Soviet fleet in our region. In addition, we are aware of the Soviet testing of SS18 missiles in the Pacific in recent times. There is clearly-I do not need to emphasise it any more, I am sure, not even for Senator Chipp and Senator Vallentine-an extremely high level of threat in our region in both the Pacific and Indian oceans. In that scene we, as legislators, and the Government with its prime responsibility as the Executive power in this country, have to ensure that we have the resources to meet, and the allies with whom we can share the burden of meeting, the growing threats in our region.

The ANZUS Treaty will remain and hopefully will continue to be the sheet-anchor of our defence. Notwithstanding nitpicking arguments that no doubt Senator Chipp will put about the nature of the obligations under the Treaty, the fact is that it has worked effectively and will work effectively. The United States attitudes to it give us great assurance. I refer the Senate to the 1982 report on the ANZUS alliance, which I have not time to quote, by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence which, very interestingly, quotes on page 38 and subsequent pages, very encouraging views by very senior officials of the United States Government about the way the United States sees the ANZUS Treaty and Australia's place in the world. I refer to one such view. The report states:

Mr Stoessel referred to Australia's ties . . . and summed up his view of Australia's strategic position as anchoring `the southern end of the western line of defence in East Asia and the Pacific', and standing guard `over a secure, if lengthy, line of communication between the Pacific and Indian Oceans which was of great value in World War II and would be today in the event of war'.

That view describes very clearly the importance of the ANZUS Treaty. We are part of the Western alliance. The ANZUS Treaty is part of it and one of its linchpins. The Treaty is important as the Minister for Defence, Mr Beazley, has recently pointed out and as has the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Gareth Evans, who is at the table, in relation to the exchange of intelligence, the access to hardware and the technical information we receive as a result of our being good partners and in good standing under our alliance and under the Treaty.

The joint facilities, the American bases, have played an important role and will continue to play, with disarmament and arms control, hopefully, occurring, an even more important role in the monitoring of any arms control or disarmament arrangements by their surveillance and early warning capabilities and so on. They have had great and will have greater significance. They are vital, particularly when one considers the attitudes of Senator Chipp, Senator Vallentine and whatever her Party is called, and the other party she used to be a member of, the Nuclear Disarmament Party, before it all blew up in her face a few months ago because of the Trotskyites who had been so prominent in it. We now have the attitudes being expressed by the Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace. There is a serious threat to ANZUS. The United States may well wonder, in view of the less than effective Government stance in the last 12 months, where we stand. It is important for the Parliament and the Senate to reaffirm the alliance and the need to strengthen it and to maintain an effective ANZUS Treaty, the American bases and our joint arrangements with the United States in that regard.