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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 1505

Senator MAUNSELL (Queensland) - The Australian Country Party will support the foreshadowed amendment distributed by Senator Sim. It is very interesting to hear the speeches in this chamber tonight. When one boils it all down there is very little difference between what honourable senators are saying and thinking. We have to get to the nitty gritty of this and I think it is essential from this Parliament's point of view and from the Australian people's point of view that a settlement of the Middle East issue be brought about and maintained. I listened to Senator Wheeldon with a great deal of interest. I do not think that I have heard a speech from Senator Wheeldon in this chamber that was so even handed, particularly when he was in Opposition. It may be that that is an indication that the Government after 23 years in Opposition has finally realised that it now has the responsibility of conducting the foreign affairs of this nation and that it cannot make great statements designed to gain votes or which may have some ideological flavour to them. The Government has to get down to the nitty gritty and decide who is responsible for action and who is not. I believe that this is also the role that we in this Parliament should play.

This issue, which has been boiling for a long time, is not a local issue but we very nearly came to a third world conflict over it. After all, when there is one super power increasing its support for one nation on one side and another super power increasing its support for a nation on the other side, unless something drastic happens, we could be in a situation where we could not stop a conflict and then we would all be involved. It is all very well to believe that the United Nations is the be-all and end-all in keeping world peace. I heard Senator Wheeldon say: 'Well, OK, Israel was created by the United Nations so therefore it should obey everything that the United Nations asks of it'. But history has proved that while the United Nations might take pious views on certain things and insist on certain things it does not have the power to carry out these views. The United Nations has no control over issues in which the super powers are involved. There is no doubt that the 2 super powers, and not the United Nations, decided whether or not the conflict in the Middle East would go on and whether that conflict would involve the rest of the world. I think that this point has to be recognised. If Israel had been dependent on the United Nations to decide the issue in this conflict, that country could have been wiped out. We have to realise that this is the situation.

I agree with statements that were made in the Senate this afternoon and this evening that we must ensure that among the nations of the world Israel is recognised as a nation within the Middle East. We have to convince the other states in the Middle East that Israel is part of that region. We have to ensure that once the boundaries have been decided they will be maintained, notwithstanding the threat that arises from time to time of aggression from either side. I say still that it is the super powers who in the long term will be in the box seat to decide what will happen. It is not much good the United Nations deciding where the boundaries will be when one side or the other is being armed by an outside super power. It is quite obvious that when this happens the other side will take action to protect itself. This is why I believe that the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Sim gives Australia the opportunity to set the seal for some peace in the future. I do not think that much good will be done by pointing to who is at fault in this conflict, who was at fault last year or who was at fault the year before that. I do not believe that we will do much good by asserting that certain groups from either side are conducting guerrilla tactics and so on. Our role is to ensure that Israel is recognised as a state within the Middle East area. We have to ensure that all other states in this area recognise it also. We should make every endeavour to ensure that once boundaries are decided on they will be maintained.

In view of what has been said in the Senate tonight on this subject I see no reason why I should continue my remarks at great length. I believe that this Government has a role to play on behalf of the Australian people. It has a duty to put our point of view. It is all very well to condemn the Soviet Union and the United States of America in this conflict. The fact is that it was the Arab states that made the first move and it was the Soviet Union that assisted the Arab states before the United States came in. If the Government is to be consistent in its attitude towards aggression and its belief that there should be peace in the world, it should forget its outside allegiances and state clearly that it will oppose those who condone and support aggression. The Government should lay this attitude clearly on the line. I support the foreshadowed amendment to be moved by Senator Sim.

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