31st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden) took the chair at 2. 1 5 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the House of the deaths since the House last met of the Honourable J. A. Guy and Sir Winton Turnbull, C.B.E., former members of this House, and former Senator S. K. Amour. The Honourable James Allan Guy died on 16 December 1979. He represented the division of Bass from 1929 to 1934 and the division of Wilmot from 1940 to 1946, and represented the State of Tasmania in the Senate from 1949 to 1956. Sir Winton Turnbull died on 14 January 1980. He represented the division of Wimmera from 1946 to 1949 and the division of Mallee from 1949 to 1972. Stanley Kerin Amour died on 29 November 1979. He represented the State of New South Wales in the Senate from 1938 to 1965. As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased, I invite honourable members to rise in their places.
Honourable members having stood in their places;
– I thank the House.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the National Women’s Advisory Council has not been democratically elected by the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is not representative of the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is a discriminatory and sexist imposition on Australian women as Australian men do not have a National Men’s Advisory Council imposed on them.
Your petitioners therefore pray:
That the National Women’s Advisory Council be abolished to ensure that Australian women have equal opportunity with Australian men of having issues of concern to them considered, debated and voted on by their Parliamentary representative without intervention and interference by an unrepresentative ‘Advisory Council ‘.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Aldred, Mr Bourchier, Mr Braithwaite, Mr Bungey, Dr Cass, Mr Howe, Mr Roger Johnston, Mr Barry Jones, Mr Katter, Mr Lloyd, Mr Lynch, Mr Millar, Mr Peacock, Mr Shipton, Mr Simon and Mr Staley.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of the Australian Parliament assembled. The petition of certain citizens of NSW respectfully showeth:
Dismay at the reduction in the total expenditure on education proposed for 1 980 and in particular to Government Schools.
Government Schools bear the burden of these cuts, 1 1.2 per cent while non-Government schools will receive an increase of 3.4 per cent.
We call on the Government to again examine the proposals as set out in the guidelines for Education expenditure 1980 and to immediately restore and increase substantially in real terms the allocation of funds for education expenditure in 1 980 to Government schools.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Anthony, Mr Baume, Mr Dobie, Mr Ellicott, Mr Les Johnson, Mr Kerin, Mr Leo McLeay, Mr Morris, Mr Neil, Mr Ruddock, Mr Sainsbury and Mr Sinclair.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of the Australian Parliament assembled. The petition of certain citizens respectfully showeth:
Their support for and endorsement of the National Women ‘s Advisory Council. We call on the government to continue to maintain the National Women ‘s Advisory Council and increase Federal Government support for its activities.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Cohen, Mr Ellicott, Mr Howard, Mr James, Mr Lucock, Mr MacKellar, Mr Les McMahon, Mr Morris, Mr O’Keefe and Mr Ruddock.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That a grave threat to the life of refugees from the various States of Indo-China arises from the policies of the Government of Vietnam.
That, as a result of these policies, many thousands of refugees are fleeing their homes and risking starvation and drowning. Because of the failure of the rich nations of the world to provide more than token assistance, the resources of the nations of first refuge, especially Malaysia and Thailand, are being stretched beyond reasonable limits.
As a wealthy nation within the region most affected, Australia is able to play a major part in the rescue as well as resettlement of these refugees.
It should be possible for Australia to: establish and maintain on the Australian mainland basic transit camps for the housing and processing of 200,000 refugees each year; mobilise the Defence Force to search for, rescue and transport to Australia those refugees who have been able to leave the Indo-China States; accept the offer of those church groups which propose to resettle some thousands of refugees in Australia.
The adoption of such a humane policy would have marked effect on Australia ‘s standing within the region.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Burns, Dr Edwards, Mr Falconer, Mr Lloyd, Mr Les McMahon, Sir William McMahon, Mr Neil, Mr Simon and Mr Willis.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
There is a definite limit to the quantity of Australian mineral resources.
Accordingly our resources should be managed and developed under Australian ownership and control.
Publicly owned trading enterprises and corporations have been established and operated for the benefit of Australians since Federation.
The Commonwealth Banking Corporation, Trans Australia Airlines, Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation, Australian Wheat Board, were all designed to operate to the benefit of our Nation as a whole under public ownership.
The Fraser government ‘s irresponsible proposals to sell off our Nation’s interest in the Ranger Uranium Mine, the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, and to dispose of other successful statutory corporations such as Trans Australia Airlines, would be contrary to the Nation’s interests.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives will reject outright proposals of the Fraser government to sell the Ranger Uranium Mine, the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation and Trans Australia Airlines.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byDrBlewett.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
There is a limit to the capacity of Australia’s drug manufacturing industry in Australian hands.
Accordingly our resources should be managed and developed under Australian ownership and control.
Publicly owned trading enterprises and corporations have been established and operated for the benefit of Australians since Federation.
The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, Commonwealth Banking Corporation, Trans Australia Airlines, Qantas, Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation, Australian Wheat Board, were all designed to operate to the benefit of our Nation as a whole under public ownership.
The Fraser government ‘s irresponsible proposals to sell off our Nation’s interest in the Ranger Uranium Mine, the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, and to dispose of other successful statutory corporations such as Trans
Australia Airlines and the Fawnmac group of drug companies would be contrary to the Nation’s interests. Fawnmac still makes a profit of about half the proposed sale price in a year and cost the Australian government several times the proposed sale price. It provides the Pharmaceutical Benefits pricing negotiators within the Health Department with inside information on drug manufacturing costs and so prevents collusive monopolistic pricing by major transnational drug firms. It complements the resources of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories to make both Government owned drug firms more efficient and competitive by co-operation.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives will reject outright proposals of the Fraser government to sell the Ranger Uranium Mine, the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, Trans Australia Airlines and the Fawnmac group of companies.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Dawkins and Mr Les Johnson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
There is a definite limit to the quantity of Australia’s mineral resources.
Accordingly our resources should be managed and developed under Australian ownership and control.
Publicly owned trading enterprises and corporations have been established and operated for the benefit of Australians since Federation.
The Commonwealth Banking Corporation, Trans Australia- Airlines, Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation, Australian Wheat Board, were all designed to operate to the benefit of our Nation as a whole under public ownership.
The Fraser government’s irresponsible proposals to sell off our Nation’s interest in the Ranger Uranium Mine, the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, and to dispose of other successful statutory corporations such as Trans Australia Airlines, would be contrary to the Nation’s interests.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives will reject outright proposals of the Fraser government to sell the Ranger Uranium Mine, the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, Trans Australia Airlines, and other publicly owned enterprises.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hurford and Mr Morris.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That, as it is clear that unemployment is a long term problem in Australia the Government should extend to the unemployed the same assistance as is given to any other disadvantaged member of the community. There is an urgent need to alleviate the financial hardship and emotional stress that the unemployed are suffering.
Your petitioners therefore pray:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Ellicott, Mr Lucock, Mr Les McMahon and Mr Morris.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth.
That the anti-social activities of certain organisations, in the main purporting to be religious and under foreign control, are causing increasing mental, physical, financial and/or social distress to citizens throughout the Commonwealth of Australia.
Such adverse effects include drastic personality changes, alienation and severance from persons’ families and normal society, dispossession under undue influence of persons worldly assets, abandonment of socially useful occupations, or career education, mental disorientation, and a common requirement to surrender their labor with little or no pay working unduly long hours fund raising for the exclusive benefit of the organisations’ leaderships.
Furthermore, a disturbing number of our country’s youth have died prematurely in unsatisfactorily explained circumstances, or have become so mentally or physically debilitated following their involvement with the subject organisations, commonly but erroneously described as ‘religious’ cults.
All evidence points to the fact that the subject organisations are commercial enterprises which, for the purpose of evading tax and other normal business obligations, have falsely assumed the status of ‘religions’ in order to take advantage of the blanket protections provided by Section 1 16 of the Australian Constitution.
It is your Petitioners’ sincere belief that proliferation of such organisations without check with their personalitydisorientating and family divisive practices and effects, represents a serious threat to health, welfare, and peace of the whole community.
Notwithstanding the decision of the combined Australian Attorneys-General at their meeting of the 14th October, 1979, that no special action should be taken by Government/s to curb undesirable activities of religious cults and that such should be dealt with under existing laws, such laws as would provide protection against the aforementioned malpractices do not appear to exist.
For this reason the Government should proceed with all haste to investigate the widely alleged malpractices of the subject organisations which include the Hare Krishnas, The Unification Church, (Moonies), and such other groups as are the subject of complaints, preparatory to introducing appropriate legislation to curtail the said malpractices to ensure citizens ‘ continuing enjoyment of peace and harmony.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Aldred and Mr Roger Johnston.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the price of LPG in Victoria has risen by $80 per tonne since November 1978 as a result of Federal Government policy thereby causing hardship to country consumers using LPG for cooking, heating and hot water and to decentralized industries using LPG for industrial purposes.
Your petitioners therefore pray:-
that pending the establishment of a fair price in accordance with Clause 2 above and to provide some immediate relief to country consumers:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Ewen Cameron and Mr Lloyd.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth objection to the Metric system and request the Government to restore the Imperial system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Gillard and Mr Thomson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth their objection to the Federal Government’s policy in respect of the pricing of Liquefied Petroleum Gas which they register in the strongest possible terms. It appears to the Petitioners that the Government has sanctioned and encouraged the findings of the Prices Justification Tribunal that the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas should be fixed at export parity.
This has resulted in severe increases in the price of gas to domestic, commercial and industrial consumers which, if continued any further, will cause the closure of country gas works and denial of this essential form of fuel to many thousands of the citizens of Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will everpray. by Mr Anthony.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we the undersigned, having great concern at the way in which children are now being used in the production of pornography call upon the government to introduce immediate legislation:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House will protect all children and immediately prohibit pornographic child-abuse materials, publications or films.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Baume.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth that the construction of a uranium enrichment plant and the mining and processing of uranium in Queensland should not be proceeded with on the following grounds:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should take all possible steps to abandon or postpone indefinitely the mining processing and enrichment of uranium in Queensland.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMr Braithwaite.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
The Kelmscott Pony Club (Inc.) uses grounds leased from the Commonwealth Government.
The Commonwealth Government has decided to sell this property for development via public tender. Any successful tenderer(s) to take possession on 1 8th January, 1 980.
From this date the Kelmscott Pony Club (Inc.) will be without ground facilities, and hence cease to function.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should:
Arrange for the Department of Administrative Services to postpone the sale of this property until such time that suitable alternative grounds become available for Kelmscott Pony Club (Inc.) use.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bungey.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of the State of Western Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) Act 1 977 should immediately be repealed because:
It provides unfettered power to Ministers to suspend, stand-down and dismiss Commonwealth Government employees and places them in a markedly disadvantageous position as compared with all other Australian workers.
Its use places Commonwealth Government employees in direct conflict with the Government as it circumvents the arbitration tribunals and denies appeal rights.
Its use will exacerbate industrial disputes and inflame industrial relations in the Commonwealth area of employment.
The International Labour Organisation has condemed the Provisions of the Act as being incompatible with the rights of organised labour in a free society.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Drummond.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of Parliament assembled in the House of Representatives, Canberra the humble petition of the undersigned members or organisations listed below and citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the thorough nationwide investigations by the Working Party highlighted the need to establish the National Women ‘s Advisory Council.
That we believe the Council consistently and democratically demonstrates its wide representation of the interests of all Australian women, as shown by the Draft Plan of Action for the 1980 National Conference to be held in Canberra in preparation for Australia’s participation in the United Nations Decade for Women World Conference in Denmark, July 1980.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:
That the Parliament will continue its support of the National Women’s Advisory Council and its recommendations.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Falconer.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
Whereas before Europeans settled in Australia, the Aboriginal peoples of Australia have lived on their traditional lands from time immemorial and had in Aboriginal law and customs a clear title to those lands; and whereas Europeans and other non-Aboriginal people have occupied and used most of the traditionallands of the Aboriginal peoples against their will and without negotiation, compensation or treaty; and whereas it has been the practice of nations established in territories previously occupied by indigenous inhabitants to reach a negotiated settlement with those inhabitants; and whereas that occupation has seriously damaged the traditional way of life of Aboriginal Australians and has caused poverty and hardship to be the fate of the great majority of their surviving descendants; and whereas the surviving descendants of the Aboriginal peoples have expressed a wish to have their rights to land acknowledged, to preserve their link with their Aboriginal ancestors and to maintain their distinctive identity with its own cultural heritage; and whereas the people of Australia in 1 967 voted overwhelmingly that the Commonwealth Parliament should have responsibility for laws relating to Aboriginal Australians; and whereas the National Aboriginal Conference unanimously resolved in April 1979 in Canberra to ask the Commonwealth Government to negotiate a Treaty with Aboriginal Australians. whereas it is accepted internationally by the United Nations organisation, that each country should work to establish the rights of indigenous peoples to selfdetermination, non-discrimination and the enjoyment of their own culture; and whereas the Woodward Commission in 1974 established principles by which Aboriginal rights to land should be acknowledged and realised; and whereas the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament in February 1975 resolved that Aboriginal Australians should be compensated for the loss of their traditional lands and for the damage to their way of life; and
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government should invite the Aboriginal people of Australia to negotiate a Treaty with the Commonwealth of Australia, and any Treaty should contain provisions relating to the following matters: (i) The protection of Aboriginal identity, languages, law and culture, (ii) The recognition and restoration of rights to land by applying, throughout Australia, the recommendations of the Woodward Commission, (iii) The conditions governing mining and exploitation of other resources on Aboriginal land, (iv) Compensation to Aboriginal Australians for the loss of traditional lands and for damage to those lands and to their traditional way of life, (v) The right of Aboriginal Australians to control their own affairs and to establish their own associations for this purpose.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Holding.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petitioners of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That in the interest of Amateur Sport we deplore the proposed boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games to be held in Moscow. We believe that such a boycott would be prejudicial to Amateur Sport not only in Australia but throughout the world.
Your petitioners humbly pray that your Honourable House will take steps to protect the autonomy of Australian sportsmen and women and respect their right as citizens of our democratic society to compete in the Moscow Olympics should they wish.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Jacobi.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of Australia in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of Certain Citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
Concern at the Federal Governments decision to cut back on the amount of money needed to allow New South Wales Hospitals to continue to expand. With the CommonwealthState Hospitals costs sharing agreement being disbanded, this will result in No Growth in New South Wales. The $28m cut, is resulting in rationalisation of medical services in our State.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your Australian Government request the Minister for Health, to again examine the $28m cut back, and to allow the New South Wales Hospital services to expand.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That there has been an escalation of foreign ownership and control of Australian industries and resources to the detriment of the national interest. We view with deep concern that (i) over 55 per cent of the profits of all companies in Australia is payable overseas, (ii) that the Foreign Investment Review Board in the last 3 years has passed over 3,500 applications for the takeover of Australian companies and has rejected less than 25, (iii) that proposals for an effective resource tax on super profits made by foreign companies in Australia has been dropped, (iv) that foreign investment guidelines have been changed to favour foreign companies ahead of Australian owned companies for new ventures and takeover bids.
Your petitioners humbly pray that the Australian Government reverses policies which place Australian resources, particularly Australia ‘s mineral energy resources, under foreign ownership and control.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
To the Honourable, the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that there be no extension of Kingsford-Smith Airport, Sydney.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les McMahon.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That because television and radio:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:
That the Australian Government will amend the Broadcasting and Television Act, in relation to both national and commercial broadcasters, to legislate:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Sinclair.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we oppose the increase in marine radio licence fees for the following reasons:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the government will reconsider the increased licence fee and also consider a reduction for pensioners.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Staley.
– I inform the House of recommendations that I made to His Excellency the Governor-General involving changes in ministerial arrangements on 7 December last year and I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the full details of the current Ministry.
The details read as follows-
– I also inform honourable members that the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Groom) leaves Australia today to attend a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers in New Zealand. The Minister for Administrative Services (Mr John McLeay) will act as Minister for Housing and Construction until Mr Groom’s return on the 23rd.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That this House-
1 ) views with grave concern the continuing suppression by the Government of the USSR of those of its citizens daring to claim the right to free political speech;
specifically deplores the action of the Soviet Government in silencing by internal banishment the voice of the most prominent and respected such dissident, Andrei Sakharov;
condemns such action as a clear violation of the spirit and substance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Helsinki Accords, to all of which the USSR is a party; and
believes that such action is a clear breach of those indispensable minimum standards of behaviour necessary for membership of the international community of civilised nations, and
requests the Government to transmit this resolution to the Government of the USSR.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That this House-
noting that on 8 December 1935, following protest throughout the United States for a boycott, the American Athletics Union decided by the narrow margin of only 2Vi votes to support the 1936 Nazi Olympics;
being aware that this support was utilised by Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich to justify their expansionism, stifle opposition and to support their National Socialist Policies;
being further aware that having obtained the Games Germany was encouraged to invade the Rhineland with impunity between the Winter and the Summer Olympics, requests the Parliament to do all in its power to make all Australians aware of the danger of repeating such follies of history.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That this House, expressing its concern at the evidence available which establishes the extent of pathogenic effects following exposure of servicemen in Vietnam to agent orange and other defoliants, calls for:
1 ) A review by the Administrative Review Council of all aspects of the administrative advice tendered to the Ministers for Veterans’ Affairs, Defence and Health on this subject;
A clear and unequivocal assurance from the Government that servicemen thus affected will be fully compensated and that this compensation will include their wives and children; and
An independent judicial inquiry be conducted which shall ascertain-
the extent and range of disabilities incurred by Vietnam veterans and their dependants, and
the effects of the continued use of these defoliants within Australia.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That this House resolves to support to the utmost the actions taken by the Australian Government against the Soviet Union in response to the Soviet Union’s brutal invasion of Afghanistan; further that this House places on record its deep regret at the weak, apathetic and vacillating response of the Australian Labor Party to the invasion by the Soviet Union of Afghanistan; and further that this House is of the view that through its actions the Soviet Union has demonstrated that Moscow is totally unfit to host the 1980 Olympic Games and that under no circumstances should any team representing Australia participate in any Olympic Games held anywhere within the Soviet Union.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the Government’s statement that trade embargoes against the Soviets would be ineffective if other countries supplied the sorts of commodities that Australia sells to the Soviets, will he adopt the same consistency of principle towards the Olympic Games, namely, that if the vast majority of countries participate it would be pointless Australia not participating? If not, will he explain the inconsistency in the application of principle and, especially, why the Government has sought to discriminate against amateur athletes and in favour of professional business?
-The honourable gentleman has misunderstood some of the things that have occurred.
Honourable members interjecting;
-Order! At the commencement of this session I ask honourable gentlemen to maintain silence while any Minister is on his feet answering a question. Only by listening to his answer will the House be able to make a judgment as to the quality of the answer and the people of Australia be able to hear it.
-The honourable gentleman has misconstrued some of the things that have occurred. The Government has taken very firm action over a number of areas, not least over the Olympic Games. It has taken action over scientific and cultural exchanges- these have ceased; over fisheries arrangements- these have ceased; and over grain embargoes, which remain very effectively in place. I think that the answer to the Leader of the Opposition’s question lies partly in what he has said and in what the Soviet leadership has said in Moscow. The Leader of the Opposition himself has said:
An effective boycott of the Moscow Olympics undoubtedly would be a major psychological weapon employed against the Soviet Union.
That being so, and accepting- as I would expect from the Leader of the Opposition unless he wishes to contradict me- that he does deplore the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and condemns the human tragedy that comes as a result of that -
– Tell us more about East Timor and your Government ‘s stand.
-Order! The honourable member for Newcastle will remain silent. His voice is easily heard. I ask him to cease interjecting.
-The Leader of the Opposition having that view, I would have thought that he would have wanted to work for that effective boycott because condemning, as I assume he does, the invasion of Afghanistan and regarding that as a significant and dangerous event, he would surely want to make sure that the Soviet Union got the message from Australia and from every other country. But he has shown very plainly, by his changes of view in relation to it, that he is not prepared to work for that effective boycott of the Moscow Olympics. I believe that that is all the more unfortunate against the background that the Soviet Union itself has made it perfectly plain that it regards the holding of the Olympic Games in Moscow as a significant political event- a political event above and before a sporting event. The Soviet Union itself has said in a Communist Party document sent to Communist Party activists throughout the Soviet Union- on our information, to a million of them- that the awarding of the Olympic Games to Moscow represents a mark of the correctness, in its terms- approval, in our terms- of Soviet foreign policy. Against that background, how can we have a situation in which athletes from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries go to Moscow and give the Russian people and the Russian Government that mark of approval to an act which basically we abhor?
– You are prepared to take money off them yourself. There is nothing dirty about money.
-Order! The honourable member for Corio will remain silent or I will have to deal with him.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy aware of considerable concern among consumers and potential consumers of liquefied petroleum gas for automotive purposes and among firms involved in converting vehicles to LPG use about the recent large increases in the price of LPG? Is the Government still keen to encourage motorists to substitute LPG for petroleum as a fuel? Does this price increase still leave sufficient difference in price between LPG and petrol to provide an incentive for conversion? If so, will the Government ensure that extensive promotional publicity is given to this fact and to the other advantages of LPG as a fuel so that interest in conversion will be maintained?
-The Government is certainly interested in seeing people use alternative types of fuel in motor cars and in other uses to conserve our very valuable resources of petroleum. I will certainly take note of and refer to the Minister the honourable member’s idea that there ought to be more publicity. The Government has been concerned, as was demonstrated in the Budget when we took off the tax which applied to kits for conversion of cars to LPG. There has been a marked increase in the price of LPG as a result of the Prices Justification Tribunal investigation of the break-up of fuels which come from refineries. I am told that the margin at the moment between the cost of petrol and the cost of LPG is 13c to 15c a litre. So there is still a major incentive for people to use LPG and certainly it is the Government’s intention to give as much encouragement as possible.
-I direct a question to the Prime Minister. I refer to the honourable gentleman’s statement that the crisis in Afghanistan could cause war in three days ‘ time. I also refer to the fact that President Carter has introduced draft proposals for the American people. Has the Government any proposals for compulsory military training? If so, what are the criteria that are to be used in Australia?
– I think that, if the honourable gentleman wishes to know the proposals we have in relation to defence, in broad terms that should wait until a little later this afternoon when I will make some remarks and there will be a more detailed briefing from the Minister for Defence. In case there are people listening in who might be concerned, I point out that a draft is not part of those proposals. In case my silence on the subject gives it a credibility that it ought not to have, I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would like to know that that phrase is an illustrative one which indicates quite plainly that we do not know what the Soviet Union will do next or when it will do it.
– Is the Foreign Minister concerned at the apparent deterioration in the Rhodesian ceasefire over recent days? Is he still confident that the election will proceed next week? Is he concerned for the safety of the Australian troops and civilians now serving in Rhodesia? If so, what contingency plans have been made for their evacuation if the need arises?
-The Government is concerned at reports of intimidation and other forms of violence by various parties in Rhodesia. We have called on all parties to abide by the provisions of the Lancaster House agreement and to permit the people of Rhodesia to exercise their democratic right to elect a government of their choice free from threats and pressures. There is clearly concern though, because of the increasing evidence that is being put forward. The Government has noted that the British authorities in Rhodesia are determined that the elections scheduled for 27 to 29 February should proceed. We believe that the great achievements of the British authorities will soon include the holding of Rhodesia’s first genuinely democratic elections from which will emerge a government that will be widely internationally recognised. We are very conscious of the responsibilities that we have for the safety of the Australian contingent in the ceasefire monitoring force, the members of the Australian liaison office in Salisbury and, of course, those persons who, on the Government’s behalf and on the Parliament’s behalf, are in Rhodesia to observe and report on the forthcoming election.
When decisions were made to send these various groups of people to Rhodesia the Government looked very closely at the security situation then obtaining in the country, and of course the assessments then available of any likely changes in the security situation. The Government is well aware, as a government, of current tensions and the possibility that these will increase during or after the elections. In co-operation with the British, who are administering Rhodesia, measures have been developed for providing for the security of all those Australian personnel in Rhodesia in the event of any emergency. These measures include provision for personnel to be withdrawn from any area of particular danger as well as an overall withdrawal from Rhodesia should the situation deteriorate- we hope that it will not deteriorate- to such an extent that this becomes necessary. All these measures are naturally under constant review to ensure that any changes in the situation are adequately taken into account. I can assure the House that the best possible provisions are being made to ensure the safety of Australian personnel in the event of any emergency.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that 24 of the 26 international sporting federations have stated that they will not support a boycott of the Olympic Games in Moscow and that they will not sanction any rival games to the Olympics? Is he also aware that the general assembly of international federations has stated that it will not accede to an alternative games to the Olympics? Does he realise that, if the alternative international games he is advocating do proceed, all those who participate may be suspended from further international competition?
– The position at the moment is that the Australian Government, with the information it has, believes that there will emerge, and will be, an effective boycott of the Games in Moscow. Over 30 nations in this world have already indicated that they would support such a boycott. The Government would expect that in that event the Olympic committees in those countries would fall behind the governments in those countries. I can assure the honourable member that if that occurred the Australian Government would certainly expect that the Australian Olympic Committee would fall well and truly behind the Government. May I say that at the meeting we had last week the Olympic Federation representatives listened very attentively to what the Prime Minister had to say to them and they will obviously give very serious consideration to what the Government has decided.
I also remind honourable members of an important matter; that is, that in a country such as Australia there is only one body that can decide matters relating to international affairs, and that is the Federal Government. It is the Federal Government’s duty and responsibility to make a decision on matters affecting Australia’s security and international relations. If the Government makes such a decision it would expect everybody in the country to give it the attention it well deserves. I am quite sure that the members of the Olympic Federation will do just that.
-Is the Minister for Health aware that the world famous obstetrician, Dr William McBride, who first warned the world about the drug thalidomide and its tragic effects, has disclosed that at least 80 children in Australia have been born with deformities following the mothers’ use of the drug debendox during pregnancy? If the Minister is aware of this fact, will he tell the House what action, if any, has been taken by his Department?
– I am aware that Dr McBride has made claims regarding a number of children who have been born in Australia with deformities following the mothers’ use of the drug debendox during pregnancy. I am not aware that the figure is as high as 80 as the honourable member has stated. The only reports which my Department has received since 1974 are contained in a letter received from Dr McBride which was dated 7 November last year. In that letter Dr McBride refers to a survey of children with reduction deformities in which 1 9 mothers claimed to have taken the drug debendox during the pregnancy. Reference was made also in that letter to one further case reported to Dr McBride by a mother. Dr McBride was immediately asked to provide full detail of the survey to which he referred and this was followed up by a further letter to Dr McBride dated 8 January this year. Unfortunately, to date we have not received a response to this request.
As an alternative, a further letter has recently been sent to Dr McBride inviting him to attend the next meeting of the Congenital Abnormalities Sub-committee of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee. That meeting will be held on 14 March next. We hope that Dr McBride will attend that meeting and present details of the survey to which he has referred. The Congenital Abnormalities Sub-committee has continued to review the published literature on this subject and, so far as it can evaluate, the frequency of birth defects in the children of mothers who have taken debendox during pregnancy has not been demonstrated to exceed that in mothers who did not take debendox. The Australian Drug Evaluation Committee is of the view that it is not possible to state that any drug is absolutely free of risk to a patient or to an unborn child. On the other hand, of course, severe or prolonged vomiting in pregnancy carries its own risk to the mother and to the unborn child. In appropriate cases debendox has proved to be a very useful drug. Therefore, the advice that applies to other drugs during pregnancy applies to debendox. No drug should be taken during pregnancy unless needed and then only on the advice and on the prescription of the attending doctor.
– I refer the Prime Minister to the fact that the Government’s imposition of an export embargo has prevented the sale of 25,000 tonnes of New South Wales yellow maize to the Soviet Union. I ask the Prime Minister: Is he aware that the price offered for this sale by the Soviet Union was $ 1 32 a tonne? Is he aware that the price now being offered on the international market for the same maize is as low as $96 a tonne? Will the Prime Minister indicate how the Government proposes to compensate the maize producers of New South Wales for this loss of $lm in income through the Government’s decision to impose a trade embargo?
-The position that the Government has adopted on grain sales has been consistent with that taken by other countries throughout the world. I notified all the grain organisations throughout Australia of the Government’s position and put out a Press release for those organisations that may not have received direct notification.
– In how many languages did you put it out?
– I put it out in simple language which even the honourable member could understand. Just because he has been demoted, he does not have to climb back here today.
The situation is that representatives of the New South Wales Yellow Maize Marketing Board have been to see me about the prospect of selling 25,000 tonnes of grain to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I pointed out to the Board that the proposed sale was inconsistent with the Government’s position in that the first sign of negotiation came after President Carter’s statement. Indeed, there was no firm negotiation until the Prime Minister’s statement was made. I said that it would be totally wrong for me to approve the sale against the background of our agreement not to fill the vacuum created by President Carter’s decision. In terms of any loss that may occur to the Yellow Maize Marketing Board, I said to the Board that it would be opportune for it to make other arrangements for sale and, if it then believed that a market opportunity had been denied to it or that in fact there was a financial loss through the sale and it thought it could prove that fact, it could come to the Government and I would be prepared to take that matter to the Government. That is the position that obtains.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Resources aware of claims that the eight-year contract negotiated by the Utah Development Company for the sale of Norwich Park coal is at a price that will depress the coal market? Has the Minister approved this contract? Is it likely to depress the market for other producers?
– I am aware that there has been some criticism of the Utah Development Company’s contract of sale for coal from Norwich Park. I am afraid that that criticism is illinformed. What happened was that Utah came along with a new contract, a long term contract which represented a departure from the normal terms and conditions of sales to Japan. As a result I asked my Department to conduct a survey of the industry and ascertain its reaction. Those in the industry who are developing new mines see virtue in long term contracts. I therefore brought down certain criteria that should apply to long term contracts and those criteria now apply to the Utah sale. The criteria are that there be normal escalation clauses for increases in costs and that there also be provision for review or renegotiation of the contract should at any time the price get out of line with what we might term ‘fair and reasonable international prices’. The Utah contract conforms with those criteria. I believe that there is some virtue in long term contracts, provided they do not undermine the present pricing structure.
– I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether he recalls saying on 8 January this year:
I am not moved by the suggestion that the Olympic Games should be boycotted . . . I am not sure the USSR would suffer from a boycott.
I ask whether he recalls saying on 2 1 January:
Boycotting the games is clearly the greatest rebuff one could serve to Russia.
Specifically, what caused this remarkable conversion within 13 days? Which of the two statements was his considered judgment and which was the one imposed upon him by the Prime Minister? Has he any regrets about such a remarkable, self-humiliating about-face?
– I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. When the first statement was made I genuinely felt that there was a deep consciousness and desire on the part of people to participate in the Olympic Games. As I have said time and again, it became more and more obvious, with the recalcitrance of the Soviet Union and particularly with the publication of the material that came to our notice as to how that nation regarded the Olympic Games as one arm of its propagandising, that one could not do anything but support a boycott of the Olympic Games. I have made that point perfectly clear time and again. The question is essentially answered. Wherever I went in South East Asia and in the sub-continent, when asked that question I indicated quite clearly what the attitude of the Government was and what my attitude was.
Because I was asked the question by the honourable member for Blaxland I think it is legitimate for me to refer to a remark of his which is related to this very question. I think it is probably the most disgraceful contribution yet to come from honourable members on the other side. He used words which are irresistibly ones which recall those of Neville Chamberlain’s description of the nazi attack on Czechoslovakia. Honourable members will recall those words. I will quote them. Chamberlain referred to the attack on Czechoslovakia as:
A quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing.
The honourable member for Blaxland has said of the Afghanistan crisis:
It is so far away from our area of interest and Australia is not threatened so we should leave it to the big powers.
For good measure he added:
After all, who would want Pakistan?
Coming, as it does, from the shadow Minister for Minerals and Energy and bearing in mind the fact that Afghanistan- forgetting the humanitarian element for the moment and considering just the element for which he is responsible, namely, minerals and energy- is situated next to the major source of oil in the world, one is as shocked by the mindlessness of his remark as one is appalled by its callousness.
-Can the Minister for Transport indicate what action he and the Federal Government are taking to give Western Australians lower air fares to the eastern States?
– We are going to have a transportled recovery.
– I hope the honourable member for Port Adelaide is not suggesting that I have gone from the crutches to the wheel. The Government is very concerned about the inequitable situation that exists insofar as long distance air travellers are concerned, meaning those who travel between Western Australia and the eastern States and between the Northern Territory and the eastern States. I have had a number of representations from Federal members and senators on the issue. I have also had repeated representations from the Western Australian Minister for Transport. Only a week or two ago I met with a number of Western Australian members of the Parliament. They sought a public inquiry or an independent inquiry into the air fare structure in Australia. Currently an inquiry is taking place at the departmental level. I did give an undertaking that when the Prime Minister returned I would discuss the matter with him. We have had a discussion on the issue and I will be preparing a paper. The Government will be considering the nature of any future inquiry in due course.
I think that the House needs to know that, in spite of the fact that there is still an element of inequity in the fare structure, the lowest fares available today to Western Australians are 10 per cent lower than they were in 1977. This is due to the great innovations that my predecessor encouraged the domestic carriers to introduce. We have advance purchase excursion fares, super-APEX fares and a number of other fares that are of great value. I give some credit to the airlines for their initiative in undertaking to provide a cheaper fare for the night flights out of Perth and Darwin- only one way- at a 20 per cent reduction.
– At night!
– The honourable member for Moore said ‘At night’, but it is a step in the right direction because clearly the airlines are recognising that there is a need to reduce those long haul fares. Recently I approved a fare increase as a result of fuel price increases. Travellers to and from Western Australia and the Northern Territory will have to meet a 1.7 per cent increase as against an 8 per cent average increase on all trunk routes throughout Australia. That will benefit the Sydney-Perth travellers, the HobartPerth travellers and so on. So progress has been made, but certainly we will be considering the concept of an alternative type of inquiry into the problem.
Mr Armitage proceeding to address a question to the Prime Minister-
-Order! The honourable member for Chifley will resume his seat. As I hear the question it is out of order. The Prime Minister is not answerable to the Parliament for that matter, as a public matter.
- Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. This question goes to the very heart of motivation on the part of the Prime Minister. It has been perplexing the community that such an uneven standard has been applied by the Government in relation to embargoes. Amateur athletes are discriminated against completely. Wealthy wool growers, beef producers who sell hides to the Polish Government for the manufacture of shoes which the Russian Army uses -
-Order! The honourable gentleman is not making a point of order. He will resume his seat. He is not now making a point of order. He is now arguing an issue. I cannot permit argument on the issue in relation to a point of order. I have ruled the question out of order because it inquires of a Minister in relation to a matter for which he is not answerable to this House, it not being a public matter. If the honourable gentleman wishes to argue that point I will hear him, but not otherwise.
-Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. Where a matter of public administration is involved and a Minister has a personal interest, surely it is a matter for record and questioning in this Parliament if that Minister’s personal interest can in any way impinge on his judgment or on the background against which a judgment may be made.
