31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the Senate that the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) left Australia on 24 February to attend the ANZUS Council meeting in Washington. The Minister for Administrative Services (Mr John McLeay) will act as Minister for Defence until Mr Killen ‘s return on 5 March.
– I present the following petition from 306 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Northern Territory of Australia respectfully showeth: That it is acknowledged that it is reasonable for major sporting organisations to conclude agreements with individual commercial television networks for sole telecasting rights.
However, one of the functions which the ABC should be expected to perform on behalf of the Government is a service to enable all areas of Australia to receive telecasts of major events, irrespective of whether some parts of the country are serviced on that particular event by a commercial network.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable Members should:
Direct that the ABC should:
Give priority to its role as a community service organisation in preference to its commercial interests.
On behalf of the Government, provide a community service to those areas not serviced by a commercial network so that direct telecasts of major events are transmitted to all Australians.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 1 2 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament 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 humbly 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 representatives without intervention and interference by an unrepresentative “Advisory Council”.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 9 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate 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 advisory council and increase Federal Government support for its activities
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament 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 Senators Chipp, Evans, Hamer and Sheil. Petitions received.
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate 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 Advisory Council and increase Federal Government support for its activities
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Carrick.
-Pursuant to Sessional Order, I give notice that it is my intention at the placing of business tomorrow to withdraw Business of the Senate, Notice of Motion No. 1 , standing in my name for the disallowance of regulation 20 of the Australian Federal Police (Discipline) Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rules 1979 No. 211 and made under the Australian Federal Police Act 1979.
-I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate take note of the statement by the President of the Senate relating to the broadcasting of Senate proceedings made in the Senate on 2 1 February 1 980.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development and Energy. Is the Government’s energy policy the same as that stated by the Prime Minister on 27 June last year? If it is not, in what respect has it changed?
– That is and was the Government’s energy policy in expression of principle.
– I ask a supplementary question. I cannot understand the Minister’s reluctance to give a clear answer, not only to me but also to the Parliament and the people. I ask him again will he say yes or no? Does that statement by the Prime Minister represent Government policy on energy, whether in principle or in detail?
– It is important to make clear that it is a statement that is in principle because from time to time a government may wish to add detail. Let me make it perfectly clear: The statement that the Prime Minister made is the statement of the policy of this Government on energy. To suggest that a government could not add to its policies needs no comment on my part. It is absolute nonsense.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether the Government has any confirmation of the report published in the Australian last Saturday, under the name of Graeme Beaton of that newspaper’s Washington bureau, that the Vietnamese are using chemical warfare in Kampuchea? The report was headed: ‘Death Clouds over Kampuchea ‘. Are Russian manufactured poison and toxic chemicals being used in North Yemen and Afghanistan?
– I did not see the report to which Senator Sim has referred. I will ask my colleague in another place to study this matter and to give information. I understand that the Government believes that there is some evidence that Russian troops in Afghanistan have the weapons and the capacity for the delivery of such chemicals as nerve gas. I will add to that answer by reference to the Minister in another place and let Senator Sim know.
– My question is directed to Senator Carrick. In reply to Senator McLaren last Wednesday he said:
The basis of our import parity pricing is the lowest price for light Arabian crude, that is, the Saudi Arabian market price. It is our intention to continue that policy.
In the light of that answer and the answer he gave Senator Wriedt will he give an unequivocal assurance that Australian crude oil prices on 1 July next will be set at the Saudi market price plus freight and adjusted for quality, and will the price be adjusted on that basis on 1 January 1 98 1 and every six months thereafter?
– I was asked by Senator Wriedt whether the statement of the Prime Minister in June of last year laid down the Government’s policy. I replied yes. At that time the Prime Minister said that whilst strictly maintaining the principle of import parity pricing the Government would use a more flexible method of adjusting the prices -
– Of timing?
-Of timing, yes. Therefore in referring to that statement I do not intend to say that the Government will adjust on 1 January and 1 July. Within the principles stated the Government will make adjustments when it feels they are appropriate.
– I have a supplementary question. Is the Minister defining ‘flexible’ in the context in which the Prime Minister used it as an indefinite deferment of price increase?
-No, only Senator Walsh is seeking that definition.
– What does it mean?
– It means as it saysflexibility in timing.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of Press speculation can the Minister advise the Senate whether the Government is considering petrol rationing?
