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Wednesday, 6 November 1985
Page: 1660


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(3.23) —As we tread our weary way through this well worn debate, I think it is appropriate for me to begin my speech with exactly the same words that I used to begin my speech on 27 February in response to a similar motion. It is appropriate to do so because absolutely nothing has changed since 27 February. I said then:

It is difficult to understand why the Opposition has brought forward this motion at all, let alone as a matter of urgency. Labor's support for ANZUS is complete and unequivocal. In every contribution to every debate on the subject since Parliament has resumed, and in every answer to every question on the subject, that has been made clear. The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has made it clear, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) has made it clear, the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) has made it clear, and certainly I have made it clear in this place that that is so. All of us have been speaking not just for ourselves but for the Labor Government and for the Labor Party in government.

The Cabinet made clear its position back in February with a statement of unequivocal terms and in language which picked up the theme of the review of the operations of ANZUS which was conducted in 1983 and which led the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Hayden, in reporting upon it to the Parliament on 15 September of that year, to say:

The review has led us to a firm and unequivocal affirmation of the Alliance as fundamental to Australia's national security and foreign and defence policies.

Not only is there no doubt about the Labor Government's and the Labor Party's position on this issue but also there is no doubt whatever that there is complete understanding and acceptance of our position in this respect in the United States of America. The clearest possible statement to that effect was made by the United States Secretary of State, George Shultz, who issued a Press statement on 20 February in terms that bear quotation yet again. He said:

I am pleased by the announcement by Prime Minister Hawke of Australia on 19 February that his Cabinet has reaffirmed Australia's support for the ANZUS Alliance and for the full responsibilities that the Alliance entails. We note that the Prime Minister described ship visits and U.S./Australian joint facilities as continuing fundamentals of the Australian/U.S. Alliance relationship. We welcome these reaffirmations of Australia's commitment to its ties with the United States.

Again, just a few weeks ago, the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, speaking at the time that Ambassador Dalrymple presented his credentials, said this:

Mr Ambassador . . . your Prime Minister has publicly stated that our relations have never been closer, and I believe that that is truly the case.

With this degree of clarity and certainty about the Australian position, the United States' understanding of that position and the strength of the alliance, why is the Senate debating this urgency motion, which calls on us yet again to reaffirm that commitment? About the only thing that has changed since we last debated this matter in February is that the Opposition-the new, dry, tough, rigorous Opposition under Mr Howard's alleged new leadership-is flailing about even more desperately than it was then to find some issues on which it could pretend to be attacking the Government.

The Opposition is utterly bereft of ideas and of significant issues on which to challenge the performance of the Hawke Government. The maintenance of the joint defence facilities is not in question, nor are Australia's relations with either of our partners under the ANZUS Treaty. There is, therefore, no issue of substance involved in this urgency motion. Lacking a real issue on which to confront the Government, the Opposition is seeking today to make an issue out of the difficulties which obviously continue to exist between our ANZUS partners and to recycle some tired old criticisms of the Government's approach. But all that the Opposition is doing is giving the opportunity to the Government to point out once again the inconsistencies, the paranoia and the general incompetence in the Oppositions's approach.

I think that it is indeed fortunate for Australia's national interests that the Opposition's policies have not been pursued by Australia over the last 12 months. I refer in particular to the strategy in relation to New Zealand, if it can be so described, of Andrew Peacock when Opposition Leader-a strategy of giving ultimatums to that country in the hope, apparently, of bringing it to heel; a strategy, again, it would seem, endorsed by Senator Durack in his contribution to the debate today. He urged that we behave in all sorts of extraordinary ways and in macho fashion to try again to bring New Zealand to heel in the context of the legislation that it is presently planning to implement. That kind of approach is now and would always have been utterly counterproductive in trying to resolve the difficulties which do continue to exist in that relationship.

The Hawke Government's commitment to ANZUS is not merely the kind of unthinking reflex that we get from the other side of politics. For the coalition parties, the ANZUS Treaty from its very inception seems to have been a kind of Linus blanket without which they would be utterly bereft of foreign and defence policies of any kind. For the coalition parties, ANZUS has been a substitute for foreign and defence policies. Certainly, it has been a substitute for their thinking about those policies. They know that they are in favour of ANZUS, but they do not seem to be quite clear why, and that becomes perfectly apparent on occasions such as this when honourable members opposite get up for yet another bout of ritualistic tub thumping.