-I can only interpret the Standing Orders as they are. The Standing Orders render a question out of order if it seeks an answer in relation to a matter for which the Minister is not answerable in the House.
- Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister has the right to answer the question if he so chooses, and if he is an honourable man he should answer the question.
-Order! The honourable member for Blaxland will withdraw the imputation.
– Withdraw the statement that the Prime Minister is an honourable man.
– I will withdraw that he is an honourable man.
-I warn the honourable member for Blaxland that if he does that I will deal with him.
- Mr Speaker, you are just a little sensitive. Frankly, there was no imputation. If you believe that there was an imputation I will withdraw it, but the Prime Minister should still answer the question.
-The honourable member for Blaxland will withdraw unqualifiedly the imputation that was contained in his remark.
– I just said that I would.
-The honourable gentleman will withdraw unqualifiedly.
-I withdraw unqualifiedly and I hope that you, Mr Speaker, will apply the Standing Orders rigorously to the other side today.
-The honourable member for Blaxland will withdraw the imputation against the Chair.
– For the purpose of Question Time -
-The honourable member will withdraw unqualifiedly.
– It is withdrawn unqualifiedly.
– As the member who asked the question- which I had not completed- I point out that the basis of the question was to ascertain the consistency of the public statements of the Prime Minister on the export of strategic materials. Had I been allowed to finish the question, this would have come out. Not only is wool involved, but also the hides being used for the boots of the troops marching into Afghanistan.
-The honourable member will resume his seat. If he had phrased his question correctly, perhaps it would have been allowed. I cannot be responsible for his authorship.
-The Minister for Health will be aware of the furore in Western Australia over the death of a Down’s syndrome child, Christopher Derkacz. Is the Minister aware that a large number of parents of handicapped children are still very worried that their children may not receive full resuscitation treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital? Is the Minister aware that those parents are not satisfied with the assurances of the Western Australian Government and the Princess Margaret Hospital that all patients are treated equally? Does the magnitude of the Commonwealth’s help to Princess Margaret Hospital entitle the Minister to ask the Western Australian Government to grant a full and open inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Christopher Derkacz?
– I am aware that there has been a great deal of interest in the case mentioned by the honourable member, and he has brought it up previously in this Parliament. The fact of the situation is that this case must be dealt with at a State level. The events surrounding the incident are open to investigation by the Western Australian State Government. It is not for me to instruct, advise or request any State government to undertake an inquiry of this nature. I have no doubt that the Western Australian Minister for Health is as aware as I am of the concern expressed in this case.
-I address my question to the Prime Minister and refer him to a statement by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Carrick, in October 1978 when he said:
Participation in the Games is strictly one for the Australian Olympic Federation.
I also refer the Prime Minister to a statement by a previous Government Leader in the Senate, Senator Withers, whom he may recall, in May 1978 when he said:
I believe the Government would be reluctant to interfere in decisions made by the Federation.
In view of the response by the Minister for Home Affairs to an earlier question today, I ask: Why is the Government now trying to intimidate the Australian Olympic Federation and why has it embarked on a campaign of coercing and harassing young athletes?
-For a good while the Government took the view that Australia would be much better served with a bipartisan policy in relation to international events and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I believe we had some right to expect that the Australian Labor Party would support the broad thrust of our policies, United States policies, British policies and European policies in relation to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. There were some signs earlier that the Leader of the Opposition was going to support that thrust because he uttered comments which made it perfectly plain that an effective boycott would be a very real psychological weapon against the Soviet Union, implying therefore that it ought to be used. At a later point, when he was asked about politics in sport he said, ‘We cannot depoliticise sport any more’, recognising therefore that in many countries, and especially in the Soviet Union, sport and politics are irretrievably mixed.
In those circumstances, why do we have members of the Australian Labor Party quite deliberately trying to take a point of view which would make these major matters of political contention in Australia? If they want to do that, let them do it. They will be destroyed at the polls as a result. This nation would be much better served if they could accept the measured and responsible views of this Government in the way we have responded in this matter. We will continue in that way, consistent with the views of the United States and Britain and many other countries around the world. I ask the Leader of the Opposition and those behind him to consider the path they are taking. They know that the path they are pursuing is irresponsible. They know that it is disruptive. They would have greater pleasure in seeking to undermine this Government, which they will not do, than in uttering a true and proper judgment of the Soviet Union. If that is the path they persist in taking, the Australian people will judge them accordingly.
-Does the Prime Minister recall a suggestion that I put to him last year that he should invite His Holiness Pope John Paul II to make an official visit to Australia at the earliest possible opportunity? Is the Prime Minister in a position to provide the House with any information on the proposed visit to Australia of the Pope?
– In the latter part of last year a written invitation was conveyed through the Apostolic Pronuncio to His Holiness. That invitation was followed up when my colleague the Minister for Industry and Commerce recently called upon His Holiness who expressed a very real and warm interest in visiting Australia. Quite obviously there are many pressures on His Holiness ‘s time and I am unable to say when we would be able to expect that visit.
-I refer the Prime Minister to the Government’s announced ban on continued access to Australian ports by Soviet cruise ships at the end of the current cruise season. Has the Prime Minister taken account of the effect that such a ban is likely to have on certain South Pacific neighbours who gain considerable income through the visits of these Soviet cruise ships? In view of the fact that the Australian ban may no longer make it possible for Soviet cruise ships to call at other South Pacific ports, what does the Government propose by way of compensation to the small South Pacific countries which may be seriously affected by Australia’s ban on these cruise vessels?
– The Government consulted and advised all the respective Pacific countries prior to announcing a decision on this matter. Generally the response from the countries concerned was one of approval of the decision that we had taken.
– What countries?
– I will not name them all because I do not have the list in front of me at present. The Government has no plans to extend any compensation whatsoever. It took a decision in this matter and made the necessary approaches to the States before it made the decision public.
– Can the Treasurer inform the House of the long term effect on the Australian economy of the recent record inflow of overseas capital? What effect will this inflow have on internal interest rates and what guarantees does Australia have that this money will be invested long term and will not be speculative short term money?
-I assume that the honourable member is referring to the capital inflow that occurred in tad month of January and which was in the order of $530m- a very large amount in terms of recent years. I should say to the honourable gentleman that one should never put too much reliance on one month’s figures, whether those figures be good, bad rr indifferent. I think the honourable member will be aware that over the last six months we have had good months and bad months as far as the private capital account is concerned. There is no doubt that there is a strengthened perception overseas about the strength of the Australian economy. The strength of the Australian dollar has been demonstrated time and time again. I have no doubt that the private capital inflow figures for January contained a large element of portfolio investment in Australian equities. As to giving guarantees about its long term use in Australia, I am not in a position to do so and I do not think any Treasurer is.
Clearly this money has been attracted by the strength and greater competitiveness of the Australian economy. Our inflation rate now is significantly below the average of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. Increasingly, Australia is a country in which it is safe, profitable and entirely worth while to invest. The level of interest rates is affected by a number of factors and the extent to which the private capital inflow increases domestic liquidity can have an effect on the level of interest rates. I make it clear to the honourable gentleman that, so far as our approach in that area is concerned, we intend to maintain the firmest possible stance on our monetary policy objectives. We do not intend to allow anything to subvert them.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of his firm policy of preventing grain sales to the Soviet Union beyond those committed under current contracts, will he state clearly whether this means that no new contracts beyond those existing for this year will be permitted with the Soviets? If so, will he give immediately a firm undertaking to compensate Australian wheat growers fully- some $350m- in respect of lost sales to the Soviets next season? Is it his intention to advise them not to plant? If the embargo is to stand for this year only, why is he adopting a short term policy in this area but imposing what will become effectively a permanent embargo for most of our Olympic athletes in the sense that they will have reached their peak performance by the time of the forthcoming Olympic Games, but by the time of the succeeding Olympic Games they will be competed out of selection because their performance will be below the top level?
-Clearly, the Leader of the Opposition does not know, or wants to misunderstand, what President Carter has put and the Australian Government has agreed to. In point of fact, the American wheat industry is still selling wheat to Russia under contract. The Australian Government’s position has been put in consistent terms to the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation and other grain growing organisations. That is, simply, that normal contracts will continue.
– Oh! So they can sell next year.
– That is the decision. It is consistent with the American position and with that of other grain growing countries throughout the world. The Leader of the Opposition would like to score political points on this issue but does not want to listen to the facts. The fact is that the Australian Government’s position on the matter is consistent with that of other grain growing countries throughout the world and meetings have been held in America to ensure that consistency.
– They are all humbugs.
– The honourable member for Robertson reminds me of the army that was marching down the street and when one soldier fell out of step his mother said: ‘My son is the only one in step’. That is just how the Australian Labor Party is. It is the only one in step. All of the grain growing countries of the world are out of step. Let the grain growers of Australia recognise that. I repeat that the Australian Government’s position in its support of President Carter’s request is consistent with that of the grain growing countries throughout the world. As to compensation, I have told the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation and other grain grower organisations that I would take to the Government any concern about compensation if they could prove that, as a result of President Carter’s action, a sale had been depleted. That is where the matter rests.
– I ask the Minister for Post and Telecommunications: In view of the fact that the Soviet Union intends to install some 400 transmitters of 500-kilowatt power in satellite countries, including probably Afghanistan- in Kabul- and possibly also Vietnam, will he tell us what progress has been made with the restoration of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s buildings and transmitters on Cox Peninsula in the Northern Territory?
– Some time ago the Government decided not only to repair facilities at Shepparton but ako to undertake major repairs to the facilities of Radio Australia on Cox Peninsula in the Northern Territory. Some $9.6m has been budgeted for this work with a view to full transmission being achieved by late 1982. That is, I am advised, the earliest possible date by which the work can be completed. I understand that some of these matters are before the Public Works Committee. I have not yet been advised of the stage reached in the Committee’s consideration but the Government has set aside these sums because it regards the Radio Australia broadcasts as a matter of great urgency and importance.
-I inform honourable members that Mr John Dearson, Manager of the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms, died on 15 February 1 980. He gained our admiration for the manner in which he continued to serve despite the serious illness which afflicted him. I wish to express on behalf of all honourable members our deepest sympathy to his wife and child.
– Hear, hear!
-Mr Speaker, I want to raise with you a matter which relates to the Parliament itself. There are several hundred Acts of this Parliament which have written into them a requirement that a report be made to this Parliament either regularly or annually. Are there any means by which this Parliament can require that those Acts are complied with or who is responsible for ensuring that those Acts are complied with? They are certainly not complied with at the moment.
-I will look into the matter and give the honourable gentleman a considered reply.
– by leave- In the first weeks of 1980 the world is facing probably its most dangerous international crisis since World War II. I expressed that view before leaving for the United States and Europe. What I heard on those visits strongly confirms it. Some honourable members may be interested to know that Willy Brandt, one of the principal architects of the policy of detente, speaking on behalf of the socialist group in the European Parliament, has expressed the same opinion. The situation really is extremely serious and it does no service to this country or to the cause of international peace to try to dismiss or trivialise it in terms of domestic election politics or Cold War stereotypes.
The present crisis shares all the ingredients of earlier ones. But it has two additional dimensions. Firstly, it threatens the world’s supply of oil, and oil is the life-blood of modern society. Secondly, it occurs at a time when the Soviet Union has for the first time achieved nuclear parity, while retaining- indeed increasing- its superiority in conventional arms. In my view it is imperative that countries which value their own independence and world peace should respond to this crisis with firmness and in a sustained way. If they do not, the prospects for the 1980s will be bleak.
The crisis has come about because, and only because, in the last week of 1979 the Soviet Union sent thousands of its troops across the border into Afghanistan. Since then it has continued to put men and arms into that country until today there are something in the order of 85,000 Russian troops there- over twice as many men as there now are in the disintegrating Afghan army. There is no indication that they will be withdrawn in the foreseeable future. In the English language the accepted and proper words for this kind of action are not interference or intervention but invasion, occupation and suppression.
The Soviet Union is engaged in propping up an unstable and unpopular Marxist regime, which is internally divided and which is bitterly opposed by the people of Afghanistan. To say that it has acted, and is acting, brutally is not to engage in rhetoric. It is merely to state the facts. When in the Second World War the Nazis wiped out the whole male population of the Czechoslovakian village of Lidice- some 400-500 men- in reprisal for the assassination of
Heydrich, the whole civilised world recoiled in horror. Now it is reported, on evidence provided by the women and children who survived, that well over twice that number were murdered in cold blood, and under Russian supervision, in the Afghan village of Kerela. There are already 500,000 refugees in Pakistan, people who have found conditions intolerable in their own country. It is feared that the number could quickly rise to one million.
The Nature of the Crisis
This is not the first occasion on which the Soviet Union has used armed force to crush the aspirations of a people. We have the examples of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 before us. Indeed, the Gulag Archipelago, and the recent banishment of Sakharov, are reminders that it is the aspirations not only of other peoples but also of the Russian people themselves that suffer. But there are elements in the Afghanistan situation which make it qualitatively different in terms of its implications for world order.
Firstly, although Afghanistan had had a Marxist government since 1978, it was not a part of the Soviet bloc but a member of the non-aligned movement and of the Islamic Conference. Its invasion by the Soviet army marks the first direct and massive use of Russian forces against a nonaligned country. Since the beginning of the Cold War nearly 35 years ago, the Soviet Union has consistently sought to extend its influence in Third World countries by supporting insurrections and by the infiltration of existing governments, as well as by the more legitimate means of exploiting its ideological appeal and the giving of aid. But as long as the United States had decisive nuclear superiority it did not resort to the direct use of force against them. Now, after achieving nuclear parity, it has felt able to do so.
Secondly, what we have seen in the last weeks is the thrust of the most powerful land army in the world into one of the most sensitive strategic areas in the world. Afghanistan is not strategically peripheral or inconsequential. It occupies a pivotal role, historically recognised in the long contest for influence between Britain and Russia. Afghanistan controls the gateways into the Indian subcontinent. In recent years its importance has been increased immeasurably because of its proximity to the world’s main supply of oil. Currently, the situation across the border in Iran has made it more sensitive than ever. Given these considerations, the Soviet move into Afghanistan could not but have the most profound implications for the stability of global order.
Thirdly, the Soviet action occurred at a time when the United States and its Western allies - and supposedly the Soviet Union itself- were committed to a policy of detente. There was no provocation. On the contrary, it came in a period when the United States was showing great restraint, not only in its general policy but also in responding to the holding of American hostages in Iran. It is hard to escape the conclusion that the Soviet Union mistook that restraint for weakness and treated it with contempt.
The crisis needs to be seen not only in a strategic perspective but also in an historical one. For 20 years after the Second World War the world lived in that acute state of tension known as the Cold War. The Cold War was neither sought nor desired by the countries of the West. In 1945 their concern was to demobilise and return to normal peacetime life. That concern was frustrated by a series of Soviet actions which demanded a response: Pressure on Greece, Turkey and Iran; the progressive satellisation of Eastern Europe; the Berlin blockade.
From the beginning of the Cold War there was a persistent and deepset longing in the West to escape from its strains and tensions, and from the ever-present threat of nuclear war that it presented. That longing found expression in a succession of phrases such as ‘relaxation of tension’, disengagement’, ‘coexistence’ and, latterly, detente’. All these terms had two things in common: They were ambiguous, capable of different interpretations; and they represented less a realistic appraisal of what was possible than the wish to be free of the harsh logic of the Cold War and the burden of responsibility which it imposed.
Both these characteristics have been systematically exploited by the Soviet Union. As far as detente is concerned, in 1972 the Soviet Union signed, with the United States, a document of basic principles which was supposed to define the ground rules of a new kind of relationship between them. These principles affirmed the importance of avoiding confrontation; the need for mutual restraint; the rejection of attempts to exploit tensions in other areas to gain unilateral advantages; the renunciation of claims to special privileges by either country in any region; and the willingness to strive for a more constructive long-term relationship. The United States interpreted these principles widely and as having universal application. The Soviet Union on the other hand interpreted them narrowly as applying only to direct super and great power relations.
The Soviet Union generally respected the rules of detente only in its dealings with the United States and Europe, but not in its dealings with the Third World. There it pursued a policy of unbridled competition and opportunism. As early as 1973 it violated the letter and spirit of detente in the Middle East war by refusing to show any restraint in resupplying the belligerents, and by urging non-belligerents to join in the war. In 1975 it intervened in the Angolan civil war, both with arms and through its Cuban surrogates. In late 1 977, it intervened in the Ethiopian civil war with arms, ‘instructors’ and Cuban troops. Throughout black Africa it changed the character of local conflicts by injecting a massive quantity of sophisticated weapons.
It has exerted a destabilising influence in the relationship between North and South Yemen. And, of particular concern to Australia, it is currently subsiding Vietnam to the tune of $3m a day while that country conducts its aggression against Kampuchea. At the same time as it has been engaging in all these activities- all in countries far outside its traditional sphere of influence and activity- the Soviet Union has felt able to contribute only some 3 per cent of the total nonmilitary aid to the Third World.
It will be clear from this record that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan did not mark a sudden departure from its previous record of behaviour; a qualitative change, yes, but one within an established pattern of behaviour. The truth is that during what was known as ‘the period of detente’ in the 1970s, the Soviet Union made use of its ground-rules with the United States in order to be extremely active- in military terms more active than it had ever been before- in pursuing its interests in the Third World. As I have said, during the same period the United States was operating in terms of a more restricted concept of its role in the Third World than at any time in the previous quarter century.
Why did the Soviet Union invade Afghanistan? The explanation of its own leaders is that it responded to the requests of the Government of Afghanistan and that there was already interference in the country by other powers. As to the first part of this explanation, in light of the fact that the Soviets went into the country days before they claim to have received the request, and then prompty killed the head of the Government which had supposedly invited them in, it is insultingly unconvincing.
Indeed the fate suffered over the years by those leaders who have allegedly invited the intervention of the Soviet Union in their affairs is such that one must conclude that no sane person would ever extend such an invitation. As to the second claim, in the face of the almost universal condemnation the Soviet Union has received, we can be sure that if there were any good evidence of prior intervention of any serious kind in Afghanistan’s affairs by other countries it would have been produced long ago. No such evidence has been advanced.
Some commentators have placed heavy emphasis on the defensive concerns of the Soviet leadership in relation to Afghanistan, its worry about the possibility of the collapse of the Marxist regime there and the spread of internal fighting or of Islamic revivalism. I do not entirely discount these elements. They are part- perhaps an important part- of the total picture.
But they are certainly not the whole picture. Given its huge, sustained military build-up over recent years- involving about 13 per cent of its gross national product- at a time when the military expenditure of the United States was declining in real terms; and given its recent record with respect to Angola, Ethiopia, the Yemeni Republics and Indo-China, the image of a conservative and defensive Soviet Union acting only from fear and concern rings false. It would certainly have calculated the positive strategic and political advantages of acting as well as the adverse consequences of not acting.
In any case we should not be hypnotised by speculation about possible motives. It is more to the point to consider consequences. Russian military power is now 250 miles closer to the Gulf than it was two months ago. It is now within 300 miles of the Straits of Hormuz, the choke-point through which the bulk of the world’s oil supply must move. The Soviet Union has acquired a border of over 1 ,300 miles with Pakistan.
It is a maxim of strategy that a line of advance which offers alternative objectives should always be sought. In invading Afghanistan the Soviet Union has followed that maxim; it is now so placed that if and when it wishes it can exert pressure on the Gulf oil states to the west, on the Indian sub-continent to the east or towards the Indian Ocean to the south. Whatever its original motives, the consequences go far beyond the stabilisation of a local situation and have global significance. They can themselves create new motives for further action.
The costs of the invasion of Afghanistan in human terms and in terms of the world order have been high. To be set against that is the fact that the Soviet action has had the effect of destroying complacency and introducing a new sense of reality and urgency into perceptions of the current international situation both in the West and in the Third World.
The fact that 104 countries, most of them nonaligned, voted in the UN General Assembly to condemn the Soviet action clearly reflected that change. So did the resolutions passed by the extraordinary session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers at the end of January which, again, condemned the Soviet action as military aggression, demanded the immediate and total withdrawal of Soviet troops and suspended Afghanistan from membership of the Islamic Conference. President Carter’s State of the Union message gave eloquent expression to the new mood, all the more effectively because it came from someone who has been prepared to test to the limit the genuineness of the Soviet commitment to detente.
In Europe, the President of France and the West German Chancellor have issued a joint declaration calling for an end of Soviet military intervention, asserting that the present crisis ‘is of a kind which could set in motion a process which, step by step, and whatever intentions might be, could have the gravest consequences for the world’, and reaffirming their commitment to the Atlantic Alliance. Whatever doubts may have been expressed by commentators about where the major European countries stand, and whatever hopes the Soviet Union may have entertained about driving a wedge between them and the United States, should now have been removed by that statement.
The visits I have just made to four of the major Western countries and the Foreign Minister (Mr Peacock) has made to seven countries in South and South East Asia have given the Government an opportunity to sound out opinions in greater depth. There is no element of bluff or hyperbole in the public statements of those leaders I talked to. They are in deadly earnest. Similarly, the Foreign Minister came back from his Asian mission deeply impressed by the impact which the invasion has had in the region and the evident concern about its implications for the national independence of Third World countries. Whatever differences of perspective there may be on particular aspects, and they do exist, opposition to what the Soviet Union has done, a profound disquiet about its possible consequences and a belief that it must be met with resolution, are virtually universal outside the Soviet bloc. Indeed, even within that bloc, it is perfectly clear that there is deep concern and apprehension among the more independently minded communist states.
The fact that India is concerned about the prospect of military support for Pakistan does not mean that she is unconcerned about the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. The fact that some Western European countries have their own views about the appropriate ways of responding to the Soviet Union does not mean that their condemnation is in any way muted or qualified. The fact that some of the Islamic countries disagree with aspects of United States policy in the Middle East and West Asia does not mean that they are tolerant of Soviet aggression against one of their own.
Those who maintain that what we are witnessing is a return to the Cold War should bear all this in mind. The essence of the Cold War was its bipolar character; the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union and the degree of leadership and control they exerted within their respective spheres. The essence of the present situation is that condemnation is coming independently and unorchestrated from a diversity of sources- from the Third World, from the non-aligned, from the Islamic countries, as well as from the developed countries of the West.
Having said that, it must also be said that moral and political condemnation, important though it is, is not enough. It is not in itself a policy. Experience in earlier crises has shown that the attention span of world opinion is limited and that what is initially regarded as outrageous can quite quickly become acceptable, if only in a spirit of resignation. If that happens in this case, if the lesson which the Soviet Union is allowed to draw is that all that it has to do is to sit tight and allow the storm of protest to blow itself out, the consequence will be disastrous for all of us.
The first thing which must be done is to demonstrate in convincing fashion and, beyond any doubt, that the will and resolve to meet the new challenge exist. This is particularly important in the case of the United States, not only because of its indispensable leadership role but becauseand to say this is only to state the obvious- the twin traumas of Vietnam and Watergate have undermined the credibility of American resolve in recent years. It is also important in the case of the Western European democracies, for some of their recent actions and attitudes have created an image of an inward-turning Europe and doubts about their readiness to play a global role. The firm, measured tone of President Carter’s State of the Union message, and the joint declaration issued by President Giscard and Chancellor Schmidt, have done much to restore the credibility of that resolve. We must now build on this foundation. The resolve expressed must be translated into effective policies by all of us.
It is important that there be clarity about the aims of those policies. Their purpose should not be to outlaw or humiliate the Soviet Union. The existence of the Soviet Union is a fact of life we have to live with. What these policies must do is to make it clear to the Soviet Union that if it persists’ in its occupation of Afghanistan or engages in any other expansionist moves the costs to the Soviet Union will be prohibitive. They must make it clear that as far as detente is concerned the Soviet Union cannot both have its cake and eat it; it cannot enjoy the benefits while ignoring the responsibilities; and it cannot behave as if the relevance of detente ceases on the borders of the Third World. This, after all, should impose no hardship on the Soviet Union. It claims to be the friend and supporter of the Third World- why then should it not extend to those countries the code of behaviour it is perpared to adopt in its relations with developed Western countries? Why should it persist in discriminating against them? Lastly, these policies must disabuse the Soviet Union that the course of trying to divide the Western allies is a profitable one to pursue.
The policies will be successful insofar as they signal these messages clearly and unambiguously to the Soviet Union, so that there can be no basis for miscalculation or confusion on its part. Far from breaking off communications, we must improve them. It has to be said that in the recent past the signals sent by the West have not always been clear and consistent. That is dangerous. It is vital that the Soviet Union should understand clearly the choices facing it and the consequences of the decisions it makes in relation to them.
Immediate short-term policies to meet the crisis have already begun to take shape. They are based largely on the recognition of the fact that whilst the Soviet Union is a super-power, it is an unbalanced one whose economic and technological development do not match its military strength. It needs access to Western grain,
Western technology and Western credits. It was part of the implicit bargain of detente that such access would be available in return for restraint in international affairs; but it was also implicit that, conversely, if restraint was not shown that access would suffer. Significant measures have therefore been taken to limit access while the Soviet Union persists on its present course.
The other immediate means available to impose a cost on the Soviet Union is through the Olympic Games. Thirty-five governments of countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Pacific, the Caribbean, Latin America and North America have said that they are in favour of a boycott of the Moscow Games if Soviet troops are not withdraw from Afghanistan. Those 35 countries include, in our own area, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore and others. A number of other countries, including most of those attending the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, have indicated that they are considering a boycott.
As honourable members know, the Australian Government is strongly of the view that it would not be in the national interest of Australia, or in the interest of world order, for Australia to participate in Games held in Moscow. The Government therefore asks that, in the event of the Soviet Union not withdrawing from Afghanistan, no Australian team be sent to Moscow.
This is not a step to be taken lightly or happily, least of all by a country like Australia which has had a distinguished record of participation in the Games. I am very well aware of the sacrifice it would entail for the athletes involved. I now pledge that my Government will do all it can to promote and support the organising of a site for alternative international Games at which our athletes can participate. We are already active with others in this respect.
I want the reasoning behind the Government ‘s position on this matter to be clearly understood. First, we believe that it is wrong that a country which is engaged in the invasion, occupation and suppression of a people should be regarded as a fit host for the Olympic Games. Unless the importance of holding the Games is regarded as an overriding imperative which takes precedence over all other considerations, this seems indisputable- for one can hardly think of a more serious violation of international friendship than what the Soviet Union has done. Yet, if it holds as a general principle, why should it not be applied in the case of the Soviet Union? Is it that the invasion of Afghanistan is not a sufficient invasion, that Afghanistan and its people are too unimportant to apply the principle, that the Soviet Union has not deployed enough troops to give sufficient cause; or does anyone argue that the Games are of such importance that they should be held in the allocated country however extreme and outrageous the behaviour of the prospective host?
Secondly, on the question of mixing sport and politics, it is absolutely clear that the Soviet Union is already doing this in the most systematic and blatant way. The Soviet Government would represent the participation of Australian and other athletes as a political triumph for itself. Indeed, in an official party document, it is already claiming the holding of the Games in Moscow as ‘convincing proof of the universal recognition of the historical importance and correctness of the course of our country’s foreign policy, the vast contribution of the Soviet Union to the struggle for peace’. It is thus the Soviet Union which is insisting, not just on mixing sport and politics, but that sport- like every other aspect of life- is politics. Whatever the intentions of our athletes, their presence in Moscow would be used politically by the Soviet Union.
In our dealings with South Africa we have recognised that because that country insists on treating sport politically it is impossible for others to divorce politics from sporting matters; and we have acted accordingly with respect to our sporting contacts with that country. I ask those who accept that argument in the case of South Africa to recognise that it applies equally in the case of the Soviet Union. To do otherwise would be to apply the crudest of double standards.
Thirdly, the crucial consideration in deciding what action to take in response to the Soviet invasion must be the effectiveness of that action in terms of its impact on the Soviet Union and people. There is little point in incurring costs for Australia by action that would have little or no impact on the Soviet Union. In other circumstances, that is if the Olympic Games were not scheduled to be held in Moscow this year, Australian athletes would have remained unaffected by our response to Afghanistan. It is only the fact that all the advice we have received indicates that the moving, cancellation or boycotting of the Games would be the most effective way of bringing home to the Soviet Government, and even more to the Russion people, the consequence of the invasion of Afghanistan, that has caused us to take the position we have.
As well as these immediate measures, and of greater importance, long-term policies to match Soviet power and staying power must be formulated. An indispensable element in that process must be the redressing of the trend in the military balance. Diverting large amounts of money to arms is not something which democratic societies welcome, least of all when doing so is bound to increase already serious inflationary pressures. But as long as the Soviet Union persists in diverting around 13 per cent of its gross national product to increasing its already excessive military power there is no real choice.
In this, as in other aspects, the main burden must fall on the United States. President Carter has already announced a series of measures which will strengthen the armed forces of the United States and, what is very important, will increase their flexibility and their capacity to respond quickly to crises. But if the main burden falls on the United States it is entitled to look for supporting measures in other countries that value their independence and the maintenance of world order. Other developed countries, including Australia, must respond. In this respect the recent decision to modernise and strengthen the North Alantic Treaty Organisation’s theatre nuclear weapon systems is important. This decision is very unwelcome to the Soviet Union, but it should realise that it is its own uninhibited arms build-up which has brought it about.
A second aspect of long-term policy-making must be the strengthening of the Western alliance. More than ever, an effective system of continuous and close consultation among the major Western powers is indispensible, not only in relation to Europe but also in relation to policy towards the Third World. I have good grounds for believing that such a system would be welcome to European governments and that they would respond very positively to it. I also believe that the United States, which has had to shoulder immense responsibiities of leadership in recent decades, would be reassured and strengthened by such a move. In dealing with the Soviet Union it would go far towards ensuring that the signals that country received were consistent and unambiguous.
A third aspect which must be kept in mind is that, unless there is a radical change in Soviet behaviour, the main area of danger in the 1980s is likely to be not the European theatre but the grey areas’ of the Third World. In the past, wars have started in Europe and have subsequently drawn in other countries of the world, including
Australia. But in the last 35 years the lines have been firmly drawn in Europe and convincing commitments made. The danger now is that wars may start in the strategically undefined zones of the Third World and draw in the rest of the world. This danger is most acute in the Middle East because of the crucial dependence of European countries- and of Japan to an even greater extent- on Middle East oil. Given the importance of oil to developed industrial societies, this factor introduces a new element in the strategic picture and its importance can hardly be over-emphasised.
It is therefore essential that Western countries formulate coherent policies in relation to the Third World. The Australian Government has already laid great stress on this in the last few years and we have put in a great deal of thought and effort into taking Third World interests and concerns into account in formulating our own policies. In the present circumstances it is essential that Western countries should respect genuine commitments to non-alignment and not make the facile assumption that opposition to Soviet expansion is synonymous with support for the West. We must also recognise that the problem is as much political as it is military. The political infrastructures in many Third World countries, including those of West Asia and the Middle East, are inadequate and this inadequcy is emphasised by the rapid social changes which are taking place in them. They are vulnerable to challenge from within and subversion from without. The internal political problems are, of course, primarily ones for the countries themselves to deal with, though the developed countries should be prepared to explore ways in which they can offer greater co-operation and greater assistance. We will also have to take account of the divisions which exist within the Third World, and recognise the fact that progress will depend on moderating and removing these. Again, this is particularly true of the Middle East. It is of great importance that the Arab-Israeli dispute should be resolved so that it does not continue to distort the pattern of relationships between the West and the Arab world.
I turn now to the particular implications of this crisis for Australia and to the steps the Government has taken and proposes to take in relation to it. Quite simply, what the crisis has done is to change substantially for the worse the strategic order underpinning Australia ‘s security.
What has happened has greatly increased the risk of miscalculation in dealings between the super-powers and makes remote the prospects of restraint in the arms race between them.
As long as West Asia continues to be a crisis point, super-power activity- and hence the level of tension- in the Indian Ocean is bound to be heightened.
As long as the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan continues, tension between India and Pakistan is bound to mount. While both countries share a common interest in wishing to insulate the sub-continent from super-power rivalry, the Soviet presence makes this virtually impossible. India is very concerned at the prospects of arms being provided to Pakistan and about the possibility that the new situation will lead to more activity by China in the region. Pakistan is intensely worried at the removal of the Afghanistan buffer and the fact that it is now placed between two countries which are militarily superior to itself and which have a treaty of friendship with each other. This must worsen the general strategic environment in the Indian Ocean area.
The increased threat posed to the oil supply route from the Gulf is of great strategic importance for us. For not only do we ourselves depend to an important extent on Middle East oil, but also Japan, our major trading partner, imports 80 per cent of its oil from there.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, on one flank of southern Asia, has happened at a time when, on the other flank, Vietnam is attempting to consolidate its control over Kampuchea, with the active and massive support of the Soviet Union. Whether or not both events are related within the structure of some larger strategic purpose, each carries implications for the other. Certainly the leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations countries perceive linkages and are deeply concerned. Apart from strategic implications, the invasion of Afghanistan, by creating another mass exodus of refugees, is likely to have a direct effect on regional and international efforts to cope with the growing human tragedy on the border of Thailand and Kampuchea. The capacity of Soviet foreign policy to produce huge flows of refugees is indeed a telling indictment.
The Soviet invasion carries the grave risk that it will force a response from China in one form or another. If it does, this will have both global and regional implications. Another aspect is that in so far as Soviet action results in a developing relationship between the United States, China and Japan, the Soviet Union is likely to respond by seeking to enhance its strategic posture in the West Pacific, possibly in areas which directly affect Australia ‘s security.
Lastly, by provoking new and serious tensions throughout southern Asia, as well as by relentlessly pursuing its own ‘vertical proliferation’, the Soviet Union has increased the danger of nuclear proliferation in the region.
These considerations should make it clear that the changes which have taken place have important implications for Australia’s strategic environment.
It is these implications, as well as the extreme gravity of the crisis in global terms, which have determined Australia’s response. In that response, the Government has been aware of, and I have stressed repeatedly, the limits of Australia’s power and influence. That, however, is not a reason for not doing what we can or for talking down what influence we have. It would have been irresponsible for the Government not to have acted, not to have cast Australia’s influence in the scales, simply because others had not acted before us. For that reason, in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Afghanistan I announced a series of decisions made by Australia affecting its relations with the Soviet Union. Some of these were substantive, some symbolic. Their essential purpose was to ensure that Australia’s attitude towards the Soviet actions should be registered with absolute clarity. Those measures included:
Support for United States action in relation to grain sales to the Soviet Union by not replacing the grain embargoed by the United States.
A review of Soviet shipping activities in Australia and the suspension of any Commonwealth co-operation on new Soviet maritime initiatives.
As from 31 May Soviet cruise ship operations from Australian ports are suspended; in addition, in the present circumstances, there will be no further approvals for Soviet scientific research vessels to visit Australia.
The indefinite suspension of action on the two fishing feasibility projects involving Soviet participation and the withdrawal of previous approvals given in connection with these projects.
