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Tuesday, 19 February 1980
Page: 48


Mr SHIPTON (Higgins) - It is very obvious that the Opposition's response to the Afghanistan assessment statement today of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is pathetic. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), the so-called whiz-kid of the Labor Party, has just spoken. All he did was to attempt to denigrate the Prime Minister and his recent successful trip abroad. He said nothing constructive, nothing positive and he had no policy. The Opposition is bereft of policy and ideas and has done and said nothing constructive in this very serious international situation. The Opposition on this matter, as on others, has nowhere to go and nothing to say. We are living in a troubled world. The Prime Minister is absolutely correct in saying:

In the first weeks of 1980 the world is facing probably its most dangerous international crisis since World War II.

The Soviets have conventional arms superiority and nuclear parity. They have marched into Afghanistan. They have bases in the Middle East. They are causing ferment in Asia and Africa. They have made their first grab for control of the world 's oil supplies in the Middle East and a grab for access to the Indian Ocean. I congratulate the Prime Minister on his comprehensive assessment presented to the House today, the leadership that he has shown Australia at this time and the success of his overseas visit to a number of leaders in the Western world, including the President of the United States of America. I am pleased to report to the Parliament that I can report first hand of his reception in the United States capital, Washington. I was there on a working visit: I was at the White

House. People there were looking forward to his visit with anticipation. I spoke with people on Capitol Hill, the Congress of the United States, and I can say that Australia's response in the international climate to the events in Afghanistan was well received and it was with great expectation and anticipation that those people in the Congress, the people in the White House and the President himself were looking forward to the Prime Minister's visit. Australia's independent response -

Opposition members interjecting-


Mr SHIPTON -Just listen to the rabble.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I remind honourable members on my left that every member of this House has a right to be heard in silence. I ask honourable members to observe that requirement.


Mr SHIPTON -Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Australia's independent response as a member of the free world is appreciated by our partner in the Western alliance, the United States. I consider that Australia-United States relations, based on mutual respect, are about to enter a new era. Let us not forget the ANZUS alliance. I consider that it is our most important alliance and I challenge those members opposite who have been interrupting to deny that the ANZUS alliance- the United States-Australia relationship- is the most vital alliance to this country. Do they deny that? They are having a bit each way. They are not interested in the defence of Australia. The naked aggression in Afghanistan is to be condemned. Is the Opposition condemning it? There are 85,000 troops in that country.

The world in the past has tended to forget the lessons of history. Hitler's use of the Berlin Olympics for propaganda purposes was forgotten before the Second World War. The Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1 956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 have again been forgotten. It is time now for the free world to take a stand. The West must not be weak on this occasion. The Soviets are threatening the Indian Ocean which is of vital interest and importance to Australia. They are now 300 miles from the Straits of Hormuz, through which most of the world's oil passes. Their aggression and invasion brings them nearer to a much wanted warm water port in the Indian Ocean. I will be interested in the reaction of the honourable members opposite to the fact that the West must be grateful that President Carter has declared the Persian Gulf area an area of vital interest to the United States because this, in fact, is synonymous with saying that that area is of vital interest to the interests of the Western world. I challenge members of the Opposition to deny that. Long before the invasion of Afghanistan the Soviets had, in fact, built up a significant naval presence in the Indian Ocean. I spoke out about that last year, long before the events occurred there. I said then that the events in Iran must not obscure the long term strategic objectives of the Soviets. The Soviets took advantage of the United Nations talks for peace, freedom and a zone of neutrality in the Indian Ocean, and took advantage of strategic arms limitations negotiations to build up in the Ocean itself.

I congratulate the Government on the announced measures it has taken to increase surveillance with extra flights over and patrols of the Indian Ocean and to establish a new naval base in Western Australia. I congratulate it on the other announcements of a defence nature which were made today, including those concerning a new replenishment ship and 75 new tactical fighter aircraft. The Soviets are on the march. I consider that West Asia and the Indian Ocean will be the centre of attention for some time to come. The Straits of Hormuz are vital to the free world. The Soviets are expansionist and imperialist. They are expanding their empire. They have been contained in the west in Europe and on the east by China and they are now moving south and breaking out. They are either active alone, as in Afghanistan, or through their surrogates the Cubans and East Germans in other parts of the world. They have bases in Aden and in South Yemen and they have their so-called 'intructors ' in Ethiopia.

They are doubtless encouraging the Syrians who have just moved from Beirut to the border with Israel. There will undoubtedly be trouble in the Middle East again because of Soviet intentions. They are using Indian Ocean ports more and more, supplying weapons to some in black Africa to create chaos and instability and using surrogates and advisers as they did in Angola. In Asia in Indo-China they are subsidising Vietnamese invasion of Indo-China to the tune of $3m a day. I refer to the invasion of Kampuchea. The Prime Minister has pointed out that Vietnam is attempting to consolidate its control over Kampuchea with the active and massive support of the Soviet Union. From first hand experience, I consider that on the border region of Thailand and Kampuchea the Soviet Union is deliberately creating instability in South East Asia by creating a refugee problem. By making one million people homeless on the border of Kampuchea and Thailand incredible instability is created in

Thailand. The Thais must be supported in overcoming the problems they have. Let us not forget that-


Mr Innes - Pol Pot.


