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Wednesday, 20 February 1980
Page: 134


Mr CARLTON (Mackellar) - I welcome the report of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in the form of a motion to this House on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and our response. The Prime Minister's report was, as befitted the occasion, solemn, measured and realistic. The Opposition's approach, regretfully, has been to treat the issue as an everyday knockabout political issue and to treat it in a superficial way. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden), in particular, has responded in his usual scratchy, half-clever, pop-journalistic way. What passes for his team, with the exception of the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman), has behaved in a similar fashion. I regret to observe that the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), who I know has more sense, made remarks at a young socialist conference that he will regret for the rest of his political life.

Now, I think the Opposition has to realise in this matter that it is not dealing with any ordinary knock-about political issue. It really is, in this case, dealing with issues of the real world. It will be judged by the real world. The Opposition enjoys playing political games perhaps. It may accuse the Prime Minister of playing political games, but he has been utterly consistent in warning us of Russian intentions over some years. If this is a game, then it is a game in which the penalty for losing is not the prospect of a return match but the certainty of subjugation and a possibility of death.

That leads me to the question of the Olympic Games. At what point does the International Olympic Committee recognise human events that transcend in importance the continuation of its own machinery? That point was not reached obviously in 1 936 when nazi Germany exploited, for its own purposes, the fact that the 1936 Games were awarded to Berlin. A regime that was already killing Jews and went on to kill countless millions of the world's people was given respectability by the immutable rules of the International Olympic Committee. In 1940 and 1944 there were no Games. Our youth, whose inalienable right to compete in Moscow is being so vigorously defended by the Australian Labor Party, were being slaughtered in Europe, in the Middle East, in Asia and the Pacific. Let me remind honourable members of the numbers involved. In World War II, 34,000 Australians died, most of them of Olympic age. One hundred and eighty-one thousand were wounded, many of them permanently maimed. By contrast, Australia sent 155 young people to compete in the 1976 Olympics, accompanied by 72 officials, a total of 227 people. How many Australians would still have sent teams to Berlin if they had thought that there was even an outside chance that by staying away they could have prevented the tragedy that followed?

In the case of the Moscow Olympics, the host country will, at the time the torch is lit on Russian soil, still be killing people, in all probability, in the small adjacent land of Afghanistan. The killing will probably still be going on. If the Games appear to be a Soviet triumph, will Yugoslavia follow Afghanistan as the occupation of the Rhineland followed Hitler's Olympic festival? I have thought long and hard about this and, unlike the honourable member for Prospect and the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), I have to confess that before this I had not treated this subject with sufficient seriousness. But, I have come to the conclusion that the parallel with 1936 is sufficiently close to give us a chance to influence the course of future events by staying away from Moscow this year.

Now there are two principal obstacles to an effective boycott of the Moscow Olympics. The first is the Olympic bureaucracy which has declared itself to be beyond the influence of governments. I quote from the Melbourne Age of 6 February 1980. It states:

The president of the International Olympic Committee, Lord Killanin, says it is apparent that some Governments do not know the Olympic rules.

In a telex message to the Australian Olympic Federation and other national Olympic committees, Lord Killanin has issued a reminder that the committees are autonomous and must resist pressures of all kinds- political, economic or religious.

He says it is not for governments to impinge on the committees ' operations.

The vice-president of the Australian Olympic Federation, a zealous defender of the Olympic laws, was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 79 January 1980. The article states:

There is no third option for the Olympics- the Games will either go ahead in Moscow or be cancelled, the vicepresident of the Australian Olympic Federation, Mr David McKenzie, said yesterday.

Mr McKenzie,a former Olympic competitor and now Australian member of the International Olympic Committee, said the games could not be transferred to other sites.

He had yet to find one member of the IOC who believed that there had been a breach of the Olympic charter which would justify either cancelling or moving the Games.

In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on 22 January 1980, Mr McKenzie- the same gentleman- said:

There has been no infringement of the rules by Moscow, and the IOC presently has no valid ground for changing the terms of the original contract by postponing or cancelling the games, or by awarding them to another city.

Moscow has not infringed the rules! To which rules is he referring? It is the IOC rules of course. These rules contain no provisions against invasion or against murder. Ironically the IOC rule that is so clearly breached by the Soviet Union is the same rule used by Lord Killanin and his officials to justify their present position. It is rule 24c of the Olympic Charter which states that: . . national Olympic committees must be autonomous and must resist all pressures of any kind whatsoever, whether of a political, religious or economic nature'.

