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Tuesday, 19 February 1980
Page: 28


Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) (Leader of the Opposition) - What we have just heard is a mixture of a little common sense, written for the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) by others, but much more of the posturing for which he alone is responsible and which he seeks to substitute in this country for reasoned and rational foreign policy debate. After two weeks as some sort of international messenger boy for great and powerful friends, the Prime Minister comes into this House believing the Parliament is as gullible as many of the journalists who travelled with him or as servile as the commissioners of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I have no doubt he correctly assesses the capacities of his own back bench. The Opposition, however, will not swallow his humbug, and neither will the people of Australia.

At the outset, let me emphasise that I have no hesitation in saying that the Government has every justification to regard the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan with disgust and with concern. The Opposition shares those feelings without qualification of any sort. There can be no question that Moscow's brutal abuse of the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and mutual non-interference in its occupation of Afghanistan demonstrates the Soviet Union's utter insensitivity to the values and standards which so many nations seek to advance. But that said, the Prime Minister has no right as a responsible leader of government to misuse the circumstances of the Soviet's actions to grandstand and to scaremonger solely for the dual objectives of massaging his own ego and of exploiting the issue as a domestic political distraction. And that, Mr Speaker, we on this side of the House have no doubt is, and has been, the Prime Minister's real intention in this matter.

In this Parliament, there is no significant difference in attitude towards the Soviet actions in Afghanistan. What is in dispute between the Opposition and the Government is the appropriate response Australia should make. From the very beginning, we have said that the Opposition would support effective international responses, be they embargoes, boycotts or whatever. I stress the word 'effective', just as I will emphasise later the word 'fair'- alien to the vocabulary of the Prime Minister and so many of his colleagues. There is absolutely no point in empty gestures, or in counter-productive measures that damage Australia or disadvantage our national interest more than they do the Soviet Union. It is rubbish to believe Australia can set hares running on its own initiative and then pretend that they are of major international significance. Effective measures of response have to be explained, organised and executed with care; otherwise, they are likely to rebound, as the Deputy Prime

Minister (Mr Anthony) dearly has come to realise.

The Government has not done this necessary ground work. The pace has been set entirely by the Prime Minister on the basis of personal prejudice and political expediency. The analysis we might have expected from the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) and his Department played no part in Australia's policy formulation and public stance on Afghanistan. This was glaringly obvious on the matter of the proposed Olympic boycott. On 8 January the Foreign Minister said:

I am not moved by suggestions that the Olympic Games be boycotted, because it is mainly a question for sporting bodies and I am not sure the USSR would suffer from a boycott.

That is commendable. Thirteen days later, on 2 1 January, he experienced a complete conversion when he said:

Boycotting the Games is clearly the greatest refuff one could serve to Russia.

He succumbed to the Prime Minister's view in just 13 days, a posture aptly summarised in the Melbourne Herald headline 'Peacock up the Khyber Pass'.

In recent weeks, the Foreign Minister has been proud to point out the passing- if not fleetingreference he made in this House almost a year ago to Soviet influence in Afghanistan. But there was nothing to back up this reference in a manner that would support the Government's view of the situation now. Where was the official concern of the Fraser Government in April 1978- almost two years ago- when Marxist revolution installed the Taraki Government in Afghanistan? The Prime Minister has recently been insisting that Afghanistan was a ' non-aligned 'country before the Soviet invasion, despite its proMoscow Marxist Government. If this Australian Government was so alive to the developing dangers in Afghanistan, why did it ignore the ominous chain of events last year, especially the murder of the American Ambassador, and the steady build-up of the Russian military presence?

Now that all these things have come to such a dramatic climax, the Prime Minister would have us believe that he foresaw the threat all the time. Quite clearly, he and his Government did not foresee the events with which we have recently been faced. The same must be said, regrettably, of the American Administration.

What has changed, and in both nations, is that an election year has arrived. In both countries, there are the most compelling political reasons for diverting public attention from the great domestic issues which would otherwise be absorbing the electors. What we are witnessing is a massive exercise in obfuscation, which creates new risks and leads away from the real courses of action that are most likely to bring positive results. I will agree with the Prime Minister on one of the messages he has been hurling at us constantly: We must all look at the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.

The Soviet invasion is much too important to look at in terms of the Prime Minister's fantasies. Soviet aggression against its Muslim neighbour is an outrageous abuse of power rightly condemned by the overwhelming majority of nations, including much of the Muslim and developing world.

The justification the Russians advance for their action is transparently false. The idea that President Amin, the cruel and oppressive ruler of Afghanistan, would have called in Russian troops and then turned Central Intelligence Agency agent, thus justifying his summary murder, is ludicrous. But this leaves us with this question: Why did the Soviet Union behave as it did? A sober and realistic answer is essential if the right lessons are to be drawn. Some of the analysis we have heard, including that of today, is based on ideas of the 1 9th century.