The indefinite suspension of all visits by Ministers and senior officials between Australia and the Soviet Union.
The indefinite suspension of the periodic consultations conducted by senior representatives of the Australian and Soviet Foreign Ministries.
Non-acceptance of Soviet approaches to establish direct air services between Australia and the Soviet Union, and refusal to agree to a recent Soviet request to station Aeroflot technical personnel at Sydney.
The indefinite suspension of bilateral science collaboration with the Soviet Union.
A decision not to proceed with earlier proposals by the Soviet Union to conclude separate agreements with Australia covering such matters as agriculture and consular dealings.
The exclusion of any new activities under the current program of cultural co-operation and the withdrawal of official support from other bilateral cultural activities.
A decision not to support the staging of the Olympics at Moscow this year, unless the Soviet Union withdraws from Afghanistan.
These constituted an immediate response. Before making decisions on longer term policies, the Government decided to consult with the Governments of the region and those of the major Western nations. We already had the benefit of Prime Minister Ohira ‘s views during his visit in January. The Foreign Minister visited seven other countries in the region while I went to the United States, Europe and New Zealand. These visits were arranged on very short notice, but in the event we were able to meet with the heads of government of each of the countries concerned. The talks have been of the greatest value in extending our appreciation of the perspectives of the countries which are most important to our foreign policy. As there has been some Press speculation about differences among these perspectives, let me say that what stands out clearly is the degree of consensus which exists in the basic analysis of the situation. One direct consequence of my talks is that the ANZUS Council Meeting which was to have been held in Wellington in mid-year has been brought forward and will now be held in Washington at the end of the month. Our three governments agree that the nature of the circumstances and their implications for the region warranted an earner meeting.
Against this background, and bearing in mind the whole context which I have outlined, the Government has decided that the new strategic prospects call for a greater allocation of resources to our defences. We already have a significant defence force by regional standards, but recent world events and the heightened possibilities of change in our strategic circumstances demand an increase in our defence preparedness. This Government has in fact increased defence expenditure in real terms substantially since it has been in office, even in the face of difficult economic circumstances. But as the risk increases, it is prudent to increase this insurance. Immediately, the Government has decided to increase operations in the Indian Ocean. This will include extra surveillance flights and naval patrolling, visits to littoral states and exercising with friendly forces in the region. We shall support this operation by training more crews for our long-range maritime patrol aircraft, by base porting ships at Cockburn Sound, by up-grading the facilities at this base and by the further development of existing and new airfields in Western Australia. Over the program period we shall develop the facilities for home porting our ships in the West.
Our involvement in Indian Ocean operations will be essentially an independent, national effort. But we will also be supporting the operations of our United States ally by co-ordinating our operations with its. The Department of Defence is discussing with United States authorities ways in which we can assist their forces which are operating so far from continental USA. Measures could include use of staging facilities, of the new naval base in Western Australia and of our exercise areas, and support from our repair and maintenance facilities. The Government has instructed the Department of Defence to discuss with the United States authorities ways in which we could acquire a fourth FFG guided missile frigate and bring it into service as soon as possible. The Government has also decided to extend the life of HMAS Vampire in a training role beyond 1982. This ship could be brought to operational status very quickly if the need arose. At the same time we will increase investment in the modernisation of Williamstown Dockyard. This will support later construction in Australia of new destroyers to replace the present destroyer escorts.
In order to support naval operations in both the Indian and Pacific oceans we shall be acquiring a second underway replenishment ship, to be built in Australia. An order for the first is now placed with Vickers Cockatoo Dockyard Pty Ltd. These ships are essential to the long term operations of our escort fleet at sea. We will enter into a commitment later this year for 75 new tactical fighter aircraft. We will proceed as quickly as possible with the development and production in Australia of a new basic trainer aircraft. The plant in our aircraft and munition factories will be modernised and there will be greater investment in commercial industries in support of defence needs. This will include defence-related research and development. We will upgrade the weapons systems and sensors of ships and aircraft which would otherwise have become outdated during the 1980s. This includes the weapons systems of the Fill aircraft to carry precision-guided munitions, the older P3B Orion long-range maritime patrol aircraft, and our three DDG guided missile destroyers. The P3B aircraft, the Oberon submarines, and the DDGs will be fitted with Harpoon, the long range seaskimming anti-ship missile. These aircraft, ships and submarines will constitute a formidable strike force.
Some fundamental decisions still have to be taken. Projects under consideration include: Capabilities we might acquire when our aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne retires; the type of new destroyers we will build in Australia later in the 1980s and into the 1990s; aerial refuelling capacity of our strike and fighter aircraft; and systems to strengthen our northern air defences. The program now makes adequate financial provision for later decisions on projects such as these. We shall bring two battalions at Townsville up to full strength and equip and maintain them as a ready reaction force. We shall increase the strength of our reserve forces and improve their equipment. In particular, the army reserve will be increased from its present strength of 22,000 to about 30,000 by the end of the program period. This will give the opportunity for young Australians outside the Defence Force to play their part in improving our defence preparedness.
There will be increases in the Navy and Air Force service manpower to manage and man new equipments entering service and to undertake the increase in operations now required by the Government. There will need to be increased civilian manpower not only in defence but also in our Government factories and dockyards. The Government has not been satisfied with the tardy procedures for adjustment of the pay and conditions of our servicemen and women. On the proposals of the Minister, it has recently introduced new procedures that will allow much quicker adjustments. We want the pay and conditions to attract and retain a high calibre of servicemen and women, and we will be giving these matters our attention. We have taken steps to make sure that any case for adjustment is considered with the highest priority by the independent tribunal established for this purpose, putting other matters aside until the military matters have been dealt with. As a longer-term measure, co-operation with the independent nations in our neighbouring regions is of major importance. The Government wishes to discuss with our regional friends further development of our defence relations. This could include arrangements for more regular consultations between national defence authorities, combined exercising between armed forces, expanded programs for training and other assistance that we might be able to offer. I believe that the abiding security interests that we share with our regional neighbours call for continuing consultation and co-operation in the defence field.
More money will be needed immediately for fuel, spare parts, maintenance and other necessary support for increased operational activity. The Government fully recognises and accepts, however, that the improvement of our defence capabilities, the maintenance of a higher state of preparedness and the expansion of activity in the Indian Ocean and our neighbouring regions will require a sustained increase of resources. Decisions as to actual allocation can only be made in the context of the Budget each year. However, the Government well understands that the recruitment and training of men, the selection and procurement of equipment and the development of supporting military and civil infrastructure take years to plan and to implement. The Government understands the need for a stable planning base. It has, therefore, authorised the Department of Defence to plan on the basis of an increase in real terms in 1980-81 of some $95m at the minimum, above its earlier planning guidance, and if there can be early acquisition of the fourth FFG it will be very considerably above that, and for spending to be further increased in later years to around 3 per cent of the gross domestic product by 1984-85, the end of the five-year program period. The percentage increase in 1 980-8 1 in real terms will be at least 5.5 per cent. Over the next five years, the proportion of expenditure on capital investment will increase from the present figure of about 15 per cent to over 25 per cent of the defence vote.
In the South Pacific the Government will continue to consult with island governments on a number of proposals to enhance the development and the security of our common region. We will do so because we attach great importance to their general well-being and because we recognise that some of the other measures we are taking in relation to the Soviet Union will involve some costs on their part. The measures we propose include: A three-year forward civil aid commitment of $120m for the island states, representing a significant increase of over 40 per cent on the level of our present commitment of $84m, and the continuation of our development import grants for the islands; sending an Australian team to the island states to help assess the need and technical requirements for maritime surveillance; the early conclusion and implementation of a trade agreement giving the Forum island states comprehensive non-reciprocal access to the Australian market; the further strengthening of our diplomatic network in the region, bearing in mind that the number of missions we have in the South Pacific has already almost doubled since this Government came to office; continued strong support for the strengthening of effective regional institutions and activities in the region, including the Forum Fisheries Agency, and expanded programs of cultural exchanges between Australia and the islands.
As far as trade is concerned, I announced a number of measures on 9 January. Principal among these was our decision, to which I have already referred, to co-operate with the United States and other major grain exporting nations in ensuring that the 17 million tonnes shortfall resulting from President Carter’s decision was not prejudiced by increased sales by other exporters. Since then, in consultation with the United States and the United Kingdom, we have kept under review our general trading relationship with the USSR. The review specifically covered mineral raw materials, the export of which to the USSR was suspended by the Government pending a full review, including the results of my consultations overseas. All this has now been completed, and took into account the attitudes of other countries including the United States. None of these mineral raw materials is, or ever has been, subject to control by the Coordinating Committee on Exports of Technology to Communist Countries whose membership includes the United States, its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and Japan. A review of the COCOM list of prohibited items is being undertaken by member countries, but it is not contemplated that the raw materials in question will be included in the list. Australia will continue to consult closely with the United States and the United Kingdom, in particular, on this matter and we broadly support the same position that they themselves have adopted.
Again, it must be emphasised that the essential criterion must be the effectiveness of the measures taken in terms of their impact on the Soviet Union. The USSR is not dependent on imports of strategic materials, and would have little difficulty in replacing Australia as a supplier of mineral raw materials. The Government has, therefore, decided that exports of these mineral raw materials to the USSR should continue normally. This is consistent with the position of the United States, the United Kingdom and other COCOM members.
In order to sustain strong, co-ordinated foreign policies, with increasing resources devoted to defence, it is essential that the major independent countries maintain healthy, expanding economies. Yet the economic circumstances in which we face this new challenge are not easy. The international economic scene is clouded. Inflation remains high among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, and prospects for significant economic growth in the OECD area as a whole are dim. There is the continuing threat of growing protectionism. It is therefore crucial that we all redouble our efforts to fight inflation and establish the conditions for sustained economic growth. Fortunately, in Australia, as I have said before, our prospects look much better than overseas. Inflation in Australia has been pushed down to a level below that of the OECD average and is significantly below the rates in major overseas countries.
At this time of increasing world tension, we have the advantages of our renewed international competitiveness; major development projects based on energy and raw materials; new industries, together with the opening up of new export markets in South East Asia and Europe. Confidence of local and overseas investors in Australia is high. We have a deep responsibility to our allies and to our friends to make sure that these confident expectations are fulfilled. That is why the Government will continue with its broad economic policies- the policies which have so successfully brought us to our present position of renewed strength and confidence.
The scope of the measures, some of which involve considerable costs to Australia, indicate both the seriousness with which the Government views the present state of international relations and its determination to play its part alongside like-minded countries. I say alongside. It is not a matter of being behind anyone or of acting on anyone else’s behalf. What we shall do we shall do because we perceive it to be in Australia’s interest. We shall co-operate with others only because we perceive their interests to be parallel with ours. Let me also make it clear that the Government sees these measures as the beginning of a long, sustained haul, along with not only our allies but also all countries which are concerned for their independence and security. There will be no quick fix to the situation we now face.
Before the decade began the international prospects for the 1980s were not such as to arouse great optimism. But I do not think that anyone expected such a serious deterioration in so short a time. Tension between the super powers has increased greatly. Detente has been dealt a terrible blow. The prospects for arms control have diminished. The viability of the concept of non-alignment has been undermined. The security of the world’s oil supplies has been reduced. New apprehensions have been created on the Indian sub-continent. The level of super power rivalry in the Indian Ocean has increased.
These changes have gone a long way towards changing the contours of international relations in the 1980s. Whatever can be salvaged of the concept itself, the age of detente is now over. What we are witnessing, though, is not a return to the Cold War. The world we live in is now too complex for the simplicities of bi-polarity to return. There are too many centres of power, too many idealogical permutations for that to happen. The new era into which we are moving still awaits a name that will crystallise it in people’s minds.
But one thing stands out: The one essential consideration for a reduction of tension is that the Soviet Union comes to see the wisdom of behaving with the restraint and responsibility commensurate with its great weight and power. As long as one of the world’s super powers pursues a course of expansion and intimidation, the world will go on being a tense and unstable place.
Forty years ago the world was just embarking on the terrible conflict of the Second World War, which Churchill rightly called ‘the unnecessary war’. It was unnecessary because, in the early days of Nazi aggression, comparatively modest steps would have been sufficient to deter it. In the name of peace and business-as-usual, those steps were not taken. Those who advocated them, including Churchill himself, were denounced as warmongers. The sense of reality, the connection between cause and event, were lost in a sequence of compromises, appeasement and the selfdeluding hope that unopposed aggression would not feed on itself. It would be tragic- indeed, it would be disastrous for the human race- if that mistake were to be repeated only a few decades later. The case for a firm, measured and sustained response to the present crisis, the case for giving effective support to the United States, whose resolve is crucial, is that it is essential in order to avoid another unnecessary war.
Motion ( by Mr Viner)- by leave- proposed:
That this House:
Condemns the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union as a gross violation of the United Nations Charter and of Afghanistan’s non-aligned status; as involving acts of aggression and tyranny; as having a critically destabilizing effect on the region; and as potentially the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1 945.
Notes that a significant majority of world opinion, including Islamic opinion, has viewed the invasion with grave concern- as expressed in resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly on 14 January 1980 and at the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers on 29 January 1980.
Calls for the immediate unconditional and total withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in order to enable that country to regain its sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and non-aligned status; and to permit its people to determine their own form of government free from external intervention, oppression, coercion or other constraint.
With a view to the furtherance of the aforementioned objectives, urges all independent-minded nations to take action separately or in concert to register with the Government and people of the Soviet Union, their abhorrence of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Urges the provision of humanitarian relief assistance to alleviate the hardships of the Afghan refugees in coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and calls for the attainment of conditions necessary to permit the voluntary return to their homes of the Afghan refugees.
Motion (by Mr Viner)- by leave- agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition speaking for a period not exceeding 6 1 minutes.
– The honourable member for Adelaide has asked me whether I wish to put the motion now. Unfortunately, he and I misunderstood each other. I did in fact put the motion to allow the Leader of the Opposition to speak without limit of time.
– What we have just heard is a mixture of a little common sense, written for the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) by others, but much more of the posturing for which he alone is responsible and which he seeks to substitute in this country for reasoned and rational foreign policy debate. After two weeks as some sort of international messenger boy for great and powerful friends, the Prime Minister comes into this House believing the Parliament is as gullible as many of the journalists who travelled with him or as servile as the commissioners of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I have no doubt he correctly assesses the capacities of his own back bench. The Opposition, however, will not swallow his humbug, and neither will the people of Australia.
At the outset, let me emphasise that I have no hesitation in saying that the Government has every justification to regard the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan with disgust and with concern. The Opposition shares those feelings without qualification of any sort. There can be no question that Moscow’s brutal abuse of the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and mutual non-interference in its occupation of Afghanistan demonstrates the Soviet Union’s utter insensitivity to the values and standards which so many nations seek to advance. But that said, the Prime Minister has no right as a responsible leader of government to misuse the circumstances of the Soviet’s actions to grandstand and to scaremonger solely for the dual objectives of massaging his own ego and of exploiting the issue as a domestic political distraction. And that, Mr Speaker, we on this side of the House have no doubt is, and has been, the Prime Minister’s real intention in this matter.
In this Parliament, there is no significant difference in attitude towards the Soviet actions in Afghanistan. What is in dispute between the Opposition and the Government is the appropriate response Australia should make. From the very beginning, we have said that the Opposition would support effective international responses, be they embargoes, boycotts or whatever. I stress the word ‘effective’, just as I will emphasise later the word ‘fair’- alien to the vocabulary of the Prime Minister and so many of his colleagues. There is absolutely no point in empty gestures, or in counter-productive measures that damage Australia or disadvantage our national interest more than they do the Soviet Union. It is rubbish to believe Australia can set hares running on its own initiative and then pretend that they are of major international significance. Effective measures of response have to be explained, organised and executed with care; otherwise, they are likely to rebound, as the Deputy Prime
Minister (Mr Anthony) dearly has come to realise.
The Government has not done this necessary ground work. The pace has been set entirely by the Prime Minister on the basis of personal prejudice and political expediency. The analysis we might have expected from the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) and his Department played no part in Australia’s policy formulation and public stance on Afghanistan. This was glaringly obvious on the matter of the proposed Olympic boycott. On 8 January the Foreign Minister said:
I am not moved by suggestions that the Olympic Games be boycotted, because it is mainly a question for sporting bodies and I am not sure the USSR would suffer from a boycott.
That is commendable. Thirteen days later, on 2 1 January, he experienced a complete conversion when he said:
Boycotting the Games is clearly the greatest refuff one could serve to Russia.
He succumbed to the Prime Minister’s view in just 13 days, a posture aptly summarised in the Melbourne Herald headline ‘Peacock up the Khyber Pass’.
In recent weeks, the Foreign Minister has been proud to point out the passing- if not fleetingreference he made in this House almost a year ago to Soviet influence in Afghanistan. But there was nothing to back up this reference in a manner that would support the Government’s view of the situation now. Where was the official concern of the Fraser Government in April 1978- almost two years ago- when Marxist revolution installed the Taraki Government in Afghanistan? The Prime Minister has recently been insisting that Afghanistan was a ‘ non-aligned ‘country before the Soviet invasion, despite its proMoscow Marxist Government. If this Australian Government was so alive to the developing dangers in Afghanistan, why did it ignore the ominous chain of events last year, especially the murder of the American Ambassador, and the steady build-up of the Russian military presence?
Now that all these things have come to such a dramatic climax, the Prime Minister would have us believe that he foresaw the threat all the time. Quite clearly, he and his Government did not foresee the events with which we have recently been faced. The same must be said, regrettably, of the American Administration.
What has changed, and in both nations, is that an election year has arrived. In both countries, there are the most compelling political reasons for diverting public attention from the great domestic issues which would otherwise be absorbing the electors. What we are witnessing is a massive exercise in obfuscation, which creates new risks and leads away from the real courses of action that are most likely to bring positive results. I will agree with the Prime Minister on one of the messages he has been hurling at us constantly: We must all look at the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.
The Soviet invasion is much too important to look at in terms of the Prime Minister’s fantasies. Soviet aggression against its Muslim neighbour is an outrageous abuse of power rightly condemned by the overwhelming majority of nations, including much of the Muslim and developing world.
The justification the Russians advance for their action is transparently false. The idea that President Amin, the cruel and oppressive ruler of Afghanistan, would have called in Russian troops and then turned Central Intelligence Agency agent, thus justifying his summary murder, is ludicrous. But this leaves us with this question: Why did the Soviet Union behave as it did? A sober and realistic answer is essential if the right lessons are to be drawn. Some of the analysis we have heard, including that of today, is based on ideas of the 1 9th century.
Realistically, we can specify some things which did not motivate Soviet behaviour. This was not a thrust for a ‘warm water port’. This concept may have had strategic relevance a century ago: It does not today in the age of the intercontinental ballistic missile and a Soviet blue water navy. The Soviets already have the necessary facilities they need at Aden. They were quite ready to sacrifice their base at Berbera in Somalia when Ethiopia offered better opportunities.
But even if Moscow still were motivated by the desire for a warm-water port, would they thrust out for it through a country of such daunting physical characteristics as Afghanistan, and in the middle of such a daunting winter? Quite obviously, it would have been much easier to seek such access across the shared border with Iran. In fact, however, the evidence is that the Soviet Union has carefuly avoided involvement with dissident groups in Iran. The likely reaction of her own large Muslim population in the area is a powerful deterrent.
The assertion that the Soviet Union may have been moving to control the West’s oil cannot be sustained. The Soviet Union’s military capability to interdict oil destined for the West has not been significantly enhanced by invading Afghanistan. Soviet aircraft were already well within range; Soviet ground forces north of Iran are much better placed than they are in Afghanistan; the Soviet Indian Ocean fleet was inferior to the United States naval capacity in the area- and the invasion has not changed any of that. If the invasion was aimed at oil supplies, it was entirely self-defeating because it has alerted the West, and reminded it of its interests in the region. What the invasion does represent is a dangerous manifestation of the characteristic, exaggerated Soviet sense of insecurity and an arrogrant assertion of military might.
The coup in Afghanistan in 1978, in which the Soviet Union apparently played little part, brought to power a Marxist regime which immediately developed a close relationship with the Soviet Government. Its problem was that it was unable to develop a close relationship with its own people-a hardy, Muslim, tribal people unwilling to accept a direction from a central government which was anti-religious, and which wanted to destroy their traditional life.
By the middle of 1979, Afghanistan was slowly coming apart. President Taraki ‘s replacement by his murderer, President Amin, only accelerated the process. The Soviet Union, always paranoiac about instability on its borders, saw both Iran and Afghanistan in turmoil. It also saw a Marxist government on the verge of falling to Islamic, anti-Soviet rebels. It decided to arrogate to itself, as it did in Czechoslovakia and Hungary the right to decide the destiny of another sovereign nation. Soviet aggression then seems to have been a result of a perceived weakness to the south, rather than a confident step in a steady expansionist drive. It has, however, created a new source of tension in the world.
I do not for a moment believe that the Soviet Union would be sufficiently imprudent to challenge vital Western oil interests in Iran, or elsewhere in the Persian Gulf or Middle East. No one, however, can be certain that if Iran fragments the same Soviet paranoia which took it into Afghanistan will not lead it to intervene in the northern provinces of Iran, Azerbaijan or Kurdistan where vital oil supplies are not at stake. We can also expect the Soviet Union to try to build its influence in the region, including by subversion. It has never resisted the temptation to do so in the past and there is no reason to suppose that it will do so now.
The problems for the West in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf do not, however, stem primarily from Soviet behaviour. It is the internal problems of the countries of the region, which are still struggling to build their nations in the aftermath of colonisation, which constitute the major problem. Religion, regional rivalries, deep-seated political differences, to say nothing of severe national differences in the region, all combine to make this one of the least stable areas of the world.
The reality is that there is little any outsider can do to control the potent social, economic and religious forces at work. Rather, the West must aim to be a patient, reliable friend over decades instead of trying to build and control overnight clients who are discredited by foreign dependence. The West must seize upon and be sympathetic to the forces of progress rather than the forces of oppression. A genuine understanding and sympathy towards the forces of change will be much more productive than military disposition.
In this respect, it would be disastrous for the West to lock itself into a growing dependence on and support of the squalid military dictatorship of the Zia regime in Pakistan. Let us not forget that Zia is the man who, less than a year ago, contrived the judicial murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the man he overthrew, in circumstances that evoked widespread international condemnation. Let us not forget that Zia is the tyrant who gaols journalists who report honestly, journalists like Salamat Ali who had the effrontery to expose the conditions of repression, exploitation and discrimination in Baluchistan under Zia ‘s Administration.
The most likely and the most disturbing direct consequence of increasing military and economic aid to the Zia regime is increased instability. It will be expected by many that he will use this support to strengthen his shaky and unpopular administration by imposing further oppressive measures on the minority groups he so fears- the Baluchis, the Pathans and the Sindis, in particular. Is that the sort of ally we must recruit in these circumstances?
In the region concerned, the United States has already made one grievous blunder whose consequences are still to be worked out. That was the propping up of the Shah in Iran, long after his survival was either possible or desirable. The Shah fell, despite his enormous military strength, because he lacked a real political base and popular support. Indeed, he scorned them. Propping up the Zia regime could have a similar ending. In the shorter term, it will be regarded by India as an incitement in the overall security sense, an encouragement of a localised nuclear build-up, with all the dangers that could involve.
The invasion of Afghanistan has also brought into much sharper relief Western concerns about Soviet behaviour. It has given a new impetus to an existing trend towards a stronger attitude towards the Soviet Union. In the United States, the reaction has been especially vigorous. The whole fabric of detente has been brought into question, including the central issue of the strategic balance between the two super powers. The Prime Minister of Australia apparently is prepared to write off detente with no regrets. He is dangerously wrong if that is so. Of course detente has shortcomings. Any imaginable system of relations between these two super powers must have shortcomings. But we are far better off with detente, with SALT II and its successors, and even with the problems they embody, than we are without them. That is a simple fact of life in this potentially life-or-death matter.
Without SALT, we are faced with an arms build-up without restraint- restraint which would act more strongly on the Soviet Union, incidentally, than on the United States. Without detente and SALT II, the Soviet Union would be under no constraint in adding more nuclear warheads to her arsenal, seeking to ensure her capability to destroy America’s land-based missiles. Without SALT, whatever we might say about its limitations, we are left with no means of checking directly on the expansion and deployment of Soviet nuclear weaponry. I do not seek to exaggerate the degree of security likely to flow to us from SALT II and a general policy of detente against the realities of strategic defence relations involving the super powers. It would be foolish to do so. But it is even more foolish to write off such arrangements prematurely and unnecessarily. It is beyond argument that we are better off with them than without them. The Prime Minister says that detente is dead and that he says so having reached a coincidence of views with the leaders of Western Europe. That is nonsense, demonstrable nonsense. Chancellor Schmidt, for example, has said specifically that detente could not withstand a new shock like Afghanistan. However, with those words he makes it clear that detente has survived the initial shock. Detente continues, and it is irresponsible of the Prime Minister of Australia to suggest otherwise.
Soviet action, then, has led to a period in which relations between the two great powers will be more tense, more unsettled and more dangerous than they have been since the late 1960s. However, it is irresponsibly stupid and naive to believe that the responses of the 1950s and 1960s are appropriate to today’s circumstances. We, like the United States, have to come to terms with the reality of nuclear strategic parity. In 1 962 President Kennedy, was able to humiliate the Soviet Union over Cuba because the United States had overwhelming military superiority in nuclear arms. That strategic fact has disappeared, almost certainly never to return. In an age of strategic equality, presenting generalised ultimatums to Russia, as our Prime Minister wishes to do, is contrary to a basic principle of strategic policy- that commitments must be matched with interests and capability. These are times in which Australia needs hard-headed assessment, not wilful fantasising; sober judgment of interests, not self-indulgent global posturing; a prudent calculation of military capacity and sustainable commitments, not wild and empty rhetoric.
In the recent crisis, which was described by the Prime Minister as ‘the greatest’- to quote him exactly- the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) committed the most incredible volte-face in the history of his political career and adopted the motto ‘silence is golden’. It was unbelievable. His posture was reminiscent of that of the Duke of Plaza-Toro
No soldier in that gallant band hid half as well as he did. He led his regiment from behind. He found it less exciting.
Little wonder! He is too honest to go overboard supporting the excited rhetoric of his Prime Minister and too embarrassed to defend the disgraceful rundown of the nation’s armed services under his own administration.
In the four years that the five-year rolling defence program has been operating, a very substantial shortfall has accumulated. In the initial program which began in the 1976-77 Budget, it was envisaged that a total of $12 billion would be spent over five years, that is, up to the 1 980-8 1 Budget. Year by year, the shortfall has grown. In the first year, outlay on defence was some $ 142m behind the target in real terms. In 1977-78 it was $286m. In 1978-79 it was $475m and in the most recent Budget it was a massive $626m. In real terms, the program is some $1.5 billion behind target. Such is the achievement of the Minister for Defence, and the explanation of his silence.
This shortfall will increase even further with the estimated outlay in the 1980-81 Budget, although the rate of increase will diminish with the extra spending announced by the Prime Minister. Last year, the Government revised the parameters of the five-year rolling program. It projected spending of some $ 14,000m over the five years from 1979-80 to 1983-84. If we translate this into real terms, we find that the target figure for 1983-84 should be of the order of $15,600m. In short, the total outlay for these five years is some $ 1,600m behind the target set by the Defence White Paper in 1976. Whether measured in terms of the initial program or its successor, the five-year rolling program is in deep trouble. Without any adjustment it would lag further behind each year until the mid-1980s. Like the Minister for Defence, it is listing badly, giving every evidence that it is about to sink. It is now at least $ 1 ,500m to $ 1 ,600m behind.
It is in this context that we should look at the measures announced by the Prime Minister. The linchpin of his proposal for the Navy is the acquisition of a fourth FFG frigate. There is no project cost in the statement but, at present costs, it will be around $330m. No announcement is made about the helicopter armament of the FFG. This means that the Government has now committed the sublime folly of procuring four FFGs without helicopters or any indication of when helicopters may be obtained.
The Government is extending the life of the Vampire beyond 1982 and ordering a second replenishment ship which will cost about $83m. It has made no decision on the Melbourne replacement, surely the most crucial single decision facing the Government if it is serious about building up a task force with a two-ocean capacity. On the experience of the three FFGs which already have been ordered, the fourth will not arrive until the mid-1980s. This means that there will be no semblance of an effective presence in the Indian Ocean before the mid to late 1980s. Of course, it is very welcome that the capability is to be built up, but the projects announced by the Prime Minister have no bearing on the present crisis. That must be borne in mind.
Let me turn now to the Royal Australian Air Force. The Prime Minister has announced for the first time that the Government will acquire 75 of the new TFFs. Looking at its short list, the Government has the choice of the F16 at a flyaway cost of $US10m, or the FI 8 at a flyaway cost of around $US30m. For a total project package, we can add at least 50 per cent to this; that is, for each aircraft. It is perfectly plain on that basis and on the figures the Government has cited that the Government is opting for the F 16 aircraft. Even on the terms implicit in the extra spending announced by the Prime Minister, it cannot afford 75 aircraft at a flyaway cost of $US30m, and a total project cost of at least $US45m each. Even an F16 program will cost at least the $ 1,000m that is implicit in the commitment to raise defence spending to 3 per cent of gross national product by 1984-85. So there is less drama in the announcement and pure necessity in the statement by the Prime Minister.
The RAAF has lost out very badly. It is no secret that it dearly wanted the FI 8 aircraft. It will be bitterly disappointed because the spending of at least $US3 billion on the tactical fighter force replacement is plainly impossible. It is also common knowledge that the FI 6 package is much less satisfactory in terms of Australian industry participation. Again, the local industry has lost out badly. Once again, General Dynamics Corporation is a big winner. There is no need to wait for the Department of Defence evaluation of the shortlist. It is as plain as a pikestaff who the winner is.
The other capital equipment measures announced by the Prime Minister seem sensible and unexceptionable. I have no cavil with them, although I reserve the right to moderate my attitude if a more intensive analysis than I have been able to give at such short notice discloses flaws. The main drawback to the formidable strike force promised by the Prime Minister is the lack, I repeat, of helicopters for the FFGs, and the lack of an announcement about what follows the retirement of HMAS Melbourne.
The most obvious implication of the decision to build up a ready reaction force at Townsville is an intention to increase the permanent strength of the Army, perhaps quite significantly. The only alternative is to strip manpower for Townsville from other battalions. Coupled with substantial increase in the Army Reserve, the Government is accepting a burden of significant additional recruitment, both permanent and reserve. I trust that the optimism is justified. It is far from certain, however, that the Services, and the Army in particular, are proving very attractive sources of careers at the moment, even given high unemployment. There is no doubt that the future of recruitment programs is a matter of some concern within the Defence Department. These increased demands will only intensify those problems.
There is also a commitment to increased manpower, both service and civilian, for the Navy and Air Force. In terms of civilian job creation this is welcome, but I do stress the point that across the board the Government is committing itself to a very substantial increase in manpower costs. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that it can meet the increased requirement for service recruitment, particularly in the Army. In all of these circumstances, it cannot be completely ruled out that the Government is not at least toying with the idea of some form of revived conscription, perhaps for the Army. I do not wish to develop the argument further here. Perhaps one ought to give the Government the benefit of the doubt, in spite of its impossible record in that respect in the past. But, on the other hand, one cannot help recalling the experience of 1963 when the then Minister for the Army, Dr Forbes, in Tasmania on a Sunday, assured a Returned Services League congress that there would be no conscription in Australia, and two or three days later the Government, of which the present Prime Minister was a member, announced the imposition of conscription in this country.
The Prime Minister also points to a significant increase in maintenance costs. Again I do not quarrel with this. It does appear that in committing itself to a hefty increase in capital equipment, in manpower and in maintenance, the Government is spreading itself a bit thinly. Its total commitment to bringing spending up to 3 per cent of GDP by 1984, as I said earlier, implies spending of an extra $ 1,000m in currentday terms; that is, not enough to overcome the existing shortfall of some $ 1,600m in the White Paper five-year defence program announced in 1976. It is not credible that what the Prime Minister is proposing will lift us even to where we should have been by 1981, let alone take us further ahead by the mid-1980s. Without having had the chance to do any sums, it seems to me that it is at least possible that the plans announced by the Prime Minister will cost rather more than the $ 1,000m implicit in his statement. That means that the sums that he presents, like the quality of so many of his solemn promises, are unlikely to stand up to any rigorous scrutiny and probably will suffer the same experience suffered by the 1976 White Paper five-year defence program which fell apart within months of being announced.
It is too early to say whether the Government has got its arithmetic right, but there are, I repeat, puzzling aspects of the funding announced by the Prime Minister. He has pledged to get the proportion of the Defence budget spent on capital equipment up from 15 per cent to 25 per cent by 1984-85. That is fair enough. But it should be remembered that the first five-year program adopted in 1976 pledged similar targets. Capital spending now should be around 2 1 per cent and not the 15 per cent indicated by the Prime Minister. In fact, at the end of the first five-year program, it was targeted at around 23 per cent. The Government has failed completely to achieve the targets it set for the first five-year program. Why should we expect it to be any more successful for the five-year rolling program that the Prime Minister has projected from 1980-81 on? Why should we expect any more honesty on this occasion than on the earlier occasion?
In summary, the defence section of the Prime Minister’s statement has some aspects with which we would agree, but there is much that is puzzling and unresolved. It conveys a strong flavour of deja vu, as though the Government, after failing abysmally to fulfil its objectives with the initial five-year program, is now starting all over again five years later. This is the essence of the Prime Minister’s announcement.
I am also sceptical about the sort of force structure which the Prime Minister has in mind or whether indeed he has given any thought to this. It would be tragic if this program were put together without any consideration of the force structure we need for the late 1980s and 1990s. In many ways the structure implicit in the Prime Minister’s announcement is reminiscent of a SEATO-type structure, and plainly this is not what we need for the next 20 years. It is not possible to make a final judgment until we know more about what is, in effect, a new five-year project, introduced less than a year after a substantial revision of the initial program.
I do serve warning that I have many suspicions about what the Government has done and what it plans to do. We will develop our analysis of these defence provisions much more intensively in the weeks ahead. The objective should be to build up an Australian policy which can be sustained over a long period, because the Soviet challenge is one that requires a patient response over years rather than flamboyant short-term theatrics. Attitudes like those displayed by the Government in this House tend to freeze the situation when, in fact, the need is for room to move.
The Labor Party does not accept that the situation created in Afghanistan cannot be changed. The tanks and troops and planes of the Soviet military machine do not appear to be enough to subdue Afghanistan. Other aggressors have learned the same lesson. It is becoming clear that the Soviet Union miscalculated- politically for certain, and quite probably in military terms as well. The Soviets seem destined to face an indefinite and ever more costly commitment if they are to try to bludgeon the Afghan peoples into submission.
