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Wednesday, 3 April 1974
Page: 905

Mr SNEDDEN - My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Did the Government receive a request to establish a joint AustralianRussian scientific base in Australia? If a joint Russian-Australian scientific base were established in Australia would it not represent a threat to the alliance between Australia and the United States and would it be likely to render useless any bases which the United States has in Australia today? Will the Government, without any further ado, reject the Russian request?

Mr WHITLAM - A few weeks ago a party of visiting Russian scientists did raise with their Australian counterparts the proposal to establish a joint Australian-Soviet station. Station is the word; not base. The proposal was that the station would be used for the purposes of photographing space objects and contributing to a study of the characteristics of the atmosphere. The proposal is currently under study in appropriate departments. No policy advice has been given to Ministers and Ministers have not considered the matter collectively, nor individually has any of them formed a concluded view. Obviously the implications for various United States installations in Australia were in mind. One of those installations can properly be described as a base. Some are appropriately described as having defence communications significance and others are properly described as pure scientific stations. Accordingly, the Australian Government informed the United States Government. The Americans know about this because we, the Australians, told them. If there is military significance in any such proposals from the Soviet Union or from anybody else it is most unlikely that the proposals will be accepted. The Australian Government takes the attitude that there should not be foreign military bases, stations, installations in Australia. We honour agreements covering existing stations. We do not favour the extension or prolongation of any of those existing ones. The agreements stand, but there will not be extensions or proliferations. Nor in my view or my assessment is there any prospect of installations or stations with military significance being introduced for the first time into Australia by any other nation. And we do our best to see that in the Indian Ocean the present installations and bases are not expanded and that their numbers are not increased.

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