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Wednesday, 27 February 1980
Page: 439


Mr CARLTON (Mackellar) -May I remind honourable members, if they had not gathered this from listening to the speech of the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Dawkins), what it is we are debating this evening.


Mr Dawkins - You didn't hear the beginning of it


Mr CARLTON - I was here before the suspension of the sitting for dinner. I heard the beginning and the end and there was nothing in between. The House is debating this motion moved by the Leader of the House (Mr Viner):

That this House is of the opinion that the Australian Labor Party, led by the Leader of the Opposition, is seeking to undermine the efforts of Australia and other like-minded nations to establish an effective response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which would bring home to the Soviet Government and people the grave threat to world peace of the Soviet action.

Let us look for a moment at the seriousness of the present situation. We have had a lot of debate today not really directed to the real issues. It is important that we remember that at this moment there are in excess of 90,000 Russian troops in Afghanistan. About 800 people were killed this week during an uprising in the city of Kabul. President Tito of Yugoslavia is gravely ill. We all know that Yugoslavia is a critical nation in the European balance of power and that there is a grave possibility that the Soviet Union might find it necessary to move into Yugoslavia if it has the same kinds of feelings about Yugoslavia after Tito that it appears to have had about Afghanistan in recent times. I regard that as an extremely grave possibility.

Let us look at the situation since the end of World War II. The movement into Afghanistan is the first movement of Soviet troops outside the Iron Curtain since that catastrophy. It has also been done in the context of a vastly changed balance of might between the Soviet Union and the United States. In this respect, I absolutely agree with the assessment of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) of the seriousness of the situation- that it is a totally different threat from those we have faced since the Second World War, and for those two reasons. Therefore, it is a matter of very great concern.

The Government's response to this is the measured and sober statement of the Prime Minister which is recorded in Hansard and which has been published in the Press. None ofthe contentions in that statement have been seriously questioned by the Opposition. Most of the Opposition's questioning has been in relation to various interpretations of what the Prime Minister is supposed to have said, various things that are supposed to have been said by him or to him when he was abroad, and the absence of Press comment in certain overseas centres when he was abroad. It is a pretty poor show if this Parliament is going to rely for its judgment of the seriousness of issues or contributions on judgments made by certain journalists in certain foreign places about what our Prime Minister said. I lived in London for many years and during that time I hardly saw anything in the newspapers there about what was happening in Australia. But I did not assume for that reason that nothing that happened here was of importance. The Prime Minister's statement stands; it can be read. It can be challenged and it can be argued; but it is a sober statement. It does not go overboard and in no way could it be matched with the Opposition's response which appears to be based entirely on an assessment of the 1980 political situation in Australia.

As evidence of this I quote something that was said in the House the other night by the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson), the chief Opposition Whip, a former minister in the Whitlam Government and a person, I would have thought, of some importance in the Opposition. The honourable member for Hughes said this:

I was interested to read the National Times survey commissioned on Thursday last, 24 hours after the Prime Minister's address to the nation on the Afghanistan issue. The question was asked:

Do you feel the recent Soviet actions affect you personally or not?

Some 26 per cent of Australians surveyed answered yes. Some 67 per cent answered no.

I was reminded of the kinds of questions that Mr Baldwin used to ask when he went back to his constituency in the Midlands during the 1930s. He got the same sort of response. The honourable member for Hughes continued:

The following question also was asked:

Do you think the Australian Government should or should not prevent athletes who want to compete in the Olympic Games from participating?

Some 24 per cent said that they should be prevented.

Some 70 per cent said that they should not. I believe that the Government should think again.

I make two comments in respect of that finding. The first is that people were being asked whether they thought athletes should be prevented from going to Moscow. The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) has said quite categorically that nobody would be prevented from going to Moscow. Therefore, one could say that it is not surprising that a large number of Australians thought that athletes should not be prevented from going to Moscow. But they were not asked the question about an actual boycott of the Olympic Games against any sort of background. Nonetheless, the answers in these public opinon polls obviously had a profound effect on the way the Opposition treated the matter of the 800 people who were killed in Kabul this week, the 90,000-odd Soviet troops in Afghanistan, and the potential threat to Yugoslavia following the death of President Tito.

The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) has taken a similar approach to that of the honourable member for Hughes. In a Press statement on 22 January he said:

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

One would think that one could go through the rest of the Press statement to see this argument developed and to see what the Leader of the Opposition was going to contribute to try to bring about such an effective boycott. Later in the same Press statement he said:

In particular, an effective boycott would depend on the support of Great European sporting nations such as France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and the Scandinavian nations.

I agree with that statement. Further down in the statement he said:

It is the clear wish of the International Olympic Federation that the Games go ahead in Moscow as scheduled.

The carefully-considered viewpoint of the world's most representative international sporting body needs to be given due weight in the context of the boycott.

All of these questions should be analysed carefully and assessed before a decision is made on whether or not there should be a boycott.

The Federal Government should also consider the impact of a possible backlash against the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982 if it moves precipitately to initiate or join a boycott.