-I am told that a Sydney afternoon newspaper carries a story today that the Government is considering petrol rationing. I have not seen the story. Let me say emphatically that there is no such intention at all for the future in the Government’s mind. Of course, in looking at every emergency aspect the Government must do long term planning and must have contingency plans; but there is no thought in its mind regarding rationing. Indeed I am happy to say that the availability of both crude oil and petroleum products in each of the inventories is at a very satisfactory level.
-Did Senator Carrick recently discuss with the National Farmers Federation an alternative proposal by that body to the Government’s present petrol pricing policy? Did the Minister indicate that he would consider that proposal? If the proposal by the Federation was in fact a variation of Government policy on import parity pricing, as the Minister knows it was, why did he lead the National Farmers Federation to believe that the Government might change its policy when in fact, as we have just heard, the Minister has confirmed the Prime Minister’s import parity policy statement of last June?
– I received a deputation from the National Farmers Federation some weeks ago. We had very detailed discussions and the representatives expressed a very real sympathy and understanding of the goals that the Government has in securing petroleum products for the long term future. The delegation brought with it a series of suggestions, including some that would involve a variation on the import parity policy. There were other suggestions, and I am happy to say that the Government has in fact implemented some of them. One of them sadly for the Labor Party, was a suggestion that there should not be an automatic instantaneous take-up of the $2 increase for Saudi Arabian oil. No doubt Senator Wriedt would want that. I am happy to say that the Government responded to another suggestion concerning freight equalisation for petroleum products. The Government considered the suggestions and will continue to consider any suggestions that are brought forward by such a distinguished and responsible body.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Is is not a fact that the decision in respect of the flexibility argument and the timing of prices increases had been made by the Prime Minister in his statement of June last year- five or six months before the Minister even met the National Farmers Federation- and it is a complete misleading of the Senate to suggest that the change in policy was a response to the National Farmers Federation ? Allegedly, it was Government policy last June.
– There is no question of misleading the Senate. When I met the National Farmers Federation I made it clear that import parity pricing was the Government’s policy and that the Government had stated that there would be a flexible approach to timing but that I would refer to the Government the question of whether that flexibility meant passing on adjustments immediately or later. That is perfectly plain, and that is what I did. I am happy to say that the Federation ‘s other suggestions were capable of being adopted. It has since acknowledged to me its happiness that we have made such progress.
-I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Defence to the postal concessions that previously operated to and from Australia for Australian defence personnel serving overseas. In light of the increased expenditure on defence announced recently and the possible extension of stay of our servicemen in Rhodesia, will the Government consider the reintroduction of postal concessions for Australian overseas defence forces similar to those that existed prior to November 1978?
– The postal concessions referred to by Senator Thomas were introduced originally to assist the maintenance of morale of servicemen in overseas theatres of war. Some concessions were retained for personnel serving in special overseas service areas, but there were no areas so designated in 1 978 when the decision was made to abolish the concessions. At present there are no proposals before the Government to provide concessional postage rates of the kind that applied before November 1978. However, the general terms and conditions of service for members of the Defence Force are under continual review by well established machinery to ensure that the special features of service life are recognised and that those terms and conditions, in the aggregate, are no less favourable than those pertaining to the general community. I will draw the attention of the Minister for Defence to the matter raised by Senator Thomas and ask that the matter that he has raised be given special consideration.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister about the extent to which the response to the Afghanistan situation was discussed in Cabinet and whether the response that it should be regarded as ‘the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1 945 ‘ was discussed by Cabinet before the Prime Minister announced it. I accept as a fact that the Prime Minister disregarded the advice of the Office of National Assessments, because a copy of that document was leaked with the Prime Minister’s hand writing on it stating it to be a complacent organisation. In the event that the Prime Minister rejected out of hand that advice which suggested that the invasion was a defensive mechanism and not to get to the oil fields, and on the further assumption that the Prime Minister rejected the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs, because of the conflicting statements by the Foreign Minister on 8 February and 13 February, I ask whether this particular matter was discussed in a full meeting of Cabinet before the Prime Minister made the statement that this was ‘the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1 945 ‘.
– I am happy to reassure Senator Chipp that the matter was discussed fully over many hours in Cabinet and that what the Prime Minister conveyed to the people of Australia was the unanimous view of Cabinet. The Government does not respond to suggestions that a document was leaked. Whether the substance of a leaked document is true or not, I am not in the business of marketing to say. I hope no one else is. I think all people have regarded it as despicable that there should be the leaking of a document. But assuming that a highly secure document were leaked, then the person or persons who leaked it are themselves despicable people -
Honourable senators interjecting;
– Those who deal in such documents must also be regarded as despicable and those who cheer them on, as the Labor Party does now, must take their colour from those around them.
