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Monday, 31 March 1980
Page: 1190

Senator SIBRAA (NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Did the Australian Delegation to the 1979 United Nations General Assembly vote in favour of resolution 34/80 on the implementation of the declaration of the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace? Did the resolution draw attention to the dangers of competitive escalation between the great powers in the Indian Ocean and call upon them to refrain from any further escalation and expansion of their military presence? Has the Government informed the United Nations ad hoc committee on the Indian Ocean of its decision to invite the United States of America to use Australian military facilities in Western Australia?

Senator CARRICK - From my recollection the Australian Government has sought over the years to restrict military intervention and military build-up in the Indian Ocean and has no doubt done so at the United Nations. I will check whether the precise assertion by Senator Sibraa is correct, lt presumably is. It is not of the choosing of the Australian Government or the American Government that the build-up has occurred. My understanding is that at last count there were something like 34 military surface vessels of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the Indian Ocean- an enormous build-up compared with the past. I do not believe that, for the safety and security of the free world, the unilateral build-up of such a force -

Senator Georges - Those are the terms of 20 years ago.

Senator CARRICK -Those who wish to see unilateral build-up by the USSR in the Indian Ocean have the opportunity to express themselves at any time. I am merely saying that the bulk of Australians would regard such a huge surface build-up, quite apart from the submarine build-up, as being a threat to world stability and peace, particularly with regard to the Middle East, and would hope that the free world power, the USA, would at least attempt some balance. I would have thought that in the interests of world peace Australia would co-operate with the United States in assisting to obtain some balance and some stability in the Indian Ocean. If, on the other hand, the Labor Party wishes to assert a unilateral strength for Russia in the Indian Ocean, it is competent for it to do so.

Senator SIBRAA - I wish to ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether the Government informed the United Nations ad hoc committee on the Indian Ocean that in fact Australia had now changed its attitude from when it voted in favour of resolution 34/80 last year?

Senator CARRICK - I am sorry that that part of the question escaped me. I will ask my colleague in another place to get an answer for the honourable senator.

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