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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2608


Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - I will not detain the Committee for long, although I believe that what I am to say is, if not in itself tremendously important, at least deals with the most important subject before this Parliament, namely, the security of the Australian people. I do not believe that this security can in the long run be differentiated entirely from the security of the other peoples of the world. We like to pretend that foreign affairs is no longer a matter of force. This unhappily is not true. Foreign affairs is now unhappily, as I have said before, a question of nuclear politics. This has been so since the end of the last War.

Let me rehearse to honourable members some considerations which were brought out recently by Sir Philip Baxter in an article in the Press. At the end of the last War, the United States had a nuclear monopoly. The United .States proposed to turn over that monopoly power to the United Nations. This would have meant that the United Nations would have had real force because it would have been able to impose on any recalcitrant nation the will of the whole. That proposal was rejected. Its rejection was due almost entirely to the machinations of the Soviet bloc which pretended to be affronted and to be in favour of nuclear disarmament but which actually achieved a position where the nuclear threat continued to hang over the world. That is still the position. Unhappily, it has been complicated by the advances of nuclear science.

In 1945 and 1946, the nuclear bomb- the fission bomb - was, I think, decisive in terms of power, but not decisive in terms of necessary annihilation. That situation changed when more than one country obtained the necessary nuclear know-how and completed the necessary nuclear preparations. It changed because the communist world, having rejected world disarmament for its own devious purposes, now held the balance of terror with the countries of the West. At the present moment nuclear arms are held by the United States, by Soviet Russia, in a small way by the United Kingdom and France, certainly by China and probably by other countries as well but those other countries have not yet revealed in full what they possess. We do not know the full extent of the possession of nuclear arms by those countries.

When, in the early 1950s, the fusion bomb superseded the old fission bomb, the power of the nuclear weapon became immensely extended. Furthermore, as knowledge became more disseminated and science found new ways of doing things, the power to make these bombs got into more and more hands. That will extend, if it has not already extended. I have named some countries. It is almost certain now that Israel has some kind of nuclear capacity. It is not quite certain; it is not officially verified. It is very likely that India either has that capacity or is very near to acquiring it. Others in that league include Japan, Germany, Italy, a number of South American countries and certainly Canada. That is not to say that all of those countries necessarily have nuclear weapons, but they have nuclear weapons within their short term grasp.

It is no good saying that they will not use those weapons or that we have nothing to fear. The bomb is proliferating. Nothing effective is being done to control that proliferation. The so called Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is a pure sham. If one is climbing, for example, there is one thing worse than having no rope; it is to have a rotten rope on which one places reliance. That is the position of the world today. I am in favour of watertight nuclear control. I believe that we should work towards it. But I am not in favour of the sham kind of control on which we are placing reliance at present. This is the most dangerous of all situations. Perhaps it will not eventuate into disaster in the course of the next year or even of the next decade. But it is clear that unless there is some kind of effective nuclear disarmament, we and the world are set for destruction.

What are we to do? Are we to just sit here and wring our hands as most of us have been doing? Will we move in the United Nations for something effective? Are we to reveal the kind of sham - the rotten rope - on which the world at present seems to depend? Would we not be carrying out our duties as members of the Australian Parliament and as members of one of the parliaments of mankind - as members of the parliament of mankind, if honourable members like to put it that way - and would we not be doing better if, in the United Nations and elsewhere, we were to reject this kind of sham nuclear disarmament as pure piffle, absolutely unreliable, and work as we should be working for something effective and secure?







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