– The interjections on my left were too overwhelming. I ask honourable senators to allow the Minister, when replying to a question, to be heard by all honourable senators.
– I ask a supplementary question. I thank Senator Carrick for that response. I ask simply whether the Minister, in the spirit of freedom of information, can tell the Senate whether the report of the Office of National Assessments was before the Cabinet when it met to discuss this matter as he has just outlined?
– All documents from intelligence sources come before Cabinet and come also before the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of Cabinet. I refuse to indicate that a document such as the paper published was before Cabinet.
– You just said it was in the document.
-I did not say that a document which is purported to be a leaked document had any currency at all. Senator Wriedt, as always, is off track.
– I raise a point of order. I am sure that the Minister misheard my question. I am not discussing the so-called alleged leaked document. My simple question was whether the report from the Office of National Assessments was before the Cabinet meeting that took the decision.
– There is no point of order, but I will allow the Minister to reply.
-I repeat that the Cabinet had before it reports from intelligence bodies which advise the Cabinet.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the report in the Financial Review of 22 February that Arab oil producers are considering moves towards world parity pricing in their own countries? Is the Minister able to inform the Senate why the Arab oil producers now recognise the need to follow the policy of leading Western industrial nations, including Australia, to price oil at world market prices?
- Senator Lajovic refers to a report in the Financial Review of last week. I think it is the report which was headed ‘Arab Oil Exporting Countries Consider Parity Prices at
Home’. The fact is that the cheap oil policy applied to Arab oil exports is reported to have produced an alarming increase in energy consumption resulting from substantial waste of an increasingly scarce and valued resource. Kuwait’s oil Minister has warned that if the country’s present oil consumption trend continued, Kuwait would be consuming 50 per cent of its production by the turn of the century. He went on to say that Kuwait was already losing almost $1 billion per year because of the difference between the price of oil products on international markets and the price of products at home. The success of our policies is abundantly clear. I have now the actual costs in the various countries of a litre of petrol which show that in fact Australia is not only the third cheapest petrol supplying country in the world today but also is only three cents short of the United States of America current price of 30 cents a litre, and that country, of course, is catching up. I seek leave to have the table incorporated in Hansard.
The table read as follows-
– My question which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate is prompted by the Minister’s reference earlier today to the matter of misleading Parliament. I refer him to Question Time on 21 February and an answer he gave me in relation to the Public Works Committee’s report which unanimously rejected the establishment of Casey University. In the course of that answer the Minister said that the Public Works Committee had gone beyond its normal function which he described as being ‘the ordinary costs, techniques and tenderings for the buildings’. He went on to say:
It has gone into whether there ought to be such an academy.
Subsequently, in answer to a question from Senator Wriedt on the same day, the Minister accused Senator Wriedt of misleading the Parliament and said that the Committee was a respected committee which had the right to make recommendations on policy or any other matters. The Minister went on to say that that is what he had said in answer to the question asked by me. Has the Minister considered the answers which he gave last week? Does he agree now that he misled Parliament in his answer to Senator Wriedt?
-No, I do not agree that I misled Parliament. To say that the normal responsibility of the Public Works Committee is to look at tenderings, building construction and prices is not to draw an inference that it denies to that body the right to make policy suggestions to the Government. In my reply to Senator Button I did not say that it did not have that power. In my subsequent reply to Senator Wriedt, I indicated that it was competent for that body, as it is for any individual body, to make policy suggestions but that in the crunch- the end result- the decision on policy must rest with the Government, which it has.
– My question follows that of Senator Wriedt and is also directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I preface it by reminding the Minister of an article in the Sydney Morning Herald of 4 February this year, in which the Opposition spokesman on energy stated that the Australian Labor Party’s oil policy would be to adjust petrol prices in line with the consumer price index or with import parity, whichever was the lesser. Is this not a contradiction of Labor’s previously announced policy to cut petrol prices? Further, how could the ALP justify its broken promise to the Australian motorist, given that it will not admit that import parity pricing encourages conservation and provides funds for further exploration?