Mr SHIPTON -Pol Pot has been mentioned. Pol Pot is a communist. Let us not deny that the problems are created by two communist factions fighting each other. After visiting the camps on the border I would like to pay tribute to the Australian doctors, nurses and officials there who are doing a great job for Australia working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. I did not hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) congratulate the Australians doing what they are doing there. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to Pol Pot and to the fact that Australia still recognises his Government. He said that we are being criticised for so doing. The reason Australia has not denied recognition to that government is that our Association of South East Asian Nations friends and neighbours say to us that to do so would be to recognise the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea. Our friends in South East Asia and ASEAN have asked us not to change yet because to do so soon would be unwise.

Honourable member opposite are laughing. On the Opposition benches they are denying the truth. I believe the time will shortly come for us not to recognise Pol Pot. We can give a lead to the ASEAN countries, but sufficient time has to be allowed to pass for that to happen; otherwise the Vietnamese will use for propaganda purposes the fact that their aggression and invasion have been recognised. This is happening in the Australian region of the world. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition tried to say that Australia was not interested in South East Asia. The Prime Minister referred to the problems of Kampuchea and Indo-China in his speech today. The Foreign Minister (Mr Peacock) has just visited the ASEAN capitals in a most successful fashion. It is hypocrisy for the Opposition to say that Australia is not interested.

Let us now turn to the question of the Olympic Games. As the Prime Minister has said, all the advice that the Government has received indicates that the moving, cancellation, or boycotting of the Games will be the most effective way of bringing home to the Soviet Government and, even more, to the Russian people, the consequences of the invasion of Afghanistan that have caused us to take the position that we have taken. The Prime Minister is absolutely right. But let us not look solely at what the Prime Minister says. Let us look at what those on the ground might say. I quote from the Melbourne Age of 1 February. It states:

Boycott the Games dissidents appeal Vladimir Bukovsky and 1 1 other Russian dissidents now living in the West today appealed to athletes, officials and governments to boycott the Moscow Olympics or have them moved.

The dissidents said in a pamphlet published here that the Soviets would regard the Games as a stamp of legitimacy if they went ahead this summer.

There is dull silence on the Opposition benches. Do they deny that those who have been persecuted, that, those who have suffered in the Soviet Union, that those who have been in psychiatric prisons -


Mr Innes - You are a hypocrite.


Mr SHIPTON -Does the honourable member for Melbourne deny that there are psychiatric prisons and slave camps in the Soviet Union and that the people who have been fortunate enough to escape from them are crying out at this time for the West to help them and to boycott the Olympic Games? That is what the dissidents are saying. But at the same time as the dissidents are saying this and at the same time as the Soviets are invading Afghanistan, a crackdown has occurred in the Soviet Union on dissidents. There has been a spate of arrests in the Soviet Union. Let me quote from the Australian. It states:

By the end of 1979 the Kremlin's policy of persecution of religious and human rights dissidents had left their followers almost leaderless and unlikely to trouble the authorities during the Moscow Olympics.

That is what the dissidents are saying. The dissidents are appealing to the free world to boycott the Olympics. I refer to a report tabled in this Parliament by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on human rights in the Soviet Union. It is compulsory reading for anybody who has doubts about the correctness of the Government's decision to boycott the Games. In that report the Committee recommended that the Government try to persuade the Soviet Government that the USSR would be seen in a more favourable light if large numbers of political and religious prisoners were released from prisons, labour colonies and psychiatric hospitals before the Olympic Games. What has happened? There has been a crackdown because of events in Afghanistan.

The Soviets are concerned and they are, in fact, cracking down on human freedoms in the Soviet Union. I ask people who are worried about the boycott of the Olympics to read that report. I ask them to read the appeals of the dissidents because they are the people who know, the people who have suffered, are appealing to us in the West. If honourable members are unsure, they should read this report and listen to the voices of the dissidents who are appealing to us. I conclude by referring to what the famous Soviet writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn who has defected to the West said in his address at Harvard University last week. He said:

Communism stops only when it encounters a wall, even if it is only a wall of resolve. The West can not now avoid erecting such a wall in what is already its hour of extremity. Meanwhile, however, 20 possible allies have fallen to Communism since World War II . . . The wall will have to be erected with what strength remains. The present generation of Westerners will have to make a stand on the road upon which its predecessors have so thoughtlessly retreated for 60 years.

The measures put forward by the Prime Minister today show that the Australian Government has played its part in building this wall.







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