Let me tell the Senate why the Australian Labor Party in government is in favour of ANZUS, and always has been. There is a number of different perspectives from which we approach this issue and from which we acknowledge that the ANZUS alliance is important. There are a number of different reasons why we would want to and why we have been striving to keep it intact and effective. The first reason is the traditional perspective of our national security. The argument has been that the ANZUS alliance in this respect gives us a degree of assurance and support in the event of a major attack, that it contributes to deterrence, at the very least, as it complicates the planning of anyone who might be contemplating an attack on this country and, in more immediate and practical terms, that it represents a very significant basis for inputs into our defence arrangements through the co-operative supply of intelligence, technology and personnel through exchanges and in the context of joint exercises.

A second perspective from which ANZUS seems to us to be important is one which reaches out beyond our immediate national security and looks at things in a regional context. It is very interesting to quote the remarks of the Singapore Foreign Minister, Dhanabalan, who said in early March this year:

Any weakening of the security set-up itself between Australia, New Zealand and the United States would be of concern to us because we see the security of this part of the world as being very closely interwoven and we cannot separate what is happening in the south and what is happening in South East Asia.

From the perspective of those in our larger region, there is a sense in which ANZUS assumes a greater importance than its importance merely to the three immediate participants in the Treaty. Perhaps most important of all is the value and utility of ANZUS in the larger world scale, from the point of view of what it contributes to and what it enables Australia to contribute to on the larger world scene. There are a number of ways of putting this particular point. I have put it before in this Parliament and I make no apology for doing so again.

In the first place, ANZUS is the vehicle through which Australia demonstrates its commitment to the larger Western alliance. As Mr Hayden put it in 1983 and a number of times since: `Australia is neither neutral nor non-aligned and ANZUS is proof of that'. The importance of that commitment is that it contributes in a very direct way to the achievement-paradoxical as some people continue to find this-of peace and disarmament.

As distinct from the approach of mutually assured destruction or the will-o`-the-wisp approach of mutually assured defence, it is only common security, a concept laid out in the report of the Palme Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security issues which has achieved a great deal of recognition and respect around the Western world that offers hope. Common security involve as its very essence the possibility of moving the super-powers, in a way that no other approach to this issue is likely to, towards that downward spiral of divestment of nuclear arms which we all want to see occur. The very essence of the common security approach to nuclear strategy is the existence of a stable and secure network of bilateral and multilateral alliances and treaty arrangements, whereby both the nuclear super-powers can confidently enter into negotiations to abandon that upward spiral of expenditure which they are currently locked into by their present philosophy in the arms race and, rather, embark on the downward spiral of arms shedding which is, as I hope we all acknowledge, the only way we will ever secure ultimate nuclear disarmament.

Australia's participation in the ANZUS alliance and the ANZUS alliance itself assumes its place in the larger network of Western alliances, which are in turn, one can argue from this perspective, crucial to the psychology, if one likes, of the process of arms divestment.

A second way of looking at the advantages of the alliance relationship in the larger global context is that a side benefit of our participation in those alliance networks in general and ANZUS in particular is that they give us some influence, or clout, with our major ally in the peace and disarmament process in a way which simply would not be the case were we just standing wistfully on the sidelines. The fruits of that influence may be slow to appear and on occasions slow to ripen, but they are there. Australia is a crucially important player on the world multilateral disarmament stage and proved this abundantly recently with the very central role Australia played at the non-proliferation review conference, as well as the continuing role we have been playing in the multilateral arms reduction negotiations in Geneva.

The third role that flows from our alliance relationship, although here it is not something flowing directly from anything in the ANZUS Treaty itself, is our contribution to world strategic stability through our hosting of the United States-Australian joint facilities in this country which are specifically mentioned in the terms of the motion before us today. It is a necessary part of the common security approach to which I referred that in the short run, while getting superpowers to the point where they feel that they can confidently embark on a disarmament process, a continued emphasis on deterrence is indispensably necessary, much as we might wish otherwise. There is no doubt that the joint facilities, especially Pine Gap and Nurrungar, with their early warning and verification roles, are a crucial part of the West's deterrent capacity. The point was made again in Mr Hayden's 1983 statement, the relevant passage of which states:

None of these activities--

referring to the joint defence facilities at North West Cape, Pine Gap and Nurrungar--

involves a specific ANZUS obligation, and they are in any case bilateral arrangements as New Zealand is not involved. While the agreements establishing the joint defence facilities do refer to ANZUS in their preambular paragraphs, they are not a necessary consequence of ANZUS itself. However, the facilities clearly represent an important reflection and instance of the shared interests which the Treaty embodies, and the Government regards this form of co-operation with the United States of unique value.

