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
Wednesday, 27 February 1980
Page: 436

Mr DAWKINS (Fremantle) -One must acknowledge that this Government has an almost infinite ability to bob up once it has been knocked over by the Opposition. We saw the Government totally humiliated by the Opposition yesterday and now it has provided us with an opportunity to do so again. We will do so again if we have not already done so by this stage in the debate. The most amazing thing about this debate is that the Government has brought into the House a motion relating to a debate which took place for all of last week and ended up last week with the passage of the motion. That resolution, which was passed by this House without opposition from this side of the House, did exactly what the Government wanted. It condemned the invasion of Afghanistan and called on the Russians to withdraw immediately from Afghanistan. Any one would think, listening to the contributions of the people from the Government side who have spoken and particularly that outrageous speech from the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), that we had opposed that proposition. In fact, if anybody cares to look he will see that we proposed an alternative motion. It was an alternative form of words to those contained in the Government's motion which said similar things in slightly less hysterical terms.

We do not dispute the basis on which the Government is wanting us to agree with it. We do condemn the invasion of Afghanistan and we call for the immediate withdrawal of the Russian troops. To listen to this debate today one would think that the Opposition had welcomed that invasion. It was rather extraordinary and indeed unique to have the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) quoting with some approval a resolution of the Socialist International. I am sure that that is a first for the honourable member for Lyne. It is a pity he did not go on to say that the Socialist International is not prepared to abandon detente and that is the important question in this whole debate. It is a matter of keeping that question in proportion. It is a situation of not scuttling the idea of detente which has been so studiously worked for by many world leaders for many years. That is a very important difference between the attitude of this side of the House and of the Government.

What did we have as far as the Government was concerned? We had the most outrageous of all the Ministers in this outrageous Government come into this House and propose a motion to us immediately after Question Time. That Minister, the Leader of the House (Mr Viner) is so pathetically sycophantic that he will completely disregard the truth. His speech amounted to a series of misrepresentations, distortions and fabrications. He attempted to quote, misquote and quote out of context speeches of honourable members on this side of the House and indeed of Labor senators in another place without regard to accuracy or truth. I must say that this debate as unnecessary and trumped up as it is, does give me an opportunity to place on record my position regarding the question in Afghanistan. It will be noted that I was not able to participate in the debate last week. I interpolate and say that I had prepared two speeches last week- the third was this week- on taxation and the plight of small business. Because of pre-occupation with the Afghanistan situation I did not have an opportunity to contribute to debates on those important matters simply because the Government was not prepared to have debates on them. The reason I was not able to be here for the end of the debate and indeed to vote was because it was necessary for me to return to the Kimberleys in Western Australia to ensure that members of the Liberal Party did not, once again, conspire to deprive the people of Kimberley from exercising their vote in the State elections on Saturday last.

Mr John Brown (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did you win?

Mr DAWKINS -Indeed, we did. We won the seat of Kimberley and we would have won it three years ago had it not been for the activities of Liberal Party operatives including, I might add, the brother of the present Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Chaney) who engaged in a plot to deprive Aborigines in the Kimberley of exercising their right to vote in the State election at that time.

Mr Drummond - What absolute nonsense.

Mr DAWKINS - It is not absolute nonsense. The brother of the current -

Mr Ruddock - Mr Speaker-

Mr SPEAKER -Is this a point of order?

Mr Ruddock - Mr Speaker,I think it is quite irrelevant in a debate on this topic, which has been very wide-ranging, to be discussing Aboriginal votes in the Kimberleys.

Mr SPEAKER -I must say to the honourable member for Fremantle that I do find the connection tenuous.

Mr DAWKINS -Mr Speaker,with the greatest of respect, I know that you were pre-occupied with important consultations with the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott), but I was explaining my absence at the end of the debate last week when the vote was taken on the question of Afghanistan.

Mr SPEAKER -I am sure the honourable gentleman was making only a passing reference. He should now continue speaking to the motion.

Mr DAWKINS - Indeed I was. However, I am moved to say that when the opportunity presented itself again yesterday for a debate on the question of human rights it was extraordinary to find the Government unprepared to debate the question of human rights in the Soviet Union seriously. We had the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) participate in that debate without making any reference to the question of human rights in the Soviet Union. I would be very surprised if he had even read the report. But it is important in the context of the whole matter of human rights to consider what the Liberal Party has attempted to do in the Kimberleys. Even on this occasion there were a couple of attemptsunsuccessful, I am happy to report- to prevent several hundred Aboriginal people from participating in the ballot.

Mr Ellicott - Mr Speaker,I raise a point of order. Apparently the honourable gentleman did not hear you a moment ago. He is still wandering from the track. He is now talking about Aboriginal votes in Western Australia.

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable gentleman will remain relevant to the motion.

Mr DAWKINS -I will. The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) is a well-known exponent -

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable gentleman will return to the motion and make no comment about the point of order.

Mr DAWKINS -It is relevant to this debate because it is the Minister for Home Affairs who, in retaliation against the Australian sportsmen, is prepared to confiscate their passports to prevent them going to Moscow.

Mr Ellicott - I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Am I permitted to make a personal explanation?

Mr DAWKINS (FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - When I finish, would you? You know the rules.

Mr SPEAKER -I will call the honourable gentleman at the appropriate time.

Mr Ellicott - The honourable member just made a really outrageous statement.

