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Wednesday, 21 September 1983
Page: 1075


Mr BALDWIN —I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether he has seen a report appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald of 19 September of United States President Ronald Reagan's weekly radio address in which he is reported to have said:

The key lesson of the Korean airliner incident was that the United States must continue its military buildup and prepare for a long ideological struggle with the Soviet Union.

Does the Australian Government agree with this assessment?


Mr HAYDEN —I have not seen the report referred to by the honourable member. However, in general terms we view with some apprehension the continuing build-up of tension between the two super powers. Incidents in recent times which were cause for unanimous expressions of concern and condemnation in this Parliament have obviously added to that environment of tension. We were impressed by the measured and restrained way in which the President of the United States of America responded to that situation. More generally, this Government is concerned about the implications of the arms race, both conventional and nuclear .

As I have outlined in this place and elsewhere on previous occasions and therefore need not go into in detail again today, we have taken a number of initiatives, most particularly in appointing a full time Ambassador for Disarmament whose beneficial role is already quite evident. I hope soon to be able to announce the details of a peace research institute which we expect to have established at the Australian National University. At the forthcoming General Assembly of the United Nations I will make references, among other comments, to our concern on this matter.

There are sobering aspects to the staggering arms race with all of its destabilising implications which we witness today. On current estimates the world will spend around $700,000m on armaments this year alone. That is more than the entire income of 1,500 million people living in the 50 poorest countries. It would be more than enough to pay off the entire debt of the Third World, currently around $600,000m. It represents around 7 per cent of global output, or roughly the same proportion of global output produced by the 340 million people living in Latin America or the 1,300 million living in Africa and South Asia. The cost of a single modern fighter plane could pay for inoculation of three million children against major childhood diseases in developing countries. The cost of one nuclear submarine and its missiles could provide 100, 000 years of nursing care for old people.

As a more specific reference to the implications of the nuclear arms race, I point out that the total number of nuclear warheads in the world today may well exceed 50,000. The total strength of present nuclear arsenals seems likely to be equivalent to about one million Hiroshima bombs; that is, some 13,000 million tonnes of TNT, or more than three tonnes of TNT for every man, woman and child on earth. Each United States Trident nuclear submarine will carry the equivalent of 1,500 Hiroshima bombs-and the Hiroshima bomb alone was responsible for killing 65,000 people.


Mr Anthony —Do you support Reagan's statement or not?


Mr HAYDEN —I do not support the arms race if it is credible--


Mr Anthony —Do you support the statement, that is what he asked?


Mr HAYDEN —I do not support the arms race if it is an incitement to an escalation of this build-up. While the Leader of the National Party frequently disagrees with the Leader of the Opposition on contemporary matters, I do not know whether or not he is prepared to disagree with him on this matter as I know that he happens to agree with my views.


Mr Anthony —I asked you a question. Why don't you answer it? The Americans want to know.


Mr HAYDEN —Doug, I will go home and ask Dallas.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order. Obviously the Minister wants to go home. I call the Minister for Foreign Affairs.


Mr HAYDEN —Mr Speaker, I think that is too good a finish to spoil with further comment.