-It is not for me to attempt either to reconcile or to justify Labor’s policies on import parity pricing. Suffice to say that there is utter confusion about them. The most significant statement made by Labor’s spokesman on energy appears in the Sydney Morning Herald article in which he is reported as saying that Labor’s resources tax on oil would collect more money by way of revenue than the Government’s levy. I make it perfectly clear that if it is to collect more money by way of revenue it will mean dearer petrol; when it collects more money from the producer it will mean no exploration, no development and no oil. A policy which means dearer petrol and scarcer petrol is a typical policy that one would expect from the Labor Party.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and is prompted by Senator Walters’ question. If, as the Minister and Senator Walters continue to claim, the Government’s crude oil taxing policy is designed to promote exploration, can the Minister explain why expenditure, according to Australian Petroleum Exploration Association Ltd, is expected to fall from $242m last year to $ 1 92m this year? Can he further explain why the number of exploration wells drilled is expected to be virtually static- 59 last year and 61 this year? What is the purpose of the Government’s crude oil taxing policy?
-If Senator Georges understood anything about exploration and development he would know that to understand what is happening in the securing of oil one must look at the total amount of money that is directed to both exploration wells and development wells. -
Opposition senators interjecting-
– The two together produce the oil. The fact of the matter is that in 1 980 considerably more money will be available for exploration and development taken together than in the past -
Opposition senators interjecting-
– Those who are interjecting and trying to drown me out are trying to hide the fact that -
Opposition senators interjecting-
– Cease interjecting.
– During Labor’s term in office, the amount of drilling of wells for exploration and development fell very significantly. It is only in recent years that a recovery has occurred. What is happening is that the number of wells to be developed is changing in character as the shallow wells which are less expensive are less likely to produce and as it is necessary for the oil companies to move into deeper waters, such as in Exmouth Gulf where wells up to 1,000 metres are being drilled.
– How much did you collect from them this year?
– They should be spending more money. In fact they are spending less.
– Order! Honourable senators, Question Time is being disrupted with persistent interjections. Honourable senators will all note that they emanate from certain quarters in particular. This is not in the interests of the Senate as a whole. My patience has been great on this occasion. When I call honourable senators to order, to cease interjecting, and they persist, I have no alternative but to name those involved.
– Petroleum exploration activities show a marked increase in the period from 1975, the last year of the Labor Government, to 1979. Exploration drilling and expenditure have increased from 25 wells, $65m, in 1 975 to 51 wells, an estimated $190m, last year. In development and drilling expenditure, four wells costing $85m were drilled in 1975. In 1979, 56 wells worth $145m were drilled. This shows the same strong trend. I could go on. Equally, seismic activity increased from 7,800 kilometres in 1975 to 43,400 kilometres in 1979. The fact is that in the four years of this Government we are able to say that the known reserves in Bass Strait are higher today than when we came to government. That means that our policies have been successful. We have found more oil than we have used; and that is a job for government. We are able to say that in the next 4 years Esso-BHP will spend a total of $ 1,200m- a record sum- in the development of Bass Strait. That must be taken into account.
- Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. The Minister slipped away from the purpose of my question. I specifically asked: Why was there a fall from $2 42m to $192m this year? That was the question. The Minister has slipped away from that. While he is giving amounts of expenditure, could he give those amounts in real terms if he is going to quote figures from five years in the past and make them relative to today? But the question is: Why was there a drop from $2 42m last year to $ 1 92m this year?
– I would be very happy to get the information on both exploration wells and development wells and on the cost of wells from 1972 to 1980 and, with the honourable senator’s agreement, incorporate them in Hansard. I did answer the question. What I said was that when one looks at the actual amounts spent in the obtaining of oil and in the drilling of wells, one must look at the amount of money that is applied for both exploration wells and development wells. That amount is substantially up this year.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General in his own capacity and in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations. I refer to the irresponsible six-weeks industrial campaign by storemen in the woolbroking industry that has prevented the shipment of $500m worth of wool. What progress is being made to solve that dispute? Are any special powers available to the Federal Government under the Constitution to deal with disputes that interfere with Australia’s overseas trade?
-The Minister for Industrial Relations answered a question on this matter on Thursday last. I refer the Senate and Senator Jessop in particular to that answer. The strike, which fortunately does not involve all storemen and packers but only those in Sydney and Melbourne, is now in defiance of a decision of the Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The decision was made on an appeal from a decision of a deputy president of that Commission. It is a very serious situation. The defiance of the decision of the Full Bench in the final hearing of the Commission places the Commission in a very difficult position. The matter is being carefully watched by the Government. I understand further discussions are taking place today. I am not in a position to say what further steps the Government is contemplating or may take.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. I remind the Attorney-General that the second pan of my question related to whether any special powers were available to the Federal Government under the Constitution to deal with disputes that interfere with Australia’s overseas trade.
