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Tuesday, 19 February 1980
Page: 43

Mr CONNOLLY (Bradfield) -We are here in this Parliament to debate and to condemn one of the most naked examples of arrogrant aggression that has taken place in recent years. In the light of that, it is a depressing fact that we have had to listen to the leaders of an erstwhile government, the alternative government of Australia, who have had nothing to tell us except that we are somehow diverting public attention from great domestic issues. I should have thought, and members of the Opposition should have thought, if they represented their constituencies, that the fundamental responsibility of this Government and of the members of this Parliament, including the Australian Labor Party, was to protect the integrity and security of our people and our nation. Is it not a fact that over the last three weeks or so every single worthwhile newspaper in Australia has criticised the Labor Party's attitude? I quote from the Australian of 3 1 January:

The Australian Labor Party appears to be following a policy- if it can properly be called a policy- in connection with the current world crisis centred on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which is out of touch with the bulk of public thinking and out of touch with reality.

More damning words I doubt anyone in this House would be able to utter. Yet we have now been told by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen)- long may he remain so- that the Russians made a mistake in going into Afghanistan. Yes, I think it is fair to say that they did make a mistake. But perhaps it was one of those mistakes which people who have a bad memory tend to forget. We should not forget the words of the famous French political scientistRaymond Aron- who in 1968, at the time of the Czechoslovakian incident, said that unless the Soviet Union had a Czechoslovakia at least once a fortnight the Western world would tend to forget.

Let us be frank about it. We have forgotten. We have forgotten that since 1919 the Soviet Union has progressively absorbed, to use a simple word that even the Opposition should understand, virtually every state which shared a common border with the Soviet Union. In 1 92 1 it was Mongolia. Again in 1921 Byelorussia was divided between Russia and Poland. In 1945 the Soviet Union added the Baltic states, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and so on. In October 1 956 we had the invasion of Hungary, in response to a revolution against communism. In 1968 we had the invasion of Czechoslovakia, again in response to liberal reforms by a Czechoslovakian government for the good of the Czechoslovakian people. For that, what did they get? They were invaded and their system was destroyed. Now we have some 80,000-odd Russian troops invading a virtually defenceless country on their border, a country which since 1919 has tried as best it could, fearing the realities of a common border with the Soviet Union, to maintain a semblance of accord with its mighty neighbour, a country which over the years has tried to be in the Third World. It has taken aid from the West and it has taken aid from the East. Any Opposition members who have been to Afghanistan would know that the system of highways throughout that country was built from east to west with American aid and from north to south with Russian aid. Now we know why. The northsouth route is far more useful.

At every international conference since the events in Afghanistan the West and the Third World have sustained their criticism, to condemn and to damn this further example of Russian intervention in the domestic affairs of another country. How many more revolutions do we have to see crushed? How many more small states do we have to see disappear from the face of the earth? Are we to wait until Afghanistan becomes another Soviet socialist republic and the map of the Soviet Union moves a little further south? The West has been accused today by Opposition spokesmen of doing too little too late. I accept that criticism. In fairness, we are now trying to do something about it, but again, Opposition spokesmen tell us that we are wasting our time. One of the leading representatives of the Labor Party, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating)- allegedly a future Prime Minister of this country- is sitting there on the front bench. What was his contribution? 'Do not worry', he said to the Young Labor Movement. 'The Afghanistan crisis is not our worry', said the honourable member for Blaxland, according to the Australian of 28 January.

Mr Donald Cameron (FADDEN, QUEENSLAND) - He didn't, did he?

Mr CONNOLLY - Yes, he did. At that same conference the gentleman who was elected leader of the Young Labor Movement said: 'We have got to go left'. They certainly achieved that; the conference could not even pass a motion condemning the Soviet Union for its actions in Afghanistan. The vote was split down the middle. But the Young Labor Movement conference was only too happy to pass unanimously a motion to the effect that it wanted no part of any form of compulsory military service in this land. Of course not! 'But we do not mind', says the Young Labor Conference, 'if the communists wish to invade Afghanistan or take on any other country which happens to share a border'. 'It doesn't matter', says the honourable member for Blaxland, 'it's so far away'. If the honourable member bothered to study the trend of recent history he would rind that today distance is not a necessarily limiting criterion. The capacity of a state to maximise its force at a specific point to achieve an objective is a factor which the Soviet Union, almost since its inception in 1919, has demonstrated time after time.