The national Olympic committee of the Soviet Union is incapable of meeting that basic requirement. To this extent the IOC has unwittingly created a political ediface of great value to a totalitarian regime, all the more so since it cannot be influenced beyond a certain point by the national committees genuinely operating under the Olympic charter, which includes our own Australian Olympic Federation, within a democratic country. To my shame, I was not aware of this fundamental fault in the IOC or in the Olympic Charter before studying it on this occasion. The IOC has thus created a juggernaut that, like Jellicoe 's obsolete fleet at Jutland, cannot change course before it is too late. Jellicoe was lucky, as the Germans ran away, but we may not be so lucky. The London Economist captured the problem exactly when, in its issue of 2 February 1980, it stated:

It is right to put rude pressure on these committees of nice, old, public-spirited men, not because they are unfeeling, but because they now portray Bagehot 's description of the worst failing of a bureaucracy. They imagine 'the elaborate machinery of which they form a part, and from which they derive their dignity, to be a grand and achieved result, not a working and changable instrument. But in a miscellaneous world, there is now one evil and now another'.

This now leads me to the second obstacle to effective action against the Russians and that is the spinelessness of so much of the free world in the face of aggression. It is the spinelessness of those who contributed to the events that led to Munich and the invasion of Poland. It is the spinelessness demonstrated in full measure by the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament. On 22 January 1980 he made a statement in which he said:

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


Mr Birney - Who said that?


Mr CARLTON -The Leader of the Opposition said it in this Parliament. He went on from there to retreat entirely from that statement. Unlike his colleague the honourable member for Prospect, he has not had the courage to realise that to hold a view is not sufficient; one has to argue for it and persuade people that it is right. In this case he has given another demonstration of his unerring capacity to lead from behind. He said in a later Press release that it was the clear wish of the International Olympic Committee that the Olympic Games proceed in Moscow, that it was correct not to be swayed by matters of the moment, to have a cool judgment, and that he fully supported its decision to proceed. He said that members of the IOC, as representative of the great sporting organisations of the world, should be heeded in this matter. If something is worth fighting for it is surely worth more unequivocal support than that. Frankly, the reliance on the IOC's view is a measure of the depth of thinking displayed by the Leader of the Opposition on this issue. Once the IOC had made its expected confirmation of the 1974 decision- I repeat, 1974- to go to Moscow, the Leader of the Opposition made a positively sickening statement deferring entirely to that decision. By his statement he has abdicated all responsibility for the broad human issues involved in this question to a body which not only has no interest in the broader issues, but also has awarded the 1980 Games to a National Olympic Committee that cannot possibly operate in accordance with the Olympic Charter.

In total contrast to this approach, the Prime Minister has recognised the broader implications of the Moscow Olympics and has adopted a clear position of leadership to the nation. He has also, through his own discussions and those of the Foreign Minister (Mr Peacock), gone out into the world to convince others that they should not go to Moscow. The people to whom he has been talking are members of governments who are responsible for matters ultimately of life and death. They are not Olympic committees who are responsible for sporting administration within a rigid constitution that cannot be changed in the light of any immediate human facts.

We on this side of the House, supported at the very least by the honourable member for Prospect on the other side of the House, will go out into the country to argue for what we believe to be right regardless of the current state of public opinion and regardless of any day to day wobbles in the opinion polls. Indeed, we will speak to a public which has yet to hear all the arguments. It is extraordinarily easy to create public concern about athletes who have trained for years, who have got up at four o'clock in the morning, many of whom come from the most disadvantaged circumstances and whose main chance in life is to achieve an Olympic gold medal. I fully understand that for these people, this extraordinary opportunity to do something which has been revered by the whole world up to this time is something that we should consider very seriously. But unfortunately the matter has to be considered on broader grounds than that. I think the numbers I gave earlier of about 150 Olympic contenders and a total delegation of just over 200 people, compared with over 200,000 people killed in the Second World War, puts this issue in its proper perspective.

Despite the noise emanating from the Opposition it is clear that it agrees with the Government that broad trade sanctions imposed by Australia on the Soviet Union would have no salutary effect on the future actions of the Soviets. Opposition members try to obscure the position by making personal attacks on Ministers of the Government. When will they learn that the Australian electorate is not so stupid that it fails to understand that all sections of" the Australian economy depend upon each other, that every bale of wool which is exported helps to keep car workers in their jobs and that every tonne of iron ore which is exported helps to pay pensions and family allowances? The Opposition will fail in its attempt to create this kind of division. It must address itself to the wider issues. Also, we in this House must address ourselves in the future to the wider problems of the constitution of the IOC and the nature of the Olympic Charter itself.







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