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Wednesday, 2 October 1974
Page: 1583

Senator SIM (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister's address to the United Nations in which he is reported to have described the international situation in such pessimistic terms as 'a drift away from international order', 'a sense of events out of control' and 'a nightmare world'. As the Government's previous assessment was of growing stability in the world and a no-threat situation for ten or fifteen years, will the Government now revise Australia's defence policy in line with the Prime Minister's new assessment of the world situation?

Senator MURPHY - I think it is very clear that the assessments about Australia's position, as I recall them, made by various Ministers for Foreign Affairs in previous governments, as well as in our Government, were that there was no threat to Australia in the next ten to fifteen years. I think everyone agrees that we are in an area now of stability. I think it is fair to say that because of the policy which has been pursued with our immediate neighbours by all recent governments in Australia and which has had the support of all political parties, Australia has good relations with her neighbours. But I think the Prime Minister in his speech at the United Nations was referring to the whole world scene.

It is well known that what is happening in the Middle East has created an explosive situation. There are other areas of the world where, unfortunately, people still resort to violence rather than to negotiation and settlement of differences. Those situations do not constitute any threat of the kind which was being referred to by those assessing Australia's situation. The honourable senator might say that if a world-wide nuclear conflict broke out, surely Australia would be affected. That is common sense. But it is also common sense that there would be nothing that Australia could do about it. If there were a total nuclear conflict we would be wiped out, as would anyone else. Irrespective of how much we spent on our armaments- if we were to spend ten times as much- we could have no effect on the outcome of that conflict.

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