Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 21 February 1980
Page: 267


Mr McLEAN (Perth) -I support the motion moved by the Leader of the House (Mr Viner) relating to the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. As a Western Australian member of the Government parties I want to say that we in Western Australia, because of our location, are very sensitive about Australia's defence needs, particularly in the Indian Ocean. We welcome the increased defence efforts being centered on our State. In my view the Prime Minister's statement was realistic, carefully considered, analytical and certainly very sombre. But unfortunately, at a time of grave international crisis, when one would hope for a bipartisan approach from the body of Australian politics, Opposition members, particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) in his response to the Prime Minister, treated the issue as a normal day to day political jousting match and tried to score political points at all costs, ignoring the gravity of this issue.

The Leader of the Opposition says that the Government is overreacting and misunderstanding the motives of the Soviet Union. In his speech the Leader of the Opposition continually sought to apologise for the Soviet Union and he said that, in effect, it is not interested in expansion but is very nervous about the security of its borders. He explains the Soviet invasion as representing 'a dangerous manifestation of the characteristic exaggerated Soviet sense of insecurity', or 'as a result of a perceived weakness to the south'. The Leader of the Opposition cannot, for some reason, see the Soviet invasion as being part of an expansionist policy. Either he has not studied modern history or he has not looked at a political atlas. He constantly seeks to make excuses for the behaviour of the Soviet Union by referring to its border security needs. How does he equate this with its action in Vietnam, Angola, Ethiopia or many of those other places in which it has intervened or which it has invaded? Why cannot he not come out and say that the Soviet Union has shown itself to be the world's leading imperialist and colonialist nation, the words the Soviets themselves use to condemn the United States and other Western nations in international forums? Has he forgotten the Baltic States, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and all the other nations the Soviet Union has invaded, plundered and decimated during the course of this century and the last century? Why can he not accept that the Soviet Union has consistently violated the principles of international law and threatened international peace, all in the course of Soviet global domination?

The Prime Minister is criticised for regarding the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as the most serious crisis confronting the world since World War II. If it is not the most serious crisis we could look at the other crises- the invasion of Hungary, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Cuban missile crisis, the Berlin blockade, the Cold War, Vietnam, the Middle East. The Soviet Union was directly involved in all of them and still the Opposition accuses us of kicking the communist can and still it cannot criticise the Soviet Union without some kind of qualification. To me the attitude of the members of the Australian Labor Party in this whole episode, with very few exceptions, is symptomatic of the weak and spineless attitude of the Western world to the spread of Soviet power over recent decades. As Dr Kissinger said:

The aspect of contemporary life that worries me most is the lack of purpose and direction in so much of the Western world.

Patrick Moynihan, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, has talked of a failure of nerve on the part of the West, but in my view- {Quorum formed.)Mr Deputy Speaker, as I was saying, Solzhenitsyn best summed up the weakness of the Western world when talking about life in the West in his Harvard address of July 1978. He said this:

The individual 's independence from many types of state pressure has been guaranteed; the majority of people have been granted well-being to an extent their fathers and grandfathers could not even dream about; it has become possible to raise young people according to these ideals . . .

He went on to say:

So who should now renounce all this, why and for what should one risk one's precious life in defence of common values, and particularly in such nebulous cases when the security of one 's nation must be defended in a distant country?

He also said:

Even biology knows that habitual extreme safety and well-being are not advantageous for a living organism. Today, well-being in the life of Western society has begun to reveal its pernicious mask.

That was said by someone who knows and who has suffered the trials of living in the Soviet Union. I for one am glad that in Australia we have a Prime Minister who will stand up and proclaim this country solidly against communist expansionism. The Prime Minister of this country has had the fortitude to proclaim his faith in Western ideals of freedom and liberty and condemn the Soviet Union for the way in which it has violated all the principles of international behaviour. The Leader of the Opposition refuses to give his support to this firm leadership and, in the cause of political partisianship says the Prime Minister is only taking this stand for political reasons because this is an election year. It seems that the leader of this nation should sit back and do nothing every time there is an election year. Is the Leader of the Opposition suggesting that the Prime Minister of Australia should not respond at all under any circumstances to any international crisis for one year in every three years of government? I think that that is a ludicrous proposition. The Leader of the Opposition is a shining example of the kind of Western weakness Solzhenitsyn referred to.