In reviewing this whole situation, I am astonished that we have not heard something more honest and realistic about the question of Western aid to Afghanistan. At the time of the Marxist revolution in Kabul two years ago, Afghanistan was receiving the trifling amount of $59m in aid. Let us compare that amount with $480m given to Tanzania, a smaller and far more stable country. We can only speculate on how different things might have been if there had been a more enlightened attitude in the West towards aid for Afghanistan. This Government is actively hostile to a genuine and generous commitment to aid for the development of developing countries. In relative terms the level of aid for developing countries from Australia last year was more than $200m below that level which was provided in 1975. That is the humanitarian achievement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs!
– You slashed it in your early Budget and you know it.
-But despite the hindsight wisdom of this Government we know full well why the attitudes of that time prevailed.
– You slashed it, absolutely slashed it.
-The shrill shriek of the piker, an unusual and noisy bird which makes boisterous threats while in full retreat.
-The Minister for Foreign Affairs will cease his continual interjection.
-But despite the hindsight wisdom of this Government we know full well why the attitudes of that time prevailed. It was because, despite the hysterical reaction of the Prime Minister today, the Western alliance shared the view that Afghanistan was predominantly within the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. In the words of one eminent international statesman, Afghanistan was:
That was said in 1978 by the former United States Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. Now the Prime Minister chooses instead to refer to Afghanistan as a non-aligned nation. The fact remains that the Soviet has miscalculated in this action and could find that Afghanistan becomes its Vietnam. That may not seem such a direct parallel just at the moment when an exceptionally severe winter is holding down the level of military activity. But the picture is liable to dramatic change. Afghanistan could, indeed, bleed the Soviet Union socially and economically if present intentions are pursued.
Let me turn to the actions I believe should have been taken by Australia. A Labor government in Australia would have supported the resistance within Afghanistan by immediately informing the Soviet Union that its relations with Australia were frozen. Diplomatic contacts also would have been put on ice. The size of the Soviet presence in Australia would have been pruned severely. We would not have spurned the formal machinery of diplomacy for the uncertain back corridors of theatre in which this Government and this Prime Minister prefer to engage. A Labor government would have taken every opportunity available through bilateral and multilateral contacts to bring home to the Soviet Union our abhorrence of its continued occupation of its neighbour’s territory.
We would seek to build our relations with the nations of the Middle East and, in this context, would work to broaden the Camp David initiatives towards a settlement of the Arab-Israel dispute. Such a settlement would be, overwhelmingly, the single most important thing that could be done to advance the West’s relations with the oil-rich countries of the region. We would work to restore amicable relations with India, a key to the sub-continent, which has been shamefully misunderstood and neglected by Liberal governments in Australia for years. These governments have never come to terms with either Pandit Nehru or his daughter, Indira Gandhi, India’s two outstanding post-independence leaders. We would be wary, as I have said, in our dealings with the present leader of Pakistan, whose survival is at best uncertain.
The West can ill-afford to repeat the mistakes of the last 30 years by identifying itself with the most oppresive, anachronistic and greedy elements of emerging nations. We would, as one of the few Western nations with a working embassy still in Tehran, look to the future in relations with Iran, which is so strategically important to the West. We are reinforced in this view by the obvious concern of the United States to offer Iran an alternative to confrontation. We would maintain close contact with the United States and other friends throughout the world, without the childish theatricals of the past few weeks.
It is probably fortunate for Australia’s general reputation that these histrionics have gone largely unnoticed everywhere but inside Australia. American media coverage of the Prime Minister’s visits to the United States was confined to a local news interview on one of the Los Angeles television stations for about five minutes jammed in between a tribute of half an hour to the late Jimmy Durante and, appropriately, a snow report. To quote the Melbourne Herald correspondent, Peter Costigan, who travelled with the Prime Minister and has extensive experience of reporting Washington politics:
Mr Fraser ‘s visit to the White House and the strong antiRussian words he delivered went virtually unnoticed in the American media . . .
But let us resort to more positive thoughts. A Labor government would recognise that events in Afghanistan have reinforced United States perceptions that its vital interests lie in Europe, Japan and the Middle East, and that our own region is of lesser priority. We would accept the obvious implication; that the Carter doctrine reinforces the Guam doctrine and the best contribution we can make to our own interests and those of our allies is to focus our attention more than ever on the South-East Asian and South Pacific region, Australia’s area of primary strategic concern. The essential refurbishing of our defence forces must now even more take place with a regional strategic concept, and on the basis of self-reliance. We believe that these actions are commensurate with our capabilities and interests. They are measured, sensible and most of all they are sustainable over a period of years. Above all, we would respond with reason and firmness, not with hysteria springing from fear. As Chancellor Schmidt, of West Germany said recently when speaking about the Afghanistan crisis:
Foreign policy developments should be followed carefully, and we should play our role with prudence, reason and intelligence, but we should not spread fear.
Fear, said Chancellor Schmidt, is a bad adviser. He went on to say:
Fear can lead to a false response. Yes, we might fail to do what is necessary out of fear. Or we could even do more than is sensible out of fear. Many start to shout or make bloodthirsty speeches out of fear.
This of course is where the Prime Minister comes in. Let us examine his response. At the end of last year, we were all told the news that the Prime Minister would be staying at home to deal with domestic problems. I was disappointed to hear this. The Prime Minister’s absence from Australia would be the single biggest contribution he could make to the reduction of the problems he has created in this country. The Afghanistan invasion changed all that. There was obvious delight that confrontation and rumours of war were abroad again. With a shriek of happy recognition the Prime Minister sought to take Australia back to the Cold War. This was much simpler than domestic politics.
The Prime Minister, known for his propensity to make promises, even made a couple of dangerous and irresponsible promises about a hot war. One was the deliberate leaking, subsequently denied, of a story that the United States would use nuclear weapons in Iran. This act of gross irresponsibility pales into insignificance next to the Prime Minister’s assertion to assembled journalists on his plane that ‘war could break out in three days’. Even he apparently felt that this was too melodramatic, and subsequently tried to withdraw the comment. So the Prime Minister wheeled out his personal Boeing 707, his flagship, and took off amid a welter of massive hyperbole, which continues to overwhelm us. The Cuban Crisis, the Korean War, the Cold War and containment, all were said to be less dangerous to world peace than the present crisis.
Such exaggerations are manifestly absurdand because their absurdity is so manifest, statements analysing the true gravity of Soviet action lose their credibility. Even George Kennan, the American diplomat who devised the term ‘containment’ in 1947, and who is regarded as the apostle of a firm policy towards the Soviet Union, has expressed concern at the dangerous war atmosphere. He stressed in 1947 that ‘containment of the Soviet Union has nothing to do with histrionics’. Two weeks ago, he wrote of the risks of carrying ‘a relatively small stick while thundering all over the place’. The Prime Minister would do well to take heed of these thoughts.
– What would you do?
– Dismiss you from the Cabinet so that it would immediately improve its performance. And where did the Prime Minister go on his travels? To Washington and London. At the suggestion of Senator Wriedt, he added Bonn and Paris, where he got rather less flattery and rather more hard reality. In the meantime, the Foreign Minister trotted off to Association of South East Asian Nations countries, India and Pakistan. What clearer demonstration do the people of our region need about where this Government’s priorities truly lie? It was perhaps understandable that a Menzies should not comprehend the changes in our place in the world in the 1950s and 1960s. It is unforgivable that a Fraser should, on the first hint of trouble, rush off to Washington and London, where his sycophancy and eagerness to be praised have nothing to do with the relationship of equality and friendship which Australian interests require. The late Harold Holt went ‘all the way with LBJ’. The present Prime Minister, however, went all the way- and back again.
Not content with foisting himself once on President Carter, the Prime Minister had the extraordinary effrontery to make a second visit, coyly insisting that others had pressed him into it. We are supposed to believe that America’s communications with its European allies through bilateral channels, through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development and other organisations are so fragile that it takes the talents in shuttle diplomacy of this Australian Prime Minister to mediate between them. The lie to this extraordinary intervention was given by a White House spokesman who said simply that the second call on President Carter was being made at Mr Fraser ‘s request Fortunately for the international reputation and dignity of this country, the American media ignored both visits.
The Prime Minister has never been consistent on the great issues of international affairs, even if it is true that he has viewed most of them from the standpoint of his paranoia with the Soviet Union. He was an inciter in Vietnam. He was unwilling to stand on principle in the conflict between China and Vietnam. He remains a diplomatic supporter of China’s client government of Kampuchea. He has declared himself on East Timor only with the greatest reluctance. His Government recognised East Timor as a part of Indonesia while heavy fighting was still going on, and in disregard of a General Assembly resolution calling for Indonesia’s withdrawal.
The Government has also indulged in a welter of rhetoric over participating in an embargo on wheat and other agricultural exports to the USSR. On the one hand, it has done everything possible to produce headlines suggesting that it intends to deny food to the Russians. On the other hand, and less noisily, it has sought to reassure the rural lobby that it is business as usual with the important Soviet and East European market. These confused signals, so characteristic of this incompetent Administration, are quite naturally causing great concern among Australian farmers, to whom the Soviet market is of great importance. The USSR’s central position in the international agricultural market, and the diversity of import sources available to it, are sufficient to ensure that any embargo would fail. The Government has finally had to admit that action of this sort would so nothing to the Soviet Union, but would harm Australian interests.
It is to be hoped that the USSR does not interpret the Government’s anti-Soviet rhetoric as indicating that Australia intends to subordinate commercial dealings to party political considerations, something which the Liberal-Country
Party governments never did, for example, during 20 years of political hostility to China. They restricted it essentially to rhetoric; very good on wind, very poor on action. Should the Russians choose to retaliate- and I hope they have the maturity and common sense not to- it could be a tragedy for Australia ‘s rural community. Apart from agricultural exports, the Government behaved farcically over rutile. In response to a lurid Press headline on the eve of his departure overseas, the Prime Minister ordered the suspension of a shipment of rutile to the USSR. The day he returned he reversed the decision and the ban was lifted. He makes decisions in a revolving door. It is true that rutile has a potential role in the production of titanium, which has some military applications, but the Government apparently was unaware that the USSR itself exports titanium to, among other countries, the United States. Moreover, the USSR can produce titanium without recourse to Australian rutile.
In the end, the Government has confined its major act of reprisal to the Olympic Games and to our yoting amateur athletes. I have said from the beginning that an effective boycott or the transfer of the Olympic Games away from Moscow would have embarrassed the Soviet Union deeply and could have been expected to drive home to many of her own people the point that the invasion of Afghanistan was repugnant to and rejected by most countries of the world. In the nature of the international Olympic organisation, it was not possible to move the Games from Moscow, and so attention was focused on the possibility of a boycott. The Australian Government did not seek to organise a boycott. Instead, our rather excited Prime Minister leapt in ahead of the field with a unilateral decision which he expected our athletes and organisations supporting them to accept meekly. The point the Government does not seem capable of recognising is that unless the proposed boycott really is effective, it will be totally counter-productive in propaganda terms. To be effective it must have the support of the overwhelming majority of countries invited to compete. There is little to suggest that this will be the case.
Our athletes and their supporting workers and officials are being bullied and pressured into a course of action which means that they carry the entire burden of sacrifice on behalf of the Government and for an entirely uncertain result. The Government’s attitude is futile and pigheaded as well as selfish and hypocritical. It is being seen as such by two-thirds of Australians, according to the opinion polls. There is no sense and no justice in the Government’s continued pressure for a boycott of the Moscow Games by Australian athletes.
– They are accusing the athletes of being traitors.
– Quite unreasonably. Labor opposes the boycott and supports the wishes of our athletes to compete. The fact that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union may choose to delude itself that the holding of the Games is an endorsement of its foreign policy has no part in sober judgment within Australia. We are quite able to sort out the fantasy from Soviet propaganda on other occasions. We can do it here. Is the Prime Minister frightened that our Olympians will become rabid communists, endorsing the occupation of Afghanistan? He talks about the propaganda surrounding the Nazi era Olympic Games in Berlin in 1 936. The world ‘s abiding memory of the Berlin games is the performance of that great American athlete, Jesse Owens. Are we to understand that in participating and winning three gold medals Owens was somehow endorsing Hitler’s re-occupation of the Rhineland or Nazi theories of racial supremacy? The suggestion that Australian athletes would be endorsing Soviet foreign policy by participating in Moscow is equally absurd, and an insult to their integrity and their intelligence.
The Government’s behaviour in attempting to organise a boycott is particularly offensive. In the absence, beyond the wild rhetoric, of any tough government action, our athletes are being asked to bear a wholly unfair burden and to negate years of dedication and sacrifice. It is typical that the Government’s behaviour on this matter has been marked by incompetence as well as bullying, with the Deputy Prime Minister unable to interpret his master’s telephone calls, the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) threatening to withhold passports and then backing off, and the Prime Minister using abuse and cheque-book diplomacy. The Government has displayed a whole series of double standards in this matter. It has banned Russian scientists and cultural missions from Australia but continues to welcome Russian wool buyers. On a good Sunday afternoon they will even get afternoon tea and scones down in Wannon.
The Government threw out a scientific research vessel and has banned Soviet cruise ships. But a Russian cargo line still carries away our wheat and wool, while an Australian National Line ship works in the Soviet trade under charter. The Government has decided on no interference with trade but the sacrifice of years of effort for a whole generation of our young athletes. Most seriously of all, we are seeing the Prime Minister attempting to return our defence and foreign policies into the 1950s. In the process, we run the risk of losing a sense of Australian regional identity and regional responsibility.
A United States, preoccupied with the Persian Gulf, inevitably will be less concerned with South East Asia and the South Pacific. Yet all the indications are that the Prime Minister is determined to subordinate this by a reversion to outdated policies of integration of our strategic policy and defence effort into that of the United States. He is desperately urging on a reluctant United States that it allow us to get involved in its Indian Ocean effort- somehow, somewhere. The Army, Navy and Air Force are in a parlous state.
This Government, which has been in office for over four years, is wholly responsible for a situation where we have no capacity to fight as an independent nation for more than three weeks. Why should we believe that when the Prime Minister’s present excitement begins to fade, when it all becomes too hard and too boring, the armed forces will not once again have to exist on promises, rather than steady, sustained and certain planning. It is time that Australians began to ask themselves some serious questions about the stability and balance of our Government, and especially about that of the Prime Minister. Is the sort of fevered, immature behaviour of recent weeks essentially harmless, and to be accepted with a resigned, cynical shrug? Is the needless endangering of important Australian commercial interests, based on incomplete and inaccurate information, something that we should ignore? Is an infatuation with grand strategy, and the eagerness of the Prime Minister to strut a bigger stage than his own, something that we should look upon with indulgence? Is the instinctive relegation of Asian and South Pacific friends to second place in our concerns simply a momentary aberration? Should all be forgiven and forgotten when and if the Government recovers from its jet lag and returns to some sort of sanity?
I suggest that this Government, and this Prime Minister, will never be able to give this nation the leadership it needs. It will never be able to take an Australian view of the world but will always behave as a dependant and will always be incompetent and reckless in its behaviour because it is too frightened to face the fact that the world is infinitely more complex and difficult than the simplistic crudities of a Fraser can indicate. It will continue to embarrass and humiliate Australians before others by its servile behaviour abroad. The same weaknesses which are destroying our economy and our society will be carried over into our international dealings. Australia’s role in resisting Soviet aggression requires strength, patience, and clear-sightedness. None of these can be expected from a government and a Prime Minister whose failings of character, intellect and competence are a serious danger to the security and well-being of this country.
– At a time when the world is shaken by the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, when Western countries and nonaligned countries all realise that this is part of the Marxist philosophy towards world domination, we have the Labor Party in this country trying to capitalise on the situation. I had hoped that we could have a bipartisan approach on such a serious international issue; but all we have had from the Labor Party are destructive comments aimed at trying to embarrass the Government over actions which it is taking to build up the will and resistance of the free world to this continual aggression and brutality that we are seeing from the Soviet Union. Indeed, after listening to the rhetoric of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) today, he seemed much more comfortable and at home finding reasons to justify the Soviet Union’s action and for finding reasons to criticise other people around the world.
The whole focus of attention should be on this aggression in Afghanistan and the intentions of the Soviet Union in pursuing its international domination. As I listen to the lexicon of phrases that are being poured out here today I shudder when I recall those days of Vietnam. Exactly the same sort of thing was going on then. Yet today, look at the misery, look at the flow of refugees which is being caused by that aggression of North Vietnam. Who was that aggression sponsored and supported by? It was sponsored and supported by none other than the Soviet Union. Today it is supporting the same cause. Yet the Labor Party seems to take pleasure in being able to take the same sort of line in relation to Afghanistan.
The words which have come from the Opposition today show one thing very clearly- that the Labor Party is an absolutely bankrupt party. It is bankrupt of ideas, it is bankrupt of morality and it is bankrupt of courage. Indeed, the only positive statement that came out of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition today was that a more independent stance should be taken by Australia that we should integrate more with the
South East Asian countries and that our response should be one of reasonableness and firmness. That is the only positive statement that came out of his speech. His speech contained virtually no ideas other than carping criticism of every action the Government takes. There has been stronger condemnation of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by the socialist parties, and indeed by communist parties, of Europe than we have seen from the Australian Labor Party. The Leader of the Opposition has not made one concrete proposal aimed at driving home the free world’s protest against the Soviet’s invasion of Afghanistan. He has tried to undermine every action that this Government has taken, and indeed, every action that, the governments of the United States and other countries have taken, to try to drive home their protest. Instead of a stand on the invasion of Afghanistan which would have demonstrated the Labor Party’s commitment to fighting oppression, it has made only wishy-washy criticism of the Soviet invasion. The Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues have shied away nervously from taking any action whatsoever. They have condemned the most telling single blow of a non-military nature that the free world could strike at the Soviets; that is, an Olympic boycott.
Instead of showing political courage, the Labor Party has unveiled a shabby, counterfeit policy- a policy of hypocrisy and political opportunism. This counterfeit policy opposes the most effective action Australia could take against the Soviet Union, and even attempts to sabotage it. This policy is Bill’s 10c collection. The Opposition seeks to buy a few votes by criticising the Government for not imposing trade bans, while at the same time saying that such bans would not work. Mr Deputy Speaker, I understand that in view of the current internal problems within the Labor Party it would be hard for it to have any consistent policy whatsoever. However, I believe that its counterfeit policy ought to be exposed. The Labor Party has been a major force in the politics of this country for a century but now it seems to pride itself on whinging and complaining, on opposing anything and everything the Government does just for the sake of opposition. Today, with all this rhetoric, what did we hear? We heard more abuse of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) than any analytical discussion of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The Labor Party’s response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is counterfeit and cowardly. It ignores the deaths of thousands of people under the Soviet puppet regime in Afghanistan; it ignores the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from the Soviet invasion; it ignores Austrafia ‘s international responsibilities; and it ignores the current threat to world peace.
Let me go back to the start of the year when the extent and scale of the Soviet action in Afghanistan was becoming known to the world. On 4 January the Government announced that it was reviewing relations between Australia and the Soviet Union. A few days later the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) announced that he had directed that Australia participate in the urgent debate in the Union Nations Security Council on the invasion. In his statement in this debate the Australian representative, Mr David Anderson, said:
What we have witnessed over the past 10 days has been an intolerable and continuing act of interference by military force on the part of the Soviet Union in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.
This action has greatly increased the already serious instability of the general region. It constitutes a dramatic and undisguised threat to international peace and security.
Those words were chosen well. The commitment behind them was echoed at the United Nations later in January when a vote of 104 countries to 18 called for the immediate withdrawal of Soviet troops and deplored the Soviet invasion. That was a most significant vote of international condemnation. Yet what do we hear from the Australian Labor Party? We hear qualified phrases all the time.
– We condemn it, too.
-The honourable member for Blaxland, who is interjecting, saw the invasion almost as a Government plot. He told the annual conference of the Young Labor Movement in Sydney:
It is so far away from our area of interest and Australia is not threatened, so we should leave it to the big powers.
He went on:
It is extremely unlikely that the Soviet Union will attack Pakistan or Iran. After all, who would want Pakistan? Or for that matter, who would want Afghanistan?
The Leader of the Opposition was quoted in similar terms, saying that Afghanistan was many thousands of kilometres away from Australia. This impression of how serious a threat the invasion posed was quite clear. The contrast in the approaches by the Government and the Opposition was also quite clear. In mid-January the Government announced its response to the review of Soviet-Australian relations, which included a range of actions designed to demonstrate to Soviet leaders, in clear terms, that Australia was strongly opposed to the invasion. The Prime Minister also announced plans for a visit to the United States and Great Britain for talks on the Western world’s response to the invasion- a visit which was widened to take in France and West Germany. Before the Prime Minister left Australia on this important mission, the Government decided to review exports of Australian raw materials to the Soviet Union. As events progressed and the significance of the Soviet invasion became clear even to the Australian Labor Party, its leaders were shamed into recognising how serious the Soviet threat was.
On 7 January the Leader of the Opposition issued a statement saying that the Russian intervention in Afghanistan deserved the strongest international censure. He said that in one paragraph of 28 words. The rest of his 10-paragraph statement criticised the Government. Forgetting that only a few days earlier he had been saying that Afghanistan was too far away to matter, he criticised this Government and that of the United States for not acting earlier to prevent the Soviet invasion. For that effort he was described by my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs as the candidate for the award of hypocrite of the decade. That is a judgment that I totally agree with. The Leader of the Opposition also sounded off a lot about trade embargoes. He said:
For Australia to announce a trade embargo on additional wheat sales to the USSR would be an empty gesture.
When the Prime Minister returned from his mission overseas the Government announced its decision to review raw material exports. I have said that the review took into account the current attitudes of other countries, including the United States, and the likely effects of any embargo on Australia and its effect on world markets. I would like to say a little more on that in a moment. Firstly, let me say that, given the attitude on trade embargoes already expressed by the Leader of the Opposition, I might have expected him to accept responsibly the decision we had made that there were no point in having an embargo on these raw materials as they were not considered strategic materials. Instead he brushed aside all that. The Labor Party’s leaders went on with a cry of hypocrisy, scandal, and anything else that came into their mouths. The real hypocrisy and the real political cowardice lies with them and their inability to come to grips with the current world situation.
We have seen the same sort of thing happen over the issue of the Olympic Games boycott. The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), on his return from overseas, said that it was important that the non-communist showed the Soviet Union that its behaviour would not be tolerated. Within a day or two- of course, he was pulled into line-we were told that the boycott was not a good idea. On 22 January the Leader of the Opposition said:
An effective boycott of the Moscow Olympics undoubtedly would be a major psychological weapon deployed against the Soviet Union.
Then on 13 February he said:
Persisting with a futile boycott will only serve to make Australia an absurdity among the sporting nations of the world.
I would suggest that the only absurdity here is the Leader of the Opposition. At a time of world concern over the intentions of the Soviet Union, the contrast between the approach to the issue by the Government and the Opposition cannot be better demonstrated than by looking at the actions of the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister. While the Leader of the Opposition issued reams of paper, condemning this and criticising that, the Prime Minister acted. By his actions he enhanced the standing and reputation of this country with our friends and allies. His talks in Washington, London, Paris and Bonn were an important part of the consultations among Western nations on a coherent response to the crisis cause by Afghanistan. The Prime Minister ensured that Australia’s concern was made known to the leaders of the great powers and was able to communicate the views of European leaders to the President of the United States. He also gained, for Australia, first hand knowledge of the views of Western governments and their assessments of the Afghanistan situation.
I believe, as the Government believes, that the Prime Minister’s talks with Western leaders were the most significant in such terms as this world crisis and regional security as there has been since the post-war years. The Prime Minister’s statement has detailed and underlined a concern of fundamental importance to all Australians. The Australian Government has condemned the invasion as totally without justification and a violation of acceptable international standards of conduct.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The right honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– We have just listened to the Leader of the National Country Party of Australia and Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) indicate his views of the situation affecting Australia today. One would not find the real situation identified in the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr
Malcolm Fraser), nor would one find it in the remarks just made by his deputy. His remarks contained a tirade of abuse of the Australian Labor Party. Nothing at all was mentioned regarding the foreign policy of the Government. The same Minister was able to indicate that he was able to enter into nuclear safeguard treaties with Iran, South Korea, the Philippines and Finland. Let us look at the troubles that have happened since the treaties were announced. I will leave Finland out of it for a moment. There is no longer a Shah in Iran, President Park of South Korea has been assassinated and there is a threat of civil war in the Philippines. I am happy to report that in Finland the uranium will be enriched by the Russians.
I ask the people of Australia to look at what this Government is saying. Certainly we should condemn the actions of the Russians in Afghanistan. We all agree with that. Let us look at page 14 of the Prime Minister’s prepared statement. What does he think is the most effective method of dealing with the Russians? We are to have all sorts of very minor sanctions against the Russians. The last of the 1 1 measures deals with the boycott of the Olympic Games. If we have trade boycotts, we should by all means have a boycott of the Olympic Games. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) is the Minister directly responsible for Australia selling wool, wheat and rutile to the Russians. Is it any wonder that the young people of Australia say: How hypocritical can you get? On the one hand you say you deplore what the Russians are doing- as you should- and then you say we are continuing to trade with Russia because not to do so would affect our income ‘?
Let us have a look at what happened in Question Time today. From the point of view of statements given to the House how accurate are the Prime Minister’s? The Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt) was asked the question: ‘Is it not a fact that some compensation will be payable to the island nations in the South Pacific because of the restraint placed on Russian cruise ships?’ He said: ‘Oh no, there will not be any compensation made’. I ask honourable members to have a look at the Prime Minister’s statement now. He stated: the Government will continue to consult with island governments ona number of proposals to enhance the development and the security of our common region. We will do so because we attach great importance to their general wellbeing and because we recognise that some of the other measures we are taking in relation to the Soviet Union will involve some costs on their part.
I put it on record that they have been offered aid and the Minister does not know anything about it. From the point of view of the maize contract in New South Wales it is known that the Federal Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Nixon) leant heavily on the Yellow Maize Board not to enter into a contract with the Russians, and as a result 25,000 tonnes of maize will not be sold at a price of $132 a tonne. The best offer now from the Japanese is $96 a tonne which is a loss of almost $lm to the maize growers of New South Wales. Let us be practical about trade. If the United States is not going to sell its maize in one market it is going to sell it in another and we are in the same market. If the United States is not going to sell its wheat to the Russians it is going to sell it in another market and we wind up in a weakened position. Carter himself has enough problems with the rural producers of America about what he will do. I can then identify why the Deputy Prime Minister says: ‘I do not want to get too involved in limiting the contracts for rural produce because you really cannot enforce them’.
But to bring the whole weight of this situation down on the youth of Australia and suggest that it should not participate in the Olympic Games is not really dealing with the problem. Personally, I can think of nothing more effective than having 300,000 visitors going to Moscow, as well as supporting their athletes urging that something be done about human rights in the Soviet Union and carrying placards to the effect that the Russians should get out of Afghanistan. How would the Russians handle that? They would be more embarrassed then anybody else to think that they had all these visitors protesting against their very policies. But what do we have? We have a Prime Minister who says that the age of detente has gone. It is the same old Prime Minister who has been the hawk of the past.
The Russians have made a drastic mistake in going into Afghanistan. It could well have been that Brezhnev was out-voted by young hawks coming up in the Kremlin and that could be a great danger for the world. Honourable members should mark my words when I say that within the next seven to nine years, in the major countries particularly in our region, all leaders will change. All will change whether by revolution or normal means. We will then find that the leaders coming up in those countries could be of a much more hawkish disposition. We can well understand that countries that we are hoping will remain stable at the present time could well become very unstable indeed. That is the great weakness of this argument. We have just had the Deputy Prime Minister talk about the Marxist philosophy and he recognises Pol Pot, the chief Marxist of Kampuchea. He is recognised and is virtually loved by this Government. What about the tragedy of that position so far as our region is concerned?
We recognise that continual problems between the United States and Russia can lead to an arms race, remove detente completely, and destroy the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty altogether. Carter has now withdrawn the SALT agreement from the Senate. In political terms I would say that he would have to do that because the hawks of the Senate would not allow him to endorse that Treaty anyway. As there is to be an election in America we are not going to get the calm, rational appreciation of what is in the best interests of the world at the present time. People from companies such as Westinghouse and others are delighted at the fact that the Pentagon will give more war contracts and they are talking about how they can improve production. But all these matters destroy human beings elsewhere in the world. That is the problem of our region. The Prime Minister on page four of his prepared statement was able to talk at length about Kampuchea. He did it in one line. He said that the Russians were subsidising the Vietnamese against Kampuchea.
There is no mention about what is happening to the Pol Pot regime and who is subsidising it. There is no mention of the one million refugees from Kampuchea at the present time who will not go back to their lands because of the atrocities of Pol Pot. This has everything to do with Australia’s future and stability because where will these people go if they cannot go back to their own country? How will they survive? This is the greatest worry at present. If a statement is to be made such as that made by the Prime Minister on how Australia ought to be well aware of the dangers to our country, surely we should advert to the problems immediately to our north? Let us look at the statements in today’s Press. We talk about atrocities, or the evidence of them. They are clearly indicated by Mr Teale who is just back from Kampuchea. He said: ‘I was in tears. I was looking at trenches with 8 to 1 8,000 corpses in them’.
There is strong evidence- of which the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) is as well aware of as I am- that Pol Pot has murdered Vh million people. Can we expect the million refugees on the border of Kampuchea and Thailand to go back to that barbarian? When one goes round the Association of South East Asian Nations countries one finds that they have been conditioned to think that the positions will be all right if we can get the Vietnamese out of Kampuchea. The Vietnamese should be out of
Kampuchea but are they going out of Kampuchea to leave Pol Pot? If one asks the refugees from Kampuchea whom they fear the most they reply that it is the Pol Pot regime. As indicated by Teale and others in today’s Press the reason is that the man is directly responsible for slaughtering 3 ‘/£ million people.
When I go to Singapore I am not impressed to find that the Foreign Minister of Singapore is having discussions with Leng Sary, the Deputy Prime Minister to Pol Pot, and his brotherinlaw, on the basis that there will be something satisfactory about the future of Kampuchea, when these people have destroyed Vh million of thenown kith and kin, where they have cut off people’s hands, and murdered everybody who has had an education. They destroyed schools and hospitals. Yet our present Government still recognises it.
This is no way to get peace and stability in our region because in the Kampuchean situation we have a super power involvement. Russia is there giving aid to Vietnam. China is there giving aid to Pol Pot. These are the immediate problems in our region. If there are a million people outside these boundaries with no place to go other than back to those boundaries surely a different Government here would have done something about the situation.
Because of the Prime Minister’s concentration on Afghanistan the present Government is only recognising part of the problem. I would like to remind the Prime Minister of what he previously thought about China. In years gone by- not so long ago- he said that if China were ever to be recognised, or to have friendly relations with the United States and/or Australia, he would fear for the safety of his children. In the 1960s we fought elections here on the downward thrust of China.
– And won them too.
-This is the point. Your party won those elections because people in Australia believed it. They want to have a look at the situation today. I have here a letter from one of our doctors working in the camps, looking after the unfortunates from Kampuchea, but getting no praise. He talks about the problems of those refugees. In his view one million of those refugees are not likely to survive. He talks about two of his own assistants whom he would like to help, and in the process he mentions that the mother of one of his assistants died of starvation during the Pol Pot regime. All the members of another assistant’s family died of unknown causes during the Pol Pot regime. I mention this in detail because the other matters in the speech of the Prime Minister have been covered at length. We do not disagree with the indictment of the Soviet Union, but do not let us be so stupid and so blinkered as to think that we can divert public opinion in Australia on what is likely to happen to us. We look like being the last country in this region still to recognise Pol Pot. We are the last people still to attack the Vietnamese. I have been in Hanoi as well as in the ASEAN countries. We have the doubtful distinction of having an ambassador in Hanoi with nothing to do because we have withdrawn all aid from Vietnam- aid which, I might mention, was related to some cattle and to the fact that we might be going to educate some Vietnamese in Canberra. I cannot think of anything better for our interests, but if in the process the Government is going to adopt an attitude of isolating Vietnam from the ASEAN countries it is heading for trouble. It is driving Vietnam right into the arms of Russia. Would it make any difference then if the Vietnamese thought, because of their fear of China, that they should have a base in Cam Ranh Bay? What would that do for stability in the region? Our American friends have enough on their hands.
Where do we stand in this sort of relationship? Let us make it very clear. The ASEAN group is having discussions. Its Foreign Ministers can go to Hanoi and the Vietnamese Foreign Minister is going to visit some of the ASEAN countries for dialogue. Not one of our Ministers has gone to Hanoi in the last five years. The Prime Minister would be embarrassed to go there, and I think he has told the Foreign Minister not to go. Nevertheless, we leave our ambassador there. God knows what he is going to do when he cannot get support on any issue.
Is it not a fundamental problem of the Marxists’ philosophy that they are not always able to control the people and, if they cannot control them, they slaughter them? That is the position with Pol Pot. Is it any wonder that those regimes, Marxist and barbarous as they are, will cause people to flee? That is what has happened with a million refugees on the border of Kampuchea. It is vital, it is important, it is urgent that, apart from talking about Afghanistan, we should talk about super powers, super power rivalry, bases and displaced personnel. Mark my words, the numbers of displaced personnel in the region to our north can run into millions in a very short space of time. They have nowhere to go. Not one ASEAN country will accept one refugee. They will not do it, cannot do it, and that leaves us in a very vulnerable position indeed.
I speak with sincerity as an Australian. I cannot see much future for this country unless we wake up to what we are about in the region immediately to our north. Unless we open up dialogue not only with the ASEAN countries but also with Vietnam, unless we get China and Vietnam to make peace, unless we get the Soviet Union out of the area altogether, we are in a very dangerous position. The boat people already exist in their thousands, with nowhere to go. Is it any wonder, when we consider Vietnam, which has fought wars for 35 years, that it is in a very depressed economic condition? But it is not going to give up the fight. It has already beaten the French, it has beaten the Americans, and it has more than held its own against the Chinese. It is in no condition to surrender just because this Government thinks it should do so. In addition, Vietnam has all the usual internal problems. As I have said, the most serious problem is that of Kampuchea. The most serious danger is the instability of the region immediately to our north. We should have dialogue with all these people. The Australian Government should initiate forthwith a conference in this region to try to get all armies out of Kampuchea, to make it a neutral country, to guarantee that its refugees can go back to their lands, and to give aid to all people in the region.
-Order! The honourable member’s time as expired.
-We are here in this Parliament to debate and to condemn one of the most naked examples of arrogrant aggression that has taken place in recent years. In the light of that, it is a depressing fact that we have had to listen to the leaders of an erstwhile government, the alternative government of Australia, who have had nothing to tell us except that we are somehow diverting public attention from great domestic issues. I should have thought, and members of the Opposition should have thought, if they represented their constituencies, that the fundamental responsibility of this Government and of the members of this Parliament, including the Australian Labor Party, was to protect the integrity and security of our people and our nation. Is it not a fact that over the last three weeks or so every single worthwhile newspaper in Australia has criticised the Labor Party’s attitude? I quote from the Australian of 3 1 January:
The Australian Labor Party appears to be following a policy- if it can properly be called a policy- in connection with the current world crisis centred on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which is out of touch with the bulk of public thinking and out of touch with reality.
