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Thursday, 14 November 1985
Page: 2183


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(4.14) —The Senate is continuing the debate on a private member's Bill entitled the Nuclear Weapons Prohibitions Bill 1985. The Bill is one of six private member's Bills introduced by the Australian Democrats. To understand the particular Bill, one must look at the totality of the six and at the stated policies of the Australian Democrats. I think it would be fair to say that, taken in their totality, the Bills and the policies reflect those points: The rejection by the Australian Democrats of the ANZUS defence treaty; the rejection by the Democrats of the Western alliance; the recognition by the Democrats of a policy of neutrality and isolation; and the recognition by the Democrats of a policy that rejects the mining, milling or export of fissile materials, uranium or thorium, from Australia. That overall effect is necessary to be stated because when one states the intentions of the Bill before us, there is much that seems to be good and generally acceptable. The effect, nevertheless, when taken into full account is that the policy would be a total abrogation of our responsibilities under the great international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and indeed of our obligations under the International Atomic Energy Agency.

On the face of it, the Bill in its stated purposes is unobjectionable. It seeks to prohibit the development, testing, manufacture, importation, transportation or storage of nuclear weapons in Australia, by Australia or any other foreign power or company. The fact is that the major parties in this Senate would in general terms support such an intention. The Liberal Party, to which I belong, and the National Party with which we are in coalition are both emphatically opposed to the manufacture or use of nuclear weapons in Australia, and so indeed is the stated policy of the Australian Labor Party. Those are not the matters in contention, and indeed there would be no need for such a Bill as this if that were simply the intention.

The simple fact is that in the early 1970s the Fraser Liberal Government signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. That Treaty is the mainspring in the world towards nuclear non-proliferation of weapons. It is the one essential effort by some 130 nation states of the world to get together to stop any further proliferation of nuclear weapons, and Australia is emphatically committed to it. We are eagerly working to strengthen it, to draw to it from outside those 40 nations, or fewer now, that remain outside. Some of them are part of the Latin-American Treaty of Tlatelolco with similar goals; others are not bound at all. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of which Australia is a signatory and which was ratified in 1973 emphatically commits us `not to receive, manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, not to seek or receive assistance in their manufacture'. That is article 2. We are signatories to it and both sides of this House emphatically support it. It goes on further in article 3 that parties will not provide to non-nuclear weapons states source or special fissionable material or equipment for production of special fissionable material, unless subject to safeguards. It goes on to deal with the acceptance of safeguards on all peaceful nuclear activities.

The fact is that in the time of the Fraser Liberal Government a series of pieces of legislation were brought into this Parliament in a debate over some weeks. The whole question of Australia's responsibilities and attitudes to the nuclear cycle was debated at great length. In those discussions and in debates in which I took part as a Minister, Australia made it clear that it would be a leader in the world in the safeguards that it would lay down to provide for the protection of all fissionable materials-uranium, thorium and other materials-so that none of the materials that flowed from us would be in any way used for nuclear weapons. The Liberal Party is emphatic in its desire for nuclear and conventional disarmament. It is emphatic that there should be non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and that Australia under a Liberal Government would never resort to nuclear weapons. There cannot be anything clearer than that. The Fraser Liberal Government introduced safeguards and strengthened the Australian Safeguards Office so that it could work in conjunction with the International Atomic Energy Agency to survey the movement of all Australian fissionable materials throughout the world and so that there was no way they could be used other than in peaceful nuclear energy generation. That has happened.

In that situation Australia is not only a signatory to the International Atomic Energy Agency requirements but has become an active member of its governing body in Vienna. I visited the Agency when I was a Minister. I studied what was being done and I moved to have it strengthened. The fundamental need in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world is to have an agreement by the nations of it that there will be a surveillance body, a monitoring body-the International Atomic Energy Agency-which would be allowed to search a country to see what it was doing with nuclear materials and to ensure that there was no proliferation of weapons. Australia not only has welcomed that but also is part of the governing body. One of the fundamental points of that is that if we are to justify being part of the governing body of IAEA we must show ourselves to be active members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That means we have obligations under that Treaty. Of course, a fundamental condition of that Treaty is that Australia undertakes to supply nuclear materials for use for peaceful purposes to nations which are similarly covered by the safeguards.