The strategic implications for the West of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan have been well documented by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) and by eminent strategists throughout the world. Suffice it to say at this stage that the Soviet Union has moved to a position where it has the potential to threaten the world 's oil supply, the life blood of the West, and at a time when it has surpassed the West, or soon will, in all types of conventional and nuclear weapons. Only today it was reported that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's Commander, General Bernard Rogers, had commented, in evidence to the Senate Armed Services Committee, on the Soviet Union's air lifting of troops and material to Angola, South Yemen, Ethiopia and Afghanistan. He said:

The overall effect had been the transformation of the Soviet threat from one directed primarily towards Western Europe to one which was truly global in scope.

Given this kind of assessment one can only ask why the Opposition has failed to announce a clearly articulated specific policy regarding what it would do as a response to the Soviet invasion. In my view its policy of doing nothing is a disgrace and a threat to the best interests of this country and the Western world. I support the call to boycott the Olympic Games. I do stay mindful of the disappointment that it could cause to so many athletes who have trained so hard for these Games. This is a difficult decision for the

Government. Regrettably, there are broader issues and we must think not only of those who are now affected but also of future generations of Australians who one day may be very grateful that this Government took a stand against the Soviet Union. The Opposition has sought to distort the issue of the Olympic boycott. I shall give some figures in this regard. During the two world wars over 93,000 young Australians were killed and 436,000 were wounded. Given those facts, and remembering that only 155 Australians competed at the 1976 Games, is it wrong to try to take a diplomatic offensive against the Soviet Union via the Games in order to let it know that the Western world has limits to its tolerance of Soviet foreign policy?

I support the proposed boycott for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is one of the very few peaceful initiatives that the West can take. Secondlythis is acknowledged even by the Opposition- an effective boycott would be highly visible to the Soviet people and embarrassing to the Soviet Government. There is no dispute on that issue. Trade boycotts would not have that effect. Thirdly- I would like the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr John Brown) to listen to this in view of his comments in his recent contribution- the parallel to the 1936 Berlin Games, as far as I am concerned, is too close for comfort. The Leader of the Opposition and others, including the honourable member for Parramatta, say that the 1936 Olympics are remembered for the performances of Jesse Owens. That is not how it is remembered by those few Jewish people in my electorate who were in Berlin at the time and who survived to tell the story. They say that when the world leaders came to Berlin to celebrate the Games with Hitler it gave to him and his policies an endorsement, an authority and respectability which they otherwise would not have had, and it brought forward in time the dreaded holocaust.

Is there not a parallel between Nazi Germany and the present Soviet regime, both in their treatment of Jewish people and in the expansionist nature of their foreign policies? I assert that it is the Soviet Union which says that politically the Olympic Games are so important to it. It has made these Games political. An official party document, widely circulated in the Soviet Union, states:

The decision to offer the honoured right to hold the Olympic Games in the capital of the first socialist state was convincing proof of the universal recognition of the historical importance and correctness of the course of our country's foreign policy.

How can we attend these Games given that we object to Soviet foreign policy and the interpretation of the political significance that the Russians attach to the Olympics? On the question of trade I can see no value in boycotting those goods which Russia can get elsewhere. A trade boycott of that nature would mean that only Australia would suffer and not the Soviet Union. The cynicism of the Opposition on this matter is deplorable. Is it suggesting that we create unemployment or weaken our economy in Australia in order to do something which would have no effect whatever on the Soviet Union? I see the Games as a major, symbolic event and in that respect they are different from trading relationships. Trade satisfies the hard realities of permanent inter- government interests. That is a reasonable position to maintain so long as our exports to the Soviet Union are not the subject of control by the Co-ordinating Committee on Exports of Technology to Communist Countries.

If the Games symbolise peace and goodwill, why are they to be held in a country which is engaged in the invasion, occupation and suppression of another people? Why should they be held in a country which has no respect for all codes of international behaviour and no respect for territorial integrity. Why should they be held in a country which has no respect for the basic rights of its own citizens, and which has abrogated its obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Helsinki Accords? Given that record, I do not want my flag and all that it stands for raised at any Olympic Games held in Moscow. I think that the Opposition's attitude on this question is deplorable. It says that an effective boycott would be significant and would embarrass the Soviet Union, and yet it says that it would oppose a boycott. Yesterday in the Parliament it showed its pleasure at the fact that an effective boycott may be prejudiced by Canada's new stance. The Opposition believes that we should not attempt to seek an effective boycott. It thinks it proper that we should not express our indigation unless it is effective. That is totally unprincipled. The Labor Party says that one should not express a view unless one has the numbers. The Opposition has offered no significant response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It has sought to make apologies and excuses for it. It has criticised the Prime Minister for seeking an effective boycott, which it recognises as being an effective diplomatic objection. I fully support the efforts of the Prime Minister in seeking to condemn the Soviet

Union and in seeking an effective diplomatic response to its action. I support the motion moved by the Leader of the House.







Suggest corrections