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Friday, 8 November 1985
Page: 1808


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(9.09) —I wish to inform the Senate that I may have many faults but the incapacity to count is not one of them. For that reason, it would be pointless for us to divide on such a motion, although we may oppose it. I just wish to say that on Wednesday, from my reading of the Hansard-I was not present at the time-the simple reason for Senator Gareth Evans and the Government opposing the motion was that the urgency motion itself was put up as a party political act, not an unusual thing to happen in this chamber, and it was considered necessary to demonstrate that this was so. It was considered necessary to demonstrate in both the debate and the vote that that was so, and that was done quite clearly. Senator Durack has since used a tactic that I would have used, and has moved for the suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders so that he no longer needs an absolute majority of the Senate. He quite clearly has a simple majority of the Senate to carry this motion and for that reason we will not oppose it.

With the indulgence of the Senate I might just say that when the vote is taken the Government will support the urgency motion for two simple reasons. The first is that it is Australian Labor Party policy to favour an effective ANZUS Treaty. It has been stated many times by the Government that it would like to see an effective ANZUS Treaty, a Treaty that is more realistic, and one which has New Zealand in it, and therefore we cannot oppose that section of the motion. Secondly, we are willing as a government, and have said so-it is our Party policy-to host the joint defence facilities for their early warning and verification roles; we are not particularly happy to host them for their war fighting capacity. But, in light of the fact that the motion simply says `the maintenance of joint defence facilities', we cannot be hypocritical and not support the motion in that regard.

That does not mean that we think that the moving of motions like this assists the American-Australian alliance any more than we think that the attitude of some members of the United States Government, as expressed in some of their actions and remarks, assists this alliance. A couple of weeks ago I represented the Australian Labor Party at a disarmament conference in Vienna. I and members of other social democratic and democratic socialist parties and governments in the world pointed out that we were in alliance with the United States, that we had such an alliance for historic and obvious political and defence purposes at the moment but that at the same time we wished to be treated as partners in such an alliance and not in the manner in which, one may say, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics sometimes treats its partners in alliance. All I can say is that at that conference a senior representative of the United States treated those of us in this alliance situation in much the manner that the USSR treats its alliance members. I do not believe that that representative did so necessarily with the approval of the United States Government or the United States President.

Despite that, we still support ANZUS and we still support the maintenance of the joint defence facilities, because if we are to have disarmament we need verification and early warning systems. For that reason we will support this obviously party political urgency motion, but I repeat that breast-beating of this type by Opposition parties and attempts to enter into debates on delicate matters of foreign policy and defence in this way do not advance the cause of this country. It may help the warm inner glow of some people opposite, particularly some of those who will vote against the motion, but it does not help this country's relationship with the United States or anybody else. Having put that position, I think it would be fairly sensible, after a few more people have got up and done a bit more breast-beating, to get on with the vote that inevitably will occur.