If the matter of the invasion of Afghanistan is treated seriously, if there is a serious international situation, if we are concerned about the integrity of Yugoslavia following the death of President Tito, surely we are not going to be raising as a major factor whether or not there will be a backlash against the Games in Brisbane. In the same Press statement the Leader of the Opposition went on to say:

In these circumstances, a sanction directed at the Moscow Olympics could prove to be more damaging to Australia, and particularly to the State of Queensland.

I am the last person to express no concern about the finances of the State of Queensland, or of the admirable campaign that has been run to get money for those Commonwealth Games. But, quite honestly, we have to have some sense of proportion. This was not supplied by the Leader of the Opposition when the decision, made by the International Olympic Committee, was obtained. On 13 February he made a statement in which he said these things which have to be remembered throughout the whole of this year and beyond:

The decision made by the IOC was inevitable.

It is reassuring that the Committee has responded coolly and rationally in an atmosphere of intense provocation.

It has made an intelligent and rational appraisal of fundamental issues despite the hysteria that has been deliberately whipped up around its meeting.

In the circumstances there is virtually no likelihood that any effective boycott can be mounted against the Moscow Games.

In that statement there is no expression of regret whatsoever. In fact there is an expression of great satisfaction in the decision by a body which bears no responsibility whatsoever for the life and death of citizens of the world, which takes it totally out of the area of politics and out of the area of decision making of national governments who bear this responsibility. It shows an absolute abdication of responsibility. This afternoon in this House the Leader of the Opposition continued with this outrage by saying:

If there is an effective boycott we will support it.

We will observe the next world war to see who comes out on top and we will support them! In the Second World War: We will observe to see whether Tokyo or Berlin comes out on top and we will decide what happens before we take any effective action! This is really incredible. All that I would like to say is that those who are virtually hoping that a boycott will not succeed ought to remember this: The honourable member for Hughes, in his speech to which I referred earlier, incorporated in Hansard a table of the conflicts that were occurring around the world at the time of the various Olympic Games. Of course, there have been many Olympic Games when there have been conflicts. One could even say that our own Games in Melbourne helped people to forget what had happened in Hungary earlier that year. In that total table of Games which was incorporated there was no case in which the host country for the Games was currently in a state of occupation of another territory and actually killing people at the time. Should anyone go to Moscow in July if the killing is still going on? If we are getting the same reports as we had this week--


Mr Holding - Should you sell them wool and wheat if the killing is still going on?


Mr CARLTON - I will get to that in a moment. Should anyone be going to Moscow this year if people are still being killed in Afghanistan? Will the Opposition continue to express satisfaction at the failure of a boycott if people are still found dead in the streets of Kabul? Will all those 10c pieces that have been collected from the workers, as suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, all be going to the support of Mr Brezhnev as he continues to have blood dripping from his hands, with people still dying in the streets of Kabul? This is totally unsatisfactory. The Leader of the Opposition, having failed to take action to gain support for something with which he basically agreed, went further. At a national youth conference in Surfers Paradise last Sunday, at which I was also present, he said this:

The rapid defence build-up of the next few years is predicted on a significant expansion of defence manpower. On present indications, this might not be achieved by the Fraser Government without some resort to conscription.

He added the following:

I phrase this very carefully. I don't want to run any risk of overstatement.

Honourable members should note the very careful little statement to try to offset the enormity of what had been said, after the Government had made clear statements denying this rumour that had been circulating. The Leader of the Opposition went on to say:

This is a question which your Council and the other youth bodies -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (MrMillarOrder! The honourable member for Bendigo will withdraw that remark.


Mr Bourchier - Mr Deputy Speaker,with due respect, I did not open my mouth. If it is possible, I must ask that you withdraw that comment.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -I do apologise if I incorrectly identified the honourable member who offended against the Standing Orders. The honourable member for Mackellar may proceed so that he is not further disadvantaged.


Mr CARLTON -The Leader of the Opposition went on to say:

This is a question which your Council and the other youth bodies should look at very carefully.

Talking about conscription he said:

I feel this is an area where you should start to conduct some research, and to work out attitudes and responses to a resumption of conscription in one form or another.

Again there is this careful little safety clause which says that this is very much a contigency approach, but it would be unfortunate indeed if preparation were not made to meet it. Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask you: What is the duty of somebody who is the alternative Prime Minister in this House, when there is a grave international crisis, and when a reasonable statement is put forward by the Prime Minister as to how it should be dealt with? Is it the normal response of that person to come out and say that there are certain things with which he agrees, such as an effective boycott, and to do nothing about it? At the same time, is it reasonable that he should raise totally unrealistic fears on the part of those who might feel personally affected in order further to undermine the policy of the Government in meeting this crisis? All that the Leader of the Opposition has done is to treat this desperate issue as one purely for the 1980 election politics and to indulge in personal attacks on Ministers to try to divide that nation and to give comfort obviously to those in the Kremlin who in 1974 took a calculated decision about the Games and continue to make a calculated decision on the amount of help that they will receive from people like the Leader of the Opposition.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member's time has expired.







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