I invite the Senate to look at articles 4 and 6 of the Treaty, which are its key features. If a nation state is to be a good neighbour to countries which are members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has an absolute responsibility to provide to other member states, under the strictest safeguards, fissile material for use in nuclear energy. That is fundamental. To say that we will not do that is to weaken the situation.

Lest it should be felt that I am putting a Liberal Party partisan view on this matter, I will state what ought to be accepted as a bipartisan view. I have in my hands the report to the Hawke Federal Government of the Australian Science and Technology Council-ASTEC-the supreme, prestigious scientific body in Australia. The report is entitled `Australia's Role in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle' and looks at the ways of maintaining peacetime nuclear power generation throughout the world while stopping nuclear proliferation. It is of vital importance that every Australian should read and understand the essential conclusion of that report of a bipartisan committee of Australian scientists. They are scientists of all political persuasions; they are scientists with expertise. The main conclusion of the report states:

Our overall conclusion is that Australia will be best able to make a significant contribution if it is actively involved in the nuclear fuel cycle. By such involvement we consider that Australia will be able to make a direct contribution to the development of the civil nuclear fuel cycle in ways that will increase global energy security, help to strengthen the elements of the non-proliferation regime and help to reduce the risks of misuse of civil facilities and the diversion of nuclear materials from civil to military uses.

The report continues:

Without such involvement we consider that global energy security would be less assured and our ability to strengthen the non-proliferation regime and to influence future developments in the fuel cycle would be reduced. We do not wish to exaggerate Australia's role in matters related to the nuclear fuel cycle but, as in most other human endeavours, it is only by active involvement that Australia can expect to be able to influence the future course of events.

That is the main conclusion of ASTEC, the most prestigious body of scientists in Australia, when asked the essential question: How is it best to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world? The report concludes that the best way is for Australia to be a good neighbour in the active movement of fissile materials around the world for peacetime purposes, to be a strong monitor and to survey what happens to nuclear materials. The report goes on to state that if we do not do that we will weaken nuclear non-proliferation in the world and widen the opportunities for other countries to increase their nuclear weapons. ASTEC in its report recommends that we should not limit ourselves to the nuclear fuel cycle; we should continue with not just the mining and milling of uranium but also its enrichment. The more that a country which has the responsibilities of Australia does these things under strict safeguards, the less danger there is that a nation outside the treaty will abuse the safeguards and the less danger there will be of fissile material escaping into weaponry. These are the fundamental points and those who argue against them have to argue against this report.

The Bill is quite unnecessary. Its good parts seek to stop the manufacture or use in Australia of nuclear weaponry. We are totally committed to that, as is the Australian Labor Party. There is no need whatsoever for any legislative act towards that end. There is on the statute book a series of pieces of legislation which govern the movement of fissile material, the safeguard protections, the mining and milling-the whole handling of highly radioactive material. There is in existence an Australian Safeguards Office. We are on the governing body of the International Atomic Energy Agency. So there is no doubt about not only the existence of our commitments but also the practical application of them. There is a bipartisanship between the Liberal and National parties and the Australian Labor Party and there is no need for further intervention in that regard.

However, the intervention of this Bill is much more insidious. Firstly, it would prevent the full implementation of the ANZUS Treaty by Australia and our participation in the Western alliance. Both the coalition and the Australian Labor Party emphasise that today the nuclear peace of this world is maintained by deterrence, the ability of the two super-powers to maintain a deterrent structure so that no first strike shall occur because of the danger of retaliation and the damage that would come from a prohibitive retaliation. Therefore, the peacekeepers of this world, those who value and work for peace, are those who will look towards maintaining the deterrence while arguing strenuously and practically for the greatest possible reduction of armaments in the world. The Liberal Party and the National Party are fervent in their desire to see, particularly in the weeks ahead, the super-powers come together and seek an enormous reduction in both nuclear and conventional arms to a level of equivalence where there can be effective monitoring, surveillance and verification. That is what we all hope for.

