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Wednesday, 20 February 1980
Page: 124

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) (Minister for Defence) - The amendment proposed by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) asks the House to accept and give judgment that the present crisis in Afghanistan is not potentially the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1945. 1 think my friend would agree that in that amendment is the difference that separates the attitude of the Government and that of the Opposition. It is the Government's appraisrnent and assessment that it is potentially the gravest threat since 1945. I would seek to establish just that argument. Having listened to the honourable member for Adelaide, may I say that it was refreshing that he made a far more moderate speech on this issue than did his leader. I say without any bitterness at all, that I was sad indeed yesterday afternoon to hear the speech that came from the lips of my honourable friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden). I have and always have had- and I trust will continue to maintain- both an affection and admiration for the honourable gentleman. But I was saddened to hear his speech because it was a speech which did no credit to the high office of the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition in this Parliament. He did no credit to intellectual honesty in turning to some of the arguments that he advanced upon the House. I want to examine some of the arguments, not in heat or indeed in anger, but in sorrow. The first argument which the honourable gentleman pressed upon us yesterday afternoon was this:

In both countries-

That is, the United States of America and Australia- there are the most compelling political reasons for diverting public attention from the great domestic issues which would otherwise be absorbing the electors.

When my honourable friend uttered those words he debauched the debate. Is he saying of the man who holds the office of the President of the United States of America that he is prepared to use the crisis in Afghanistan for vulgar political purposes? That is a pretty savage charge to make against the President of the United States of America.

Mr Holding - He is a politican like everybody else.

Mr KILLEN - That is another vulgar assessment. No doubt the honourable gentleman's bench mark is his own purview of the world. Some 104 nations voted in the United Nations in clear condemnation of the Soviet invasion of

Afghanistan. Let us not mince words. Were all those votes registered springing from some vulgar political opportunity? It is an extraordinary argument to advance but that is precisely the argument that was put to the House yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition. I want to say to my friend that I thought it was a disgraceful assertion to make and he will live to rue the day that he made it. The concern in the face of the President of the United States, obvious to any person with any feeling for anguish or for fear itself, was shown quite clearly when he declared that the United States would regard its interests as being vital. Could any person recalling the President's speech on the State of the Union say: Oh no, he is doing that for vulgar political purposes '. I am very sorry that my friend made that assertion. The second assertion that the honourable gentleman made was this:

What the invasion does represent is a dangerous manifestation of the characteristic, exaggerated Soviet sense of insecurity and an arrogant assertion of military might.

Am I to understand that members of this national Parliament have so lost their capacity for indignation that there can be- to use my friend's own language- 'an arrogant assertion of military might' and we are not prepared to say that is an ill business? The honourable gentleman said in very clear language: Here is a nonaligned country invaded by the Soviet Union. I would have thought that any gathering of men and women with a feeling for the democratic ideal would have said that this is a matter to be condemned, without any qualifications whatsoever. But today the honourable member for Adelaide has sought to diminish the significance of this matter to the world.

That brings me to the third assertion made by the Leader of the Opposition, which enables me to examine the merit of the argument which resides in the amendment now before us; in other words, to say that it is not potentially the gravest threat to the world since 1945 or, on the other hand, to take a contrary point of view. Yesterday afternoon the Leader of the Opposition said this:

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.

I have a map here. I hope that all my honourable friends look at it. It shows the relationship of all of the oil supply that transits the Strait of Hormuz. The Soviet, by controlling Afghanistan, would be in a far readier position to mount an invasion, in turn, of Iran, to control the Strait of Hormuz, and in turn to control the economies of every nation in the world. That is no exaggeration whatsoever. Let me remind my friends in this House -

Mr Kerin - That are closer to the north of Iran.

Mr KILLEN - I say to my honourable friend who interjects that the red area shows all of the major oilfields. The Strait of Hormuz can be very easily shut. The Soviets today have a mining capability the likes of which the world has never known. There are 400,000 mines held in the inventory of the Soviet. I am not talking about land mines; I am talking about mines that can be laid in the sea. Many of them are so sophisticated that they cannot be swept; their location must be known. I say to my friend: There are the oilfields and through that narrow Strait of Hormuz transits some 33 per cent of the oil used in the United States; some 50 per cent of Canada's oil supply; some 72 per cent of Japan's, but it is getting closer towards 80 per cent; some 68 per cent of the United Kingdom's oil supply; 40 per cent of West Germany's and 77 per cent of France's. I said recently that I take no apocalyptic view of life or of the world, but this is potentially the gravest crisis the world has ever faced.