More damning words I doubt anyone in this House would be able to utter. Yet we have now been told by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen)- long may he remain so- that the Russians made a mistake in going into Afghanistan. Yes, I think it is fair to say that they did make a mistake. But perhaps it was one of those mistakes which people who have a bad memory tend to forget. We should not forget the words of the famous French political scientistRaymond Aron- who in 1968, at the time of the Czechoslovakian incident, said that unless the Soviet Union had a Czechoslovakia at least once a fortnight the Western world would tend to forget.
Let us be frank about it. We have forgotten. We have forgotten that since 1919 the Soviet Union has progressively absorbed, to use a simple word that even the Opposition should understand, virtually every state which shared a common border with the Soviet Union. In 1 92 1 it was Mongolia. Again in 1921 Byelorussia was divided between Russia and Poland. In 1945 the Soviet Union added the Baltic states, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and so on. In October 1 956 we had the invasion of Hungary, in response to a revolution against communism. In 1968 we had the invasion of Czechoslovakia, again in response to liberal reforms by a Czechoslovakian government for the good of the Czechoslovakian people. For that, what did they get? They were invaded and their system was destroyed. Now we have some 80,000-odd Russian troops invading a virtually defenceless country on their border, a country which since 1919 has tried as best it could, fearing the realities of a common border with the Soviet Union, to maintain a semblance of accord with its mighty neighbour, a country which over the years has tried to be in the Third World. It has taken aid from the West and it has taken aid from the East. Any Opposition members who have been to Afghanistan would know that the system of highways throughout that country was built from east to west with American aid and from north to south with Russian aid. Now we know why. The northsouth route is far more useful.
At every international conference since the events in Afghanistan the West and the Third World have sustained their criticism, to condemn and to damn this further example of Russian intervention in the domestic affairs of another country. How many more revolutions do we have to see crushed? How many more small states do we have to see disappear from the face of the earth? Are we to wait until Afghanistan becomes another Soviet socialist republic and the map of the Soviet Union moves a little further south? The West has been accused today by Opposition spokesmen of doing too little too late. I accept that criticism. In fairness, we are now trying to do something about it, but again, Opposition spokesmen tell us that we are wasting our time. One of the leading representatives of the Labor Party, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating)- allegedly a future Prime Minister of this country- is sitting there on the front bench. What was his contribution? ‘Do not worry’, he said to the Young Labor Movement. ‘The Afghanistan crisis is not our worry’, said the honourable member for Blaxland, according to the Australian of 28 January.
– He didn’t, did he?
– Yes, he did. At that same conference the gentleman who was elected leader of the Young Labor Movement said: ‘We have got to go left’. They certainly achieved that; the conference could not even pass a motion condemning the Soviet Union for its actions in Afghanistan. The vote was split down the middle. But the Young Labor Movement conference was only too happy to pass unanimously a motion to the effect that it wanted no part of any form of compulsory military service in this land. Of course not! ‘But we do not mind’, says the Young Labor Conference, ‘if the communists wish to invade Afghanistan or take on any other country which happens to share a border’. ‘It doesn’t matter’, says the honourable member for Blaxland, ‘it’s so far away’. If the honourable member bothered to study the trend of recent history he would rind that today distance is not a necessarily limiting criterion. The capacity of a state to maximise its force at a specific point to achieve an objective is a factor which the Soviet Union, almost since its inception in 1919, has demonstrated time after time.
But the Soviet Union has learnt that. Generally speaking it has succeeded. Where it has not been prepared to use its own might it has used its surrogates, the Cubans and the East Germans, mainly on the continents of Africa and South America. Whatever country asks for assistance, whether or not the request comes from a minority group which calls itself Marxist, then assistance is offered. Yet the USSR comes before the world and assures us that there is nothing more to worry about. I quote from Pravda in 1 978 with regard to the Olympic Games. It said: for the first time ever the Olympics will be held in a country the entire internal and foreign policy of which -
Listen to this gentlemen; this is very pertinent- is fully in line with the Olympic ideals of peace and friendship among nations.
What friendship? What peace? What nations? I would deign to suggest that the only nations that those remarks could refer to are those which over the years have fallen under the sway, the domination and the control of the USSR about which can be told one of the most beastly stories of human suffering that this world has ever known. Yet we are told by the Opposition: ‘Don’t worry; it’s so far away’. Why should we not worry? Roy Mason, a good socialist and a senior minister in the last British Government, in 1976 said this of the Soviet Union’s military capacity:
During 1976 the Soviet Union will bring into service over 200 new generation intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM); a variety of other missiles; 1,000 combat aircraft, mostly swing-wing types; over 700 helicopters; over 3,000 tanks -
There are over 40,000 main battle tanks in their inventory- 4,000 armoured personnel carriers; up to ten nuclear submarines- of which six will each carry 12-16 ballistic missiles of 4,800 miles range -
Yet we are told by the Opposition: ‘Don’t worry; Afghanistan is so far away ‘- and major surface ships, including a 40,000 ton aircraft carrier.
There are now three. Those figures I have quoted can now be multiplied by at least 100 per cent. One simply has to ask why it is that a nation which professes peace wishes to arm to such a massive extent. Why is it that the Soviet Union since 1945, when the rest of the world disarmed and turned massive military resources to commercial purposes to build up the quality of life of its people, has continued to grind out from the mills of its industry the greatest conventional military armaments that the world has ever known? But we are told: ‘Afghanistan is so far away’. That is the litany of the Labor Party. This Government, in accordance with its right as the Government of Australia and in accordance with its duty to the Australian people, is not prepared to stand back and let there be more Afghanistans.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
-Before the suspension of the sitting I was making certain observations on the role that Australia saw for itself as part of the Western alliance in facing the threat that had been posed to it by the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. It is our firm belief that the main aim of Soviet foreign policy has been to accumulate power and influence in the world while preserving the security of the Soviet state. In this context, unfortunately, two facts emerge. On the one hand, despite the Soviet Union’s alleged policy of detente, it has built up a military machine which, at least at the conventional level, would have at the moment the most potent capacity of any in the world. There is still a possibility that the Soviet Union lags behind the United States in terms of atomic weapons. If so, the gap is being closed rapidly. This means that during the remaining years of the decade of the 1980s the Western world has absolutely no alternative but to face the reality of the need to re-arm where necessary to be able to demonstrate to the Soviet Union that it has not only the will but also the ability to withstand any threat that it may wish to pose to Australia or to countries of the Third World like Afghanistan.
It is an unfortunate fact of the democratic system that the memory of the electorate is often of relatively short duration. That is exactly the opposite of what we find in the Soviet Union, where there is no political life as we understand it and where control of the media is such that it is not all that difficult for a government to apply its policy without any risk of its being questioned by the masses of the community for many years. The Soviet dialectic and Marxist concept of the historic inevitability of the power of the Soviet Union ultimately to be virtually the ruler of the world represents a philosophy that we cannot accept. If we do we will have failed- we will have failed our people, we will have failed freedom, we will have failed the very concept which brought us to this chamber in the first place.
It is for that reason that the policy which has been announced today by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) emphasises quite clearly that Australia at least is one country in the Western alliance that is prepared to play its full part to support the United States, to ensure a sense of unity, which is absolutely essential at this time in the Western alliance. It is very easy, as we saw during the 1930s, for divisions to appear, for various states with similar constitutional frameworks and political systems to find reasons why it is in their interest not to co-operate. It is easy to hope as Winston Churchill said that many people feel ‘if they feed the crocodile enough the crocodile will eat them last’. We are not the crocodile, and this country is not going to be offered up as a willing sacrifice to the USSR which wishes to gain the capacity to influence the entire world.
As I said earlier, the record of the Soviet Union since 1919 has been extraordinarily bad and sordid. It is not a record such as to encourage anyone to stand back and hope that certain historical processes will not in fact take place. We have been warned time and time again but on all occasions we have ignored the warning because it suited our people and our political leaders to seek the easy way out. The Australian Government believes that in this case there is no easy way out, that the time has come when the Australian people must be prepared to stand up for what is right. One of the fundamental principles upon which we joined the United Nations -
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union was and is a brutal and flagrant abuse of power and a breach of fundamental human rights. The Soviet Union has again shattered the concept of national sovereignty and non-interference in the affairs of another country. Its behaviour is to be condemned. There is, I think it is fair to say, no difference of opinion in this Parliament between the Government and the Opposition about the Soviet Union’s actions, but there is a difference of opinion about the response thereto and the nature and motivation of that response. There has been no co-ordinated, thoughtful, effective response, one which would inflict a high penalty on the Soviet Union for its behaviour. The Australian Government’s response has been conditioned by the primitive and long-held views of the Prime Minister about the nature of Soviet policy.
From the Prime Minister’s statement today he apparently is rubbing his hands with glee. He said that detente is finished. How any Prime Minister, any sensible head of government in the Western world, could take pride in the fact that detente is finished, as he terms it, is inexplicable to me. Detente and the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, which have now been disrupted, are the only hope of this planet to avoid the ominous portent of a global nuclear exchange. Yet this Prime Minister is rubbing his hands with glee and saying that detente is finished.
The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) has just said that Australia will play its true part with the West. What is its true part? To date we have not seen very much. The Fraser Government has been very wise after the event. Today the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) pointed out the ignorance of the Fraser Government concerning the chain of events in Afghanistan last year. As long ago as last September my colleague, Senator Wheeldon, asked this question of the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs:
Has the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs seen newspaper reports that there are 20 companies of Soviet combat troops in Afghanistan . . .
He went on to ask further questions, to which the Minister replied in October as follows:
These reports have arisen out of comments by a spokesman for the United States State Department on 19 September 1979 to the effect that 400 Soviet troops had been stationed at Bagram air base, 35 miles north of Kabul, and appeared to be providing security for the base . . .
I have had no independent verification of these reports, but have no reason to doubt their validity. Since the April 1978 coup in Afghanistan, there has been a rapid and extensive buildup of Soviet military and economic assistance . . .
He went on to say that the Government had expressed concern about instability in Afghanistan and the West Asian region. If the Government expressed its concern, what did its Foreign Minister do about it? Did he make any representations to the Soviet Government or approach any friendly countries about taking a concerted approach to the problem before the invasion had actually taken place? Of course not. The Government did absolutely nothing about it. What we have seen is no response at all. But the Government is very wise after the event. After all the flurry and the rhetoric dies down what is going to happen? It is all set out at page 14 of the prepared speech of the Prime Minister. These are some of the things that are going to happen. This is, as the honourable member for Bradfield says, the Australian Government playing its true part with the West.
What is the Government going to do against the Russians? The Prime Minister said:
As from 31 May Soviet cruise ship operations from Australian ports are suspended . . .
Big deal! That is going to scare them right out of Asia! The Prime Minister said that another measure would be the indefinite suspension of all visits by Ministers and senior officials between Australia and the Soviet Union. Who would want to see an Australian Minister in the Soviet Union after the caning that has been meted out here, and what would be the point of it anyway? I repeat, the Prime Minister referred to the indefinite suspension of all visits by Ministers and senior officials between Australia and the Soviet Union. That will horrify the Russians! They will be shaking in the Kremlin when they read that! The Prime Minister also referred to the indefinite suspension of the periodic consultations conducted by senior representatives of the Australian and Soviet Foreign Ministers. God help us! They will be shivering when they read that little paragraph! Another measure is the exclusion of any new activities under the current program of cultural co-operation and withdrawal of official support from other bilateral cultural activities. That will really frighten them, too! That will be very effective! If that is what the Government calls its effective response, God help Australia.
The Prime Minister also stated that the measures included support for United States action in relation to grain sales to the Soviet Union by not replacing the grain embargoed by the United States. The United States has embargoed its present grain sales. All this Government is prepared to do is not make up the shortfall. It is not prepared to embargo its grain sales. The Leader of the National Country Party of Austalia (Mr Anthony), who said earlier today in a defamatory speech that the Australian Labor Party’s policy on the Soviet issue was counterfeit and cowardly, was the man in Cabinet who said that there would be no grain embargo by Australia in respect of existing contracts for wool or wheat. Enough of this damn humbug. We are sick of this mealy-mouthed attack upon us by honourable members opposite.
Let us get down to the real issue, which is that Government members are not prepared to take any real action against the Soviet Union. They are not prepared to put their rural interests at risk with wheat and wool. They made shabby and mealy-mouthed attacks on the Labor Party whenever they could in today’s debate. They have made no positive contribution at all to the debate, I believe. We find that the Government’s analysis of the Soviet Union’s intention to interdict Western oil supplies in the Straits of Hormuz as a rationalisation for the move into Afghanistan is nonsense, because the Soviet Union already has an Indian Ocean fleet which it can beef up at any moment. It is not advantaged militarily in terms of interdiction by its movement into Afghanistan. Quite obviously if one wants to find an explanation for the Soviet Union’s unforgivable behaviour, it is found in its paranoia with the instability of a pro-Soviet government in a Muslim area on its border. No matter what the rationale is, it is not acceptable. But the rationale is not this Government’s rationale. If the Russians want to do anything about the West’s oil supply all they have to do is to stop supplying their satellite countries with Soviet oil and as soon as the satellites started to buy into the tight world oil market the price would drive the West into economic chaos. They do not need to interdict shipping to send up the price of oil- as if that would happen.
What has happened here? The response of the Australian Government has been governed by its electoral prospects. We had the consumer-led recovery. It failed. We had the investment-led recovery. It failed. We had the wages and prices freeze. It failed. We had the resources-led recovery. It failed. We had the export-led recovery. It failed. Now it is the Russian-led recovery. That is the one the Government does not want to fail. The countries closest to Afghanistan are not making a brouhaha about this situation. They are sensibly considering the impacts upon their countries. But that is not what we have seen. The Prime Minister immediately thinks up a price of propagandising, of theatre, by taking off in his private Boeing 707 aircraft to see the American President at the request of the Prime Minister. When the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) drags himself away from the sunlamp he decides to have a trip through Asia. He soon got his comeuppance when he came to India and Mrs Gandhi. She asked him quite plainly what he was doing. The Liberal Government in Australia had taken no interest in India. It is not the Prime Minister who visits India but the Foreign Minister. What is he proposing? He is proposing to rearm Pakistan. Mrs Gandhi told him in no uncertain terms that she did not see any help for the security of that part of West Asia by re-arming Pakistan.
Then we saw the television clips of the matey and chummy meeting between the Foreign Minister and President Zia. All of a sudden in Australian political terms President Zia is a great democrat. The truth is that he judically murdered his own Prime Minister, set up a dictatorship which is no better than the one next door in Afghanistan and is now trying to build a nuclear weapons arsenal. These are the sorts of people we are talking to and exchanging views with. What is the point of exchanging views? What did the Foreign Minister say to them? Did he say that the Government believes that Pakistan ought to be an anti-Soviet buffer in west Asia and that we ought to oppose militarily any incursion by Soviet troops in Pakistan? If he said that, if Pakistan were to call on Australia for help, would Australia respond militarily in that part of the world? When I say that we would not respond militarily there, I get this brouhaha from the Government about a so-called insane remark that I have made. Of course, it is outside our strategic area of interest, and the Government’s own strategic plan would not even mention Afghanistan. There is no way that the Australian Government would commit troops or military assistance to Pakistan. What is the point of an exchange of views with a regime such as Zia’s? There is no point at all. This Government cannot even stop drug-runners crossing the Queensland and Western Australian coasts. It has no surveillance of the west coast of Australia and yet its Ministers are running around the world as if they are from a major world power. Australia is throwing its weight around South East Asia after the event and after it was not prepared to lift a finger when warned about the Soviet build-up of troops not only by its own intelligence but also by Senator Wheeldon in the Senate as early as September 1979.
The Government talks about supporting the United States and the Western alliance in West Asia and the Middle East. The Americans are hated in that part of the world as much as the Soviet Union is. America installed the Shah in Iran and overthrew the Mossadegh Government. When Bakhtiar, the moderate, wanted to establish a government in Iran, the Central Intelligence Agency and the United States were just not interested. They did to Bakhtiar what the Germans did to Kerensky in the Soviet Union in the early 1900s. They were not interested in a moderate socialist government. They were prepared to see it go to the- wall. They installed the Shah and they are responsible for that instability, as is the Soviet Union. So much for their involvement and this Government’s help in the Middle East.
When we look at the Prime Minister’s trip abroad we see that it was a dismal failure. He came back here asking rhetorical questions. When he first got off the plane he was asking himself: ‘Is the invasion of Afghanistan not a sufficient invasion? Is Afghanistan too unimportant to apply the principle? Has the Soviet Union not deployed enough troops to give sufficient cause?’ He was bewildered because his trip was a dismal failure. Margaret Thatcher met him at his request and then did not do what she normally does, which is to hold a joint Press conference, because she did not want to be identified with him. Helmut Schmidt and Giscard d ‘Estaing, the respective heads of government of Germany and France, made it quite clear that the meetings with them were at the request of the Prime Minister of Australia and that they would not be involved in any Press conferences with him or in any photographs afterwards. When the Prime Minister was asked about the exchange of views between himself and the French President he said coyly that he just could not say what was discussed. We know what was discussed. Fraser was politely sent packing by the French President. The Prime Minister at his own request made himself a messenger boy for President Carter in Europe, mainly for political capital back in Australia.
All he has succeeded in doing is taking Australia from the status of an ally of the United States back to the status of client, as we were in the 1960s. We moved from that client status to an ally status in the 1970s. We are back there again. The trip was a dismal failure. Even when he was away he could not handle himself properly. We saw a repeat of his old propensity for leaking. He is so delighted to be at the side of the great and powerful that he cannot wait to prove his insider status by leaking confidential material. At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Lusaka he leaked prematurely the details of the Lancaster House conference proposal on Rhodesia and in fact nearly pulled the rug from under the whole proposal. The British were absolutely at their wits’ end trying to recover ground. He put the whole process at risk. On this United States trip he leaked the fact that the United States would use tactical nuclear weapons to halt any Soviet invasion of Iran, which was an act of gross irresponsibility. That leak came only from him because he alone was with the President; and Mr Furlonger from the Office of National Assessments briefed Australian journalists on the plane to that effect.
The truth is that when the Prime Minister is outside Australia he is like that big cartoon rooster Foghorn Leghorn- he just cannot shut up. He just has to blurb all his information right across the landscape and major gaffs are part and parcel of the Fraser foreign policy style. No country in the Western alliance could trust this Prime Minister with other than low priority intelligence which is available to any other intelligence organisation. After the trade sanctions have collapsed, after the trip has been a failure and after the rhetoric has died down, what do we see? We see the miserable proposals on page 14 of the Prime Minister’s prepared statement. When we get through them all and get to the bottom of them we find a decision not to support the staging of the Olympic Games in Moscow this year. That is the only proposal. There is no mention of beef, of wheat, of wool, of the basic contracts or of rutile- none of it is to be embargoed. The only embargo is to be on the Olympic Games.
In fact those who support an Olympic embargo are putting at risk in a de facto way the condemnation of the Soviet Union by the United Nations, because the United Nations carried overwhelmingly a motion of condemnation against the Soviet Union. Now that the emphasis has swung to the Olympic Games, the Western putsch against the Moscow Olympics will be seen in this context as a vote of confidence in the Soviet Union if the Games go ahead. That should never have become the issue that it has become and the United Nations condemnation should have stood as the major expression of world opinion. That has been pushed into the background. What is foremost in everybody’s mind is whether the Moscow boycott can go on with the Soviet Olympics. It is fighting the wrong issue with the wrong technique at the wrong time and discounting the very valuable vote that was taken against the Soviet Union in the United Nations. I conclude by saying that the Government does not deserve support for the way it has behaved in response to this invasion.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is very obvious that the Opposition’s response to the Afghanistan assessment statement today of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is pathetic. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), the so-called whiz-kid of the Labor Party, has just spoken. All he did was to attempt to denigrate the Prime Minister and his recent successful trip abroad. He said nothing constructive, nothing positive and he had no policy. The Opposition is bereft of policy and ideas and has done and said nothing constructive in this very serious international situation. The Opposition on this matter, as on others, has nowhere to go and nothing to say. We are living in a troubled world. The Prime Minister is absolutely correct in saying:
In the first weeks of 1980 the world is facing probably its most dangerous international crisis since World War II.
The Soviets have conventional arms superiority and nuclear parity. They have marched into Afghanistan. They have bases in the Middle East. They are causing ferment in Asia and Africa. They have made their first grab for control of the world ‘s oil supplies in the Middle East and a grab for access to the Indian Ocean. I congratulate the Prime Minister on his comprehensive assessment presented to the House today, the leadership that he has shown Australia at this time and the success of his overseas visit to a number of leaders in the Western world, including the President of the United States of America. I am pleased to report to the Parliament that I can report first hand of his reception in the United States capital, Washington. I was there on a working visit: I was at the White
House. People there were looking forward to his visit with anticipation. I spoke with people on Capitol Hill, the Congress of the United States, and I can say that Australia’s response in the international climate to the events in Afghanistan was well received and it was with great expectation and anticipation that those people in the Congress, the people in the White House and the President himself were looking forward to the Prime Minister’s visit. Australia’s independent response -
Opposition members interjecting-
-Just listen to the rabble.
-Order! I remind honourable members on my left that every member of this House has a right to be heard in silence. I ask honourable members to observe that requirement.
-Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Australia’s independent response as a member of the free world is appreciated by our partner in the Western alliance, the United States. I consider that Australia-United States relations, based on mutual respect, are about to enter a new era. Let us not forget the ANZUS alliance. I consider that it is our most important alliance and I challenge those members opposite who have been interrupting to deny that the ANZUS alliance- the United States-Australia relationship- is the most vital alliance to this country. Do they deny that? They are having a bit each way. They are not interested in the defence of Australia. The naked aggression in Afghanistan is to be condemned. Is the Opposition condemning it? There are 85,000 troops in that country.
The world in the past has tended to forget the lessons of history. Hitler’s use of the Berlin Olympics for propaganda purposes was forgotten before the Second World War. The Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1 956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 have again been forgotten. It is time now for the free world to take a stand. The West must not be weak on this occasion. The Soviets are threatening the Indian Ocean which is of vital interest and importance to Australia. They are now 300 miles from the Straits of Hormuz, through which most of the world’s oil passes. Their aggression and invasion brings them nearer to a much wanted warm water port in the Indian Ocean. I will be interested in the reaction of the honourable members opposite to the fact that the West must be grateful that President Carter has declared the Persian Gulf area an area of vital interest to the United States because this, in fact, is synonymous with saying that that area is of vital interest to the interests of the Western world. I challenge members of the Opposition to deny that. Long before the invasion of Afghanistan the Soviets had, in fact, built up a significant naval presence in the Indian Ocean. I spoke out about that last year, long before the events occurred there. I said then that the events in Iran must not obscure the long term strategic objectives of the Soviets. The Soviets took advantage of the United Nations talks for peace, freedom and a zone of neutrality in the Indian Ocean, and took advantage of strategic arms limitations negotiations to build up in the Ocean itself.
I congratulate the Government on the announced measures it has taken to increase surveillance with extra flights over and patrols of the Indian Ocean and to establish a new naval base in Western Australia. I congratulate it on the other announcements of a defence nature which were made today, including those concerning a new replenishment ship and 75 new tactical fighter aircraft. The Soviets are on the march. I consider that West Asia and the Indian Ocean will be the centre of attention for some time to come. The Straits of Hormuz are vital to the free world. The Soviets are expansionist and imperialist. They are expanding their empire. They have been contained in the west in Europe and on the east by China and they are now moving south and breaking out. They are either active alone, as in Afghanistan, or through their surrogates the Cubans and East Germans in other parts of the world. They have bases in Aden and in South Yemen and they have their so-called ‘intructors ‘ in Ethiopia.
They are doubtless encouraging the Syrians who have just moved from Beirut to the border with Israel. There will undoubtedly be trouble in the Middle East again because of Soviet intentions. They are using Indian Ocean ports more and more, supplying weapons to some in black Africa to create chaos and instability and using surrogates and advisers as they did in Angola. In Asia in Indo-China they are subsidising Vietnamese invasion of Indo-China to the tune of $3m a day. I refer to the invasion of Kampuchea. The Prime Minister has pointed out that Vietnam is attempting to consolidate its control over Kampuchea with the active and massive support of the Soviet Union. From first hand experience, I consider that on the border region of Thailand and Kampuchea the Soviet Union is deliberately creating instability in South East Asia by creating a refugee problem. By making one million people homeless on the border of Kampuchea and Thailand incredible instability is created in
Thailand. The Thais must be supported in overcoming the problems they have. Let us not forget that-
– Pol Pot.
-Pol Pot has been mentioned. Pol Pot is a communist. Let us not deny that the problems are created by two communist factions fighting each other. After visiting the camps on the border I would like to pay tribute to the Australian doctors, nurses and officials there who are doing a great job for Australia working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. I did not hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) congratulate the Australians doing what they are doing there. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to Pol Pot and to the fact that Australia still recognises his Government. He said that we are being criticised for so doing. The reason Australia has not denied recognition to that government is that our Association of South East Asian Nations friends and neighbours say to us that to do so would be to recognise the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea. Our friends in South East Asia and ASEAN have asked us not to change yet because to do so soon would be unwise.
Honourable member opposite are laughing. On the Opposition benches they are denying the truth. I believe the time will shortly come for us not to recognise Pol Pot. We can give a lead to the ASEAN countries, but sufficient time has to be allowed to pass for that to happen; otherwise the Vietnamese will use for propaganda purposes the fact that their aggression and invasion have been recognised. This is happening in the Australian region of the world. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition tried to say that Australia was not interested in South East Asia. The Prime Minister referred to the problems of Kampuchea and Indo-China in his speech today. The Foreign Minister (Mr Peacock) has just visited the ASEAN capitals in a most successful fashion. It is hypocrisy for the Opposition to say that Australia is not interested.
Let us now turn to the question of the Olympic Games. As the Prime Minister has said, all the advice that the Government has received indicates that the moving, cancellation, or boycotting of the Games will be the most effective way of bringing home to the Soviet Government and, even more, to the Russian people, the consequences of the invasion of Afghanistan that have caused us to take the position that we have taken. The Prime Minister is absolutely right. But let us not look solely at what the Prime Minister says. Let us look at what those on the ground might say. I quote from the Melbourne Age of 1 February. It states:
Boycott the Games dissidents appeal Vladimir Bukovsky and 1 1 other Russian dissidents now living in the West today appealed to athletes, officials and governments to boycott the Moscow Olympics or have them moved.
The dissidents said in a pamphlet published here that the Soviets would regard the Games as a stamp of legitimacy if they went ahead this summer.
There is dull silence on the Opposition benches. Do they deny that those who have been persecuted, that, those who have suffered in the Soviet Union, that those who have been in psychiatric prisons -
– You are a hypocrite.
-Does the honourable member for Melbourne deny that there are psychiatric prisons and slave camps in the Soviet Union and that the people who have been fortunate enough to escape from them are crying out at this time for the West to help them and to boycott the Olympic Games? That is what the dissidents are saying. But at the same time as the dissidents are saying this and at the same time as the Soviets are invading Afghanistan, a crackdown has occurred in the Soviet Union on dissidents. There has been a spate of arrests in the Soviet Union. Let me quote from the Australian. It states:
By the end of 1979 the Kremlin’s policy of persecution of religious and human rights dissidents had left their followers almost leaderless and unlikely to trouble the authorities during the Moscow Olympics.
That is what the dissidents are saying. The dissidents are appealing to the free world to boycott the Olympics. I refer to a report tabled in this Parliament by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on human rights in the Soviet Union. It is compulsory reading for anybody who has doubts about the correctness of the Government’s decision to boycott the Games. In that report the Committee recommended that the Government try to persuade the Soviet Government that the USSR would be seen in a more favourable light if large numbers of political and religious prisoners were released from prisons, labour colonies and psychiatric hospitals before the Olympic Games. What has happened? There has been a crackdown because of events in Afghanistan.
The Soviets are concerned and they are, in fact, cracking down on human freedoms in the Soviet Union. I ask people who are worried about the boycott of the Olympics to read that report. I ask them to read the appeals of the dissidents because they are the people who know, the people who have suffered, are appealing to us in the West. If honourable members are unsure, they should read this report and listen to the voices of the dissidents who are appealing to us. I conclude by referring to what the famous Soviet writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn who has defected to the West said in his address at Harvard University last week. He said:
Communism stops only when it encounters a wall, even if it is only a wall of resolve. The West can not now avoid erecting such a wall in what is already its hour of extremity. Meanwhile, however, 20 possible allies have fallen to Communism since World War II . . . The wall will have to be erected with what strength remains. The present generation of Westerners will have to make a stand on the road upon which its predecessors have so thoughtlessly retreated for 60 years.
The measures put forward by the Prime Minister today show that the Australian Government has played its part in building this wall.
-That the Soviet Union should be condemned for what it has done in Afghanistan is not up for debate. The Labor Party supports the decision that has been taken by the 104 countries in the United Nations. Each speaker on this side will do the same during this debate. That is not the question. The question is: What part should Australia play in the crisis we now call the intervention by the Soviet Union into Afghanistan? Honourable members opposite are critical that we should be paying so much attention to the role of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). I think that if we hark back to the role of the Prime Minister since he has been a member of this Parliament it would be negligent of us if we did not pinpoint the flaws in the role that he has played since the Soviet Union went into Afghanistan. His history in this House and things that he has said previously bring into doubt and certainly bring into question the role that he has played since the Soviet Union went into Afghanistan.
Firstly, I want to compare his role today with the role he played both as the Minister for Defence and the Minister for the Army during what was then the Vietnam crisis, because the description of Afghanistan is exactly the same description that was given to Vietnam years ago when Mr Fraser was Minister for Defence or Minister for the Army. It was said that it was the greatest crisis since World War II; we had to fight them up there and not down here; we had to have conscription; we had to send 8,000 troops into Vietnam; we had to lose the lives of over 500 young Australians because of this crisis. We even stopped trade with North Vietnam. The only thing we were trading in was tallow but an abattoir in Victoria was prevented from sending tallow to North Vietnam because the crisis was so great. But what has occurred subsequently? That part of the world has been lost because of the intervention of the United States and Australia. The lies that were told by Kissinger and Nixon and their intervention and flagrant disrespect for the Congress in its decision not to intervene in Cambodia brought about the emergence of Pol Pot in that country. We saw the destruction of Cambodia as a result of actions taken by Western nations. It is not only what has been said prior to Mr Fraser ‘s becoming Prime Minister.
– Order! I point out to the honourable member that he has referred to the Prime Minister on two occasions by his name and not by his position. It is the procedure in this House to refer to everybody by his particular position in this House. I did not hold the honourable member up before because I did not want to waste his time, but because of interjections I have been forced to do so.
-If the crisis, as the Prime Minister says, is the greatest since World War II why are we not taking the same actions that we took in Vietnam? Why do we not have conscription? Why are we not sending troops up to Pakistan? Why are we not cutting ofl” all trade as we did with North Vietnam? The people in the community are obliged to ask these questions. The people in the community are confused because of the publicity that has been given to this affair by our newspapers which can be described in some instances only as vulgar. Many people in Australia believe that we are some kind of southern super power. We are not a super power. We are not likely to be one; we are a middleorder power. We do not get invited to meetings of the super powers or the larger economic units of the world. We ought to be playing our role in accordance with being a middle power in this part of the world.
If there was one exposure of the last seven or eight weeks which should wake up not only this Government but every member of the Parliament it was the first question that the Indian Prime Minister asked of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). She asked him: ‘Is this your first visit to India?’ He had been Minister for Foreign Affairs and shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs for a great number of years and was making his first trip to India as a result of the Afghanistan crisis. How could Mrs Gandhi take it seriously that this Foreign Minister would be coming there to assist in helping India to make up its mind about the Afghanistan crisis when no one at that level from this Government had visited India previously?
Do not forget that the Liberal and Country parties have been in government for 28 of the last 31 years. The fact that we have poor relations with our region is very much a result of the European and North American mentality that is manifest in this Government. This Government does not believe that it has been as important to build relationships with the countries of our region as it has been to maintain, build and consolidate the relationships with North America and the West European countries. Consider some of the reports that were leaked out from the Prime Minister’s aircraft, such as the report that we could have war in three days or that the Americans would be prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons in the Persian Gulf. Obviously they were lies but nonetheless they were leaked in order to get headlines in Australia. Do people realise what they are talking about when they talk of using tactical nuclear weapons? An observer once wrote that in a limited nuclear war the Americans could expect to lose between 40 million and 50 million people and East and West Europe would be a cemetery. That is what we are talking about when we are talking about the use of these weapons.
Of course people are entitled to question the validity of the stand being made by the Prime Minister. This Government has told too many lies to be believed on this question of Afghanistan. Of course this is being done for the 1980 elections. Of course it is, because we see Russian ships lined up at ports throughout Australia loading all kinds of goods. Three senior Ministers- the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and now the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt)- are all involved personally, through their businesses as farmers, in sending these goods to the Soviet Union. How could they sit around the Cabinet table and say: ‘Look, we have to take the tough decision. If it is as bad a crisis as the Vietnam crisis- and in fact we are saying now that it is worse- then we have to do something solid to back up that statement’. They do not say that at all. They back right off. They say that a trade embargo will not be effective. They stopped the export of tallow- tallow, mind you- to North Vietnam, but every day we are loading ships bound for the Soviet Union with millions of dollars worth of goods.
We on this side of the House will not be so glib as to say that we could have a trade boycott. We have not said it. It would be ridiculous. But in the same vein it is also ridiculous to think that we can have a partial boycott, something that will not affect our economy, and just sacrifice the athletes. That is easy for the Liberal and National Country Parties. It will not affect the farms, the machinery, the industry or the work force. All they have to do is to say to 300 or 400 people who have been training for years: ‘We are very sorry. We are going to set up some other ramshackle event over in Montreal or New York. It will not be the Olympic Games. We are sorry that you have trained so hard, but this action is in the interests of the Liberal and National Country Parties in Australia and this is what we want you to do’. As I said, this Government has told too many lies to be believed on this and many other questions.
Let us look at the performance of the Government in so many other areas related to this affair. Consider all the goods that are going to the Soviet Union. They include rutile, lead, silver, primary products and a thousand other commodities. They are going off because this trade is in our favour, 40 to one. For every dollar’s worth of goods we buy from the Soviet Union it buys $40 worth from us. It is good business and no one in the Liberal-National Country parties is going to stop that. The National Country Party members are the greatest hypocrites of the lot. They sit there and put their hands up to stop the athletes while they all send their goods to the Soviet Union. Of course there is going to be confusion in the minds of the people of this country. We on the Opposition side are going to play a part to expose the role that is being played by this Government, and particularly the role that is being played by the Prime Minister. It is part of the parcel of lies and the brainwashing that is going on in this country to prepare us for a sabrerattling, khaki 1980 election. If the Opposition has to play the traditional role of occasionally losing an election by being right about the issue, as we were about Vietnam, then so be it.