Realistically, we can specify some things which did not motivate Soviet behaviour. This was not a thrust for a 'warm water port'. This concept may have had strategic relevance a century ago: It does not today in the age of the intercontinental ballistic missile and a Soviet blue water navy. The Soviets already have the necessary facilities they need at Aden. They were quite ready to sacrifice their base at Berbera in Somalia when Ethiopia offered better opportunities.

But even if Moscow still were motivated by the desire for a warm-water port, would they thrust out for it through a country of such daunting physical characteristics as Afghanistan, and in the middle of such a daunting winter? Quite obviously, it would have been much easier to seek such access across the shared border with Iran. In fact, however, the evidence is that the Soviet Union has carefuly avoided involvement with dissident groups in Iran. The likely reaction of her own large Muslim population in the area is a powerful deterrent.

The assertion that the Soviet Union may have been moving to control the West's oil cannot be sustained. The Soviet Union's military capability to interdict oil destined for the West has not been significantly enhanced by invading Afghanistan. Soviet aircraft were already well within range; Soviet ground forces north of Iran are much better placed than they are in Afghanistan; the Soviet Indian Ocean fleet was inferior to the United States naval capacity in the area- and the invasion has not changed any of that. If the invasion was aimed at oil supplies, it was entirely self-defeating because it has alerted the West, and reminded it of its interests in the region. What the invasion does represent is a dangerous manifestation of the characteristic, exaggerated Soviet sense of insecurity and an arrogrant assertion of military might.

The coup in Afghanistan in 1978, in which the Soviet Union apparently played little part, brought to power a Marxist regime which immediately developed a close relationship with the Soviet Government. Its problem was that it was unable to develop a close relationship with its own people-a hardy, Muslim, tribal people unwilling to accept a direction from a central government which was anti-religious, and which wanted to destroy their traditional life.

By the middle of 1979, Afghanistan was slowly coming apart. President Taraki 's replacement by his murderer, President Amin, only accelerated the process. The Soviet Union, always paranoiac about instability on its borders, saw both Iran and Afghanistan in turmoil. It also saw a Marxist government on the verge of falling to Islamic, anti-Soviet rebels. It decided to arrogate to itself, as it did in Czechoslovakia and Hungary the right to decide the destiny of another sovereign nation. Soviet aggression then seems to have been a result of a perceived weakness to the south, rather than a confident step in a steady expansionist drive. It has, however, created a new source of tension in the world.

I do not for a moment believe that the Soviet Union would be sufficiently imprudent to challenge vital Western oil interests in Iran, or elsewhere in the Persian Gulf or Middle East. No one, however, can be certain that if Iran fragments the same Soviet paranoia which took it into Afghanistan will not lead it to intervene in the northern provinces of Iran, Azerbaijan or Kurdistan where vital oil supplies are not at stake. We can also expect the Soviet Union to try to build its influence in the region, including by subversion. It has never resisted the temptation to do so in the past and there is no reason to suppose that it will do so now.

The problems for the West in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf do not, however, stem primarily from Soviet behaviour. It is the internal problems of the countries of the region, which are still struggling to build their nations in the aftermath of colonisation, which constitute the major problem. Religion, regional rivalries, deep-seated political differences, to say nothing of severe national differences in the region, all combine to make this one of the least stable areas of the world.

The reality is that there is little any outsider can do to control the potent social, economic and religious forces at work. Rather, the West must aim to be a patient, reliable friend over decades instead of trying to build and control overnight clients who are discredited by foreign dependence. The West must seize upon and be sympathetic to the forces of progress rather than the forces of oppression. A genuine understanding and sympathy towards the forces of change will be much more productive than military disposition.

In this respect, it would be disastrous for the West to lock itself into a growing dependence on and support of the squalid military dictatorship of the Zia regime in Pakistan. Let us not forget that Zia is the man who, less than a year ago, contrived the judicial murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the man he overthrew, in circumstances that evoked widespread international condemnation. Let us not forget that Zia is the tyrant who gaols journalists who report honestly, journalists like Salamat Ali who had the effrontery to expose the conditions of repression, exploitation and discrimination in Baluchistan under Zia 's Administration.

The most likely and the most disturbing direct consequence of increasing military and economic aid to the Zia regime is increased instability. It will be expected by many that he will use this support to strengthen his shaky and unpopular administration by imposing further oppressive measures on the minority groups he so fears- the Baluchis, the Pathans and the Sindis, in particular. Is that the sort of ally we must recruit in these circumstances?