Mr DAWKINS - You are an outrageous Minister. Sit down.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I ask the honourable member for Fremantle to moderate his language. There is no point in casting insults such as that at a man.

Mr DAWKINS - The Minister does try my patience, but I will attempt to contain myself. In this debate today we have had speeches from the

Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner), the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch), and the Treasurer (Mr Howard). What on earth they have to do with it I do not know. Where was the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr MacKellar)? Where was the Acting Minister for Defence (Mr John McLeay)? Where indeed was the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser)? The Prime Minister who apparently manufactured this debate in order to try to respond to the humiliating treatment he received here yesterday, is not even prepared to participate in the debate. He sends in the Ministers who are responsible for key economic areas. The only reason they want to debate this question is that they cannot get a look in on the issues that are supposed to concern them. They cannot get a look in on the questions of employment, the economy, and industry policy because the Government is not prepared to have a debate with the Opposition, or anyone else for that matter, on those important questions. The only chance they get to enter into debates is on matters such as this spurious motion that has been presented to us by way of a diversion.

The only thing this Government is concerned to do is to manufacture public panic in this country. It is trying to escalate hatred for the Soviet Union. It did so all last week and apparently is going to do it for the rest of this week as well. This motion suggests that there should be a bipartisan approach to the problem in Afghanistan. With the greatest of respect, I should have thought that if there was going to be a bipartisan approach to this question, the first thing the Government would have done would have been to give the Opposition access to the Government's own strategic assessment.

Mr Hodgman - You cannot be trusted.

Mr DAWKINS -I will deal with the honourable member for Denison in a minute. I should have thought that the Government would have been prepared to do that. It is clamouring for bipartisanship. I should have thought it would have given members of the Opposition a briefing from the intelligence units which advise the Government. Why did we not get a briefing? We did not get it because the Government did not want us to know what it had been told. It did not want us to know -

Mr Hodgman - You cannot be trusted. That is the reason.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Denison will remain silent. The honourable member for Fremantle will ignore the interjection and continue his address.

Mr DAWKINS - The official strategic assessment of this country, supplied by the Office of National Assessments, has been on the front of a newspaper for everyone to see. The Government did not have to trust us. Its prime intelligence unit leaks like a sieve, and that is where the country's security is placed. It is placed in the hands of an organisation which leaks like a sieve. In any event, let me return to the motion. The Government would not give a briefing to the Opposition because it did not want us to know what ONA thought. It did not want us to have the ONA assessment. It wanted us to know only what the Prime Minister thought. The Prime Minister did not want to be embarrassed and humiliated by having trumpeted before the Australian people the fact that he disagreed with the assessment of the organisation he himself established. He established it because he thought the intelligence services in Australia were inadequate. Now, a year later, he has turned around and called it a complacent organisation. He has rejected its advice in favour of his own crazy obsessions about the international state of affairs. He is not prepared to listen to anyone who disagrees with him.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.

Mr DAWKINS - Mr Deputy Speaker,it is clear that the Government is not really all that keen on this debate as there are only five Government members in the chamber. Prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner I was referring to the Government's entirely inconsistent position on the question of Afghanistan. I refer to the remarks of the honourable member for Denison who spoke about half an hour before I began my speech. It is his view that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is designed for two purposes: Firstly, it is aimed at threatening the oil fields which supply the Western economies, and secondly, it is designed to threaten the sea routes which carry the oil from the oil fields in Iran to the Western economies. Therefore, by inference, it is a threat to the whole of the security of the economies of the West. It is interesting to note that the analysis of the honourable member for Denison is entirely inconsistent with that of the Office of National Assessments. It is entirely out of touch with the views of the ONA which does not agree with his position at all. But even if his position is correct, why is it that France does not agree with him? Why is it that West Germany does not agree with him? Indeed, if it is correct, why is it that the Government's response is not more consistent with that analysis?

Let us look at what the Government has done. What has been the real action taken by this

Government in relation to the so-called threat which is manifestly clear as a result of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan? All we have seen is a highly publicised trip overseas by the Prime Minister. It is clear that the Prime Minister had some ground to make up in relation to his standing internationally. We know that last year the Prime Minister went overseas and tried to intervene in a number of international affairs. But we discovered at the end of the year that the President of the United States, President Carter, would not even see him. Giscard d 'Estaing vetoed the Prime Minister's attendance at the meeting in Tokyo. Mrs Thatcher would not trust him because of the way in which he behaved in Lusaka and even Mr Muldoon of New Zealand refused the offer of a ride home on the Prime Minister's aeroplane after the Lusaka meeting. So the Prime Minister did indeed have some fence mending to do overseas. That is what this exercise is all about- to try to salvage his greatly diminished reputation in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Let us look at the Government's real response in terms of its commitment to upgrade defence. We find that it was absolutely pathetic. Apart from a couple of items, there was nothing new in what the Government said. All we got was a commitment to get another frigate at some time in the future, probably not before five years. There is no timetable in relation to the tactical fighter force jets; in fact, we do not even know for sure what aircraft will be selected. We do not know what the replacement for HMAS Melbourne will be. HMAS Melbourne continues to float around the world, aimlessly and for an unspecified time, as some sort of latter day Marie Celeste. We do not know what her replacement will be when in fact she is a very important part of our naval fleet.


Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

Suggest corrections