We see emerging tonight a new generation of young extreme right-wing Liberals in this House. This is their first opportunity to kick the communist can and they will kick it as hard as their old folks did way back in the early 1950s. But that is not going to solve the international problems. It is not going to give us better relations with India or with Pakistan. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) said, it is not going to give us better relations with Indo-China. It is going to confuse these relations. Instead of hearing all the nonsense that has been spoken by those who have come before us tonight, I would like one honourable member opposite- just one- to get up and assure me that the Prime
Minister went overseas on the advice of any security organisation in Australia, on his Defence advice or his Foreign Affairs advice. None of those advisers told him to go overseas. All that advice was to the contrary, but he had to go. Then there was the big lie in Europe. He had to embarrass his German host by putting out a story that the Germans had proposed that he go back to the United States. What a gigantic diplomatic embarrassment that was for the Germans. No such idea was put forward by the German diplomatic corps. The Prime Minister put forward the idea in the hope that he could live on a slightly grander scale.
Then today in his speech he said- I do not quote him exactly- that not only does he say this is the greatest crisis since World War II but also his friend Willy Brandt, the father of detente, says that it is the greatest crisis since World War II. That is a lie. Willy Brandt said no such thing. Let me read to the House from the statement put out by the Socialist International Party Leaders meeting in Vienna on 6 February, of which Mr Brandt was the Chairman. Such unknown people from Europe as Bruno Kreisky, Mitterand and Olof Palme were present. They are just a few of the major influences on the policies being formed by Europe. They happen to talk about war in Europe a little differently from us because they will be the big losers should there be any conflicts. They have lived successfully with detente for 10 years. The Prime Minister of Australia, whether it be in 1980, 1990 or the year 2000, cannot kill detente. The people of the East and the West are working as hard as they can to keep it alive because we will all benefit. If someone pushes the button everyone will be a loser. Let me read to the House from the statement put out by Willy Brandt after the meeting in Vienna on 6 February. It states:
The Socialist International condemns the intervention of the Soviet armed forces in Afghanistan and calls upon the Soviet Union to withdraw all of its troops from that country.
The policy of detente and the search for harmonisation of differing interests which was begun more than a decade ago has led to significant results which are noticeable in the every-day lives of many people.
The achievements of detente must not be jeopardised. A return to the cold war would bring the world to the verge, of disaster.
It appears that the world is in danger of arming itself to death. It is indispensible that concentrated efforts are made to limit intercontinental as well as medium-ranged nuclear weapons in quantity and quality so as to achieve an equilibrium on a lower level.
Further on it states:
In the interest of peace and in order to safeguard detente the Socialist International therefore regards it essential:
That all opportunities for bilateral and multinational dialogue be taken advantage of,
That the USSR withdraw its troops from Afghanistan,
The preparations for the second follow-up meeting of the conference on security and cooperation in Europe . . . to take place in Madrid in the late fall of this year, should be continued,
That the suggestion by the USSR of a European conference on energy be explored as soon as possible,
That new openings be found to negotiate a halt to the deployment of new nuclear arms in Europe,
That the Vienna negotiations take on a greater sense of urgency,
That all efforts be made to start negotiations on SALT III . . . as soon as possible.
That statement does not read as though Willy Brandt agrees with the Prime Minister of Australia. I suggest that the inference made by the Prime Minister in his speech, that Willy Brandt agrees with the line being taken by the Government of Australia, is another great big fat lie- nothing else. This Government is breeding on lies. But where Australia has had the opportunity to do something over the years in which this Government has been in power we have done nothing. We do not have experts on Afghanistan in Australia. We do not have experts on Western Asia in Australia. We have no one in our Department of Foreign Affairs who can speak the language of Iran. Why does the Government not look at some of these questions in terms of getting advice on the sorts of things that are taking place in this country instead of telling the Australian people a continual mass of lies? Sooner or later the Government will be exposed for what it stands, that is, an election on this issue. It does not want us to look at the mess that it has made of the domestic issues in this country.
Before I call the honourable member for St George I would like to point out that Mr Speaker has laid down several words that should not be used in this House and all Deputy Speakers, I think, agree with him. One of them is the word lies’ and another is the word ‘hypocrites’. The reason why I did not pull up the honourable member for Port Adelaide for using those words is that I did not want to interfere with his speaking rime- I know that 15 minutes is a very short time to speak on foreign affairs- and that he did not refer to any particular person as having told lies or having been hypocrites. He used a collective term, saying that members of the Government have told lies and that members of the National Country’ Party are hypocrites. Mr Speaker and the Deputy Speakers do not feel that this sort of language enhances the standing of this Parliament. We think that it should not be used. I did not pull up the honourable member because I did not want to take up his time but I would point that out now for the benefit of future speakers.
-An extremely serious world crisis is facing all of us. However it be described, we face the prospect of a third world war arising if appropriate steps are not taken to ensure that the Soviet Union desists from its program of attempting world strategic and ideological domination. The Soviet Union has embarked upon such policies since 1917. Let there be no mistake of that. In the last 20 years we have seen country after country fall under its domination. The Soviet Union used force in Czechoslovakia. It used force in Hungary and thousands of people died. It used the Cubans in Angola. Many other countries have seen the use of proxy troops, including Vietnam. Country after country has fallen to the domination of the Marxist-Leninist line promoted by Moscow. Afghanistan is the present crisis that has brought to the attention of the world the simple fact that this can no longer be permitted to go on.
The American President has said that Mr Brezhnev had lied to him. An American President who tried to make detente work, who engaged in bending over backwards to bring peace to the world and who agreed with the Soviet Union on many aspects of exchange, and trade and on different arrangements between those countries has finally said, when the chips are down, that Brezhnev lied to him. Brezhnev has been lying to the world for years. At long last the leader of the United States of America has had his eyes opened, as have the leaders of other countries.
Since the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made this statement on behalf of the Government- a statement which did not mention party political matters and did not attack the Australian Labor Party but which referred to the national problems and what the Government was doing- we have witnessed a once great party, the Labor Party, drag itself down to depths that I did not believe possible. Each of its speakers has used vulgar, intemperate and disgraceful terms to attack the Prime Minister and what he has tried to do. They have mounted personal attacks that are not fitting to be heard in the national Parliament, certainly not in a debate of such great seriousness. The Prime Minister decided that he would try to assist in bringing about world resolve to stop the Soviet march. He decided that it would be proper to go to the United States and he went there. There is a feeling of combined purpose among the people of that country that has not been present for 30 years.
I would have thought that all Australians of proper mind would be condemning what the Soviet Union has done in Afghanistan in invading an independent and traditional country that has had its own identity for thousands of years. But no, we have had a once great party pouring scorn upon a Prime Minister who went to the United States to try to assist in free world efforts. The United States bailed this country out in 1942. It saved us. We owe the United States the decency of co-ordinating with it in an effort to promote free world response to this aggression. The American Government needs the support of its people. The American people need to know that the people and governments of other countries support them. The Prime Minister went there to give that message. The major article in Newsweek magazine during one of the weeks that the Prime Minister was there stated that he was a friend of the American President and that it gave heart to the President that he was there. The whole of the American population knew that the Australian Prime Minister was there to say to the United States: ‘We will stand by you and we will join you in measured and sensible responses to this threat that is upon us ‘.
Unless countries do that, unless there is greater co-ordination amongst the free world, the Soviet Union will be encouraged to continue its campaign. If it saw that leading Western countries were split it would be encouraged to go further. Make no mistake: Australia may be a medium power in relative terms but it is a country of massive potential. It is one of the great potential power houses of the world. It is a strategically placed country and it is one of the few great democracies of the world. What a prize this country would be if it fell under the evil despotism of communism. Australia is the brightest jewel in the crown of democracy. This Government will make certain that we join in free world efforts to ensure that our way of life- the free enterprise way of life and the democratic way of life- is maintained in this world.
The next thing that the Prime Minister did was to go to Germany and France. Honourable members opposite have attacked him for going there and have said that he did not reach an accord of views. The last speaker in this debatethe honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young)- claimed that the Prime Minister was not representing the views of the socialists of western Europe. Let there be no mistake: The German and French leaders are at one in their strong condemnation of the Soviet Union. What the honourable member said about their being soft on the Soviet Union and about detente not being dead because of their views is absolute rubbish. President Giscard and Mr Schmidt, who is the leader of a socialist government in Germany, met recently to discuss the crisis and had the benefit of the views of our Prime Minister. They issued a joint statement, which is quoted in the Economist of 9 February. I would imagine that their views are stronger now after having further considered the matter and had the benefit of our Prime Minister’s views. They said:
Detente would not withstand a new shock of the (Afghanistan) kind . . . that Russia must get its troops out without delay. The only thing that . . . could save detente was full withdrawal.
There has not been full withdrawal and there will not be full withdrawal. It is perfectly clear that without that full withdrawal in the minds of the French and German leaders- the German leader is a responsible leader of a government that is a socialist government- the two governments are at one with the Australian Prime Minister. They went back and launched a military and industrial development program of a massive $10 billion between Germany and France. So much for the German and French being weak on the Soviet Union. This Government has taken co-ordinated steps with those three major countries. The Prime Minister is to be congratulated for his efforts. He ought to receive the gratitude of the Australian Labor Party, whose members are Australians, and he ought to receive the gratitude of all other Australians and other persons living in the free world for the initiatives that he has taken. I ask honourable members to bear this in mind: If we do not adopt appropriate responses, if we do not say to the Soviet Union that its time is up as far as this type of aggression is concerned, there is no doubt that it will continue its aggression.
One of the major problems that we face is the possibility of a new group of people coming into power in the Soviet Union who, it is said, are very pro-militarist in their actions. We may find that they are more difficult to deal with. We may find that they are encouraged to go ahead and they may take the present relative lack of strength between the Americans and Soviets on a conventional basis as a reason for further action. Now the Government has announced measured and careful responses. Those have been outlined by the Prime Minister tonight. There is a very long list of measured and important responses. These appear to have been ignored completely by the Labor Party. For cynical political purposes they have simply chosen to ignore the lengthy outline of the steps that this Government has taken.
As far as the Olympic Games are concerned the Labor Party simply stands charged with total and unrealistic political opportunism. Its own Opposition Leader (Mr Hayden) said that a boycott would cause the most severe embarrassment to the Soviet Union. He and other leading figures of the Labor Party have said that a boycott would be the most effective way of bringing to the Soviet Union an understanding of Western resolve. The reason for this is that the Soviet Union has spent millions and probably billions of dollars preparing for these games. It has given tremendous emphasis in its propaganda to its own people, and it would have extraordinary difficulty in explaining to its own people how it has come about that a large number of nations had chosen not to go the Games. Therefore, on the admission of Labor leaders, if the boycott came into force it would be a most effective way of bringing pressure to bear on the Soviet Union. It is one of a number of gradual responses that may possibly avert one of the most serious crises imaginable. Let us not just laugh off this question of a crisis. If the American President describes it as an extreme crisis- he has the resolve to take very strong measures, including military measures- then we are looking at an extraordinary crisis.
I congratulate the Government for putting behind the foreign policy decisions a degree of strength in our defence preparation. The matters have been laid out quite clearly. There is to be increased expenditure which is appropriate. This expenditure will go into areas where there have been bids by the services to make up for recent cuts, and where they need additional funding in a hurry. Having advocated that we move to 3.5 per cent of the gross domestic product I would naturally hope that in future we can do so. This expenditure will take us to 3 per cent and will have a significant effect. If it is possible to go further, then one would hope that we would obtain additional Fill aircraft, longer range cruise missiles than the Harpoons, and that we would give attention to our command structure in this country, and to a number of other matters that have been well canvassed in reports in this House, in speeches that I have made previously, and in various articles.
However, there is one other matter to which I would refer and that is the question of national service or conscription that has raised its head. I do not believe that conscription is appropriate, short of a drastic, immediate emergency.
– Like Vietnam?
-I did not agree with conscription for Vietnam. At that time I did not think it was necessary because we had a reserve force that could have done the job. What I do believe we need to do is to introduce, subject to our finance- we may have to go to 3.5 per cent to do it- national service for the reserve forces. This is an option that appears not to have been considered by any of the commentators whose views I have read in recent times. It would have to be introduced over a period so as to build up cadres for training and instruction. If we are to have the manpower that we might need in the future we have to move in ways in which other countries have done, such as Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and Yugoslavia. We have to ensure that if we need large numbers of men they are available for the worst case situations. In principle I can see no reason, balancing the freedom of the individual and his right to go about his ordinary business with the national interest, why it would not be sound and proper to have a national service scheme whereby young men immediately coming out of school would do six weeks’ training, two weeks before Christmas, with a week’s vacation and four weeks training in January. Thereafter, depending upon unit requirements, they would do one week-end per month, or one night a week, or whatever was required. In future years they would do two weeks’ camp per year and one week-end per month. This situation would probably have to be phased in. It would probably be necessary to do it over four years. I would hope that it could be done in three years. Unfortunately it would be necessary to ballot at the outset but as soon as possible it ought to be universal. I do not believe that the young people of this country would object if they understood that that service was for service within Australia and for the defence of Australia, as is the case under the legislation. For example, one would have 25 per cent or 33 per cent in the first year and one would have a carefully planned program to build up the cadres, the instructors and the training facilities. This would give a meaningful role to the present reserve forces and, of course, a very special role to the regular forces without taking away from their capacity to respond to immediate threats.
Finally, coming back to the major situation, the Prime Minister has put before us the great strategic problem facing the world. Honourable members should read the words of Von Clausewitz, which he wrote 150 years ago. He then said: ‘Russia is unconquerable. Russia can only fall from within’. Of course he was prophetically correct. But that still applies today.
The Soviet Union is unconquerable unless the world is to be destroyed in a nuclear war. We are in a period of great instability while Russia expands and while the West checks it. We wait hopefully for the day that Russia will be liberated from within, when its system will disintegrate, when the whole evil, rotten, corrupt system of communism will be replaced by some greater breath of freedom. It will be a long, long haul and we will be in for great instability until that day comes.
-The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made a fairly broad announcement on defence measures which are under consideration by the Government. In the period available in this debate it is not possible even to attempt to canvass all of those measures. I understand that it is the intention of the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) at a subsequent time to make a detailed statement setting out what the defence program will be, as announced or outlined by the Prime Minister. However, there are a number of things in the program which the House has to understand and to which the attention of the House should be drawn. The first and the most significant is that the program as announced today, as a response to what the Prime Minister has said is the greatest threat since the Second World War, does not restore the five year defence program to that which was announced in this House in 1976 as the Government’s five-year defence program.
– Tell us about your own cancellations.
-Many of the items which are contained in this defence statement have been deferred since 1976 and before. The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) mentions cancellations. I suggest to the honourable member that he read the 1969 defence statement of the honourable Mr Fairhall, the then Minister for Defence. He should then read the program for 1970, under the present Prime Minister, where 50 per cent of that program was cut, and then he should read what in fact was done between 1973 and 1975, not the rhetoric and words which the honourable member uses as a subterfuge for defence debates, but what was actually done. This was to re-order the equipment for defence which the present Government was talking about cancelling in the name of economy.
– Tell us about the three DDLs.
-I might suggest that the honourable member talk to his colleague,
Senator Hamer, about the three DDLs. They were never going to be built because the Government was unable to control the planning program. The cost structure was well beyond the capacity of any government. No ships would have been delivered had they stayed on the stocks. You are a man who prides himself on being an economist. I suggest that you read the record on those and then get up in this House and apologise for your irresponsibility.
-I suggest to the honourable member for Corio that he address his remarks through the Chair.
-I am entitled to make my speech. I suggest that you might protect me.
-I will protect the honourable member for Corio-
-If you take two minutes I will walk out of the House.
-But I suggest that he address his remarks through the Chair and not across the chamber.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The honourable member, the former Speaker, who is addressing the House surely must refer to the honourable member for Lilley in the correct terms.
– It is pointless trying to speak in this House while you are in the Chair.
-I am sorry, I did not hear the honourable member for Holt because of the remarks of the honourable member for Corio.
-Excuse me, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is pointless speaking in this House if you are going to interrupt me for five minutes in a 15-minute speech. You do it every time I speak when you are in the Chair.
-That is a reflection on the Chair. I ask for a withdrawal.
-I will withdraw from the chamber.
-I ask for a withdrawal. I name the honourable member for Corio.
-You had better do something about it.
-I ask for a withdrawal.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I will apologise to you, but I ask the Chair for fair treatment.
-You are getting fair treatment. I ask for a withdrawal of that remark also.
– What remark?
-I ask for a withdrawal of that remark.
-I point out to the honourable member for Corio that he was addressing his remarks across the chamber and that was the matter on which I called him to order. I ask him to direct his remarks through the Chair. As a former Speaker, he knows as well as I do that that is the correct form.
– I also know that interjections are out of order. I have never heard you call to order an interjecter against an Opposition speaker. If I may continue my speech -
-I allow reasonable interjections, as you did when you were Speaker, provided that they do not interrupt the person who is speaking. I do not want to take up your time. As you have now apologised, I again call you.
-Some of the Prime Minister’s remarks in the defence area are so outlandish as to be almost ludicrous. Recently, the director of recruiting for the armed forces said that one of the serious problems in maintaining a skilled Defence Force in Australia was the turnover of 8,000 persons per annum from the Defence Force. That was said within the last seven days. In 1978 in this House the Government withdrew the re-enlistment bonus, which had been made available during the period of the Labor Government in order to encourage members of the defence forces, who had been trained at extremely high cost to the Government and the taxpayer, to remain within the Defence Force. As the Minister said in this House, the bonus was withdrawn because there were no recruitment difficulties for the defence forces. Yet some 8,000 of the most skilled and highly trained servicemen are being lost every year. We find that there are not enough crews to man the Orion aircraft for the increased surveillance announced by the Prime Minister. We do not have sufficient crews to man the Oberon submarines when they are all in service. We have insufficient crews to man the new ships we have ordered, and we are now ordering another one.
In an even more ludicrous statement, the Prime Minister suggested that the reserves will be expanded by 8,000 over a five-year period.
The defence reserves, especially the Army reserves, have deteriorated to such an extent that they are almost a joke. Unless someone seriously undertakes a review of the role of the defence reserves and the means by which they operate, and what young men get out of the defence reserves as training for the future defence of this country, an announcement of an increase in numbers is not a serious proposition. We cannot expect young men to enter the defence reserves in the belief that they are going to do something for the future defence of their country if the Government treats the reserves as a joke and does not provide adequate equipment. To talk about national service for the reserves without first doing something to ensure that the reserves are relevant to our defence situation is to talk utter nonsense. To talk about the reserves when they do not have sufficient equipment for training is utter nonsense. They are not allowed to operate significant equipment within the defence training area and they do not obtain adequate training. A person of non-commissioned rank entering the defence forces from the reserves is considered by the permanent forces to have acquired two weeks basic training. That is the value of the defence reserves, although they have some value in officer training. In the existing circumstances it is absolutely laughable to talk about expanding the reserves before doing something to make what exists a workable and functional operation.
We could have expected the Prime Minister to announce the fourth FFG from the United States and to make nice noises about a future destroyer follow-on program. We have already had that announced twice before, once as an investigation and then as a positive program by the Minister, which he subsequently denied in answer to a question. There is only one way to overcome the problems which beset the DDL program, the problems of shipbuilding in Australia, and that is by tackling it on a long-term plan basis whereby continuous work loads are available and the construction authority is not part of the client. At the moment, the construction authority for destroyers in Australia would be the Williamstown Naval Dockyard and the client would be the Navy. During the course of construction the technical planning is likely to pass from the commander of the construction authority to the commander of the technical service undertaking the planning. That is not the way in which normal business operations would be conducted. It certainly would be to the benefit of all concerned, and the Australian industry in general, if the Williamstown Naval Dockyard could be established more along the lines of the Government
Aircraft Factories so that it could operate in a private capacity with civilian command and be answerable to the Navy for its response to orders placed with it. If it did not respond it would not get the orders. At the moment there is an inbred situation, and it is not good financially, politically, administratively or in any other way. The Government might at least look at the prospect of establishing a corporation or placing in a defence industry the construction authority for ships and offering to that industry the same sorts of incentives we would give to civilian shipbuilders seeking orders competitively within Australia. I am certain that, given long-term orders, given the necessary incentives, and given the proper management structure, something could be done. God help us if we go into a longterm program which turns out like the DDLs, where we started out with a specific requirement for a vessel and finished up with a light cruiser which was about to pass through to the Dreadnought stage at a time when that sort of vessel was way beyond any reasonable requirements.
There are a number of other matters in this program which ought to be drawn to attention. Firstly, I will have to wait for the Minister’s statement to find out what is meant by a number of the Prime Minister’s announcements. What are we going to do with the FI 1 ls by upgrading the missile systems? Currently the FI 1 ls have an analog computer which is not capable of handling modern precision weapons requiring digital computers. That is also true of the P3Bs, which are mentioned as being fitted with Harpoons. It is possible to put a converter on them, but no details are available in this statement and it is difficult to talk about the practicality or cost. It may well be that with the Orions it would be better to fit the Cs, which are capable of being fitted with Harpoons, and allow the Bs to serve out their life and be replaced with a more modern type of aircraft at an early time. It may even be cheaper and better for the long-term defence. We are not going to do these things tomorrow or the day after.
I want to mention one other thing. This is a debate on foreign affairs, and it seems that the world is going to survive for another 16 weeks. The Soviet Union is going to be overcome in 16 weeks. Nothing in this statement, nothing in what the Government has said or done, indicates that any action at all is contemplated 16 weeks hence, after the Olympic Games are held or not held. Once the time for the Games has past they will be forgotten, irrespective of how much it might hurt the dignity of the Soviet Union and how much the Soviet Union may suffer. I think that we should understand pretty clearly that in the past boycotts have not worked. When the Melbourne Olympic Games were held 20-odd nations boycotted them because of the Russian invasion of Hungary. Australia did not boycott the Games. But the hero of the Melbourne Games was a Russian, Vladimir Kutz. He was cheered by everyone in the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The 1976 Montreal Games were boycotted by over 30 nations. The Prime Minister talked about the Berlin Games but it was Adolf Hitler who walked out of the stadium in humiliation when Jesse Owens won his gold medal. The great Aryan race was humiliated, and everyone here knows it.
– But did Goebbels tell the people that?
-Well, we have a network here which is getting very close to that of Goebbels. Press people are no longer admitted to briefings in this country if they criticise the Prime Minister. They are excluded from planes travelling overseas. The biggest propaganda network that has ever been seen in Australia is manipulating the news for political purposes and that is against any form of civil liberties in this country. I want to say one other thing: The West’s record and our chances of maintaining the liberties and the freedom that we talk about so often and so glibly would be far better if we could name one case in the last 30 years where we have been prepared to support the majority of people in a country in their endeavours to govern themselves in the way in which they wish. Not one case can be named in 30 years where the West has supported a democratic, popularly elected government backed by the majority of its people. There are plenty that have been overthrown by the West.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jarman)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-When General Tojo was in the box at the Far East Military Crimes Tribunal in December 1 947 he was asked a simple question: ‘Why did you go to war?’ Through his interpreter he said that the Japanese went to war because ‘the elasticity in our national power was on the point of extinction’. The reason for it being on the point of extinction was that Japan progressively had been denied oil over the previous years. If, in General Tojo’s own words, oil was the cause of the conflict in the Pacific from 1941 to 1945, could anyone doubt that the Russian accession of Afghanistan has within it the same capacity to generate conflict and worry for the world? The theme of the Opposition has been either to play down that proposition or to ignore it totally.
– Except that they do have major oil reserves which the Japanese did not.
– The Japanese did not have significant oil reserves, just as a lot of the Western world does not have oil reserves. The honourable member for Lalor has misunderstood the point. We say that this matter is an extremely important point. The Opposition has said continually this afternoon and this evening that it is of relatively little significance. It is a reasonable proposition to go through what the Opposition, as an alternative government, has said and to ask whether it has a consistent theme in what it has said in terms of policy. I will go through some of the remarks because they are fascinating. It took four days for the Opposition, through the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Wriedt), to respond. Previously the Opposition had been responding ahead of time on every issue. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate was not a crack marksman or a quick draw agent in responding because it took him four days to respond. A few days later, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) saidand this is a dreadful statement- that it was as immoral for the Russians to be in Afghanistan as it was for the Australians and the Americans to be in South Vietnam. I hope that he repeats that statement to lots of Australian soldiers who fought very honourably in South Vietnam. It is a dreadful statement. Unfortunately it is very like the excuse Evatt gave over Russia ‘s invasion of Hungary in 1956 and not unlike the statements made by the then Leader of the Opposition concerning Russia in Czechoslovakia in 1 968- a half excuse for the Russian action; always going back to supposed faults of Western countries.
I turn now to the remarks of the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) who is a man of considerable ability; indeed, he probably has the most ability of those on the Opposition front bench. He said: ‘It is 15,000 kilometres away. What does it matter to us? These countries don’t matter. They are of no significance to Australia. Where is Afghanistan? Where is Pakistan?’ The Opposition, having learnt that lesson, began to say: ‘We now abhor Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan. We now find it detestable’. Then the friend of the Opposition, Mr, Hawke, had to say that what was happening in Afghanistan was of great strategic importance to the world. Here we have a variety of attitudes and worries. Whether this situation be 15,000 miles away or a mile away, the Opposition did not know what was going on. Then the Leader of the Opposition said to himself: ‘Look, I’m worried about this. I will turn to my Manager of Opposition Business, the honourable member for Port Adelaide, Mr Michael Young. I will ask him what he thinks’. So the Leader of the Opposition said: ‘Michael, what do you think about this Afghanistan?’ The honourable member for Port Adelaide said: ‘Afghanistan? Where is it? I know, there is a train with that name which runs up from Adelaide to Alice Springs. It takes two days. It runs at an average of 15.3 miles an hour’. So the honourable member for Port Adelaide has been sent down to bone up on his geography and perhaps to act as a better adviser. In a sense, the Opposition has attempted to be Macnamara ‘s band on this matter. A few members of the Opposition have tried to play all the instruments. They have little sense of history and, as the honourable member for Port Adelaide would know, less sense of geography.
Let us look at the history of this matter. To say that the Russian interest in the PersianAfghanistan region is new is a piece of nonsense. Let us look at Russia’s activities in the area over the last 1 5 decades. On four occasions Russia has attempted to expand in that part of Asia. It did so in the late 1830s and in 1885. Even Gladstone, whom I would describe in many ways as a Christian pacifist, had to reverse a policy and allocate £ 1 lm for defence expenditure to deter the Russians. One of the first countries to which Lenin appointed an ambassador was Afghanistan. He had made promises to the nations in southern Asia and he immediately began to break them. I mention these four items of history because they are important. In the period immediately after World War II, Ernest Bevin, a very great Foreign Minister who was liked by King George VI and respected by the world, had this to say in the House of Commons in 1946-47 when the Russians showed reluctance to get out of Iran in contrast to the Americans and the British:
We would regret any settlement extracted from the Iranian Government while under duress and with Soviet troops still in the country . . .
There are four examples of history, each of which has involved expansionism, calculated expansionism, on the part of Russia, and we merely say to this Parliament and to the country: Please do not ignore what has happened over the previous 15 decades because those events are important. I hope it will be remembered that in those days there was not the added attraction of that area being the oil centre of the world. These days there is that added attraction. For the Opposition to come into this place and state over and over again that what is happening in Afghanistan is of no significance, that it does not matter, that it is of no importance, is to show the kind of understanding of history that the honourable member for Port Adelaide has of geography.
Let me turn now to the Moscow Olympic Games. There is nothing to apologise for in respect of the Olympic Games. I take honourable members back to the Nazi Olympics because they are important. I hope that the Opposition and the rest of the country will remember the fact that in 1 935 the American Athletic Union and its various branches were very concerned at what was happening in Germany. There was a giant movement, supported by State governments and churches, to impose an effective boycott of the Olympic Games. A meeting was held on 8 December 1935 and by a majority of only two and a half votes- they were weighted- it was decided to go to the Olympic Games. They said that they would go to the Olympic Games but their action was ‘not to be construed to imply endorsement of a Nazi Government’. Those who have proposed going to the Moscow Games want to try to put in the same caveat. Good luck to them! Hitler won the propaganda victory of those Games inside his own country. It reinforced his authority. It gave him confidence, between the winter and sun ner Olympics, to go into the Rhineland. These are facts of history. Do honourable members opposite think there is more capacity to get a story over concerning the Moscow Games in Russia than there was concerning the Berlin Games in Germany? Germany was a far more open country than Russia is now. Germany had had only three years experience of a totalitarian regime. Russia has had 60 years experience of a totalitarian regime. Yet members of the Opposition would come into this place and say: ‘Ignore those facts of history and ignore the mistakes we have made in our foreign policy statements during January and February. Go and just trust to luck’.
I will recite a little incident which is important. At those Berlin Games were delegations from all of the countries, including the original countries, of which Australia was one and Greece another. One of the great fathers of the Olympic Games was the little Greek athlete, Spiridou Loues, who won the marathon in 1896 and whose fame runs through the history of the Games. He had been in the sun so much that he looked like a dried prune. As the Games went on he broke out from the Greek delegation and, on behalf of all of the countries there, went to Hitler and presented a sprig of olive from Mount Olympus, the site of the ancient Games. Talk about peace! Spiridou Loues had this to say:
I present to you this olive branch as a symbol of love and peace. We hope that the nations will ever meet solely in peaceful competition.
Hitler was clearly moved by this expression. Within a few years that gentleman’s homeland was taken over by Hitler, was invaded by the Third Reich. I only ask that the Opposition observe some of those simple and direct lessons of history.
– You couldn’t understand them -
-It is a little difficult to respond to interjections during a 15-minute speech- it is not long.
– Why don’t you talk about Stalingrad? They saw a little of Hitler, too.
– The honourable member’s understanding of the strategy involved would have Hitler regarding the defence of Stalingrad as a great military victory. It is perfectly clear that the Games in Berlin gave him a propaganda weapon which was utilised successfully. It gave the country confidence to do what it should not have done. It gave the country confidence to wreak the havoc that it did. During those Games- again, it was a far more open country than is Russia today- it was clear that Jewish pogroms had been suspended for that period. People went there and said that everything was all right. Little was done during 1937, while a vestige of goodwill remained, yet ultimately these other events followed. We merely say to the Opposition and to this country: Know what has gone on before and do not ignore history in this respect.
Walther Funk, the Assistant Secretary of State for Propaganda in Nazi Germany at the time, had this to say- and it would be even more applicable to Moscow:
Under direction of the Propaganda Ministry there has never before been developed a propaganda campaign equal to that for the Olympic Games.
The world participated. The United States participated under pressure. It came close to not participating. Russia stayed away, as she had stayed away from other games. She knew that they would be used for propaganda. We merely say: Let us use some of the same objective and sensible judgments in this case.
There is an old Afghan proverb which says: When the waters are over your head depth does not matter’. During January and February the Opposition has made it clear that it neither wants
Australia’s economic position to be compared with that of the rest of the world nor Australia’s foreign affairs position to be determined in terms of reality in respect of the rest of the world. We say that when one is in water of that depth, whether one is in a submarine or a bathyscope, one is in no position to try to make a rational foreign policy, and the Opposition ought to cease trying to do so.
– If people care to examine our statements over the years they will find a basic consistency of position. It is one which is held not only by me but also by the majority of the progressive thinking people in this country. Whether it has been the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, the United States of America’s military involvement in Vietnam, Indonesia’s military takeover of East Timor, or any other intervention of a foreign power in the affairs of another nation, we have stood firm in defence of the rights of people to selfdetermination within their own borders free from external interference. I assert that principle now in relation to the events in Afghanistan.
No nation, and especially a major power, has the right to impose its own interests on another nation, whether by political, economic or military means. Each time there has been such an intervention, a variety of reasons has been put forward in an attempt to justify the actions of the aggressor. Of course, every situation is unique, but when the excuses are washed away one fact remains: The rights of a people to selfdetermination have been violated. The aggressor has then to contend with inevitable resistance and the struggle of the people who have been invaded. In Afghanistan, with its rugged terrain and complex history of tribal, religious and colonial conflict, it seems to me that the Soviet Union will suffer long a drain on its human and physical resources if it continues its present military occupation.
The background to the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan is complex, though it has been oversimplified and distorted by those who seek to exploit the present situation for their own narrow interests. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) are two such people. Those interests include an opportunistic attempt by the Australian Government to distract attention from the severe economic problems faced by a great many Australians as a result of the Government ‘s priorities, in spite of what the Prime Minister says, the majority of people see through the shallowness of this Government’s hypocritical stance in an election year.
The Prime Minister has said that the Soviet Union’s action in Afghanistan is ‘an act of aggression’ which has as its objective the penetration of the Persian Gulf, the control of Western oil supplies, the domination of the Indian Ocean and the precipitation of a third world war. Might I question that assumption? There is scant evidence to support this view. We know that, prior to the drawing up of the existing borders there was a long history of tribal and religious conflict in the western Asian region, It might be argued, though in my view it is not defensible, that the Soviet leadership would have become concerned about the implications for stability along its borders of the growing disturbances among this population.
In answer to the charge by the Prime Minister and the honourable member for Lilley concerning the thrust of the Soviet Union into the Persian Gulf, I suggest that the Soviet Union has no apparent need to gain access to the oil supplies of the Persian Gulf. The Soviet Union exports energy resources equivalent to 35 per cent of the United States daily imports. Western Europe imports from the Soviet Union oil, natural gas, coal and electric power. If the aim of the Soviet Union were to disrupt the Western economy it would have been more effective for it to cut back on these exports- I stress that- than to provoke this strong reaction by military expansionism into Afghanistan.
The Australian Prime Minister has said that the Soviet forces had removed Amin to install a Marxist leader, Karmal, as the puppet of the Soviet leadership. Both Amin and Karmal were leading Marxists and members of the People’s Democratic Party, which was the controlling party in Afghanistan. Karmal was the leader of a Pacham faction that followed a policy of broad alliance. Both were members of the Afghan elite. Amin, first as Premier under Taraki and later as President, pursued what is generally recognised as a ruthless and sectarian line. He alienated the majority of the population of Afghanistan, especially the conservative Moslems. He was unable to maintain order in Afghanistan. In the second half of 1979, 80 per cent of the territory was considered uncontrollable. Karmal ‘s present policies are based on respect for lslam, for the family, for the principle of private ownership and for the political, economic and social rights of the people. To be sure, the Soviet Union was protecting its own interests in supporting the policies of Karmal.
At the same time it could be asserted that his approach seemed more likely to resolve the internal conflicts and to promote stability than the approach taken by the then President, Amin- a sectarian and ruthless leader- whom our Prime Minister strongly supports. But while the Soviet military presence is maintained Karmal ‘s ability to reach a new settlement is jeopardised and, I believe, is very questionable. I do not make these points in any attempt to justify the Soviet action in Afghanistan. I merely want to point out how misleading is the hysteria that the Australian Government is actively whipping up on, I might say, very false assumptions. This hysteria is extremely dangerous. There are only a few governments on the world scene at present which are as active as the Australian Government and the United States Government in promoting this aggressive role. We have to ask why they are doing it?