In the region concerned, the United States has already made one grievous blunder whose consequences are still to be worked out. That was the propping up of the Shah in Iran, long after his survival was either possible or desirable. The Shah fell, despite his enormous military strength, because he lacked a real political base and popular support. Indeed, he scorned them. Propping up the Zia regime could have a similar ending. In the shorter term, it will be regarded by India as an incitement in the overall security sense, an encouragement of a localised nuclear build-up, with all the dangers that could involve.

The invasion of Afghanistan has also brought into much sharper relief Western concerns about Soviet behaviour. It has given a new impetus to an existing trend towards a stronger attitude towards the Soviet Union. In the United States, the reaction has been especially vigorous. The whole fabric of detente has been brought into question, including the central issue of the strategic balance between the two super powers. The Prime Minister of Australia apparently is prepared to write off detente with no regrets. He is dangerously wrong if that is so. Of course detente has shortcomings. Any imaginable system of relations between these two super powers must have shortcomings. But we are far better off with detente, with SALT II and its successors, and even with the problems they embody, than we are without them. That is a simple fact of life in this potentially life-or-death matter.

Without SALT, we are faced with an arms build-up without restraint- restraint which would act more strongly on the Soviet Union, incidentally, than on the United States. Without detente and SALT II, the Soviet Union would be under no constraint in adding more nuclear warheads to her arsenal, seeking to ensure her capability to destroy America's land-based missiles. Without SALT, whatever we might say about its limitations, we are left with no means of checking directly on the expansion and deployment of Soviet nuclear weaponry. I do not seek to exaggerate the degree of security likely to flow to us from SALT II and a general policy of detente against the realities of strategic defence relations involving the super powers. It would be foolish to do so. But it is even more foolish to write off such arrangements prematurely and unnecessarily. It is beyond argument that we are better off with them than without them. The Prime Minister says that detente is dead and that he says so having reached a coincidence of views with the leaders of Western Europe. That is nonsense, demonstrable nonsense. Chancellor Schmidt, for example, has said specifically that detente could not withstand a new shock like Afghanistan. However, with those words he makes it clear that detente has survived the initial shock. Detente continues, and it is irresponsible of the Prime Minister of Australia to suggest otherwise.

Soviet action, then, has led to a period in which relations between the two great powers will be more tense, more unsettled and more dangerous than they have been since the late 1960s. However, it is irresponsibly stupid and naive to believe that the responses of the 1950s and 1960s are appropriate to today's circumstances. We, like the United States, have to come to terms with the reality of nuclear strategic parity. In 1 962 President Kennedy, was able to humiliate the Soviet Union over Cuba because the United States had overwhelming military superiority in nuclear arms. That strategic fact has disappeared, almost certainly never to return. In an age of strategic equality, presenting generalised ultimatums to Russia, as our Prime Minister wishes to do, is contrary to a basic principle of strategic policy- that commitments must be matched with interests and capability. These are times in which Australia needs hard-headed assessment, not wilful fantasising; sober judgment of interests, not self-indulgent global posturing; a prudent calculation of military capacity and sustainable commitments, not wild and empty rhetoric.

In the recent crisis, which was described by the Prime Minister as 'the greatest'- to quote him exactly- the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) committed the most incredible volte-face in the history of his political career and adopted the motto 'silence is golden'. It was unbelievable. His posture was reminiscent of that of the Duke of Plaza-Toro

No soldier in that gallant band hid half as well as he did. He led his regiment from behind. He found it less exciting.

Little wonder! He is too honest to go overboard supporting the excited rhetoric of his Prime Minister and too embarrassed to defend the disgraceful rundown of the nation's armed services under his own administration.

In the four years that the five-year rolling defence program has been operating, a very substantial shortfall has accumulated. In the initial program which began in the 1976-77 Budget, it was envisaged that a total of $12 billion would be spent over five years, that is, up to the 1 980-8 1 Budget. Year by year, the shortfall has grown. In the first year, outlay on defence was some $ 142m behind the target in real terms. In 1977-78 it was $286m. In 1978-79 it was $475m and in the most recent Budget it was a massive $626m. In real terms, the program is some $1.5 billion behind target. Such is the achievement of the Minister for Defence, and the explanation of his silence.

This shortfall will increase even further with the estimated outlay in the 1980-81 Budget, although the rate of increase will diminish with the extra spending announced by the Prime Minister. Last year, the Government revised the parameters of the five-year rolling program. It projected spending of some $ 14,000m over the five years from 1979-80 to 1983-84. If we translate this into real terms, we find that the target figure for 1983-84 should be of the order of $15,600m. In short, the total outlay for these five years is some $ 1,600m behind the target set by the Defence White Paper in 1976. Whether measured in terms of the initial program or its successor, the five-year rolling program is in deep trouble. Without any adjustment it would lag further behind each year until the mid-1980s. Like the Minister for Defence, it is listing badly, giving every evidence that it is about to sink. It is now at least $ 1 ,500m to $ 1 ,600m behind.

