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: 272

Mr DOBIE (Cook) - I am certain that the House will be very much aware that we will miss the full-bodied contributions of the previous speaker, the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), when he retires at the end of this parliamentary session. I am certain also that the Soviet apologists will miss him too. As I sat listening to him, I realised that his words could have been those of Pravda, Tass or perhaps the new, tall, non-English speaking Russian Ambassador we now have or even the Russian Ambassador to Lusaka, Dr Vasiliy Solodovnikov, who seems to have been the architect of Russian methods and expansionism in various parts of Africa and west Asia. I will try to be less enthusiastic in my remarks than the previous speaker, but no less sincere.

Much has been said in this debate about the sacrifices that will have to be undertaken by the athletes of the world in the event of a boycott of the Olympic Games in Moscow. But I wonder why so little is being said about the sacrifices that all peace-loving people in the world could be asked to make and probably will have to make if the continual trail of Soviet aggression so recently manifested in the callous invasion of Afghanistan is not stopped in its tracks.

The history of the Soviet and its aggression in the past 30 years need not be repeated in this debate, but I remind all honourable members that stopping Soviet aggression will not be an easy task. Sitting as we do in this dignified chamber, it was a particularly chilling experience yesterday afternoon to hear the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) mention but some of the military hardware and the muscle that the Soviet currently possesses. Honourable members will recall that the Minister said that 400,000 mines were held in the Soviet inventory. He was talking about mines that can be laid in the sea, many of which are so sophisticated that they cannot be detected. He said further on that the Soviet Union today has 350 submarines, 150 of which are nuclearpowered. This compares with 50 submarines which Doenitz started the last World War with. According to the information of the Minister for Defence, every year approximately 1,500 to 1,600 aircraft are brought into the inventory of the Soviet Union and most of them are deadly in their offensive weapons.

Do we really think that the Western world can sit down and say, 'Poor old Afghanistan ', and do nothing about the 100,000 highly trained troops with the most sophisticated and lethal weaponry known in the world today? Equally, with the descriptions made by the Minister for Defence of some of the available Soviet hardware, do we really believe that there is room for military confrontation which would surely destroy the world? Of course not. We cannot sit down and ignore Afghanistan. We cannot sit down and suggest that we should confront the Soviets to the point of an ungodly and inhuman war. All the reasons given by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and others on this side of the House during the debate clearly indicate to me that with no Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan- surely the honourable member for Hunter is the only person in the world who really believes that the Russians will withdraw- to hold the Games in Moscow would be wrong, so very wrong. When the Australian public faces up to this fact they will accept it, albeit reluctantly, and ignore the red herrings that are being dragged into this House by the members of the Opposition.

To suggest, as the Opposition has done, that the magnificent young folk who are in line to go to Moscow will rise up against the Government is to underestimate the high standards of public morality that all athletes display and feel. As an aside, I should mention that my electorate of Cook does not export wheat, wool, rutile or whatever to Russia. But the Cook electorate does export and has already exported Olympians to Olympic Games. I was heartened to see several of such Olympians in my electorate supporting the principle that the Games should not be held in Moscow. In fact, these local athletes have seen fit to express their views quite publicly and in the local suburban Press in my electorate. They are not, I repeat, not, being political. They are accepting a moral stance that is not unique among young Australian sportsmen and sportswomen.

As a member of the now renowned Wheeldon committee which reported to this House on human rights in the Soviet Union, I shall resist the temptation to quote from the committee's report, but I ask all honourable members and all Australians who listen to this Parliament or who read Hansard to read the report carefully and to see why we on this side of the House and honourable members on the other side of the House too, I am pleased to note, are appalled at the thought of the continuance of Soviet imperialistic expansionism. Do not let us think that the invasion of Afghanistan is anything less than a part of this trail that has gone on for 30 years. But why should we be interested? Honourable members opposite have been saying in the course of the debate today that this is a new-found interest by the Government. I refer them to the speech of the Prime Minister as recorded on page 261 of Hansard of 22 February last year in which the Prime Minister said:

The disturbances in Iran -

I emphasise the next words-

The instability in the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan, also have important implications for Australia.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock), in his geopolitical statement at about that same time, elucidated on the implications of power politics in the world. We were talking then, as honourable members will recall, of China sending X number of troops into Vietnam which had sent X number of troops into Kampuchea. Let us remember that, at the same time and leading up to that, 45,000 Cuban troops were brought to Africa under instructions from the Russians. Let me repeat the name of the Russian Ambassador to Lusaka: Dr Vasiliy Solodovnikov. That is a name that everyone interested in foreign affairs should know because that man has been masterminding the terrorism and the sale of Russian weaponry to Zambia and Mozambique. He masterminded the sale of Russian MIG aircraft to Zambia three weeks ago, not three years ago. Zambia, in one of the most sensitive front-line areas in the world, is buying MIG aircraft from Russia because Zambia said that it needed them for its own defence. Well, one would have to be a funny sort of observer in international affairs to see no significance in the timing of all these matters. Power politics in the world relates to something beyond Afghanistan. It is a tragedy that the world has ignored so many of these power plays by the Russians.

