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Wednesday, 2 April 1980
Page: 1336

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Leader of the Opposition) - The Australia-New Zealand-United States agreement has been in existence for almost 30 years, having become operative in 1952 following the Korean war. At that time doubts were expressed by the Australian Government about the United States' commitment to this part of the world. In the intervening 28 years there has been- certainly in this country- continuing support for the concept of this agreement. On behalf of the Australian Labor Party I state that our position is quite clear. Our support for the ANZUS Treaty is spelt out in the platform of the ALP. I note also that similar clauses appear in the platforms of both the Liberal Party and the National Country Party. So in respect of the three parties that I have referred to- I understand the Australian Democrats do not formally call themselves a party- it appears that fairly common ground exists in attitudes towards this Treaty.

The point I wish to emphasise is that I hope this will not develop into a debate about the value of the ANZUS agreement, but will deal rather with the attitudes towards that agreement. It is especially important that the Australian people are clear as to what the agreement is about and the present significance of it. It would not be appropriate, nor would there be time, to go into an historical analysis of it because it is the matters that concern us now which are important. Nevertheless it should be recognised that over the years some doubts have been expressed about where the relative partners to the agreement stand. It should also be recognised that, important as the agreement is, it is not the beginning and end of the policy of either the Opposition or the Government. I notice that, during a speech on the state of the AustralianAmerican relations, Joseph Siracusa, a senior lecturer in American diplomatic history at the University of Queensland, quoted some impressions of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Peacock. Mr Siracusa quoted the Foreign Minister as having said:

ANZUS is not . . . as is sometimes claimed, the beginning and the end of Australia 's foreign policy. But it is the single most important component of thu policy. As such it is greatly valued by Australia.

I think that those sentiments would be shared generally by the three major political parties at least. But these doubts have been expressed, and a statement by Professor T. B. Millar of the Australian National University is probably representative of reservations which have been expressed down the years. He said:

.   . will have little need of Australia, and the ANZUS Treaty will become increasingly a formality, an excuse for occasional rhetoric . . .

I think that is a fairly strong statement by Professor Millar. It is perhaps a stronger statement than other people would be prepared to commit themselves to. Nevertheless it is indicative of some of the doubts that have arisen over the years.

Why are we engaging in this debate today? As honourable senators know, the three speakers in the debate from this side of the chamber- that is, Senator Chipp who will be speaking after me and Senator Button who will be following himhave asked questions recently concerning matters involving ANZUS. I do not intend to transgress the territory on which I presume Senator Chipp will be speaking; that is, the area that ANZUS covers, whether it be the Pacific area or the Indian Ocean. That is a matter for him to develop.

I feel that, on reading the answers we have been given, we have not had the clear statements which we were seeking and to which I think not only we but also the Parliament and certainly the people of Australia are entitled. It is important that the Australian people have confidence in this Treaty. If, as a result of material which I will quote shortly, statements concerning this Treaty are to be made by prominent and reputable people, obviously doubts will be in the minds of many people in the community. Therefore the Government should put people's minds at rest, if it possibly can. We in this country must make judgments about international relations as they affect our own interests. That is a position which I think would be fairly common ground. In the statement put down by the Prime Minister (Mr

Malcolm Fraser) on 1 June 1976 he was quite clear on that particular point. He said:

This Government, while maintaining to the full its own independent national perspectives and sovereignty, will ensure that the ANZUS alliance with the US and New Zealand does not fall into disrepair and disrepute. The interest of the United States and the interests of Australia are not necessarily identical. In our relations with the United States, as in our relations with other great powers, our first responsibility is independently to assess our own interests. The United States will unquestionably do the same.

I believe that that is a statement about which there ought not to be argument because it would be a view shared by, I think, most members of this Parliament and it would certainly form the basis of the approach of the major parties. We recall in 1969 the Guam doctrine, as it is called. That doctrine, expressed by the then United States President, made it clear that there was a fundamental change in attitude by the United States to its commitment to its allies. This does not mean it was abrogating that commitment, but it was certainly saying that a greater responsibility must be accepted by the allies of the United States, especially of course in the defence of their own sovereignty. That is a doctrine which has been in existence for 1 1 years. I believe what has exacerbated any doubts which may have existed are statements which have been made quite recently. It is to them that I now refer.

On 30 July 1 977, the Melbourne Age reported a statement by the Australian Minister for Defence, Mr Killen. He had been speaking on the Australian Broadcasting Commission's program AM. The report reads:

Arguing for a measure of self-reliance, he said- that is, Mr Killen: . . that a 'low-level threat' to Australia 'may possibly not allow us to invoke the ANZUS agreement'. He also spoke of a possible situation in which US defence resources were heavily involved elsewhere and Australia might have to fend for itself

That is a pretty significant statement. Coming from the Minister for Defence, I believe it is especially significant. In this Parliament, on 25 March, only a matter of days ago, in another statement put down by the Minister, he said:

I might add that in the event of hostilities, risks of nuclear attack arise for Australia as an ally of the United States, whether or not it may be hosting particular United States facilities.