It is in this context that we should look at the measures announced by the Prime Minister. The linchpin of his proposal for the Navy is the acquisition of a fourth FFG frigate. There is no project cost in the statement but, at present costs, it will be around $330m. No announcement is made about the helicopter armament of the FFG. This means that the Government has now committed the sublime folly of procuring four FFGs without helicopters or any indication of when helicopters may be obtained.

The Government is extending the life of the Vampire beyond 1982 and ordering a second replenishment ship which will cost about $83m. It has made no decision on the Melbourne replacement, surely the most crucial single decision facing the Government if it is serious about building up a task force with a two-ocean capacity. On the experience of the three FFGs which already have been ordered, the fourth will not arrive until the mid-1980s. This means that there will be no semblance of an effective presence in the Indian Ocean before the mid to late 1980s. Of course, it is very welcome that the capability is to be built up, but the projects announced by the Prime Minister have no bearing on the present crisis. That must be borne in mind.

Let me turn now to the Royal Australian Air Force. The Prime Minister has announced for the first time that the Government will acquire 75 of the new TFFs. Looking at its short list, the Government has the choice of the F16 at a flyaway cost of $US10m, or the FI 8 at a flyaway cost of around $US30m. For a total project package, we can add at least 50 per cent to this; that is, for each aircraft. It is perfectly plain on that basis and on the figures the Government has cited that the Government is opting for the F 16 aircraft. Even on the terms implicit in the extra spending announced by the Prime Minister, it cannot afford 75 aircraft at a flyaway cost of $US30m, and a total project cost of at least $US45m each. Even an F16 program will cost at least the $ 1,000m that is implicit in the commitment to raise defence spending to 3 per cent of gross national product by 1984-85. So there is less drama in the announcement and pure necessity in the statement by the Prime Minister.

The RAAF has lost out very badly. It is no secret that it dearly wanted the FI 8 aircraft. It will be bitterly disappointed because the spending of at least $US3 billion on the tactical fighter force replacement is plainly impossible. It is also common knowledge that the FI 6 package is much less satisfactory in terms of Australian industry participation. Again, the local industry has lost out badly. Once again, General Dynamics Corporation is a big winner. There is no need to wait for the Department of Defence evaluation of the shortlist. It is as plain as a pikestaff who the winner is.

The other capital equipment measures announced by the Prime Minister seem sensible and unexceptionable. I have no cavil with them, although I reserve the right to moderate my attitude if a more intensive analysis than I have been able to give at such short notice discloses flaws. The main drawback to the formidable strike force promised by the Prime Minister is the lack, I repeat, of helicopters for the FFGs, and the lack of an announcement about what follows the retirement of HMAS Melbourne.

The most obvious implication of the decision to build up a ready reaction force at Townsville is an intention to increase the permanent strength of the Army, perhaps quite significantly. The only alternative is to strip manpower for Townsville from other battalions. Coupled with substantial increase in the Army Reserve, the Government is accepting a burden of significant additional recruitment, both permanent and reserve. I trust that the optimism is justified. It is far from certain, however, that the Services, and the Army in particular, are proving very attractive sources of careers at the moment, even given high unemployment. There is no doubt that the future of recruitment programs is a matter of some concern within the Defence Department. These increased demands will only intensify those problems.

There is also a commitment to increased manpower, both service and civilian, for the Navy and Air Force. In terms of civilian job creation this is welcome, but I do stress the point that across the board the Government is committing itself to a very substantial increase in manpower costs. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that it can meet the increased requirement for service recruitment, particularly in the Army. In all of these circumstances, it cannot be completely ruled out that the Government is not at least toying with the idea of some form of revived conscription, perhaps for the Army. I do not wish to develop the argument further here. Perhaps one ought to give the Government the benefit of the doubt, in spite of its impossible record in that respect in the past. But, on the other hand, one cannot help recalling the experience of 1963 when the then Minister for the Army, Dr Forbes, in Tasmania on a Sunday, assured a Returned Services League congress that there would be no conscription in Australia, and two or three days later the Government, of which the present Prime Minister was a member, announced the imposition of conscription in this country.

The Prime Minister also points to a significant increase in maintenance costs. Again I do not quarrel with this. It does appear that in committing itself to a hefty increase in capital equipment, in manpower and in maintenance, the Government is spreading itself a bit thinly. Its total commitment to bringing spending up to 3 per cent of GDP by 1984, as I said earlier, implies spending of an extra $ 1,000m in currentday terms; that is, not enough to overcome the existing shortfall of some $ 1,600m in the White Paper five-year defence program announced in 1976. It is not credible that what the Prime Minister is proposing will lift us even to where we should have been by 1981, let alone take us further ahead by the mid-1980s. Without having had the chance to do any sums, it seems to me that it is at least possible that the plans announced by the Prime Minister will cost rather more than the $ 1,000m implicit in his statement. That means that the sums that he presents, like the quality of so many of his solemn promises, are unlikely to stand up to any rigorous scrutiny and probably will suffer the same experience suffered by the 1976 White Paper five-year defence program which fell apart within months of being announced.