There are two apparent effects on the Australian people. Firstly, the commitment to a higher level of military spending will be paid for by the ordinary Australian people. The majority, who have already suffered major cut-backs in social services and in the social wage, will suffer even more because of this action by the Government. The funds that could be spent on improved living standards, on better social services and on a more humane living environment will be transferred to the overseas corporate sector which controls the military-industrial complex. Secondly, the cold war mentality that is being promoted by the actions of the Australian Government is furthering conditions that will intimidate those progressive people, those unionists, who oppose the economic and social policies of the Fraser Government.
Since 1975 we have seen this Government build up an armoury of repressive civil and industrial legislation. The attitudes that it is expressing at present indicate that we may see more of this type of legislation and a renewed effort to use it. It has been used not only by the Fraser Government but also by many State governments. In Australia we have a tragic history of discrimination on political grounds. All that was achieved formerly was a polarisation in the community. That polarisation was used as a divide and rule tactic of social control. These are the responses of a government that is presiding over a major restructuring of the Australian economy which is causing long term problems of unemployment, population dislocation, segregation and inequality. These are the attitudes of a government that is not prepared to address the problems aggravated by its policies in the areas of taxation, wage levels, funding of social programs and the protection of our environment.
But there are broader reasons which concern the corporate sector in the United States even more than they concern the ruling elite in Australia. In recent years the United States has lost the political and economic leadership that it developed after the Second World War because the economies of West Germany and Japan have stolen the lead from the United States in technology production and in other key sectors. Within the United States there are elements which are struggling to regain the leadership which the United States has lost by making opportunities for the expansion of the armament industries in which the United States is still the major leader in the Western world. The competition for oil in the Persian Gulf is more intense among those Western nations- I stress this- than between the Soviet Union and the United States. We should recall that the two previous World Wars were caused fundamentally by economic rivalries between nations competing for access to resources and to markets. Surely the honourable member for Lilley, who made those charges, should understand that. He is one who should understand that situation. The Soviet Union has a trading relationship with Western Europe and is not trying to cut off energy supplies to Western Europe. That is the falsity of his whole argument about this so-called thrust to cut off the West’s oil supplies from the Persian Gulf. The United States has lost not only economic power but also its credibility as the major military power has been reduced. The United States suffered an enormous defeat in Vietnam. After that long war, which bled it for so long, it was humiliated in Iran. Surely the humiliation that is going on now gives honourable members some understanding. The United States now needs to rally back its allies to regain its former political leadership and military credibility. For some time there has been a group within the United States attempting to adopt a hard and aggressive military posture. The great tragedy of this whole issue is that the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan has provided this hard line group with an opportunity to come to the forefront and has given it the necessary ammunition. That is a sad action.
Frankly, I condemn the Soviet Union’s action, as I condemn the militarists who are trying to build it up to another world war. They are now advocating a rearmament-led recovery as a solution to the economic problems of the United States and of the Western nations in general. They view the expansion of one military production section as a means for the United States to reassert its political, economic and military leadership. The United States President, regrettably, is too willing in an election year to adopt this high risk strategy. It is a highly dangerous strategy. I warn all honourable members of this House that the stability of western Asia is threatened by United States military aid to Pakistan, for example, where a dictatorial military regime maintains control through the oppression of the people. Renewed hostility between India and Pakistan may be caused. The rearmament strategy threatens an end to detente and greatly increases the risk of nuclear war. It is deeply disturbing that the Fraser Government is willing to supply Australian uranium to fuel nuclear reactors in the unstable regions of the Middle East and Asia, with possible diversion to nuclear weapons production. The Australian Government is now intent on increasing military spending in a way which will integrate Australia even more into the United States global military strategy. We are already too deeply involved in preparation for nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile warfare.
Let me turn briefly to the defence of Australia. I believe that the Australian people should feel secure and we must prepare ourselves for that security. I am not advocating military rearmament. Military re-armament threatens the security not only of Australian people but of all people. The Australian people must have the right to adequate security, especially within the volatile region of the Pacific basin. We should consider the regional insecurity that lies to the north, particularly in countries such as Indonesia. The Indonesian militarists have already shown by their ruthless military takeover of East Timor that they have expansionary interests in our region. At present it is impractical to believe that Australia can be totally self-reliant in terms of defence. But it is also dangerous to lock our defence system into a dependence on one foreign military ally alone. We need to develop a defence system appropriate to Australia’s conditions. In particular we need to stress coastal and land defence. For that we need a viable, selfsufficient ship building industry and a motor vehicle industry for the production of rolling mill stock. We need an electronics industry. We need a wide diversity of basic industry to support our defence program.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-This is one of the most important debates we have had in this Parliament in many, many years. It is a debate generally on the principal question of the security of the West and its way of life, the sort of security which we have come to accept in our part of the world as part of the West. It is, in that sense, very much a foreign affairs debate. It is a defence debate. It is a debate about principles and about philosophies. It is the sort of debate for which members of the Parliament on all sides have probably been calling for a long time. The tragedy of this debate is the way in which it has been totally debased by the Opposition in this Parliament. For no reasons other than political reasons, the Opposition has been forced into a situation where it cannot be seen to be agreeing with the Government, and therefore it has to oppose the Government. It is getting itself into all sorts of philosophical fixes. I believe that the Opposition will rue the day that it took part in this debate in the way in which it has today. There is no doubt in my mind that before too many years have passed the Opposition will wish that it had not disagreed with the broad thrust of the Government’s line in this particular situation.
What we are dealing with, or what has caused this debate to occur, is Soviet imperialism and the threat that the Soviet Government and Soviet foreign policy represents to the stability, freedom and the way of life of other countries and the West. It is another example of Soviet imperialism and aggression, as was the action in Hungary in 1956, about 12 years after the end of the Second World War. Then there was the action in Czechoslovakia in 1968, 12 years after the action in Hungary. Now the action in Afghanistan in 1 980- I wonder whether it is a coincidence- is 1 2 years after the action in Czechoslovakia. The Soviet Union has pursued a continual policy of regular destabilisation throughout the world, not only in the countries that I have mentionedHungary, Czechoslovakia and now Afghanistan- but also in the Middle East, in Africa and in other parts of the world. There is no doubt in my mind that the long term policy objective of the Soviet Union is to maintain that policy of continual and regular destabilisation.
One of the great problems is that the Soviet Union understands the West better than the West understands the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union has time on its side. It can sit it out. The Soviet Union knows that the will of the West does not maintain itself in a constant fashion. The heads of the Soviet Union know that all governments in the West have to answer to electorates and in their own country they have never answered to an electorate. They know that it is impossible to maintain aggressive stances or involvements in military activity or even significantly high expenditure on defence in peace time in the West. All these problems are not problems in the Soviet Union. As I said, these people can sit it out, they can wait and take their opportunities.
One of the tragedies of detente has been that the Soviet Union has been able to act in a situation in which the cards were not on the table. It was able to act in a vacuum. In a situation where everybody is being ostensibly friendly, where there are good relations between the Soviet Union and the rest of the world, where trade is expanding, where there are technological transfers and all sorts of arrangements taking place, it is very difficult to lay down on the table the costs of some potential action. As history shows those costs were not laid down. The Soviet Union was able to act in a situation where the West could do nothing but retaliate after the event. Detente has been important. It has led to great openings in the area of trade and in so many other ways. But detente has had an enormous cost and that cost is measured in the tragedy of Afghanistan so far.
Another problem which faces the West is that it is impossible to isolate countries. It was recognised in the last decade that China could not be isolated. The Soviet Union cannot be isolated because trade has developed in the world in such a way that it is impossible effectively to cut people off. Sanctions are difficult, if not impossible, to implement. Even in the situation of Rhodesia it can be seen that Rhodesia has not really suffered as a result of sanctions. Rhodesians have not gone short of anything they really needed. The realities are that if we are going to deal in terms of sanctions with the Soviet Union we have to deal with every country which is within the Soviet’s sphere of influence because there is nothing to stop goods which are purchased from Australia or America by a friend of the Soviet Union or from anybody else being trans-shipped to the Soviet Union. Unless we are prepared to take a 100 per cent attitude to the question of sanctions and say that anybody that has any trade relations with the Soviet Union will not be traded with by Australia, the sanctions cannot be implemented.
As the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said today, some of the actions we have taken as an Australian Government have been substantive, some have been symbolic. The important thing is that Australia- and the West- has to make its position clear to the Soviet Union; the costs of Soviet aggression must be put on the table. I hope that the retaliation which has taken place since the Soviets moved into Afghanistan will be such that they will not consider any further moves and that they may, in fact, be prepared to withdraw from Afghanistan.
I personally have more concern about Soviet intentions in Yugoslavia than I do about Iran and Pakistan. That is not to say that I do not have any concern about Iran or Pakistan. But I think the situation in Yugoslavia, particularly with the state of health of President Tito, is something which the West should be more concerned about at the moment than the situation in the other two countries. I hope that the reaction of the West to the Afghanistan situation will cause the Soviet Union to think very seriously and not to take any action in relation to Yugoslavia should that have been something that it was contemplating. The costs must be spelt out and must be prohibitive. As I said, the tragedy of Afghanistan is the fact that the atmosphere of detente allowed the Soviet Union to abuse the trust which has been placed in it and to move in the way that it did.
Another of the major problems which the West faces is how to protect our system against the long-term Soviet strategy. I often despair. As I said earlier the Soviet Union has time on its side. It has no electorate to answer to. We have a totally different system, a system which, in moods, moves up and down. We have to come to grips somehow with that long-term Soviet strategy. Inevitably, costs will occur in conflicts. In a declared war situation Australians, as with most other nations, are prepared to pay those costs. In a situation such as we have now of a major international confrontation but no declared war, the question of those costs becomes a lot more difficult. It is something which I think that the West and Australians must pay particular attention to because we must be prepared to pay more than lip service to our concept of freedom, sovereignty, independence and our way of life. We have to make the hard decisions and the hard judgments about whether our system is worth saving and whether those values are worth paying some cost for. So even though we are in an undeclared war situation we have to be prepared to accept that there are and that there will be costs. I have no doubt that the community will be prepared to accept those costs and to share those costs.
In the areas of trade and of technology, science, sport and in so many other areas, costs will occur as a result of Australia, being a part of the Western world, displaying in a definite and a firm fashion that we are not prepared to tolerate this Russian foreign policy which has been expressed in the form of the invasion of Afghanistan. The situation which has developed is also causing a major realignment of nations. This again is something which should cause the Soviet Union to think again. That is another part of the cost which it must accept if it is going to take the sort of action which it has taken. The fact that only 18 countries were prepared to vote with the Soviet Union in the United Nations is an indication of the way in which the world is looking again at the Soviet Union. Apart from Eastern Europe, the Soviets were able to rally to their support only Afghanistan itself, Angola, South Yemen, Cuba, Ethiopia, Laos, Mozambique and Vietnam. It is a very sorry list of countries which were prepared to support the Soviet move into Afghanistan.
The Islamic countries which played such an important role in world affairs in the late 1970s and obviously will into the 1980s, are almost unanimous in their move away from the Soviet Union and are moving closer to a situation of being in accord with the Western position in relation to our assesment of Soviet foreign policy. So this debate is an extremely important one for this Parliament and for this nation. It deserves to be treated in that way. It raises enormous problems for the security of Australia, for the future of our region and, most importantly, for the way of life and the values which we have developed in our nation and, again, as part of the Western bloc. The debate does not deserve to be treated in the way that so many speakers from the Labor Party so far have treated it. It really should be brought back to the level of sanity, a level of proper thoughtful analysis in relation to this country’s position in the world and what is happening as a result of the Soviet’s long-term aggression and its long-term foreign policy.
I want to speak briefly about the Olympic Games. I think, in a lot of ways, it is unfortunate that Australia has been put into a position of showing the extent of leadership which it has had to show in relation to the Olympic Games. My own view is that there is no way in the world that the Olympic Games should be held in Moscow; there is no way in the world that Australia should be sending a team with the approval of the Australian Government to those Games. There is a great need for leadership in the world, and, as I said before in relation to Australia, we have to make decisions at some stage as to whether our system is worth protecting and whether it is worth fighting for. The rest of the West has to make the same value judgments. Europe and other nations have to assess whether those things are worth protecting. Some costs may occur but Europe has to accept that.
President Carter is throwing out a great challenge to the West, not only to the Soviet Union, in relation to the Olympic Games. Australia has accepted that challenge. The European Parliament in the last few days has accepted that challenge. I hope that other countries will accept that challenge because the whole Olympic Games situation must not be allowed to develop so that it can be a propaganda tool in the hands of a Soviet Government which has no legitimacy, which knows it has no legitimacy, which is totally insecure even within its own borders and which needs the Olympic Games for its propaganda purposes. I support wholeheartedly what the Government has been doing. I think that this is a most significant event for Australia, for the West and for our system and our way of life. This Parliament needs to debate it properly and adequately and to bring the debate back to a sane and proper level.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hurford) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to establish a Commonwealth Human Rights Commission. The Commission will protect and promote the observance of human rights throughout Australia within the limits of Commonwealth power. It will work in co-operation with the States on matters of human rights; will increase the community’s awareness of human rights; and will assist us to discharge our international obligations in the cause of human rights here and abroad.
The United Nations adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1966, and it came into force in 1976. To date, 61 countries have become parties to the Covenant, including the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Canada and, in the Pacific area, Japan and New Zealand. Australia is a signatory to the Covenant and will, the Government hopes, ratify it later this year. This legislation and the Human Rights Commission established under it will help Australia to discharge the obligations it will assume under the Covenant. It will also be a step towards protecting the rights of individuals, a matter of the utmost concern to the Government. In establishing special machinery to protect human rights, Australia is in good company. Other enlightened countries, such as the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Japan have all established their own special forms of machinery to protect human rights.
His Excellency the Governor-General foreshadowed introduction of the legislation when opening this Parliament on 21 February 1978. During the past year the Government has been conducting active discussions with the States and the Northern Territory with the object of developing agreed and complementary arrangements for the protection and promotion of human rights throughout the Commonwealth as a whole. There has been full consultation about the proposals now embodied in the Bill and discussions are in progress which are designed to lead to ratification by Australia of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Further than that, the States have agreed that there should be a recognised forum at ministerial level for the discussion of human rights issuesthe Ministerial Meeting on Human Rights, which will meet as occasion requires.
The Human Rights Commission will, in a relatively uncharted area, provide machinery to protect and promote the observance of human rights. The starting point for the definition of human rights will be the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. That Covenant defines a wide range of rights in 26 of its 53 Articles. The rights cover equality before the law; freedom of opinion, conscience and expression; freedom of assembly and association; the right to participate in public affairs; the right to privacy and the rights of the family and children; basic civil rights such as the right to life, to liberty and security of the person and to freedom of movement; the rights of accused persons and of prisoners; and the rights of ethnic minorities and of aliens. In many of these areas common law, or the statute law of the State or the Commonwealth, already applies. Where this is the case, a person’s first recourse will properly be to the ordinary processes of law. In other cases, some other resort may be available, such as bringing the matter to an Ombudsman or to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The Commission can be expected to exercise its discretion so as to ensure that all reasonably available remedies of this kind- often termed ‘local remedies’ by analogy with the rules in international laware exhausted before it will take a matter up.
The primary task of the Commission as defined in the Bill is to promote an awareness of human rights throughout the community, and the observance of those rights. To achieve these objectives, the Commission will work in two ways. It will inquire into, and where practicable effect a settlement of, issues that have come to its notice. It will also work to promote understanding and acceptance of human rights in Australia, and to this end will undertake research and educational programs. Its activities under the Bill are limited to acts done or practices engaged in by the Commonwealth or under legislation of the Commonwealth, but it will operate in close association with the related State or Territory machinery.
Firstly, I refer to the settlement function. Where an act or practice is the subject of a complaint, or comes to the notice of the Commission in some other way, the Commission’s charter will be to investigate it and to assist the parties to reach an agreed outcome which is consistent with the rights as defined in the International Covenant. Where such a settlement is not achievable, it will be the duty of the Commission to report to the Attorney-General on its inquiries, with recommendations for the way in which the matter should be resolved. For this essentially creative and developing process, the Commission will need wisdom, perception and the power to obtain the necessary background information and to bring people before it. But it will not need enforcement powers of the kind vested in courts. Accordingly, the Bill confers on the Commission adequate powers to obtain evidence and to call people before it, but does not equip it with legal sanctions.
The Commission will achieve its objectives in the complaint-handling process in two ways. Firstly, although it will have no court-like remedies, its settlement procedures will, in themselves, promote increasing recognition and observance of rights. Secondly, where a satisfactory settlement is not achieved, the Commission will be required to report to ministers and Parliament. These reports, and the attendant publicity, will be its sanctions, as with the Ombudsman. Furthermore, the Commission’s reports will ensure that governments and parliaments are aware of situations in which there needs to be a redefinition of the rights of different individuals and will stimulate them to take appropriate action.
The Commission’s second broad function is to promote understanding and acceptance of human rights. For the Commission to be effective in this, it will need a capacity for research. It is proposed that the Commission be given a small research staff with which to investigate emerging human rights issues that can only be effectively considered if wider material can be gathered than would be available simply by following up particular complaints. In this way, the Commission will become a centre for pioneering work in the understanding of human rights and of their implications for the Australian community. Its research efforts, significantly guided by the origin and nature of complaints, can be expected in the longer term to assist governments to tackle the causes, thus broadening and extending the observance of human rights in Australia.
The promotion function will also be carried forward by empowering the Commission to conduct, or assist in the conduct of, educational programs. All the evidence available from those already in the field, both in Australia and overseas, is that it is in the longer term more cost effective to develop educational programs than it is to hear individual complaints. It can be expected that the Commission’s research facilities will be used to assist in the preparation, in consultation with the appropriate authorities, of programs designed to promote awareness and discussion of human rights. Experience is that in most cases people are willing to alter their pattern of behaviour when confronted with the fact that the way they are exercising their rights is unreasonably infringing the rights of someone else. Sanctions of a legal kind are often not necessary, and indeed may even provoke antagonism rather than the spirit of co-operation which is so central in matters of reciprocal rights and obligations.
The Commission will function as I have just described when it is operating under its own Act and by reference to the International Covenant. Where the Parliament has enacted particular legislation, then that legislation, including provisions for bringing issues to the courts for enforcement, would be the effective vehicle for advancing human rights in that area and would be administered by the Commission. The Commission would naturally use the most effective means available to it. Where the Parliament has enacted specific legislation and this has been infringed, the next step is not to report to Ministers and Parliament but rather to ensure that the law, whether Commonwealth or State, is observed. It could be expected that as the Commission develops its work, it will begin to identify for the
Parliament areas where new legislation is required to reinforce the provisions of the Covenant, or where existing legislation is for some reason proving inadequate.
One of the Government’s primary objectives in establishing the Human Rights Commission is to achieve some rationalisation of activities in a field where there is at present a tendency towards rapid proliferation. Instead of contemplating the establishment of separate agencies concerned with particular aspects of the human rights field, it is our intention to use the Human Rights Commission as a focus. This will have three important advantages. Firstly, it will provide the public with simplicity of access. Individuals whose rights have been infringed are often not well placed to discriminate between different specialised agencies involving like services. Secondly, the problem of cases involving more than one agency, or falling between two agencies, will as far as possible be avoided. Problems of handling matters satisfactorily will be internalised to the Commission rather than imposed upon the individual. Finally, there would be administrative economies.
The advantages of rationalisation will be enhanced to the extent that co-operative arrangements can be made with the States. Active discussions are proceeding to this end. Clause 1 1 provides for a range of co-operative arrangements to be entered into between governments, and I expect that it will be fully used. The object will be to give the citizen as far as possible a single agency to approach, whether his or her complaint relates to a Commonwealth or State matter, and whether it relates to race or sex or religion and to access to public places, to employment or to rights as a citizen. The Ministerial Meeting on Human Rights, which I hope will become a fully fledged Ministerial Council on Human Rights, will be available where the human rights machinery throws up problems requiring collective ministerial consideration and action. The Commonwealth has already offered, and the States have accepted, that it provide servicing support for the Ministerial Meeting.
Associated with this measure is the Racial Discrimination Amendment Bill 1979. 1 propose to introduce it immediately following this Bill. It will be a first step in the process of rationalising Commonwealth arrangements by providing that the Human Rights Commission will be charged with overall responsibility for activities under the Racial Discrimination Act. A development of this kind was foreseen by the then AttorneyGeneral in 1973 when introducing the Racial Discrimination Bill. The Racial Discrimination
Amendment Bill will vest in the Human Rights Commission the functions currently vested in the Commissioner for Community Relations but will provide at the same time that the Commissioner will continue to work under the Racial Discrimination Act and that his functions will be concentrated on the investigation and settlement of complaints. Overall, this will result in an improvement in the protection of rights in the area of racial discrimination.
There have been suggestions that a Bill of Rights which is enforceable in the courts should be developed for Australia. There are a number of objections to such a course. Firstly, it would have serious implications for our federal system of government. Secondly, it would be contrary to our long established constitutional traditions, according to which authority of our basic human rights is primarily derived from the parliamentary and elective processes. Thirdly, the fact is that the Australian system of law, grounded in the common law and supplemented by significant statutory provisions, is not suited to general declaratory provisions of the kind included in Bills of Rights. Where a Bill of Rights exists, the courts are called upon to interpret its provisions in a way which is contrary to our traditions. Where a deficiency in the protection of human rights has been shown to exist it is, I believe, the responsibility of the elected representatives of the people to consider legislative and administrative measures to remedy that deficiency. This would not of course exclude the important role the courts have in the interpretation and enforcement of remedies that the Parliament bias provided in legislation. The role of the Human Rights Commission will be to assist the Government and Parliament by drawing attention to areas where legislative or administrative action appears desirable.
I mention also that the full text of the International Covenant is annexed as a Schedule to the Bill. This means that we are asking the Parliament to endorse that Covenant as the standard to be used by the Human Rights Commission. This is a valuable way of declaring, both in Australia and overseas, that the general standards of the International Covenant are taken seriously and are to be implemented. In the course of recent discussions between the Attorneys-General of the various States on human rights matters, interest has been expressed in the possibility of developing an Australian declaration- not a Bill- of rights based on the Covenant. That is an issue which can at a suitable time be taken forward in the Ministerial Meeting on Human Rights.
The Bill contains in clause 3 a significant provision for the potential development of the work of the Human Rights Commission. Under that clause, the Minister may declare an international instrument relating to human rights and freedoms to be a ‘relevant international instrument’ for the purposes of the Act. By this means the Commission will be required, in discharging its functions, to draw on the standards laid down in the declared instrument and thus to extend the areas of human rights for the promotion and protection of which it has responsibilities. Here again, an important objective is to avoid duplication of agencies to achieve the essential objective of protecting human rights. The Bill requires that, in accordance with our federalism policy, a declaration would be made only after full and careful consultation with the States. Any declaration will be tabled in the Parliament and be subject to disallowance.
The question has been raised whether there is a need for Australia to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The main argument against ratification is that Australia’s record in the human rights field is as good as any in the world and that there is no need to import foreign standards which may in some cases be not altogether appropriate to Australian conditions. Against that, Australia is a country in good standing internationally for its role in human rights- indeed we were last year elected to the membership of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. It is right that we play a positive and constructive role in the community of nations. We have no cause to hide anything in the area of human rights, and should be willing to ratify the central human rights convenant of the United Nations. Countries in our region have for the most part not yet ratified the Covenant, and we believe they should be encouraged to do so. However, unless we ratify the Covenant ourselves, and agree to be bound by it, we are hardly in a position to exercise influence on them.
The International Covenant represents a significant achievement of the international community. Our support for it will mean that internationally we are of good standing in the field of human rights and can exercise a voice in support of steadily improving practice. The Ministerial Meeting on Human Rights has now met on four occasions to consider what is required before Australia is ready to ratify the Covenant. The next meeting is planned for October. When these discussions are completed, the Parliament will be advised of the basis on which Australia proposes to ratify the Covenant, if possible later in the current sittings.
There are a number of provisions in the Bill which I have not already covered but to which I invite particular attention. Firstly, the Bill represents a constructive expression of the Government’s federalism policy. Whilst the Bill will not apply to State or Northern Territory law or practice, clause 1 1 specifically recognises that in a federation the several governments have their own rights and responsibilities and that in the field of human rights the most effective and enduring way forward is through co-operative action. Accordingly, clause 1 1 provides for the making of co-operative arrangements with the States. Already there are prospects of achieving such arrangements is some States and the Northern Territory, and I am hopeful that it will prove possible before long to develop along similar lines throughout the rest of the Commonwealth.
There has been some confusion over the way the Commission will operate throughout the Commonwealth. In the States and the Northern Territory its responsibilities will relate to Commonwealth laws and to practices under them. Complaints will be made either to the relevant office of the Commission in the State, or to the joint Commonwealth-State machinery, where that operates. Suitable investigating and conciliating procedures will be instituted with the object of resolving the matter or bringing it to the attention of the Commission and, ultimately, the Minister and Parliament. In the Australian Capital Territory similar procedures will be followed, and it will be possible to make complaints to the Commission about any matters, because all the relevant law is Commonwealth law.
The functions of the Commission are set out in clause 9 of the Bill. It will be noted that if the Minister so requests, the Commission will examine proposed enactments for the purpose of ascertaining whether they might be inconsistent with or contrary to any human rights. It is not expected that this will be a large part of the functioning of the Commission, but it has seemed desirable to authorise it to work in this way where the Minister so decides.
Clause 17 envisages that the Commission will develop relationships with the community and community organisations. This important provision will enable the Commission, with the approval of the Minister, to establish consultative committees. The consultative committees will be composed of representatives of non-government organisations and such other persons as the
Commission considers appropriate. The Commission will be an important agent in the process of accepted social change, and it is obviously desirable that it have an opportunity to consult with a wide range of persons in the community who have concerns in the human rights field. The Commission is unlikely ever to have a large staff, and much of its work will need to be achieved with the willing co-operation of concerned people in the community. The consultative committees will provide a vital channel of communication for this purpose.
I have already mentioned that the Commission is required to report to the Minister and, through him, to Parliament. Sub-clause (2) of clause 10 provides that the Commission may at any time report to the Minister. I expect this power to be used where issues arise in the course of conciliation that the Commission believes should be brought quickly to the attention of the Minister and Parliament, rather than await its annual report. By clause 30 the Minister will be required to table the annual report and any report furnished to him under Part II of the Act within 1 5 sitting days after the report is received.
Human rights are about the protection of individuals. I believe, and the Government believes, that in an era of social change in which governments exercise wide powers and corporations and large institutions greatly influence the lives of individuals, it is important to have an agency that is active in the protection and promotion of the rights of individuals. We see in the world around us too many occasions where the rights of individuals are cruelly violated. The purpose of the Human Rights Commission, and of the machinery associated with it, is to help Australia maintain its excellent record in the protection of human rights, and progressively to develop a better and more comprehensive recognition and observance of the rights of every individual in our community, regardless of financial standing and whatever his or her race, age, sex, religion or status. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill is complementary to the Human Rights Commission Bill 1979 which I have just introduced. It is designed, as envisaged in 1973 when the Racial Discrimination Bill was first introduced, to merge the administrative machinery of the Commissioner for Community Relations with the machinery of the Human Rights Commission while retaining the important statutory office of Commissioner for Community Relations. Since 1975 the Commissioner for Community Relations has played an important role in making the Australian community aware of the existence of racial discrimination and in following up complaints lodged with him alleging infringements of the provisions of the Act. Until the Human Rights Commission commences operation, the Commissioner for Community Relations will continue to operate as at present.
-Order! It being 10.30 p.m. I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I require that the question be put forthwith without debate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– When the Commission commences operations, which is expected to be later this year, it will assume over-all responsibility for implementing the provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act. However, the Commissioner for Community Relations will have the responsibility, subject to any direction the Commission may issue, to investigate and resolve complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act. The Commissioner will concentrate on this important area of his work, while the Commission assumes responsibilities for promotion, research and education as part of its broader functions in these areas, and having in mind the responsibilities of other bodies.
The Government fully recognises the importance of the objectives of the Racial Discrimination Act, which implements Australia’s obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. I assure honourable members that the Racial Discrimination Act will continue to be implemented with as much vigour and determination as before. The objective of the present amendment is to achieve a measure of useful administrative rationalisation, while preserving the thrust of the legislation. Indeed, with the greater resources which will be available to the Human Rights Commission, and the hoped for cooperation with State agencies, it should be possible to give the public quicker, more accessible and more effective service.
Although the provisions of the Bill are somewhat complex, the objective is simple: To retain the essential provisions of the existing legislation while adjusting the associated administrative arrangements. The key clauses are clauses 4 and 5. By these, the functions of the Commissioner are vested in the Human Rights Commission, but it is made clear that the Commissioner continues to exercise investigating and conciliating functions in the same way as before, except that they will now formally be done on behalf of the Human Rights Commission. Members of the public can be assured that, from their point of view, business will continue to be as usual. Indeed, the new arrangements will make the machinery more accessible. Where the Commission establishes cooperative machinery with a State, or its own offices in a State, these will provide agencies for access to the Commissioner and the remedies provided by the Act which are additional to those already available, contrary to what has been suggested in some quarters.
Most of the other clauses are technical in nature, and are designed to achieve within the framework of the existing legislation the objectives I have just mentioned. Clause 9 will preserve in the new arrangements the right of a person aggrieved by an act he or she considers to have been discriminatory on grounds of race to institute a proceeding in a court. That right is given by section 24 of the Racial Discrimination Act, and the effect of clause 9 is to authorise a member of the Human Rights Commission, as well as the Commissioner, to sign a certificate which would allow suitable proceedings to be brought. Clauses 15 and 16, together with clause 29 of the Human Rights Commission Bill, will have the effect of requiring the Human Rights Commission to report to Parliament on its functions under the Racial Discrimination Act. Clauses 10 and 14 ensure that persons who bring matters before the Commissioner are given legal protection from intimidation or legal actions solely on grounds that the complaint has been made. I believe this Bill represents a significant and practical step towards a co-operative and coordinated approach to the implementation of human rights policy. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.
Olympic Games: Boycott- Death of 23-months-old Boy- Oil Pricing Policy- Death of Sir Winton Turnbull, C.B.E. -Health Insurance for Medical Teams Working Overseas -Taxation
Motion (by Mr Viner) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
-Tonight I would like to use my five minutes to deal with the Olympic boycott. As honourable members undoubtedly know it is not a part of the motion before the House. I state quite firmly that I support an effective boycott of the Olympic Games and always have done so. It is quite clear that the Olympic Games in Moscow should be boycotted, not only because of what has happened in Afghanistan, but also because of the type of country the Soviet Union is, and there should never have been any suggestion that the Olympic Games should be held there. However, may I quote from what Mr Peter Hastings had to say in the Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday. The question of effectiveness is a relevant point. He states:
I for one do not think so. While there was much to be said for a boycott, there was even more to be said for a middlesized power approaching the problem, no matter how determinedly, with circumspection, instead of front-running for the United States.
The question of imposing an Olympic boycott was not like the question of lobbying for a UN censure vote against Russia . . . and was never likely to attract anything like real consensus.
No amount of rationalisation about principle disguises the fact that a boycott is a difficult thing to make work.
Mr Fraser is right to say, as he did on Wednesday night, that the Soviet Union will regard the Games being held in Moscow as a vindication of Russian policies.
Unfortunately, we have helped create that situation.
I emphasise that point and that is what Peter Hasings is saying. He continues:
The very problems in the way of achieving a boycott should have instilled in Mr Fraser and his advisers- if he suffered any- a sense of caution.
Why? Simply because failure of a boycott policy was likely to play straight into Russian hands.
I agree completely with that. May I make a further point that as far as we are concerned, what the Soviet Union has done in Afghanistan is one of the best things that it has ever done.
– How many people have they killed?
-I am talking from our point of view. The invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union has been excellent from the point of view of the West. I know that what has happened in Afghanistan is extremely deplorable. I do not know whether the Russians have killed anybody there, or whether most of the people who have been killed happen to have been killed by the Afghan Government forces or by the rebels. As far as I am concerned the important thing is that what has happened has again exposed the Soviet Union as one of the greatest imperialist countries that has ever existed. It is important to remember this because people tend to forget. They woke up when this occurred in Hungary in 1956 and they woke up again when it occurred in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Then they forgot about it. They have been reminded again. The important point is that I think it has woken up many people in the West. It has significantly sharpened the attention of people here. Finally, I think it has woken up the so-called Islamic countries which have tended to support the Soviet Union for -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! I am reluctant to interrupt the honourable member. He is now directly alluding to a debate that is presently before the House and is under adjournment.
– The important thing as far as the Olympic Games are concerned, and as far as that particular issue is concerned, is that while I strongly support an effective boycott and while I personally would not associate myself with the Olympic Games even if there were no effective boycott, I think that what has happened is bad. Peter Hastings put it very well. He said that the present Government, by making it a big issue, by not talking to the people concerned and by not doing a certain amount of behind the scenes organising has made it possible for the Soviet Union to achieve a propaganda victory. Surely we are all opposed to that.
The present position is very difficult. We have almost reached a no-win situation. The Australian public has been divided. We have some of the most reactionary sections- I emphasise reactionary sections-in Australia supporting the Olympic Games and participation in the Olympic Games. We have people like Charles Porter and Bjelke-Petersen who are some of the most reactionary people in Queensland supporting participation in the Olympic Games. I need not say any more. Of course, they are joined by the Pat Clancys of this world. At the same time, unless we have an effective boycott- I emphasise an effective boycott- then we do not raise the issue publicly. When the Olympic Games take place the Soviet Union will say that the vast majority of countries will have participated. At this stage we do not want to be in a position where we are giving the Soviet Union an extra propaganda victory.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-Last year and again this morning I drew the attention of the House to the death of two-year-old Christopher Derkacz at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth. I am sorry to do this to the House again this evening, but it is the only forum I have. I am continuing to do this because I think something very fundamentally wrong has been done, and there appears to be no redress whatsoever for the foster parents. Christopher died after being denied resuscitation on the unilateral decision of doctors in charge of his treatment, apparently because he was a Down’s syndrome child. Neither his natural parent nor his foster parents were consulted. Evidence was given that some such children at the hospital are described as social problems and allowed to pass away. There is evidence that Christopher’s case is not an isolated one. In spite of the coroner’s misgivings about the death, and despite repeated reasonable requests, the Western Australian Government continues to deny an open inquiry into Christopher’s death. The doctors and nurses involved continue to maintain the silence behind which they sheltered in the coroner’s court. The hospital continues to assert that all patients are given the same treatment. Yet Christopher was denied treatment that would have been given to him gladly had he not been a Down’s syndrome child.