– I do not want to be in the position of giving legal opinions or indicating just what steps the Government may be contemplating. Certainly, there are powers under the Constitution and under certain legislation concerning aspects of the matter, but I do not propose to make any specific indication as to what power the Government may be contemplating at the moment.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. Is it a fact that not one dollar of the $2, 500m collected in Government revenue from the crude oil levy will be spent on direct search for oil and gas? If so, how can the Government argue that it is concerned to increase the level of exploration in this country?
-It is not a fact. A significant amount of money, in particular that which relates to the price of old oil, forms a basis of funds for the joint partners to go ahead with their exploration and development within the Bass Strait fields. I have a table in response to Senator Georges’ question. It is not in real money terms at the moment but I will have that rectified. I seek leave for the table to be incorporated in Hansard.
Leave not granted.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question.
– Yes, Senator Primmer.
-Mr President, I think that again the Minister -
-I have not finished my answer. I sat down while leave was being sought for the table to be incorporated. As leave was not granted for the table to be incorporated I will inform the Senate of what has happened. I refer to the figures for four years, 1975- the last year of the Labor Government- 1978, 1979 and the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association minimum estimate for 1980. Petroleum exploration expenditure is as follows: $6 5 m under Labor; $130m in 1978; $242m in 1979, and the APEA estimate for 1 980 is $ 1 92m.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. Is the Government Leader in order in now giving an answer to Senator Georges even though the present question was asked by Senator Primmer? He has got right away from the present question and is now giving another part of an answer to a question asked earlier today by Senator Georges. It is an abuse of Question Time.
– It is a very fine point. The Minister did seek leave to incorporate certain figures which would have been an elucidation to all senators in relation to questions asked this afternoon. I cannot uphold the point of order.
– I regret to take the time of the Senate. It is not of my choosing, Mr President. I refer again to petroleum development expenditure. Under Labor it was $85m; in 1978 it was $ 144m in 1979 it was $145m and in 1980 it is estimated to be $285m. Seismic exploration in line kilometres was 7,800 under Labor; 44,000 in 1978; 40,000 in 1979 and is estimated to be 26,400 in 1980. 1 refer now to initial recoverable reserves of crude oil in millions of barrels: Labor, 2,289; in 1978, 3,783; in 1979, 3,861. For this year the figure is not known as yet. I turn now to the number of active exploration permits. There were 112 under Labor, 130 in 1978, 170 in 1979. In relation to exploration wells drilled, there were 25 under Labor, 53 in 1978, 51 in 1979, and 61 are expected this year. Development wells drilled-
- Mr President, I take a point of order. I have the same figures. With respect to the Minister, 1 think he perhaps is not intentionally misleading in the figures he is giving, but the record ought to be made clear. When he refers to 25 oil wells under Labor he is talking about one year. The figures I have are the same as the Minister’s. The Minister is not saying that the figures apply to one year. For the sake of the record he should be accurate.
– I will repeat, as I have done five times, that I was referring to 1975, the last year of the Labor Government, and three other years. Finally, the number of development wells drilled -
- Mr President, I raise a point of order further to the point of order that was raised by Senator McLaren. It has long been established custom and practice in this Senate that Ministers at the end of Question Time may amplify any answer that they have given during Question Time. I suggest that at that time Senator Carrick should do what he is attempting to do now in a period of questions without notice.
– I have ruled on the point of order. The Minister, I have no doubt, on future occasions will give consideration to what you have said.
- Mr President, as you know, I sought not to take the time of the Senate by seeking to have the figures incorporated.
– That is right.
– The final figures are on the development wells drilled. There were four under Labor’s last year, 1975; 39 in 1978; 56 in 1979 and 45 are expected this year- compared with four in Labor’s year.
- Mr President, may I ask a supplementary question now?
– It is supplementary to the answer to my question.
– No, I cannot allow that. We would never finish Question Time if we were to continue in this way. I call Senator Teague.
- Mr President, may I remind you that you did give me the call to ask a supplementary question.
– Yes. I call Senator Primmer.
– I repeat the question I originally asked of the Minister for National Development and Energy. Is it not a fact that not one dollar of the $2, 500m of Government revenue from the crude oil levy will be spent on direct search for oil and gas? I emphasise that I am talking about Government revenue.
– The tax rip-off.
- Mr President, I now understand that in fact my reply was not strictly in accordance -
– Are you deaf, too?
