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Wednesday, 6 November 1985
Page: 1675


Senator VALLENTINE(4.50) —I begin by reminding honourable senators of something that was said over 100 years ago in the British Parliament by Lord Palmerston. He stated:

There are no such things as eternal enemies nor eternal allies, only perpetual interests.

I agree with what Senator Robert Ray, the previous speaker, just said in that regard. He said that it seems that yesterday's enemies can be today's friends. That is the basis from which we must start this discussion. I disagree with many other things that Senator Ray has said and I will work back along the line of speakers we have heard in this debate so far. To say that this is not an urgent matter begs the question. It is the most fundamental, crucial and vital matter which could be discussed in any parliament of any nation. To call it irrelevant or trivial is indeed offensive to the many people not only in Australia but also around the world who consider this matter one of vital importance. Nothing could be more important than a debate on nuclear disarmament and Australia's role in that vis-a-vis the alliance with the United States of America.

I also need to remind Senator Ray that the theory of mutually assured destruction is way out of date. We are no longer in a situation which relies on deterrents. We are not in a situation in which both the Pentagon and the Kremlin are working under a system known as nuclear use and tactics strategies. In other words we have got from MAD to NUTS. So for honourable senators on either side of this chamber to talk about deterrents is really talking in terms that are well out of date. I wonder whether I misheard Senator Ray when he said that the Australian Labor Party is not opposed to the home porting of United States warships.


Senator Robert Ray —You misheard.


Senator VALLENTINE —I hope that that was a mistake because the terms of the South Pacific nuclear free zone treaty just put in place by the Labor Government which, incidentally, allows more nuclear activities than it bans, certainly do not give the green light to home porting nuclear ships. So if I misheard him or was mistaken about what he said, I am very pleased.

It is not just the Australian Democrats, Senator Hill and the Left faction of the Labor Party who are worried about this issue; it is people right across the political spectrum not only in Australia but, as I have said, around the world. To keep on labelling people who are concerned about the ANZUS alliance as left wing or radical people is to trivialise the debate. Very conservative people are also concerned about this issue and I think that they demonstrated their concern very clearly when over half a million of them voted for nuclear disarmament over and above any other issue in the last Federal election.

Senator Hill said that the base on which the ANZUS Treaty was formed has been eroded. I agree with that. That Treaty-it is a flimsy bit of paper which is more than a sham as Senator Chipp called it-is a millstone around our neck. It is certainly outmoded. The thinking in the 1980s needs to be very different from the thinking of the 1950s which was when that Treaty was formulated. It was designed to allay Australian fears about the Japanese; it was nothing to do with anything nuclear. The alliance that has been built up behind that Treaty is all about nuclear weaponry and it is directed against the Soviet Union. This was not the original intention. I would have to agree with Senator Hill that the basis for the formulation of that Treaty has long passed; it has been eroded.

I was very surprised to hear Senator Sibraa say that, according to the Labor Party, Australia's sovereignty is protected by the ANZUS Treaty and the alliance. That is a most incredible statement. It is very difficult for me, as a senator and as an elected representative of the people of Australia, to get information about what this country is actually involved in. Secrecy has surrounded all things nuclear in this country since the signing of the Treaty in 1952.

Everything that has flowed from that time has been conducted in secret. The Australian people were never consulted about the establishment of any of the bases on Australian soil. The Australian people are still finding it very difficult to get information, even through their elected representatives, about Australia's involvement in matters such as the Geosat testing which has just taken place, its possible link to MX missile testing and exactly what is going on. So far as this country's commitment to the United States is concerned it is very secret indeed and I think that is one of the main problems with the whole alliance at the moment. How Senator Sibraa can say that Australia's sovereignty is protected, I do not know. Australia does not have any independent decision making powers whatsoever if it sticks to this Treaty. Admittedly, the Labor Government is prepared to criticise some aspects of the Treaty but if we have a Liberal Government how much worse that situation would be because its policy is unconditional and one of total support for that alliance.

I challenge something that Senator MacGibbon said about New Zealand's naive action in prohibiting the entry of nuclear armed and powered warships into its ports. He said that that action has affected Australia's security. I challenge that statement. I do not think Australia is one jot less or more secure because of the New Zealand nuclear warship ban. I believe that this Government should have supported New Zealand more that it did in that stand as opposed to criticising it more, as Senator MacGibbon suggested it should have. Senator MacGibbon also said that the United States, as an equal Treaty partner, would not ignore the reasonable expectations of its Treaty partners. I believe that, as a Treaty partner, it was a very reasonable expectation of New Zealand that it should be able to exercise its sovereign right to say: `We do not want nuclear weapons coming into our ports aboard United States ships'. The United States Government has kicked up such a fuss about that that it seems it does not adhere to the reasonable expectations of the Treaty partners. It either ignores them or makes a big fuss when any of the Treaty partners tries to exert its independence.

