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Wednesday, 20 February 1980
Page: 104

Mr YOUNG (PORT ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, is supplementary to the question asked by the honourable member for Denison in relation to modern warfare. The Prime Minister stated that the Russians may be using nerve gas in Afghanistan. I ask him whether, as Minister for Defence or Minister for the Army, he ever voiced disapproval during the period of the Vietnam war of the means of warfare, such as agent orange or napalm, used by our allies.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER -The Australian Government has made decisions about these matters and, as time has passed, different attitudes have been adopted by Western armies, including the Australian Army. Since the first use of gas in the First World War there have been international efforts to outlaw the use of gas, and the kinds of weapons that people might have believed to be appropriate for armies such as the Australian Army have been modified over a long periods of years. I had thought that there was bipartisan support for those modifications and for the rules, which are widely known and understood, in relation to our own armies. I should have thought we would have both wanted to support that. One thing I fail to understand is why in Question Time yesterday, in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition yesterday and in everything that Senator Wriedt might have said about the reasons for the invasion of Afghanistan, the Australian Labor Party was seeking to find excuse after excuse for that brutal Soviet invasion.

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