It is too early to say whether the Government has got its arithmetic right, but there are, I repeat, puzzling aspects of the funding announced by the Prime Minister. He has pledged to get the proportion of the Defence budget spent on capital equipment up from 15 per cent to 25 per cent by 1984-85. That is fair enough. But it should be remembered that the first five-year program adopted in 1976 pledged similar targets. Capital spending now should be around 2 1 per cent and not the 15 per cent indicated by the Prime Minister. In fact, at the end of the first five-year program, it was targeted at around 23 per cent. The Government has failed completely to achieve the targets it set for the first five-year program. Why should we expect it to be any more successful for the five-year rolling program that the Prime Minister has projected from 1980-81 on? Why should we expect any more honesty on this occasion than on the earlier occasion?

In summary, the defence section of the Prime Minister's statement has some aspects with which we would agree, but there is much that is puzzling and unresolved. It conveys a strong flavour of deja vu, as though the Government, after failing abysmally to fulfil its objectives with the initial five-year program, is now starting all over again five years later. This is the essence of the Prime Minister's announcement.

I am also sceptical about the sort of force structure which the Prime Minister has in mind or whether indeed he has given any thought to this. It would be tragic if this program were put together without any consideration of the force structure we need for the late 1980s and 1990s. In many ways the structure implicit in the Prime Minister's announcement is reminiscent of a SEATO-type structure, and plainly this is not what we need for the next 20 years. It is not possible to make a final judgment until we know more about what is, in effect, a new five-year project, introduced less than a year after a substantial revision of the initial program.

I do serve warning that I have many suspicions about what the Government has done and what it plans to do. We will develop our analysis of these defence provisions much more intensively in the weeks ahead. The objective should be to build up an Australian policy which can be sustained over a long period, because the Soviet challenge is one that requires a patient response over years rather than flamboyant short-term theatrics. Attitudes like those displayed by the Government in this House tend to freeze the situation when, in fact, the need is for room to move.

The Labor Party does not accept that the situation created in Afghanistan cannot be changed. The tanks and troops and planes of the Soviet military machine do not appear to be enough to subdue Afghanistan. Other aggressors have learned the same lesson. It is becoming clear that the Soviet Union miscalculated- politically for certain, and quite probably in military terms as well. The Soviets seem destined to face an indefinite and ever more costly commitment if they are to try to bludgeon the Afghan peoples into submission.

In reviewing this whole situation, I am astonished that we have not heard something more honest and realistic about the question of Western aid to Afghanistan. At the time of the Marxist revolution in Kabul two years ago, Afghanistan was receiving the trifling amount of $59m in aid. Let us compare that amount with $480m given to Tanzania, a smaller and far more stable country. We can only speculate on how different things might have been if there had been a more enlightened attitude in the West towards aid for Afghanistan. This Government is actively hostile to a genuine and generous commitment to aid for the development of developing countries. In relative terms the level of aid for developing countries from Australia last year was more than $200m below that level which was provided in 1975. That is the humanitarian achievement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs!


Mr Peacock - You slashed it in your early Budget and you know it.


Mr HAYDEN -But despite the hindsight wisdom of this Government we know full well why the attitudes of that time prevailed.


Mr Peacock - You slashed it, absolutely slashed it.


Mr HAYDEN -The shrill shriek of the piker, an unusual and noisy bird which makes boisterous threats while in full retreat.


Mr SPEAKER -The Minister for Foreign Affairs will cease his continual interjection.


Mr HAYDEN -But despite the hindsight wisdom of this Government we know full well why the attitudes of that time prevailed. It was because, despite the hysterical reaction of the Prime Minister today, the Western alliance shared the view that Afghanistan was predominantly within the Soviet Union's sphere of influence. In the words of one eminent international statesman, Afghanistan was:

.   . eighty per cent in the Soviet sphere of interest . . .

That was said in 1978 by the former United States Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. Now the Prime Minister chooses instead to refer to Afghanistan as a non-aligned nation. The fact remains that the Soviet has miscalculated in this action and could find that Afghanistan becomes its Vietnam. That may not seem such a direct parallel just at the moment when an exceptionally severe winter is holding down the level of military activity. But the picture is liable to dramatic change. Afghanistan could, indeed, bleed the Soviet Union socially and economically if present intentions are pursued.

