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Thursday, 5 December 1985
Page: 3023

Senator VALLENTINE —I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In light of the importance of the report tabled here today on British nuclear testing in Australia and the long term negative consequences of those tests, in view of the fact that the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War have launched a world-wide campaign to persuade the United States to reciprocate the announcement by the Soviet Union of a moratorium on the testing of nuclear weapons until January 1986-since reiterated by Mr Gorbachev's proposal following the Geneva Summit to extend this test ban if the United States follows suit-and in view of the Australian Government's commitment to seeking a comprehensive test ban and our purported special relationship with the United States, will the Government immediately press the United States to support the Soviet initiative?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I will refer that question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs for such detailed response as he cares to make. I simply make the point, as was acknowledged in Senator Vallentine's opening salvo, that Australia is very firmly committed to comprehensive test bans by every country in the world, including both the Soviet Union and the United States. We have pressed that point with a great deal of vigour at the Committee on Disarmament meetings and sessions held in Geneva-as Senator Vallentine well knows, as I met her there earlier in the year-and, similarly, in the current session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The cause has been very vigorously pressed by Australia in that respect-not, regrettably, with much response from either the United States or the Soviet Union. But I assure her, as I am sure the Foreign Minister will when I refer her question to him, that we are doing everything we conceivably can to get that point across.

Senator VALLENTINE —I ask a supplementary question. The particular aspect that I was concerned about was not so much a criticism of the Government's push for a comprehensive test ban treaty, but the specific aspect of the initiative made by Mr Gorbachev which has not been reciprocated by the United States. Can I have an assurance that I will get an answer to that question in this place tomorrow? If the Government is not pressing the United States to support the initiative, I want to know why it is not.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I will respond to the question in an appropriately constructive spirit. I will see whether I can find Mr Hayden in time to give an answer tomorrow.