That of course is not relating specifically to ANZUS but it does highlight the significance of the matters with which we are dealing because to my knowledge for the first time a Minister of the Crown has stated publicly the fact that Australia's involvement under an agreement such as ANZUS does involve nuclear risks for this country. That is a very significant factor.

Last year we had a visit from the former United States Naval Chief of Operations, Admiral Zumwalt. He came to Australia to deliver a speech at a meeting of the Australian Naval Institute. He had some very disturbing things to say. I think what those words were should be written into the record. For example, an article in the Canberra Times of 2 February 1979 reads:

The United States would have to abandon its allies in the Pacific in the event of a major confrontation with the Warsaw Pact, a former US Navy Chief of Operations, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, warned yesterday.

The article reads further:

Australians should be very nervous about their country's naval capability to defend itself, Admiral Zumwalt said.

It is the professional judgment of senior military officials in the US that our navy has only about a 35 per cent probability of winning a conventional naval war against the Soviet Union.

He made some similar remarks and then said:

There was a growing conception in the US electorate, that America was no longer strong enough to guarantee its own freedom, let alone that of its allies, and this was gradually forcing a change on the politicians.

Further on in the article he is reported as saying:

For a long time you have relied on the ANZUS alliance. At the time we signed it we meant every bit of it and we had the power to back it up. We still mean it but we just don't have that sort of power any more. Wc would be fully engaged trying to look after our own interests.

Senior military and civil service people know all about it, but they are muzzled by the politicians and not allowed to discuss it

He goes on to make several more comments of that nature. In an interview on the Australian Broadcasting Commission program AM on 2 February, he makes very similar statements. There is not time for me to read them into the record, but it is worth quoting one comment which appeared that day in the Melbourne Herald editorial on what the admiral had said. That editorial made the following observation:

Admiral Zumwalt, former U.S. Chief of Naval Operations and world-respected thinker in military affairs, has told Australians that we can no longer merely rely on the Americans to defend us. In a statement made in Canberra after his arrival to take pan in a naval seminar, he warned that the U.S. no longer had enough military strength to back the ANZUS treaty. The admiral confessed that he was 'quite worried ' for our future.

The editorial goes on:

He is, of course, only telling us what our own senior military officers and specialist observers have been setting out in detail for years. But Admiral Zumwalt has been privy to all the coldest, hardest strategic decisions taken in the highest U.S. politico-military councils for years, and his injunction to far greater Australian self-reliance is serious ground for urgent action.

I think that those comments by Zumwalt do warrant serious consideration by this Parliament, and certainly by the Government. A more recent statement, which I think has been of great concern, was one in an interview in the Australian newspaper by Mr Nick Parkinson, who is currently the Australian Ambassador to Washington. Mr Parkinson, of course, had been the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs prior to that appointment to Washington. In that interview, when the question was asked concerning ANZUS, Mr Parkinson said:

After all, when it comes down to the sixty-four dollar question, the big crunch-if the balloon went up, the question must be whether the Americans would honour ANZUS.

I drew that statement to the attention of the Minister in this chamber representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. He subsequently received a reply from the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister said in that reply:

I do not place the same interpretation on the Ambassador's remarks, as does Senator Wriedt, and reiterate the view that the Ambassador is not challenging the value of ANZUS.

Of course, I do not think that anybody has been challenging the value of ANZUS. We are not concerned about that. What we are concerned about is why one of the most senior diplomats representing this country, and of all places, in Washington, should be prepared to go on public record calling into question the commitment of the United States to that agreement. I hope, and I imagine that everybody else hopes, that Mr Parkinson's interpretation was an incorrect one. But in view of the fact that it was said, I assume that the Government would explain why it was that a man in Mr Parkinson's position would make that statement.

The Prime Minister went on that there was not the slightest doubt in Australia's mind about the commitments under the agreement, either way, by Australia or the United States. He did make a statement recently which did in fact express some doubts in his own mind, or certainly it was not expressed in the very firm way that that answer was given to me. But it does not alter the view that what we are seeking- I believe we are seeking justifiably- is for the Government to be quite clear and to let this Parliament know precisely where we do stand and at least to offer an explanation to the Parliament of the things which are said by people whose views cannot be disregarded. I refer to people like Zumwalt and Parkinson. These are men who have had many years involvement in the very highest places in their relationship between this country and the United States. If they make statements like that, there should be some explanation as to why they make them. Those statements have not been forthcoming, but they could have been forthcoming, had the answers been given in this Parliament when the questions were asked. It is for that reason that this debate has been launched today.

In closing, I hope this debate will not become a slanging match about whether one side or the other side believes in the value of ANZUS. I hope that from the very outset- I established, certainly in relation to those parties which have written platforms- that it is quite clear that all three parties have very similar sentiments concerning the ANZUS agreement. Senator Chipp can speak for the Australian Democrats, but I would assume that he feels much the same as we do. We are concerned that no confidence in the agreement is lost amongst the Australian people. Once that confidence begins to be eroded- this view is very similar to the view expressed by the Prime Minister on 1 June when he used very similar words, saying that the agreement should not be eroded- it is up to the Government to make sure that our understanding of United States policy is clear and that the relationship between this Government and the United States in respect of that Treaty is clearly spelled out.

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