But the Soviet Union has learnt that. Generally speaking it has succeeded. Where it has not been prepared to use its own might it has used its surrogates, the Cubans and the East Germans, mainly on the continents of Africa and South America. Whatever country asks for assistance, whether or not the request comes from a minority group which calls itself Marxist, then assistance is offered. Yet the USSR comes before the world and assures us that there is nothing more to worry about. I quote from Pravda in 1 978 with regard to the Olympic Games. It said: for the first time ever the Olympics will be held in a country the entire internal and foreign policy of which -

Listen to this gentlemen; this is very pertinent- is fully in line with the Olympic ideals of peace and friendship among nations.

What friendship? What peace? What nations? I would deign to suggest that the only nations that those remarks could refer to are those which over the years have fallen under the sway, the domination and the control of the USSR about which can be told one of the most beastly stories of human suffering that this world has ever known. Yet we are told by the Opposition: 'Don't worry; it's so far away'. Why should we not worry? Roy Mason, a good socialist and a senior minister in the last British Government, in 1976 said this of the Soviet Union's military capacity:

During 1976 the Soviet Union will bring into service over 200 new generation intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM); a variety of other missiles; 1,000 combat aircraft, mostly swing-wing types; over 700 helicopters; over 3,000 tanks -

There are over 40,000 main battle tanks in their inventory- 4,000 armoured personnel carriers; up to ten nuclear submarines- of which six will each carry 12-16 ballistic missiles of 4,800 miles range -

Yet we are told by the Opposition: 'Don't worry; Afghanistan is so far away '- and major surface ships, including a 40,000 ton aircraft carrier.

There are now three. Those figures I have quoted can now be multiplied by at least 100 per cent. One simply has to ask why it is that a nation which professes peace wishes to arm to such a massive extent. Why is it that the Soviet Union since 1945, when the rest of the world disarmed and turned massive military resources to commercial purposes to build up the quality of life of its people, has continued to grind out from the mills of its industry the greatest conventional military armaments that the world has ever known? But we are told: 'Afghanistan is so far away'. That is the litany of the Labor Party. This Government, in accordance with its right as the Government of Australia and in accordance with its duty to the Australian people, is not prepared to stand back and let there be more Afghanistans.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.

Mr CONNOLLY -Before the suspension of the sitting I was making certain observations on the role that Australia saw for itself as part of the Western alliance in facing the threat that had been posed to it by the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. It is our firm belief that the main aim of Soviet foreign policy has been to accumulate power and influence in the world while preserving the security of the Soviet state. In this context, unfortunately, two facts emerge. On the one hand, despite the Soviet Union's alleged policy of detente, it has built up a military machine which, at least at the conventional level, would have at the moment the most potent capacity of any in the world. There is still a possibility that the Soviet Union lags behind the United States in terms of atomic weapons. If so, the gap is being closed rapidly. This means that during the remaining years of the decade of the 1980s the Western world has absolutely no alternative but to face the reality of the need to re-arm where necessary to be able to demonstrate to the Soviet Union that it has not only the will but also the ability to withstand any threat that it may wish to pose to Australia or to countries of the Third World like Afghanistan.

It is an unfortunate fact of the democratic system that the memory of the electorate is often of relatively short duration. That is exactly the opposite of what we find in the Soviet Union, where there is no political life as we understand it and where control of the media is such that it is not all that difficult for a government to apply its policy without any risk of its being questioned by the masses of the community for many years. The Soviet dialectic and Marxist concept of the historic inevitability of the power of the Soviet Union ultimately to be virtually the ruler of the world represents a philosophy that we cannot accept. If we do we will have failed- we will have failed our people, we will have failed freedom, we will have failed the very concept which brought us to this chamber in the first place.

It is for that reason that the policy which has been announced today by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) emphasises quite clearly that Australia at least is one country in the Western alliance that is prepared to play its full part to support the United States, to ensure a sense of unity, which is absolutely essential at this time in the Western alliance. It is very easy, as we saw during the 1930s, for divisions to appear, for various states with similar constitutional frameworks and political systems to find reasons why it is in their interest not to co-operate. It is easy to hope as Winston Churchill said that many people feel 'if they feed the crocodile enough the crocodile will eat them last'. We are not the crocodile, and this country is not going to be offered up as a willing sacrifice to the USSR which wishes to gain the capacity to influence the entire world.

As I said earlier, the record of the Soviet Union since 1919 has been extraordinarily bad and sordid. It is not a record such as to encourage anyone to stand back and hope that certain historical processes will not in fact take place. We have been warned time and time again but on all occasions we have ignored the warning because it suited our people and our political leaders to seek the easy way out. The Australian Government believes that in this case there is no easy way out, that the time has come when the Australian people must be prepared to stand up for what is right. One of the fundamental principles upon which we joined the United Nations -


Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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