As the Prime Minister and I have indicated on several occasions recently, the contribution made by the joint defence facilities to deterrence of nuclear war fully justifies any risks that might be seen as arising from our having those facilities in Australia. In addition, the operation of the joint defence facilities gives us some moral standing in the position we intend to take more actively in the United Nations and other international fora in support of arms control and arms reduction.

The functions of the joint facilities were fully explained by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) in his statement to the Parliament of 6 June 1984. In that statement the Prime Minister said that the joint facilities at Pine Gap and Nurrungar contribute to arms control verification and early warning as well as to effective deterrence. This statement was agreed by the United States Government and is based on our full and complete knowledge of what is done at these facilities.

There has been a great deal of mischievous speculation about the possibility that the joint facilities will not be maintained after alleged termination dates which it is said are forthcoming over the next few years. In fact, none of the agreements between the Australian and United States Governments has a fixed date on which it will automatically terminate. The North West Cape agreement came into force in June 1963 for 25 years and will remain in force thereafter unless 180 days notice of termination is given. In the case of Pine Gap, the current agreement entered into force in December 1966 for 10 years and is to remain in force thereafter unless one year's written notice of termination is given by either of the two parties. In the case of Nurrungar the treaty entered into force in November 1969 for 10 years and is to remain in force thereafter unless 365 days notice in writing of termination is given. Therefore, all three of the agreements will remain in force and there is no question of their requiring renegotiation or re-authorisation. Furthermore, there is no question of the Government's support for these facilities being subject to change in the future.

In talking about the joint facilities, it must be repeated for the record, as it has been repeated every time that Ministers speak on this subject, that these facilities are not military bases. The Prime Minister said on 6 June 1984-I quote from Hansard:

The facilities are not military bases. There are no combat personnel or combat equipments there, no military stores or workshops, no plant or machinery or laboratories for research, development, production or maintenance of any weapons or combat systems of any type.

We are happy to host them for their early warning and verification roles, not for their war fighting capacity. The attitude and the policy of the Government in this respect are in quite remarkable contrast to those of the Opposition which wants not only full scale military bases on Australian soil, but also bases with nuclear weapons installed and stored there. That point could not have been more clearly stated than by Mr Peacock in his Press release of 7 August, in which he then complained about the terms of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone treaty which in his view operated to ban the installation and storage of nuclear weapons within the zone. The then Leader of the Opposition in that statement chose a date almost 40 years to the day after the bombing of Hiroshima to indicate that support on the part of the Opposition for the installation and storage of nuclear weapons on Australian soil. He was deposed shortly thereafter, but I do not think there is any causal relationship in that regard. There is not much doubt that on this issue Mr Peacock's spirit lingers on.


Senator Chipp —Are you opposed to the storage of nuclear weapons?


Senator GARETH EVANS —Of course, absolutely and unequivocally.


Senator Chipp —Therefore, you will vote for my Bill tomorrow.


Senator GARETH EVANS —We will explain tomorrow in loving and elaborate detail why we will not do so, because our credentials on these issues are impeccable and we do not need legislation to prove it. Not only is there no understanding on the part of the Opposition of the foreign affairs and defence issues on which it purports to moralise on occasions like this, nor, as evidenced by that statement of Mr Peacock and many others, is there any sensitivity to the real needs and desires of the people of this country in that respect. For Senator Durack to come forward with this motion today, implicitly critical as it is of the Government, chest beating--


Senator Durack —It is explicitly critical, Senator.


Senator GARETH EVANS —Explicitly, then, if the honourable senator chooses to interpret it in that way. We do not, to the extent that we are perfectly happy to see the alliance maintained and strengthened in every possible way; in particular, by the New Zealanders coming back into it and making it fully operative in a way that it is not at the moment. To that extent we have no difficulty in supporting the motion. But to the extent that the motion has been moved at all, it is implicitly critical and to that extent we reject the tenor of the motivation which lies behind it. We reject the chest beating by the Opposition about the alliance. Given the Opposition's record, its understanding and its sensitivity on these issues, for it, through Senator Durack, to move a motion like this today in the terms in which it has been moved is nothing short of barefaced cheek and it ought to be dismissed as such.