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Tuesday, 12 November 1985
Page: 1965


Senator SANDERS(3.13) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

This is a most cavalier fashion in which to discuss matters which are of fundamental importance to Australia's international relations and to the present and future directions of our foreign and defence policies. Fifty-six treaties are involved in the paper which has been presented and honourable senators have only five minutes in which to discuss them. Included in the 56 treaties is the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, a treaty which the Australian Democrats and Senator Tate-he is not in the chamber at the moment-believe places some obligations on the Australian Government to introduce legislation for a nuclear weapons free Australia. One would think that this item on its own would be important. It should rate a major debate but, of course, honourable senators have only five minutes in which to debate all of the treaties.

Treaty No. 27 on the list-it came into force on 2 August this year-is between Australia and the United States of America on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Again, this is another major treaty. Given the changes to the string of treaties with the United States of America on the so-called peaceful uses-if there are any such things as peaceful uses-of nuclear energy, each of which is more complex than and more different from the previous one, the time devoted to debating and discussing such vital matters is patently absurd.

Treaty No. 29 is an agreement between Australia and France on classified information including, according to the agreement, defence information between Australia and France. It boggles the mind. Did Australia really know in advance about the Rainbow Warrior connection? This is something which should be investigated. But no, we have only a few minutes in which to debate it. How did Australia come to sign such an agreement with the French? Everyone knows that France's policies in this region are an absolute disgrace. The French willingly go into sovereign nations and blow up the ships of people who are ideologically different. France blithely blows up ships, explodes bombs in the South Pacific and tests nuclear weapons against the wishes of everyone in the whole Pacific basin, including Australia, although Australia does not say much about it, and here we are signing agreements with France. This is a disgrace and why we do it is an enigma. Parliament should be looking into the matter.

Honourable senators have five minutes in which to speak on these agreements. Other agreements which we have not found in this paper-they probably do not exist in it-are those which bind us to the United States in respect of its bases in Australia. These are the most serious agreements of all and they are not even considered by the Parliament; only the Executive considers them. The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), the Cabinet and the Governor-General sign agreements which lock us into bases such as Pine Gap, which is a Central Intelligence Agency base, pure and simple; it is a spy base and it is aiding and abetting the United States war effort. It locks us into Nurrungar, a base which is used for detecting Soviet missile launches and is the first step to star wars. With the new satellites going up it will be even more completely tied in to star wars.

We have bases such as North West Cape which are communication stations which enable the United States to communicate with nuclear submarines and aircraft which could be engaged in United States first strike activities. We have the base at Watsonia, right in the heart of Melbourne, which transmits data from four high frequency direction finding stations scattered around the southern south-west Pacific to the United States Navy headquarters in Hawaii. It is essential to the United States war effort. We have the Omega base at Sale which is a prime nuclear target and a navigational aid to United States military ships and planes. A number of agreements do not come to light at all. When a few agreements do come to light, as they did today, we have five minutes in which to speak on them. I hope that in the future the Government will wake up to its responsibility to the Australian people and that it lets them know the truth about all of our agreements with foreign powers.