Let me turn to the actions I believe should have been taken by Australia. A Labor government in Australia would have supported the resistance within Afghanistan by immediately informing the Soviet Union that its relations with Australia were frozen. Diplomatic contacts also would have been put on ice. The size of the Soviet presence in Australia would have been pruned severely. We would not have spurned the formal machinery of diplomacy for the uncertain back corridors of theatre in which this Government and this Prime Minister prefer to engage. A Labor government would have taken every opportunity available through bilateral and multilateral contacts to bring home to the Soviet Union our abhorrence of its continued occupation of its neighbour's territory.

We would seek to build our relations with the nations of the Middle East and, in this context, would work to broaden the Camp David initiatives towards a settlement of the Arab-Israel dispute. Such a settlement would be, overwhelmingly, the single most important thing that could be done to advance the West's relations with the oil-rich countries of the region. We would work to restore amicable relations with India, a key to the sub-continent, which has been shamefully misunderstood and neglected by Liberal governments in Australia for years. These governments have never come to terms with either Pandit Nehru or his daughter, Indira Gandhi, India's two outstanding post-independence leaders. We would be wary, as I have said, in our dealings with the present leader of Pakistan, whose survival is at best uncertain.

The West can ill-afford to repeat the mistakes of the last 30 years by identifying itself with the most oppresive, anachronistic and greedy elements of emerging nations. We would, as one of the few Western nations with a working embassy still in Tehran, look to the future in relations with Iran, which is so strategically important to the West. We are reinforced in this view by the obvious concern of the United States to offer Iran an alternative to confrontation. We would maintain close contact with the United States and other friends throughout the world, without the childish theatricals of the past few weeks.

It is probably fortunate for Australia's general reputation that these histrionics have gone largely unnoticed everywhere but inside Australia. American media coverage of the Prime Minister's visits to the United States was confined to a local news interview on one of the Los Angeles television stations for about five minutes jammed in between a tribute of half an hour to the late Jimmy Durante and, appropriately, a snow report. To quote the Melbourne Herald correspondent, Peter Costigan, who travelled with the Prime Minister and has extensive experience of reporting Washington politics:

Mr Fraser's visit to the White House and the strong antiRussian words he delivered went virtually unnoticed in the American media . . .

But let us resort to more positive thoughts. A Labor government would recognise that events in Afghanistan have reinforced United States perceptions that its vital interests lie in Europe, Japan and the Middle East, and that our own region is of lesser priority. We would accept the obvious implication; that the Carter doctrine reinforces the Guam doctrine and the best contribution we can make to our own interests and those of our allies is to focus our attention more than ever on the South-East Asian and South Pacific region, Australia's area of primary strategic concern. The essential refurbishing of our defence forces must now even more take place with a regional strategic concept, and on the basis of self-reliance. We believe that these actions are commensurate with our capabilities and interests. They are measured, sensible and most of all they are sustainable over a period of years. Above all, we would respond with reason and firmness, not with hysteria springing from fear. As Chancellor Schmidt, of West Germany said recently when speaking about the Afghanistan crisis:

Foreign policy developments should be followed carefully, and we should play our role with prudence, reason and intelligence, but we should not spread fear.

Fear, said Chancellor Schmidt, is a bad adviser. He went on to say:

Fear can lead to a false response. Yes, we might fail to do what is necessary out of fear. Or we could even do more than is sensible out of fear. Many start to shout or make bloodthirsty speeches out of fear.

This of course is where the Prime Minister comes in. Let us examine his response. At the end of last year, we were all told the news that the Prime Minister would be staying at home to deal with domestic problems. I was disappointed to hear this. The Prime Minister's absence from Australia would be the single biggest contribution he could make to the reduction of the problems he has created in this country. The Afghanistan invasion changed all that. There was obvious delight that confrontation and rumours of war were abroad again. With a shriek of happy recognition the Prime Minister sought to take Australia back to the Cold War. This was much simpler than domestic politics.

The Prime Minister, known for his propensity to make promises, even made a couple of dangerous and irresponsible promises about a hot war. One was the deliberate leaking, subsequently denied, of a story that the United States would use nuclear weapons in Iran. This act of gross irresponsibility pales into insignificance next to the Prime Minister's assertion to assembled journalists on his plane that 'war could break out in three days'. Even he apparently felt that this was too melodramatic, and subsequently tried to withdraw the comment. So the Prime Minister wheeled out his personal Boeing 707, his flagship, and took off amid a welter of massive hyperbole, which continues to overwhelm us. The Cuban Crisis, the Korean War, the Cold War and containment, all were said to be less dangerous to world peace than the present crisis.

