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Wednesday, 20 February 1980
Page: 129


Mr NIXON (Gippsland) (Minister for Primary Industry) - The speech of the honourable member for Werriwa (Mr Kerin) was full of mistakes. It can best be described by one mistake he made when he said that last year Australia had exported rifles to Russia and it may be that the Russians are using them in Afghanistan. The truth of that matter is that the Russians had exported sporting rifles to Australia which were sent back to Russia because they were found to be faulty. That typifies the grave errors that have come into this debate from the Australian Labor Party. In the course of the debate the Labor Party has sought to condemn the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) for a thousand equally false reasons and to condemn the Australian Government for the same number of false reasons. If anything ought to be condemned in this debate, it is the Australian Labor Party.


Mr Bryant - Why?


Mr NIXON - I am glad the honourable member asked that question. It has been confusing the issues with regard to Australia 's reaction and response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The ALP has been trying to twist the issue into a domestic political affair, and it is the ALP, and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) in particular, that has been talking of khaki elections. For what reason? The answer is simple. The ALP has been unable to determine its policy on this matter. Apart from a lecture yesterday on history and geography, the Leader of the Opposition said nothing. The ALP believes therefore that it is best to try to gain a bit of political mileage out of its carping and knocking and so cover up the fact that, if it were in government, it would do absolutely nothing to support Australia's allies over this whole affair. The Labor Party would have Australia look negative and impotent in the eyes of the Western world and, worse still, in the eyes of the South East Asian nations and Pacific Island nations amongst whom we live and who have joined in the abhorrence of Russia's action. While the Labor Party might be happy to live with that sort of image, this Government will not. I am sure the vast majority of Australians would be disgusted and ashamed of their national government if it were to sit back and do nothing.

It is true that the Opposition has said that it abhors the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. That is fine, but apart from that it has said nothing positive whatsoever. The Leader of the Opposition has accused this Government of double standards, of hypocrisy, of engaging in selective boycotts, and of forcing our athletes to carry the can for the Government. It is the ALP that is being completely hypocritical over this issue. The Opposition Leader is very quick to accuse the Government of being inconsistent because it is not placing trade embargoes on sales to Russia of commodities such as wool. But is the Labor Party suggesting that we should do this? Apparently not. In a statement on 28 January the Opposition Leader, in outlining the ALP view, said:

We do not support unilateral action by one nation or a handful of nations because this will not be effective either in moral or economic terms. We support measures with widespread backing . . .

That is simply having two bob each way. It also shows that the Opposition Leader is not up with the facts. He seems to refuse to recognise one fundamental aspect of Australia's position and that is that, along with other countries, we are cooperating with the United States. That is what we were asked to do on this issue. It is the United States, as leader of the Western world, which has taken the initiative. The United States sought Australia's support in ensuring that the 17 million tonnes grain shortfall to the Soviet Union not be met by Australian grain. We agreed to that request, as did Canada and the European Economic Community. However, in accordance with the measured approach taken by the United States, we were not asked to ban completely our grain trade with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Again in accordance with the measured approach taken by Western governments, we have not been asked to place any trade embargo on our sales of wool to the Soviet Union. There is no inconsistency in the Government's policy. The same thing applies to the export of minerals.

It all comes back to the basic thrust of our policy being of a supportive nature. We are not taking the lead, nor are we trying to take the lead. This Government believes that the United States has acted firmly and responsibly to the invasion of Afghanistan and we believe that Australia has a role as an ally of the United States to co-operate with the United States. As I have just quoted, the Leader of the Opposition says that the ALP supports 'measures with widespread backing '. All I can say is that if he was not so ignorant of the facts he would be supporting Australia 's policy.

The Leader of the Opposition seems to be of the opinion that the United States has the support of only Australia and no one else. In fact, he may be interested to know that many other countries have adopted attitudes similar to that of Australia in co-operating with the United States. The United Kingdom, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Denmark, Luxemburg, New Zealand, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Japan, China and Canada are just some of the countries I could mention. The European Economic Community and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have initiated multilateral measures, but no doubt the Opposition would still sit back and claim that the measures do not have widespread backing. The best that the Leader of the Opposition can do is complain like an overgrown schoolboy that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has not given him equal time to politicise on the domestic scene a matter of grave international concern to which this Government has swiftly and correctly addressed itself.

One has to wonder whether the Opposition is aware of some of the statements that the world leaders have made about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and about counter moves that are being taken. The President of France and the West German Chancellor have jointly called for an immediate end to Soviet intervention. They see the intervention as being 'of a kind which could set in motion a process which, step by step, and whatever intentions might be, could have the gravest consequences for the world '. Is that not consistent with the Australian Government's position?