Mr Holding

Mr KILLEN - I am sorry that my friend does not agree with me. Am I to understand from that assertion that if the Strait of Hormuz were to be shut, either at the direction or beckoning of the Soviet Union or by an irrational regime in Iran, Moslem fanatics or Moscow orientated Government, or come what may, anything that may emerge out of the geopolitical disturbance, it would not represent a threat to the world? The only power in this world that has the power to sustain any measure of balance in the whole of the Eurasian area that is immediately under consideration is the United States of America. And there would be the Soviet Union, ready and waiting. I see this as a very sombre consideration.

We are told that detente is still with us. Detente, as I understand it from the French people, means simply a relaxation. Many people genuinely believed that the state of detente was real and that man could edge slowly but certainly towards the prospect of genuine survival. Does detente exist after this? Can there be a genuine relaxation when we see the oil supply of the greater part of the world put immediately in danger? There is another French word that may well come into the lexicon, the word raideur. It means a stiffening; an intransigence; a hardening. Is this not a case of detente being replaced by raideur? Let me read to the House the words of Mr Brezhnev in the report of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to the 25 th Congress of the Soviet Union held in 1976. 1 ask honourable members to listen to this language. He said:

Speaking of our relations with the Asian states in general, we must mention our good neighbour, Afghanistan, with which we have recently extended the almost halfcenturyold treaty of neutrality and non-aggression.

I repeat: treaty of neutrality and non-aggression.

Has the capacity of men and women to become indignant disappeared? Is this a mere exercise in cynicism? I would hope that the House would take a very hard look at the Soviet's action and at the Soviet's capabilities. It was in June 1976 that in this country, indeed, in this building, I released the figures of the Soviet build-up. The result throughout the country was almost a cascade, a chorus, of scorn and contempt. One nuclear submarine was being launched every six weeks. Today the Soviet has 350 submarines. One hundred and fifty of .them are nuclearpowered. At the beginning _of World War II Doenitz had 50 at his disposal. Approximately every year 1,500 to 1,600 aircraft are brought into the inventory of the Soviet Union. Most of them are deadly in their offensive capability. The view that was offered centuries ago by a great German philosopher, poet and writer by the name of Goethe was this: 'The highest in life can never be written. It must always be acted '. When he said 'acted' he did not mean pretended, but done, accomplished, carried out, performed.

The Soviet Union could, by one act, bring back detente, if that was ever real, which many of us may doubt. It could do so by withdrawing its troops-85,000 to 90,000 of them-from Afghanistan and allowing that little non-aligned country to stand on its own feet. Not only would that be possible; it would bring back to a beleaguered and in many cases a frightened world a sense of hope and a belief that there would be some prospect for the world. These are grave and very anxious times indeed. I am sorry that my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, introduced the view that this was a very vulgar, political assessment. I think that he did, as I say, debauch the debate.

In conclusion I want to refer to the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition on a boycott. He said that it must be effective. Again I ask the House: Is indignation merely to be shown when it is effective? What is the determination of effective? If one man believes something is wrong let him say so. Must he wait around either on his knees or in hope that people will join with him before he will express his indignation? Is the mind of man now so addled that it is incapable of expressing abhorrence or revulsion at cruelty, at unfairness, at the destruction of the rights of men and women, because it is not effective for just one man or one woman to speak? This Government has taken the view that we believe it is wrong and we have said so. We will continue to say so.

I will await an opportunity, I trust, to reply to some of the views which the honourable gentleman offered on defence. On this occasion I do not want to seek to bring the debate away from the grave issues which we now have before us. A very famous injunction, that we are all members, one of another, applies also to nations. Nations today are very much members, one of another. The sad feature of life is that high estate is not recognised by us. We continue to take a very mean and a very impoverished view of what happens around the world. If men and women of goodwill cannot identify what has taken place in Afghanistan in recent times, as a grave threat to the world and to the prospect of peace, then indeed darkness has swept over us all.

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