I make it perfectly clear that the introduction in the Senate by an honourable senator of a Bill with an anti-nuclear stance does not mean that he or she has a monopoly over peace. Peace is in the hearts, minds, spirits and intentions of every person in this chamber. I acknowledge that in the differences of view that are held by honourable senators. However, it is absolutely necessary that nobody should pretend he has a monopoly over peace. I do not say that the Democrats are doing that. We are arguing and ought to be arguing about the mechanisms that will bring about that peace. It is respectable to have a difference of opinion as to how one brings about that peace. It is the view of the coalition, and it is a view which is supported predominantly throughout the world, that anything that strengthens the deterrent strengthens peace; anything that weakens the deterrent weakens peace.

The majority of Australians have said that they favour the ANZUS Treaty. The Democrats have said that they do not favour it. I want to make one point about that. I think it is Senator Chipp who in recent times has criticised the Treaty and said that it is meaningless. In recent times I have been reminded that during the Indonesian confrontation in the 1960s the then Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, said to the Indonesian Government that if the Indonesian Government came into conflict with the Australian troops that would trigger off the ANZUS Treaty. If one wanted clear proof of the practical application of the ANZUS Treaty between partners in this area there it was and here it is. I am seeking to get the actual documentation of this so that there can be no argument in the world about the strength of the ANZUS Treaty. Even so, I do not think many Australians believe that we should shed our link with the Western alliance or with those who work for a common purpose of defence. The Western alliance has no aggressive tendencies. It exists to maintain peace with dignity.

The effect of this Bill, if it were carried, would be not to allow into any of our ports nuclear-propelled, nuclear-capable or nuclear-armed vessels. That is not disputed. Indeed, subsequent Bills on the Notice Paper go on to strengthen that. The fact of the matter is that between 40 and 50 per cent of the United States Navy vessels are today nuclear-propelled. In the next decade it will be 70 per cent or more. As the oil shortage increases virtually all the modern navies of the world will be nuclear-propelled and so, indeed, will be the main commercial vessels.

What this Bill is, in fact, is a statement by the Democrats that they would not allow our allied navies to come to our ports for the ordinary purposes of being refuelled, revictualled or repaired or for recreational purposes. One cannot have a working treaty between allies unless one is willing to refuel their ships and to help them be repaired. Fundamentally, this means that the British aircraft carrier Invincible would not be capable of being repaired. It was a sad day when it was not repaired in the past. In fact, under this kind of policy we would not welcome to our shores the very allies on whom we depend for maintaining the peace. The peace of this world is determined by the fact that we can disperse our defence mechanisms-the navies can disperse, the submarines can disperse. The basic reason why a first strike will never be made on the American mainland is that in and under the seas of the various oceans of this world will be allied vessels and submarines which will be capable of retaliation. That is an ugly thing.

I look to the day when we will not need to have the deterrent as a means of peace. I hope that research such as the strategic defence initiative can succeed so that we can put in its place a non-nuclear defence system that will outlaw forever nuclear weapons. One should eagerly hope that that will be so. One should hope that the research that the Russians have been doing for years and that the Americans are now in fact moving towards, can be brought together in a common understanding in the world so that we will find that the younger generations of the future no longer will have to have peace by mutual terror but will have peace because we have found a non-nuclear way of making nuclear weapons obsolete.


Senator Robert Ray —If they both do it at the same time.


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —Yes, if they do. I thank Senator Ray. The fact of the matter is that the understanding of this has been wrongly projected. It has been projected that the Russians have not been doing this and that the Americans are doing it as a destabilising thing. The Russians for years have been doing high density beam and particle beam research. They have a primitive system around Moscow. In fact, they have a radar system, which is undoubtedly in breach of the Treaty, at Krasnoyarsk in Central Siberia, as has been acknowledged by the Hawke Government. Mr Reagan has said that in his research he will do two things: That he is willing to make known to the world each stage of the progress of his research so that there is no one-upmanship in this situation-indeed, if the research proves to be not totally successful he will not go ahead with it-and that the Americans will stage between the super-powers, in three stages, the research, the introduction of some of the development and the ultimate phasing out. So in point of fact the Americans are now saying that they will not destabilise, that they want to get disarmament and a movement towards peace. Fundamental to the discussions of the next week or two in Geneva is the fact that we should put to rest this idea that the SDI is a unilateral move by the Americans which would destabilise. The contrary is true. The Russians have been doing it. I can only pray that by it or by something else we will find a non-nuclear means. But, indeed, it goes further than that.