Chancellor Schmidt, from whose statements the Leader of the Opposition so selectively quoted in his speech, told the West German Bundestag on 1 7 January:

The United States has resorted to a number of measures to make it abundantly clear to the Soviet Union that international law cannot be violated with impunity. It has called upon its friends to take the same approach. This we shall do, especially within the framework of the European community and the COCOM (Co-ordinating Committee on Exports of Technology to Communist Countries).

Chancellor Schmidt, in the same address, further said:

We know from experience, especially during the Berlin crisis of the late fifties and early sixties, that we can rely on the United States of America. The United States is irreplaceable for our security.

The West German Foreign Minister, Herr Genscher, in a radio interview on 26 January, said:

It would be an illusion were anyone in Moscow to assume he could separate the Europeans from the United States in this situation.

The President of the European Commission, Mr Jenkins, who would not be unknown to some members of the Opposition, addressed the Political Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on 3 1 January. He said that it was of great importance that the European Economic Community demonstrated its solidarity both internally and with other nations in its reaction to Soviet aggression. In particular, he said that the Community should insist that a wedge could not be driven between the Community and the United States. President Giscard d 'Estaing of France, and Prime Minister Gandhi of India, on 27 January issued a joint statement in which they said:

Any situation that has been brought about by the use of force in international relations, or by intervention or interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, is not acceptable.

I say to the House that the position adopted by the Australian Government on this issue is consistent with that of a great number of countries around the world. Let the Opposition not fail to recognise it. The Opposition Leader has said he would support an ' effective boycott ' of the Olympic Games. He said on 22 January:

An effective boycott of the Moscow Olympics would undoubtedly be a major psychological weapon deployed against the Soviet Union.

He repeated that statement in his speech yesterday. That is good stuff; that is the sort of comment we should hear more often from the Opposition. But within a minute of saying that, he retracted it by saying that Labor opposes the boycott and supports the wishes of our athletes to compete at the Games. So he contradicted himself in the speech that he delivered on that subject in this House yesterday. The situation is that there are some 35 governments of countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the Caribbean and Latin America, that are in favour of an Olympics boycott if Soviet troops are not withdrawn from Afghanistan. Does the Opposition not regard that as 'effective'? If not, then I do not know what it does regard as effective. Thirty-five countries, deploring the invasion of Afghanistan, are prepared to ask their Olympic teams not to compete in Moscow. I can tell the House, that the Australian Government believes that would be effective. The Australian Government firmly believes that a boycott of the Olympic Games would be the one measure that nations could take that would prove to be a massive blow to the Soviet propaganda machine and to the Soviet regime.

There are some who claim that we should not mix politics with sport. Two points need to be made here. Firstly, the Soviet Union regards the Moscow Olympics as a political rather than a sporting event. Therefore, it is impossible not to mix politics with sport in this case.

There is no doubt that the Soviet Government will view the participation of any country which is represented at the Moscow Olympics as a political triumph for itself. It will see participation in the Olympics as being acceptance by all those countries represented of its policies and its intervention in the affairs of Afghanistan. To press home to those who need further convincing of the Kremlin's politicising activities in respect of these games, let me quote from an official party document which is already claiming that the holding of the Games in Moscow is 'convincing proof of the universal recognition of the historical importance and correctness of the course of our country's foreign policy'. How can anybody hear those words and not recognise the sort of propaganda which will flow from Russia if the Games are not boycotted. Russia has been planning the politics and the propaganda of the 1980 Olympic Games ever since it was awarded the Games.

At least on one point it does appear that the Leader of the Opposition recognises that these Games are political because on AM on 23 January, when asked whether the Labor Party finds it acceptable to politicise the Games, the Leader of the Opposition said:

Well, you can't de-politicise sport any more than you can de-politicise cultural exchanges or scientific exchanges

It seems to me that the Leader of the Opposition is a very confused member of this House. He really cannot make up his mind or determine what it is that he wants. Given that and given that he now does not support the ban, one can only assume that the Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party support the politics of the Soviet Union in relation to the coming Olympics.

I cannot see how anyone can possibly support the Olympics being held in Moscow in light of the Afghanistan invasion when one considers that the first rule laid down as governing the Games refers to the political aims of the Olympics as the strengthening of peace and friendly relations between the states. Furthermore, it is required that the Games cannot be influenced by racial, religious or political discrimination. The Soviet Union has blatantly broken the rules of the Games.

The Labor Party has tried desperately to paint Australia's policies and attitudes towards the invasion of Afghanistan as either confused or ineffective. It has failed. The Australian policies are straightforward and they are effective and they are working in conjunction with those of other allied nations. The Opposition should wake up to itself and get behind rather than out of step with the actions of the United States, Australia and many other countries. Writing in the Australian on 3 1 January the Leader of the Opposition claimed that 'Australian reprisals have had the equivalent impact on the Kremlin of the explosive force of blancmange'. The only blancmange in this debate is the Leader of the Labor Party.







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