Such exaggerations are manifestly absurdand because their absurdity is so manifest, statements analysing the true gravity of Soviet action lose their credibility. Even George Kennan, the American diplomat who devised the term 'containment' in 1947, and who is regarded as the apostle of a firm policy towards the Soviet Union, has expressed concern at the dangerous war atmosphere. He stressed in 1947 that 'containment of the Soviet Union has nothing to do with histrionics'. Two weeks ago, he wrote of the risks of carrying 'a relatively small stick while thundering all over the place'. The Prime Minister would do well to take heed of these thoughts.


Mr Nixon - What would you do?


Mr HAYDEN - Dismiss you from the Cabinet so that it would immediately improve its performance. And where did the Prime Minister go on his travels? To Washington and London. At the suggestion of Senator Wriedt, he added Bonn and Paris, where he got rather less flattery and rather more hard reality. In the meantime, the Foreign Minister trotted off to Association of South East Asian Nations countries, India and Pakistan. What clearer demonstration do the people of our region need about where this Government's priorities truly lie? It was perhaps understandable that a Menzies should not comprehend the changes in our place in the world in the 1950s and 1960s. It is unforgivable that a Fraser should, on the first hint of trouble, rush off to Washington and London, where his sycophancy and eagerness to be praised have nothing to do with the relationship of equality and friendship which Australian interests require. The late Harold Holt went 'all the way with LBJ'. The present Prime Minister, however, went all the way- and back again.

Not content with foisting himself once on President Carter, the Prime Minister had the extraordinary effrontery to make a second visit, coyly insisting that others had pressed him into it. We are supposed to believe that America's communications with its European allies through bilateral channels, through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development and other organisations are so fragile that it takes the talents in shuttle diplomacy of this Australian Prime Minister to mediate between them. The lie to this extraordinary intervention was given by a White House spokesman who said simply that the second call on President Carter was being made at Mr Fraser 's request Fortunately for the international reputation and dignity of this country, the American media ignored both visits.

The Prime Minister has never been consistent on the great issues of international affairs, even if it is true that he has viewed most of them from the standpoint of his paranoia with the Soviet Union. He was an inciter in Vietnam. He was unwilling to stand on principle in the conflict between China and Vietnam. He remains a diplomatic supporter of China's client government of Kampuchea. He has declared himself on East Timor only with the greatest reluctance. His Government recognised East Timor as a part of Indonesia while heavy fighting was still going on, and in disregard of a General Assembly resolution calling for Indonesia's withdrawal.

The Government has also indulged in a welter of rhetoric over participating in an embargo on wheat and other agricultural exports to the USSR. On the one hand, it has done everything possible to produce headlines suggesting that it intends to deny food to the Russians. On the other hand, and less noisily, it has sought to reassure the rural lobby that it is business as usual with the important Soviet and East European market. These confused signals, so characteristic of this incompetent Administration, are quite naturally causing great concern among Australian farmers, to whom the Soviet market is of great importance. The USSR's central position in the international agricultural market, and the diversity of import sources available to it, are sufficient to ensure that any embargo would fail. The Government has finally had to admit that action of this sort would so nothing to the Soviet Union, but would harm Australian interests.

It is to be hoped that the USSR does not interpret the Government's anti-Soviet rhetoric as indicating that Australia intends to subordinate commercial dealings to party political considerations, something which the Liberal-Country

Party governments never did, for example, during 20 years of political hostility to China. They restricted it essentially to rhetoric; very good on wind, very poor on action. Should the Russians choose to retaliate- and I hope they have the maturity and common sense not to- it could be a tragedy for Australia 's rural community. Apart from agricultural exports, the Government behaved farcically over rutile. In response to a lurid Press headline on the eve of his departure overseas, the Prime Minister ordered the suspension of a shipment of rutile to the USSR. The day he returned he reversed the decision and the ban was lifted. He makes decisions in a revolving door. It is true that rutile has a potential role in the production of titanium, which has some military applications, but the Government apparently was unaware that the USSR itself exports titanium to, among other countries, the United States. Moreover, the USSR can produce titanium without recourse to Australian rutile.

In the end, the Government has confined its major act of reprisal to the Olympic Games and to our yoting amateur athletes. I have said from the beginning that an effective boycott or the transfer of the Olympic Games away from Moscow would have embarrassed the Soviet Union deeply and could have been expected to drive home to many of her own people the point that the invasion of Afghanistan was repugnant to and rejected by most countries of the world. In the nature of the international Olympic organisation, it was not possible to move the Games from Moscow, and so attention was focused on the possibility of a boycott. The Australian Government did not seek to organise a boycott. Instead, our rather excited Prime Minister leapt in ahead of the field with a unilateral decision which he expected our athletes and organisations supporting them to accept meekly. The point the Government does not seem capable of recognising is that unless the proposed boycott really is effective, it will be totally counter-productive in propaganda terms. To be effective it must have the support of the overwhelming majority of countries invited to compete. There is little to suggest that this will be the case.