Senator Harradine —Julius Stone had a letter about that the day before he died.


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —I draw attention to it. It is fundamental that the Australian people should understand what the SDI is all about. I repeat that what President Reagan said and what every Australian should understand is this: Will we have to commit the new generations, for generation after generation to eternity, to a world in which peace is tenuously kept by mutually assured destruction? Will the only source of peace be that we have a nuclear offensive, which is a tenuous thing? Could we not find a way in which we could get a defence system which is non-nuclear against a nuclear offence system? Could we not, therefore, outlaw all nuclear weapons? That is an ideal. If it is an impractical ideal we will be back to the deterrent. If it is an ideal that is a success and is phased in by common agreement throughout the world, we will have done for our new generations something that will be a real value indeed.

Fundamentally, I say this because it gets to the core of this Bill and the five other Bills-one cannot get peace by opting out. The idea behind this Bill is that somehow we can get a nuclear-free zone. These words are used in the Bill and, sadly, are used by the Government. There is only one effective nuclear-free zone-a global one. Any attempt by anybody to pretend that one can get a zone and say that it is nuclear-free because there are no weapons in it at the moment is a delusion of the people and a dangerous weakening of the peace. I want this world, step by step, to have nuclear non-proliferation zones, one after the other, side by side, until the world has total non-proliferation. I applaud the South Pacific nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It is quite wrongly called the nuclear-free zone. It cannot be a nuclear-free zone. That is admitted because the nuclear powers have free movement on the sea, under the sea and in the international airspace. It is a corruption of the truth for anybody to mouth the idea and to pretend to Australians that there is a nuclear-free zone. There cannot be.

The simple fact is that if there were a nuclear strike of any magnitude anywhere in the world, it would have to be designed to ensure that there was no retaliation. All reputable scientists have calculated that the magnitude would be such that it would create a nuclear winter. The physical phenomenon of the ordinary mix in the stratosphere would ensure that everybody in the world shared in this disaster. It is generally agreed that it does not matter if a country calls itself nuclear free, is neutral, isolated, has no nuclear bases or installations, no war ships in its ports; it cannot buy itself any kind of protection from a nuclear strike wherever that strike is in the world.

The fact is that from all the nuclear explosions that have happened in the world, by way of nuclear tests and so on, Australia has had distributed over its landmass two millirads of radiation a year, as the rest of the world. The radiation has been beautifully spread throughout the world. It is not quite as much radiation as comes from coal burning power stations spreading their radiation. Nevertheless, the radiation has been spread by the cosmic mix. Anyone who seeks to create the illusion that, by isolation, by neutralism, by having no joint defence facilities or by having no war ships in Australian ports, one can buy peace or protection is in fact deluding members of the public, and deluding them seriously. I have heard the Australian Democrats arguing that they accept the principle of the nuclear winter. One cannot accept the principle of the nuclear winter without, in fact, admitting that a first strike anywhere in the world will destroy the world. That is a simple fact. The illusion that one gains from isolation is nonsense.

I will go with everybody-the Democrats, the Australian Labor Party, everybody-in any move at all that will extend the sphere of nuclear non-proliferation in this world. If people want to work for that, if people want more and more countries to agree to this so that ultimately we get the lot agreeing, we will get for the first time a nuclear free zone because it is the only way we will get it. We should not delude that if we did not have nuclear targets on our soil that somehow or other we would buy ourselves peace. It would not matter whether we were targeted in Australia. If a first strike occurred only on the American mainland, Australia would be lethally destroyed. That is the fundamental position and I point out that we join in the desire for peace. We join in the desire for a great level of disarmament. However, we want to remove the delusions that are created by those who promote the idea that if we become isolationist, we can somehow or other buy protection. Accordingly, we reject this Bill.