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Thursday, 28 August 1980
Page: 866

Mr McLEAN (PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. Are discussions continuing with the Government of the United States of America regarding the use of Australian facilities by the United States Navy to support its Indian Ocean capabilities? Do such discussions include the use by the United States Navy of HMAS Stirling in Cockburn Sound? When does the Government expect to receive specific proposals from the United States? Is such co-operation in accordance with our obligations under the ANZUS Treaty? Would the use of such facilities by the United States be in accordance with Australia's strategic interests?

Mr KILLEN (MORETON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Defence) - The fact is that HMAS Stirling has been used by units of the United States Navy for a number of years and it will certainly be the clear resolve of this Government that units of that Navy continue to use HMAS Stirling. It is almost 29 years to the day since this country entered into the ANZUS agreement. It was the first major foreign policy initiative taken by Australia following World War II. To my knowledge it was the only agreement, apart from an agreement with New Zealand, that Australia had entered into without United Kingdom participation. In the intervening 29 years the ANZUS agreement remains of fundamental importance to this country and, in the judgment of the Government, to the world and to this region. But like all agreements and undertakings there are obligations as well as benefits.

This country is under a clear obligation, pursuant to the terms of the ANZUS agreement, to consult with the United States. There is a clear obligation for both countries to enter into mutual aid projects for the securing of peace in the area. Earlier this year the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and I, following discussions with members of the United States Administration, asked in what way we could further assist the United States. Unlike some people in this House we did not regard that as being an abandonment of sovereignty but a very proper and robust use of sovereignty. The United States alone carries the enormous burden of being the only nation to exercise a countervailing weight against the military might of the Soviet Union. It is a matter of astonishment to me that some people either have difficulty in acknowledging that or they are physically incapable of acknowledging that. It is a matter of distress to me that some members of the Opposition, instead of condemning Soviet expansionist policies, ' turn around and - criticise American defensive policies. No specific proposals have as yet been received by Australia from the United States for any further use of Australian facilities; but, if and when such proposals are received, they will be given proper consideration by this Government and they will be announced to the Parliament and to the country.

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