I am not going to mourn for Christopher. He is in God’s hands. But I do mourn for what this case has revealed about the state of the medical profession in this country. On evidence sworn in a court of law, doctors are now making unilateral decisions to allow handicapped people to die. There is apparently no legal means by which this can be prevented as long as the doctors remain silent in any resulting inquest. There seems to be no insistence that there must be an inquest in such cases. Handicapped people and their parents have had their confidence in hospitals and doctors shattered. To try to mend some of the tragic damage I will ask again and again, if necessary, that the Minister for Health (Mr MacKellar) give the most stringent instructions that no doctor in any hospital supported by this Government should ever make a deliberate unilateral decision to allow any patient to die.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Riverina) (10.42) -Today, in front of this House, representatives of the transport industry gathered together in a protest rally. Some of them expressed disappointment at the number of Federal members who took the opportunity to discuss their problems with them. That can be understood because members were concerned with international problems. However, I remind the House that it does not matter how expert we are at solving international problems. We still have some national problems which are just as big a threat to our way of life as some of the problems outside this country. The representatives of the transport industry asked to speak to me, not because I am an expert in this field but because I am concerned about the effect of the oil parity price on the various industries in the country areas, particularly in my electorate. It must be remembered that the price of distillate, petrol and other petroleum products has more than doubled in 18 months, and of course many people living in metropolitan areas know the effect that it is having on them.
It has been said that the inflationary spiral will increase by 3 per cent or 4 per cent, and I want to remind the House that these people have alternative means of transport for both personal use and for goods. It seems to me that this Government is not concerned enough for the way the oil parity prices are affecting people in country areas. The increased fuel prices not only are having a crippling effect on the private transport industry but are also sending to the wall many farming industries and business establishments in the country. The transport industry is caught up in a kind of pincer movement. Many of the non-perishable goods it used to cart are now being transferred to the subsidised rail services. They are still able to transport perishable goods because of the delays involved if there is no direct rail link, which is the situation in my electorate from the Riverina-Leeton area to parts of Queensland. Such perishable goods are still carried by road transport. Unfortunately, the transport people have had to increase their prices for carrying goods and they are meeting buyer resistance and are losing markets.
This is not only making things very difficult for the road hauliers but is also making it very awkward for the farming industry and business people in country areas. I remind the House that already many of the farming industries have suffered greatly increased penalties through extra fuel prices. In addition, they are losing their markets. That is serious because if they cannot supply those markets in out-of-the-way places they will have to find new markets, and that is adding to their problems. Of course, the road hauliers have their own problems. One chap was telling me that he had been carting steel from Adelaide to Sydney to Melbourne to Brisbane for 16 years. Last week he lost the contract. He has about half a dozen vehicles which were used to do this work and he has had to put people out of work.
Getting back to my own electorate, I am worried about the number of school leavers who are unable to find employment. This is adding to the problem. It has a snowballing effect. I ask the Government to give some consideration to the problems within Australia. We know that we have to spend some time considering international problems, but do not let us forget the problems within Australia. I believe that oil parity pricing is one of our greatest problems at present.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-This morning this House passed a condolence motion relating to the passing of three former members of this Parliament. I wish to place on the records of this House a tribute to the late Sir Winton Turnbull, C.B.E., a member of this House for 26 years and eight months and one of this nation’s greatest parliamentarians. The passing of Sir Winton brings to an end a long and dedicated career, during which time so much of the development of north-western Victoria and its potential was recognised. I mentioned the dedicated work of Sir Winton in assisting ex-servicemen, their widows and children, and also the important role he played in assisting the development of orderly marketing arrangements for many agricultural industries. Sir Winton, Knight Bachelor, member of the Most Excellent Order of the Commander of the British Empire, was the son of the late Adam and Georgina Turnbull of Coleraine. He was born on the last day of the nineteenth century. Sir Winton helped to shape the lives of many people and never stopped working for his fellow man. In doing so, he earned the love, respect and admiration of all with whom he came in contact.
Sir Winton learned to love the great Scottish poets and often quoted from the great poets and orators of that day with great charm and with a talent which allowed him to captivate his audiences. He was a man who never used a disparaging phrase or uttered a word of ill-will against anyone. While a young man he worked on a family property and later took over a property near Horsham. He subsequently joined the firm of Young Brothers of Horsham, and very shortly held a licence to operate as an auctioneer. For 10 years Winton worked at the Warracknabeal branch, where he gained a reputation for fairness which ultimately won for him and that firm a major part of the trade of the district. Successful in this area, he later took up the position of chief auctioneer and livestock department manager at Newmarket with Macarthur and McLeod, and in 1936 established the first radio broadcast of Newmarket’s sales and their prices.
In 1940 he joined the Light Anti-Aircraft Company and in 1941 sailed for Malaya, landing at Singapore and proceeding to Malacca, where he served in the infantry attached to the Eighth Division. Winton Turnbull was taken prisoner on 15 February 1942 at Singapore and remained as a prisoner of war for the next three and a half years in the notorious Changi prison camp. It was here, according to the men who were with him and those to whom I have talked, that Winton revealed his love for his fellow prisoners. Along with others, he worked unceasingly to combat the feelings of utter hopelessness and loneliness within the POW camp. Concerts, mock council elections, mock courts and other such diversions helped keep the men’s minds from the past and turned them to the future. These activities helped a great many and there are many alive today who will remember with great affection the name of Winton Turnbull.
As a mere physical skeleton he returned to Australia on 8 October 1945 and his thoughts started to turn to yet another way to assist his country. Upon his return to Australia and while still in the Army Winton won preselection for the Country Party and was elected as the member for Wimmera in early 1946. He held Wimmera until a redistibution of seats in 1949 put a major part of his electorate into the new electorate of Mallee, a seat which he held until his retirement in 1972.
During his term in Parliament he created a record that parliamentarians of the future will probably never equal- 26 years and eight months without missing a single sitting. It is understood that nowhere in any Parliament throughout the world has this record ever been challenged. Sir Winton was party whip for nine years and Deputy Government Whip from 1 956. In 1 968 Sir Winton was awarded the C.B.E. and four years later he was made a knight bachelor, not, it is understood, as a political reward but in recognition of a man who believed in and fought for the very highest principles in life.
In 1 940 Winton Turnbull married Miss Beryl Bradley and they made their home in St Arnaud, later moving to Boort where they lived until his parliamentary retirement. Sir Winton and Lady Turnbull subsequently moved to Bendigo. One of Sir Winton ‘s great interests was horses. He was a keen judge of horses and for quite a few years he and a small syndicate of hopefuls in the Boort area used to wager small sums on the outcome of many races.
Sir Winton was a man whom everyone admired and respected. Deepest sympathy is tendered to Lady Beryl in her loss of a loving husband. Their marriage was one of great happiness, understanding, and the sharing of problems that confronted so many constituents. The people of Mallee mourn the passing of a great man, as do all his colleagues and many people with whom he came in contact over a long period of public service. Perhaps no greater tribute can be paid to Sir Winton than the comment in the Boort Times written by a former editor and owner of that paper, Mr Laurie Meadows. He said:
In one’s life it is a privilege to know a man one can call friend and to a great many, that man was Sir Winton George Turnbull.
-The matter I wish to raise in the House tonight was of so much concern to a constituent of mine that he took the trouble to write to me about it. I feel quite sure that it is a matter of concern to many Australians. The man who wrote to me is Dr Hall who practises in Bacchus Marsh. I could do no better than to read his letter to the House and then elaborate on what he had to say. I trust that the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland), who is at the table, will take this matter to the Government. If the Government has already discussed it I hope he will enlighten the House tonight. If the Government has not discussed the matter, I hope the Minister will make every endeavour to have the Government discuss it. Dr Hall writes:
I have offered to go te the Thailand-Kampuchea border to work in a refugee camp there with the UN High Commission on Refugees.
I have had no luck in organising reasonable insurance cover. If I am injured or become ill over there I am virtually on my own. The Overseas Services Bureau who are organising the Australian Medical Team are only able to provide a cover for S 10,000 in case of death and expenses up to $700 in case of illness. This is hopelessly inadequate.
The best insurance quotes I can find are S700 Tor S 100,000 death cover and S2S0 per week for two years taxable sickness or accident cover or $3,000 for $200,000 death cover but no sickness or accident cover.
Seven hundred dollars is too much money for an unpaid volunteer to find. Even if I am willing to pay this, $250 per week would not even cover the mortgage on my home and practice. Three thousand dollars cannot even buy me any sickness or accident cover. Only one company would offer an S & A policy and the limit is $250 per week.
I consider that the Australian Government should provide more assistance than they do to these medical teams. I suggest a good place to start would be with adequate repatriation and sickness assistance. I cannot go to help these refugees at the risk of destroying my family. Any doctor who goes to Thailand without adequate sickness and accident protection is short sighted.
I would be pleased if you could treat this matter urgently. I am due to leave on February 1 7th. Can you get an undertaking from the Government to compensate me at the rate of pay of Community Health Centre doctors according to Workers Compensation laws for any injury, sickness or death while working in Thailand.
That letter is dated the 13th of this month. Today is the 19th so the good doctor was a little bit hopeful in expecting a reply from the Government in such a short time. The letter certainly raises the question of these people- and there are many of them- who have been encouraged by the Government and indeed, I believe, by the Australian community to offer their services quite voluntarily for the benefit of people who are in a much less fortunate position. Without canvassing the rights and wrongs of any of the internal political situations in any of these countries, I think it is true to say that the people who suffer out of all this are not necessarily those who are political activists but rather just the ordinary people. When medication becomes short and illness becomes rife among those people there is a need for doctors and people with medical training to go to those countries. I doubt whether any honourable member of this House would dispute that.
What this man has to say raises the question of where doctors stand if they themselves become ill or become injured. They are in what is to all intents and purposes a war zone. There seems to be two courses of action: Either these very kind hearted and generous people decide that they will not go and remain home- of course the refugees and others would be the poorer for that sort of action- or somebody, and that somebody must be the Australian community personified through its Government, faces up to this problem and ensures that they or their families, or both, do not suffer any needless financial hardship because they have volunteered their services in such a way. So I trust that the Minister will take this matter to his Government and that the Government does not treat it lightly. I hope that the Government treats it seriously and reports back to the House any views it has on this matter because, as I said earlier, it is not only Dr Hall who is affected but many other people as well.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-Before making a few brief remarks about income tax I want to congratulate the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) on the powerful and sensible speech he made tonight. I just hope that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) and, in particular, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) take the trouble to read that speech and to comprehend it. Barely three weeks ago I was absolutely flabbergasted to hear that the greatest tax bandit in Australia’s history had actually come out publicly in support of income tax cuts and cuts in indirect taxes. I read what he had to say and I did not believe it. But then I heard it on the radio. There it was- the voice absolutely unmistakably recognisable.
This man was a minister in a government which over three years increased tax collections in this country by 43 per cent. In 1973-74 it increased them by 21 per cent and in 1974-75, when he was Treasurer of Australia, it increased them by 19 percent. As a result of his actions and the actions of his government, many small businesses were bankrupted and pensioners and low income earners were ruined; money was robbed from them. To hear him talk about income tax cuts must take the prize as the greatest act of political hypocrisy that I have seen in 14 years in Parliament. This is the man who, in March last year, outlined to the National Press Club his blueprint for the socialism of Australia and, in particular, his taxation reforms, including a capital gains tax, a resource rental tax and a restructuring of personal income tax involving marginal rates. When the senior Treasury officials looked at this proposal they found that the maximum marginal rate he had in mind, and from which he now gets the nickname which will go with him to his grave, was 80 cents in the dollar. So we have Mr Eighty Cents in the Dollar Taxation, the honourable member for Oxley, Mr W. G. Hayden, coming out three weeks ago as an apostle of reduced taxation. I give the Leader of the Opposition full marks for being able to stand up anywhere and say anything that he thinks appropriate at the particular time. But for him to put himself forward as an apostle of reduced taxation in the light of his record- and I use that word ‘record’ advisedly- is the greatest act of political hypocrisy that I have ever heard of.
In the seconds left to me, let me make this prediction, which I hope the members of the Labor Party will listen to. One of the key issues in the Federal election campaign this year will be taxation. If you want higher taxes vote Labor; if you want lower taxes vote Liberal. Our record is one of consistent tax reform and consistent tax reduction. Unlike the socialists opposite, we believe in giving the workers of Australia a fair go.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! It being 1 1 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 2.15 p.m. tomorrow.
The following papers were deemed to have been presented on 19 February 1980, pursuant to statute:
Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) ActRegulationsStatutory Rules 1979, No. 299.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act- RegulationsStatutory Rules 1979, No. 274.
Air Force Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules- 1979- Nos.257, 303. 1980- No.2.
Apple and Pear Levy Collection Act- RegulationsStatutory Rules 1980, No. 12.
Audit Act-Regulations-Statutory Rules 1979, Nos. 282, 284.
Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs ActRegulationsStatutory Rules 1980, No. 6.
Automatic Data Processing Equipment Bounty ActRegulationsStatutory Rules 1979, No. 278.
Bounty (Agricultural Tractors) Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules, No. 276.
Canned Fruits Levy Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1979, No. 293.
Canned Fruits Levy Collection Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1979, No. 292.
Canned Fruits Marketing Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1979, No. 294.
Canning-Fruit Charge Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 8.
Christmas Island Act-Ordinances-
No. 6- Explosives (Storage and Use).
No. 7- Police Force (Amendment). 1980-No. 1-Inquiry.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act-Ordinances- 1 979-
No. 4- Cocos Community Fund (Dissolution).
No. 5- Singapore Ordinances Application.
No. 6-Interpretation (Amendment).
Commonwealth Banks Act- Appointment certificates- E. Kerr, R. H. McLauchlan, A. J. Mangioni, P. J. Mulligan, N. W. Phillips, R. J. Turvey, D. R. White.
Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act- RegulationsStatutory Rules 1980, No. 19.
Coral Sea Islands Act-Ordinance-1979-No. 1 - Application of Laws (Amendment).
Criminology Research Act- Regulation- Statutory Rules 1979, No. 287.
Customs Act- Regulations-Statutory Rules 1979, Nos. 275, 277, 280.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) ActRegulationsStatutory Rules 1979, Nos. 252, 271.
Dairy Industry Stabilization Levy Act- RegulationsStatutory Rules 1 979, No. 29 1 .
Defence Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1979, Nos. 258, 266, 302.
Defence Act, Naval Defence Act and Air Force ActRegulations Statutory Rules- 1979- Nos. 247, 248, 254, 256, 260, 265. 1980- Nos. 1,3.
Defence Amendment Act- Interim DeterminationsStatutory Rules- 1 979- Nos. 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312,313. 1980- Nos. 4, 9, 10,20.
Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits ActRegulationsStatutory Rules 1979, No. 255.
Dried Fruits Levy Act- Regulation-Statutory Rules 1979, No. 270.
Dried Vine Fruits Equalization Levy Act- RegulationsStatutory Rules 1979, No. 269.
Excise Act-Regulations-Statutory Rules 1979, No. 279.
Fisheries Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 13.
Health Insurance Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1979, No. 285.
Housing Loans Insurance Act- Regulation- Statutory Rules 1980, No. 17.
Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act RegulationsStatutory Rules 1979, No. 288.
Industrial Research and Development Incentives ActRegulationStatutory Rules 1979, No. 296.
Lands Acquisition Act-
Land acquired for-
Baseline Air Pollution Station- Cape Grim, Tas.
Extensions to Perth Airport.
Statement of lands acquired by agreement authorized under sub-section 7(1).
National Companies and Securities Commission ActRegulations Statutory Rules 1980, No. 5.
National Health Act-Regulations-Statutory Rules 1979, No. 250.
National Parks and Wildlife Conservation ActRegulationStatutory Rules 1979, No. 298.
Naval Defence Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules- 1979- Nos. 251,253,281,301. 1980- No. 7.
Navigation Act- Regulations-
Determination made under Regulation 6 of the Navigation (Dangerous Goods) Regulations, dated 28 December 1979.
Statutory Rules 1979, No. 300.
Overseas Students Charge Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1979, No. 289.
Overseas Students Charge Collection ActRegulationsStatutory Rules 1979, No. 290.
Overseas Telecommunications Act- Regulation- Statutory Rules 1979, No. 249.
Postal Services Act- Australian Postal Commission -By-laws- Postal- 1 979- Amendment No. 4. 1980- AmendmentNo. 1.
Public Service Act-
Australian National Parks and Wildlife ServiceP. W. Harrison, W. G. Whiteman.
Aboriginal Affairs- R. J. Liddle.
Industrial Relations- E. J. Benjamin.
Regulations- Statutory Rules- 1979- Nos. 259, 261, 262, 263, 264, 272, 295, 297. 1980- No. 18.
Public Service Arbitration Act-
Australian Conciliation and Arbitration CommissionDetermination accompanied by statement regarding possible inconsistency with the law- 1977-C No. 1705-Commonwealth Teaching Service (Northern Territory Teachers) Conditions 1979 (variation).
Public Service Arbitrator- Determinations accompanied by statements regarding possible inconsistency with the law- 1979-
No. 516- Commonwealth Foreman’s Association of Australia (Australian Public Service).
No. 5 1 7- Customs Officers ‘ Association of Australia, Fourth Division and another.+
No. 5 1 8- Australian Public Service Association (Fourth Division Officers).
No. 5 1 9- Federated Liquor and Allied Industries Employees Union of Australia. (+Not accompanied by statement)
Quarantine Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules- 1979- No.286. 1980- No. 16.
Remuneration Tribunals Act- Remuneration TribunalDeterminations 1979/ 16- Holders of public offices in the Australian Security Intelligence Organization and other bodies. 1 979/ 1 8-Holders of public offices on the Administrative Review Council and other bodies. 1979/19- Executive Officer of the Parliament House Construction Authority. 1979 Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly ReviewDetermination 1979/17- Members of the Legislative Assembly of Norfolk Island.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
No. 34- Liquor (Amendment) (No. 3).
No. 35- Co-operative Societies (Amendment).
No. 36- Betting (Totalizator Agency ) (Amendment).
No. 37- Poker Machine Control (Amendment) (No. 2).
No. 38- Medical Practitioners Registration (Amendment).
No. 39- Juries (Amendment).
No. 40- Legal Practitioners (Amendment) (No. 2).
No. 41- Court of Petty Sessions (Amendment) (No. 2).
No. 42- Consumer Affairs (Amendment).
No. 43- Egg Industry (Amendment). 1980-No. 1 -Holidays (Amendment).
No. 26 (Building Ordinance and others).
No. 27 (Co-operative Societies Ordinance).
No. 28 (Roads and Public Places Ordinance ).
States Grants (Petroleum Products) Act- Amendment of the schedules to the subsidy schemes in relation to the States of Queensland and Western Australia, dated 2 December 1979.
States Grants (Schools Assistance) Act- Statement of particulars of direction given by Minister under sub-section 13(3).
Student Assistance Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules- 1979- Nos. 267,268, 304. 1980- Nos. 14, 15.
Superannuation Act- Regulation- Statutory Rules 1979. No. 283.
Telecommunications Act- Australian Telecommunications Commission- By-laws-
Telecommunications (Charging Zones and Charging Districts)- Amendment Nos. 40, 4 1 .
Telecommunications (Community Calls).
Telecommunications (General)- Amendment No. 25.
Tertiary Education Commission Act- RegulationsStatutory Rules 1980, No. 1 1.
Trade Commissioners Act- Regulation- Statutory Rules 1979, No. 273.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 6 March 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 7 March 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
NEAC has also reported to me on the ‘Efficient Use Of Liquid Fuels in Road Vehicles’. This report contains discussion of measures aimed at encouraging the manufacture, purchase and use of more fuel-efficient vehicles. It was released on 1 5 October 1979 and is currently being considered.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 7 March 1979:
Will the Minister make public the advice provided by the National Energy Advisory Committee on (a) development of the North West Shelf gas reserves, (b) use of methanol as a fuel extender, (c) possible patterns of oil supply to the year 2000, (d) Australian membership of the International Energy Agency, (e) fuel economy goals for passenger cars, (f) aspects of energy modelling in Australia, and (g) exploration for oil and gas in Australia; if not, why not.
-The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 20 March 1 979:
-The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 2 1 March 1979:
With regard to the 76 outback towns proposed to receive ABC television broadcasts via satellite during 1 979-82 under the Remote Areas Program (a) which of the 76 towns at present has an adequate telephone service, (b) what does he define as an adequate telephone service, (c) what is the cost, in 1 979 figures, in extending terrestrial television broadcasts via repeater and translator stations to the 76 towns as originally proposed and approved, (d) what is the cost of extending satellite telephonic communication to the 76 outback centres, as compared with the cost of adding telephonic capability to the terrestrial television broadband stations originally approved, (e) what is the earliest date at which integration of the 76 towns into the terrestrial broadband television and telephone network could be achieved, (0 what is the earliest date at which the 76 towns will receive satellite television and have a decent, reliable telephone service, whether by satellite or terrestrially, (g) what is the difference in signal quality between satellite and terrestrial television and telephony and (h) what are the effects that the Government’s committal to ABC broadcasting via INTELSAT will have on the timetabling of Telecom’s general terrestrial expansion program.
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The cost of providing television to the first 56 locations during 1 979-80-8 1 , including operational and satellite rental charges for the period, is estimated at about $8. 8m. 41 earth stations will work through INTELSAT; the remaining 15 locations will be provided with a service through translators or from existing Telecom broadband systems. Studies and field surveys for the remaining 20 stations have not yet reached a stage where firm cost estimates can be provided.
A comparison of costs of alternative methods for providing telephone services to the areas in question is not of value because with 3 exceptions, all the locations are connected already to the national telephone network. In general, the most economic method of convening existing manual telephone services to automatic operations is by upgrading or modifying existing facilities. For those remaining locations without telephone services at present the potential use of satellites or other technologies are possibilities which Telecom would consider in its planning for such areas.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 28 March 1979:
What has been the annual production of (a) crude oil, (b) condensate, (c) liquified petroleum gas and (d) natural gas for each Gippsland Basin oil field since production began.
-The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Statistics for the Gippsland Basin oil fields up to 1977 are provided in the Victorian Department of Minerals and Energy publication ‘The Petroleum and Gas Industries in Victoria Statistical Review’. This publication provides a table entitled ‘Reserves and Production of Crude Oil and Natural Gas’ and a further table, entitled ‘Reserves and Production of Condensate and LPG’. The annual accretions to aggregate annual production statistics shown in these tables provide annual production volumes for each Gippsland field. The last such publication was Statistical Review No. 1 1 of 1977.
Statistics for 1978 and 1979 are as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 3 April 1979:
Has the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation reestablished formal or informal links with the South African Department of National Security (formerly the Bureau of State Security) .
-The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
I do not propose to comment publicly on this matter, consistently with the past practice of neither confirming nor denying speculations about national security matters. In accordance with the Government’s bipartisan approach to security matters, arrangements can be made for the DirectorGeneral of Security to brief the Leader of the Opposition on this matter if he so desires.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 2 May 1979:
-The Attorney-General has provided the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:
In an article, produced under the auspices of the Australian Institute of Criminology, titled ‘Prisons and Prisoners in Austrlaia’, published in 1977 in D. Chappell and P. Wilson The Australian Criminal Justice System (2nd Edition, Sydney, 1977) some possible explanations of these differences are canvassed. The differences in the imprisonment rates between the Australian jurisdictions are also being considered by the Law Reform Commission in its inquiries in connection with the reference on sentencing given to it in August last year. The Institute of Criminology is collaborating with the Commission in those inquiries.
Public Service: Industrial Action (Question No. 4052)
-On 9 October 1979, the then Minister Assisting the Prime Minister (Mr Viner) answered a question on notice from Mr Giles, concerning the ACOA strike on 29 May 1 979.
There was a minor typographical error in the answer which appeared in the Hansard for that day (page 1798). That error was corrected in the Weekly Hansard, (page 1800) but another error was inadvertently made.
I would like to draw the attention of the honourable member to the fact that no Second or Third Division staff of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel were absent on unauthorised leave, and that there was no pay withheld. The figure of $10,750.00 appearing against the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel in the ‘Pay Withheld ‘ column in the published answer should not have appeared.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 30 May 1 979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commission has a continuing obligation to maintain security and safety arrangements at its Research Establishment at levels comparable to the best overseas practice. Security and safety arrangements are given the highest priority by the Commission which has assured me that safety standards at the Research Establishment are not being compromised and that it will not proceed with any operations until safety standards are met and safety checks on staff are carried out. I shall continue to insist that safety at the Research Establishment receives the highest priority at all times.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 6 June 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 7 June 1979:
-The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 21 August 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 21 August 1 979:
Can he say what proportion of the total work force is employed in Government work (including quangos or thenequivalents) in (a) the United States of America, (b) the United Kingdom, (c) Sweden, (d) France, (e) Australia and (f) New Zealand.
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
It is not possible to provide the information requested on a fully consistent and up to date basis. The only readily available information is contained in the OECD publication Public Expenditure Trends, published in June 1978. The following table shows estimates of the relative size of public sector employment in each of the countries requested:
The honourable member’s attention is drawn to footnote * of the table which stresses that comparisons across countries on the basis of the data presented in the table are hazardous because of the large conceptual differences among countries’ definitions of their public sectors. The OECD has advised that the definition of the Australia public sector, because it includes public authorities and companies, is somewhat broader than those adopted in most other countries shown in the table, which exclude some or all such authorities. The table does, however, permit more meaningful comparisons to be made of movements over time for individual countries.
The Australian Statistician has advised that the proportion of the total Australian civilian labour force employed by the government sector in June 1979 was approximately 23 per cent. Government sector employment includes, in addition to administrative employees, other employees of government bodies (Commonwealth, State, local and semigovernment) on services such as railways, road transport, Banks, postal and telecommunications, air transport, education (including universities, colleges of advanced education, etc.), radio, television, police, public works, factories, marketing authorities, public hospitals (other than those run by charitable or religious organisations) and departmental hospitals and institutions.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 2 1 August 1 979:
-The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Finance, upon notice, on 23 August 1979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As indicated in Chapter II of Budget Paper No. 10- National Accounting Estimates of Receipts and Outlays of Commonwealth Government Authorities- outlays for the Commonwealth Government sector as a whole derive from outlays of two sub-sectors- the Budget and the non-Budget sub-sectors. In consolidating the estimates of outlays for these two sub-sectors, transfers and other payments between them are netted out to show the level of transactions of the Commonwealth Government sector as a whole. This ‘overlap’ between the two component sub-sectors, and the consequential netting out process to arrive at total Commonwealth Government sector outlays, need to be kept in mind when describing Commonwealth Budget sub-sector outlays as constituting a certain percentage of total Commonwealth outlays as comprehended in the first pan of question ( 1 ).
In particular, when considering the relative contributions of the two sub-sectors, it should be noted that various Commonwealth non-Budget sub-sector authorities receive funds from the Budget; the application of these funds shows up in the non-Budget sub-sector and, although they appear in the Budget sub-sector before consolidation they are netted out in the consolidation process.
As to the second pan of the question, appropriations of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF)- as represented by the Supply Acts, the Appropriation Acts and Special Appropriations- and ‘outlays’ as described in the Budget Statements are different, though related, concepts and, again, caution should be exercised in expressing one as a percentage of the other.
The term ‘appropriation’ reflects a legal concept which derives from the requirement in section 83 of the Constitution that no money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under appropriation made by law; the term ‘Budget outlays’, on the other hand, reflects an economic concept defined to put Budget data on a basis which is consistent with, and readily related to, National Accounting data for other sectors (and for the economy as a whole) compiled and published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Not all appropriations of the CRF are classified as Budget outlays; for example, some transactions deriving from appropriations are classified as ‘financing transactions’ and are therefore not included in outlays. Conversely, not all Budget outlays involve appropriations of the CRF; for example, there are net contributions to Budget outlays arising from transactions of the Trust Fund and appropriations of the Loan Fund. Furthermore some, but not all, Trust Fund outlays have their origin in prior appropriations of the CRF which are offset when the transactions of the CRF and Trust Fund are consolidated. Other differences arise because particular items recorded as receipts in the CRF are offset against expenditures in arriving at ‘outlays’ and because various transactions which are recorded in gross terms in calculations of ‘receipts’ and ‘outlays’ are netted out in the CRF estimates.
A reconciliation between estimated Budget outlays in 1979-80 as shown in Statement No. 3 attached to the Budget speech ($3 1,692m) and appropriations of the CRFdissected to identify amounts to be appropriated by Special Appropriations and Appropriation Acts (Nos 1 and 2) 1979-80- is detailed in Tables 1 and 2 of Budget Paper No. 4- Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the Year Ending 30 June 1980. Further information on the relationship between the two concepts is contained in the Appendix to the Treasurer’s Budget Speech. The total estimated outlays in 1979-80 of all Commonwealth Government authorities, as detailed in Table 6 of Budget Paper No. 10, amount to $33, 1 92m.
Having regard to the above qualifications the contribution of Budget sector outlays to total Commonwealth Government outlays in 1979-80 is estimated at $3 1,559m or 95.1 per cent. The figure of $3 1,559m can be calculated from Table No. 1 of Budget Paper No. 10; it comprises total estimated Budget outlays ($3 1,692m) less: net outlays to the Commonwealth non-Budget subsector ($1 17m); and purchases of existing assets which are shown netted against sales in figures for the total Commonwealth sector ($!6m).
The Appropriation Acts (Nos 1 and 2) 1979-80 contained appropriations aggregating in all $10,712m. After adjustment has been made for: allowance for prospective wage and salary increases (add $65m) expenditure netted against receipts in deriving total Commonwealth outlays (subtract $70m); advances from annual appropriations to non-Budget authorities which are offset on consolidation (subtract $170m); and
Advances to the Minister for Finance not included in Budget Outlays (subtract $225m); estimated expenditure in 1979-80 from annual Appropriations forming part of total Commonwealth sector outlays amounts to $10,312m or 31.1 per cent of total Commonwealth outlays ($33, 192m).
In assessing the significance of these figures in relation to Parliamentary scrutiny and approval, there are some considerations that should be noted. The first is that full information about estimated expenditure from special appropriations is provided to the Parliament in the Budget papers. Others are that some of the special appropriations provide for:
Annual funding of programs, involving a requirement for annual amendment by the Parliament to provide funds for payment in the relevant financial year or calendar year;
Expenditure on particular projects that will be completed before the end of the financial or calendar year in which the relevant Acts receive Royal Assent;
The appropriation of fixed amounts that may be expended over a number of years;
The appropriation of variable amounts (based on a formula) for expenditure during a fixed time period;
The appropriation of funds which are not quantified in total amounts but the expenditure of which is governed by criteria laid down in the relevant Acts (eg Social Security benefits).
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 23 August 1 979:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Radio circuits are usually only authorised where land lines cannot be provided. This policy has been adopted to preserve the radio spectrum for those purposes and uses where land lines are not available or the communication needs can only be met by the use of radio.
15 ) (a) and (b). See answer to (9).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 29 August 1 979:
-The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Minatome Australia Pty Ltd is currently engaged solely in uranium exploration in Australia. If it were to propose to participate in the development of a uranium deposit, it would be required to meet the Government’s foreign investment guidelines for new uranium mining projects.
asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 29 August 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Where such post offices are scheduled for closure, it is Australia Post’s policy to make alternative delivery arrangements for mail by, for example, the extension of a delivery service to local residents, or the introduction of a Community Mail Bag. It is the usual practice also to retain posting facilities in the area and to arrange for a local shopkeeper or resident to be issued with a licence to sell postage stamps.
In addition, Australia Post has recently introduced a new facility, in rural areas, of Community Mail Agency. In certain circumstances, this facility provides a point for posting fully pre-paid mail, purchasing postage stamps and, if necessary, the collection of mail.
asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 30 August 1979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(2), (3) and (5) The countries which are parties to the Convention and which have resettled Indo-Chinese refugees under programs acknowledged by UNHCR are listed below.
The total numbers of Indo-Chinese refugees resettled up to 30 September 1 979 are listed in Column A. The pledges of the respective countries for the period July 1 979 to June 1 980 are shown in Column B.
The USA, a party to the 1967 Protocol, had resettled 259,054 Indo-Chinese refugees by 30 September 1979 and has a resettlement program of 168,000 for July 1979 to June 1980.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 30 August 1979:
Did the Government reject the recommendation by the Royal Commission on Petroleum, recently taken up by the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, that there should be a larger price differential between standard and super grade petrol to encourage conservation; if so, why.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
On conservation grounds the Government supports increased production of lower octane motor spirit especially 92 octane rating. However, the Government believes decisions in this regard should be made on a commercial basis by the companies concerned.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 30 August 1 979:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 12 September 1979:
-The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The planned expansion of the aluminium industry in Australia is readily comprehended within national energy policy which recognises that soundly planned and timely installation of new coal-fired electricity generating capacity is essential to facilitate the transfer of demand for energy from liquid fuels to electricity and to accommodate the establishment of new industrial development projects. Australia has abundant sources of solid fuels, particularly in the eastern States, suitable for generating competitively priced power without which the expansion in the aluminium industry would not be possible.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 13 September 1979:
What was the quantity of (a) motor spirit, (b) aviation gasoline, (c) aviation turbine fuel, (d) automotive distillate, and (e) other petroleum products on which (i) excise and (ii ) customs duty was payable in (A) 1976-77, (B) 1977-78, (C) 1978-79 and is payable in (D) 1979-80 and in each case how much revenue was or is estimated to be derived from the duties.
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Australian Statistician has provided, in Table I below, details of the quantities of specified petroleum products subject to excise duty and cleared for home consumption and gross excise revenue collected, for the years 1976-77 to 1978-79.
In Table 2 the Statistician has supplied details of the quantities of imported petroleum products subject to customs duty and cleared for home consumption and the gross customs revenue collected for the years 1976-77 to 1978-79. Revenue by product type is not available.
Details relating to customs revenue on imported petroleum products which are mixed with Australian produced petroleum products prior to clearance are excluded from Table 2 but included in Table I as these goods are subject to excise duty.
The Statistician is unable to provide estimates for 1979-80 as forecasts of expected revenue collection are not compiled by the ABS. However, collection of excise duty on all refined petroleum products is estimated at $972m in 1979-80 (see 1979 Budget Paper No. 1, page 201). Because some of the individual items account for only a small proportion of excise duty receipts on refined petroleum products and an even smaller fraction of custom duty receipts, separate estimates for individual items are not available.
Overseas Trade and Shipping Section Australian Bureau of Statistics Canberra
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 13 September 1979:
-The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Gas Industry Statistics’ gives the total number of customers served in each State.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 13 September 1979:
What volume of (a) aviation gasoline, (b) motor spirit (c) power kerosene, (d) aviation turbine fuel, (e) lighting kerosene, (0 automotive distillate, (g) industrial diesel fuel, (h) fuel oil, (j) lubricants, (k) other petroleum products, (1) crude oil and (m) other refinery feedstock was imported into Australia in each month during (i) 1977-78 and (ii) 1978-79.
– The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The details requested are given in the attached tables as supplied by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 February 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1980/19800219_reps_31_hor117/>.