Our athletes and their supporting workers and officials are being bullied and pressured into a course of action which means that they carry the entire burden of sacrifice on behalf of the Government and for an entirely uncertain result. The Government's attitude is futile and pigheaded as well as selfish and hypocritical. It is being seen as such by two-thirds of Australians, according to the opinion polls. There is no sense and no justice in the Government's continued pressure for a boycott of the Moscow Games by Australian athletes.


Mr Scholes - They are accusing the athletes of being traitors.


Mr HAYDEN - Quite unreasonably. Labor opposes the boycott and supports the wishes of our athletes to compete. The fact that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union may choose to delude itself that the holding of the Games is an endorsement of its foreign policy has no part in sober judgment within Australia. We are quite able to sort out the fantasy from Soviet propaganda on other occasions. We can do it here. Is the Prime Minister frightened that our Olympians will become rabid communists, endorsing the occupation of Afghanistan? He talks about the propaganda surrounding the Nazi era Olympic Games in Berlin in 1 936. The world 's abiding memory of the Berlin games is the performance of that great American athlete, Jesse Owens. Are we to understand that in participating and winning three gold medals Owens was somehow endorsing Hitler's re-occupation of the Rhineland or Nazi theories of racial supremacy? The suggestion that Australian athletes would be endorsing Soviet foreign policy by participating in Moscow is equally absurd, and an insult to their integrity and their intelligence.

The Government's behaviour in attempting to organise a boycott is particularly offensive. In the absence, beyond the wild rhetoric, of any tough government action, our athletes are being asked to bear a wholly unfair burden and to negate years of dedication and sacrifice. It is typical that the Government's behaviour on this matter has been marked by incompetence as well as bullying, with the Deputy Prime Minister unable to interpret his master's telephone calls, the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) threatening to withhold passports and then backing off, and the Prime Minister using abuse and cheque-book diplomacy. The Government has displayed a whole series of double standards in this matter. It has banned Russian scientists and cultural missions from Australia but continues to welcome Russian wool buyers. On a good Sunday afternoon they will even get afternoon tea and scones down in Wannon.

The Government threw out a scientific research vessel and has banned Soviet cruise ships. But a Russian cargo line still carries away our wheat and wool, while an Australian National Line ship works in the Soviet trade under charter. The Government has decided on no interference with trade but the sacrifice of years of effort for a whole generation of our young athletes. Most seriously of all, we are seeing the Prime Minister attempting to return our defence and foreign policies into the 1950s. In the process, we run the risk of losing a sense of Australian regional identity and regional responsibility.

A United States, preoccupied with the Persian Gulf, inevitably will be less concerned with South East Asia and the South Pacific. Yet all the indications are that the Prime Minister is determined to subordinate this by a reversion to outdated policies of integration of our strategic policy and defence effort into that of the United States. He is desperately urging on a reluctant United States that it allow us to get involved in its Indian Ocean effort- somehow, somewhere. The Army, Navy and Air Force are in a parlous state.

This Government, which has been in office for over four years, is wholly responsible for a situation where we have no capacity to fight as an independent nation for more than three weeks. Why should we believe that when the Prime Minister's present excitement begins to fade, when it all becomes too hard and too boring, the armed forces will not once again have to exist on promises, rather than steady, sustained and certain planning. It is time that Australians began to ask themselves some serious questions about the stability and balance of our Government, and especially about that of the Prime Minister. Is the sort of fevered, immature behaviour of recent weeks essentially harmless, and to be accepted with a resigned, cynical shrug? Is the needless endangering of important Australian commercial interests, based on incomplete and inaccurate information, something that we should ignore? Is an infatuation with grand strategy, and the eagerness of the Prime Minister to strut a bigger stage than his own, something that we should look upon with indulgence? Is the instinctive relegation of Asian and South Pacific friends to second place in our concerns simply a momentary aberration? Should all be forgiven and forgotten when and if the Government recovers from its jet lag and returns to some sort of sanity?

I suggest that this Government, and this Prime Minister, will never be able to give this nation the leadership it needs. It will never be able to take an Australian view of the world but will always behave as a dependant and will always be incompetent and reckless in its behaviour because it is too frightened to face the fact that the world is infinitely more complex and difficult than the simplistic crudities of a Fraser can indicate. It will continue to embarrass and humiliate Australians before others by its servile behaviour abroad. The same weaknesses which are destroying our economy and our society will be carried over into our international dealings. Australia's role in resisting Soviet aggression requires strength, patience, and clear-sightedness. None of these can be expected from a government and a Prime Minister whose failings of character, intellect and competence are a serious danger to the security and well-being of this country.







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