It is an important matter of record that in 1971, when the McMahon Liberal Government was in office, the entry of nuclear ships to this country was prohibited. There was not a squeak, not a word, in any of the ANZUS communiques that came out in the years immediately following that ban. There was no opposition to that from the United States point of view. So we must ask the question: Why is there now so much opposition to the New Zealand stand? I believe that the opposition is purely political rather than strategic. The Americans are very worried by what they call the Kiwi disease, or the nuclear allergy. Well might they be worried, not only because of Australia's and New Zealand's stand but also because their allies in other places are criticising their nuclear armaments buildup-in Greece, in Spain, in the Netherlands.


Senator Robert Ray —Not in Eastern Europe.


Senator VALLENTINE —The point is that it is not confined only to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies. I think the point I am about to make will address Senator Ray's interjection. The fact is that the Warsaw Pact allies are also criticising the Moscow buildup of armaments. The only reason that there has been such a lot of publicity leading up to the summit between Gorbachev and Reagan is that the leaders of the two super-powers are finally realising that the world's people are demanding to have a say in this issue. East and West, the world's people are saying to the super-powers: `This is enough of the nuclear insanity. We need to have our voices recorded as being against any further buildup of nuclear weapons'. So I believe that the climate of the world's people is actually forcing the leaders of the super-powers to discuss this issue seriously, and I wish them the very best in Geneva on 19 November.

We need to look at the public perception of the ANZUS alliance in this country. Since the early 1950s the Australian people have generally believed that the ANZUS alliance is like security blanket, that Australia is very secure because of our alliance with the United States. I think Senator Chipp has adequately and eloquently pointed out that we are not secure, that we have no guarantees whatsoever that we would be saved by the Americans in the event of any regional conflict. Since the writing of this Treaty-this flimsy document-the alliance which has sprung up behind the Treaty has involved Australia in enormous risks. I find it extremely disappointing to hear people on the Labor side of this chamber saying that the benefits outweigh the risks. According to the Labor Party and members of the Liberal Party, the ANZUS Treaty affords us benefits such as military intelligence, joint exercises, which I think we could well do without, and the technological edge we have over competitors for armaments. I think that is too slight a benefit by comparison with the enormous risks to which we are subjected by becoming a nuclear target.

We have enemies in this world now only because of our alliance with the United States. We would not be on anybody's target list at this very moment if we did not have United States bases on our soil, if we did not invite United States warships into our ports. According to the terms of the Treaty, we are not obliged to do any of those things. The Treaty does not tie us into having bases on our soil. It does not tie us into welcoming warships to our ports; neither does it tie us into helping with the Geosat testing or MX missile testing or the strategic defence initiative, which the Liberal Party would endorse wholeheartedly.

The Labor Party likes to talk about self-reliance, but in reality the Labor party's policy is subservient to that of the United States. We do not have an independent foreign policy, although there is a great deal of talk about it. We need to develop an independent defence capability so that we can then move to a situation in which we can have an independent foreign policy. Australia needs to look beyond the blocs. We need to remove Australia from any alliances with the nuclear super-powers, because we would then be making a moral stand away from the insanity of the nuclear arms race. We need to look at an alternative vision for Australia which is independent and nuclear free. We can be nuclear free only if we are independent. The two go together very closely indeed.

The world's people are demanding that we think beyond the blocs, that we think beyond the traditional paths of East and West, that we realise that we have but one fragile planet which we must learn to share, regardless of differences in political ideologies. I am not saying in this instance that we need to take on board any of the tenets of the Soviet life style or philosophy; we do not have to do that. But moving away from the American alliance, we will not then be stupid enough to move into an alliance with another super-power. What I am talking about is Australia standing clear, removing itself from any immoral nuclear alliances-because that is what they are.

We need to look at alternative options for Australia in this respect. It is no good just being against something; we must be for something. Australia needs to be discussing seriously at the national political level a variety of concepts out of which we could find a model that was suited to Australia's unique geo-strategic position. We are in a very different position from that of any other country on this earth, because of our isolation and our long coastline, so we have many factors working in our favour concerning defence. One of the areas at which we should be looking very closely is that of neutrality. This is a concept which would follow the line of Sweden and which would remove us from any military alliances with any nation whatsoever.


Senator Crichton-Browne —What about Cuba? It is not aligned.


Senator VALLENTINE —We must also look at the possibility of non-alignment-not as that label is sometimes used by countries such as Cuba, which clearly are aligned. What I believe Australia should be looking for is a step away from alliances with any super-power. We should also look at the concept of defensive defence. That is different from neutrality in that it does not allow for any offensive weapons whatsoever to be in a country's arsenal. Switzerland is a very good example of that type of defence arrangement. Countries that were thinking of invading Switzerland would know that it would be a very expensive exercise and that they would have to expend a lot of resources to invade Switzerland successfully. Our geographical situation, of course, is different. But it reduces the threat levels on the world political stage if a country is known to be capable only of defending itself rather than mounting an attack against any other nation. We should--


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The time under sessional order for consideration of the matter of urgency has expired.