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Wednesday, 27 November 1985
Page: 2337

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(11.51) —Before answering, or non-answering, the questions put by Senator Vallentine, I will comment on Senator Walters's rather strange statement. I said that what I thought could happen, and what I believe is happening, is that a government in 1985 could provide assistance for International Year of Peace national and State committees and community groups to discuss the subject of peace and disarmament without being accused of assisting Reds under the bed or of being communist or anything else, as would have happened 10 or 15 years ago. That happens to be true. The fact that Senator MacGibbon says in this place that a clear majority of members of the National Consultative Committee on Peace and Disarmament are unilateralist disarmers, and the only person he mentions on the Committee is Al Grassby,who is not--

Senator MacGibbon —I did that because I do not wish to name people outside this chamber.

Senator GRIMES —Of course Senator MacGibbon does not wish to name people outside this chamber because he would be sued for doing so.

Senator MacGibbon —I will go through them chapter and verse if you want me to, but I would prefer not to.

Senator GRIMES —Why does the honourable senator not do it outside the chamber? Senator MacGibbon got up in this place and said that a clear majority of the members of the National Consultative Committee were unilateralist disarmers. He gave no evidence for it at all. He named only one person, Al Grassby, who is not. Honourable senators opposite can get up and make assertions like that during consideration of the Estimates because it is easy and they do not have to think about or justify it. I do not mind.

Senator Vallentine is concerned about our being involved in the International Atomic Energy Agency and its dual functions. She and her group have always expressed that view, and I respect it. She and her group have expressed concerns about what she sees as the lack of safeguards when nuclear-powered ships visit our shores. It is not opportune during consideration of the Appropriation Bills to enter into a full debate about nuclear disarmament or our various views on the development of nuclear power. Therefore, I do not intend to go on with that. However, I will certainly refer Senator Vallentine's views and ideas to the relevant Minister.

I agree with Senator Sir John Carrick. I think the debate on the Appropriation Bills in Committee is the time to probe answers that were given or not given during Estimates Committee hearings and to raise any subjects which have come up since then. As a Minister, I am certainly not going to be trapped into turning the debate into a full blown debate on the various views in this chamber on nuclear disarmament or otherwise.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Bjelke-Petersen) —Order! Before calling Senator Sanders, I remind honourable senators that they have been roaming far and wide on general matters in this debate. It would be better if they stayed closer to the expenditure items in the Appropriation Bills.