When some of us on this side of the House complained of these actions during the last decade we were accused of seeing Reds under every bed. I suggest that honourable members talk to the Afghanistans, talk to the people in most African countries, talk to the Vietnamese or the Burmese or the Tibetans, talk to millions of people living in small countries and ask them if they see Reds under the beds. My God, they have got no beds to sleep in. The Reds have taken the beds. They have taken the whole stinking lot. Let us not kid ourselves. The Afghanistan situation is not an emotive, impassioned thing that the Russians have suddenly decided to embark upon. It is part of a 30-year trail, a trail that we should be very, very aware of. From the Opposition has come the nonsensical statement that our Prime Minister has spoken out too much, has done this or has done that. As one of his supporters I say that I would have been disappointed if he had done anything less. Australians do appreciate his courageous actions in international affairs.

Mr Barry Jones (LALOR, VICTORIA) - It is just cheap rhetoric.

Mr DOBIE - I will not pursue some of the philosophical speakers opposite who cheapen themselves in this House by bringing forward left wing nonsensical policies, comparing what has happened in 150 years in Afghanistan with what has happened with other people in these parts of the world. The reality is that the Russians have cold-bloodedly, without any obvious first reasons, moved into Afghanistan. I invite honourable members opposite to talk to the Hungarians, talk to the Czechs, talk to the Poles, talk to the Albanians, above all talk to the Yugoslavs next week and see what we mean when we speak about Russian expansionism. Afghanistan is a symbol of what the Russians have been doing to the world for 30 years. Where do we go from there forward? We go on to say that some international action should be taken. For anybody to suggest that a third world war would be the answer, for anybody to suggest that a total embargo of foodstuffs to the Russians would be anything less than an invitation to a third world war is to speak as a fool. I say that to anyone in this House on either side who makes such a decision.

Mr Barry Jones (LALOR, VICTORIA) - It is better than being a hypocrite.

Mr DOBIE - I do not wish to take up too many issues that have been raised by honourable members opposite and I cannot hear the interjections. I think that Russia will find that it has bitten off more than it can chew. I remind honourable members that all of this took place at a time when Cuba had done very nicely, thank you, at the Third World conference of non-aligned nations in Havana. Honourable members will recall that it used such phrases as, 'The nonaligned movements of the world should align themselves to Russia.' I do not have the exact quotation but I think honourable members are all aware of what was said.

I hope to God that one of the effects of this will be that the influence of Russia amongst the allegedly non-aligned Third World countries will diminish. I have reason to believe that it has diminished and diminished quickly. If that is the case perhaps we will see a change of attitude towards the Cubans in Angola, a change of attitude towards the Cubans throughout the African continent. Perhaps we will hear an outcry from the Cuban civilians who find their war dead flown in at night because Castro does not want the planes to be seen in the daytime. Perhaps one outcome will be that in five years we will get a little stability in southern Africa. But let us not forget, when we start to move along that line, that three weeks ago the Russian Ambassador in Lusaka completed a deal for the sale of MIG aircraft and that that was after Afghanistan had been invaded.

Does anyone really think that the Russians will sit back and be nice about everything? I believe that the very least we can do is boycott the Olympic Games in Moscow. I say that with great compassion and reluctance. Some honourable members opposite have asked whether I would name the Olympians. Let me tell them that in the Cook electorate eight athletes are in the final teams for their sports. I can assure the House that their names are in the local newspapers. I invite honourable members opposite to go and read them. I have said in public elsewhere what I have said in the House tonight. Let us not, as members of this House, be fooled into believing that this is someting cheap, something related to politics.

As my honourable friend from Dundas (Mr Ruddock) asked earlier by way of interjection, do we really think that the Russians were asked to go into Afghanistan because elections were being held in 1980? Why do we think they went in? I shall conclude my remarks by saying that it was for exactly the same reason that the nazis entered the Rhineland in 1936. They thought that the subsequent Olympic Games would provide forgiveness and cover all else. It is in that light, perspective and setting that every honourable member of this House should support not only the Prime Minister's actions overseas but his motion before the House tonight.

Suggest corrections