– Order ! Senator Walsh, I warned you a little while ago about making persistent interjections and indicated that heed had to be taken of my call to order. You have been interjecting persistently when I have called the
Senate to order. I would like you to realise the effects on you and your party of your persistence in this regard and I ask you to desist from making further interjections.
– The import parity pricing has two elements- that part of the money which is retained by the producer and that part which goes to revenue. I did in fact direct my answer to that part of the money which goes to the producer. As to that part which goes to revenue, a very considerable amount of it is directed towards very significant tax incentives for oil search. It is a very significant incentive amounting to tens, even hundreds, of millions of dollars, particularly under the shareholder rebate scheme. So the answer is that much more than $1- in fact, it can be shown that in terms of exploration and research and matters related to energy hundreds of millions of dollars- of the revenue of the Government goes towards producing more oil energy in Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and refers to the Commonwealth-initiated school-to-work transition program which was announced last November. To what extent has the program begun to be implemented in the various States? Is the Minister satisfied with the co-operation of the States in this initial period of the program? Finally, has the program led to an expansion of the now well-established and successful Education Program for Unemployed Youth?
– I am advised that the first approvals of projects for 1980 under the transition program were announced by the Minister for Education and the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs on 22 February. The approval was for projects in a number of States and the Territories to a total estimated cost of $ 13m in 1980. Arrangements are now being made to provide the authorities concerned with funds, and many programs are commencing. The States are co-operating in the initial implementation of the program. The time which government and non-government authorities have taken to put forward proposals for the 1980 program has varied, but this could have been expected in the early stages. The Commonwealth has yet to reach agreement with all the States on financial arrangements in the later areas of the program, but discussions will be conducted on that in mid- 1980. The program approved so far in fact will lead to significant expansion of the EPUY in
New South Wales, which will be provided with an additional S650.000 under the transition program this year. Victoria will be provided initially with half a million dollars and there may be some expansion in Queensland. In the Australian Capital Territory an additional $76,000 is to be provided in 1 980 for the expansion of the EPUY.
-I ask the Minister for National Development and Energy: In respect of the figures which he read out earlier about exploratory drilling undertaken under this Government and the previous Labor Government, is it a fact that he did not refer to the fact that in the first two years of the previous Labor Government 60 and 5 1 wells respectively were drilled in this country and that those figures were not achieved by this Government and still have not been achieved? Is it not true also that in the submission which was made then to the Federal Labor Government by both the Shell and Esso organisations those organisations said that the reason they were reducing their exploratory drilling on-shore was that they believed that the prospects were very poor, to use their words? Is it true also, in respect of off-shore drilling at that time, that the reason for the decline in 1975 was uncertainty over the awaited decision of the High Court concerning the Seas and Submerged Lands Act and that the oil companies were awaiting that decision before they were prepared to invest vast sums of money in off-shore drilling? Is it not a fact also that in the first year of this Government the same situation applied, namely, that uncertainty over the High Court decision in respect of that legislation was the reason that exploratory drilling did not take off until that matter was determined by the High Court?
– I am not here to give an apologia for the failures of the Labor Government in 1973-75, but I note Senator Wriedt ‘s apologia. I am not able to say what advice Shell or Esso gave to the government of that day. I will be very happy to seek and to get the statistics on drilling both for exploration and for development from, say, the decade of 1970-80, to see the trend of what happened over that time and to note the abysmal decline in the actual search for oil by the Labor Government during its three years in office. I will produce the tables and let the honourable senator know. In 1 976 the incoming Government had to restore the impetus that Labor had destroyed three years before. I will be very happy to produce figures for the period from 1 977-80 to show that there has been an unprecedented movement towards development.
– I ask a supplementary question. May I assist the Minister by asking whether he is aware that in the first three years of the Labor Government 136 exploratory wells were drilled in Australia compared with 92 in the first three years of his own Government?
– I am not aware of those figures. I will undertake to produce the table for the decade and to show, as I said, the significant decline in oil exploration under the Labor Government, the apologia for which was given by Senator Wriedt himself. I am grateful to him for it.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. I refer to the fact that the appointment of a further judge to the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court is now urgently required. Can the Attorney say what actions he is taking to ensure that the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court has sufficient judges readily available to get through the work before it as expeditiously as the community might reasonably expect?
– Until the resignation of Mr Justice McGregor a few months ago, the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court had three resident judges and the assistance of a number of judges of the Federal Court of Australia who are designated as additional judges of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. When Mr Justice McGregor resigned from the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, he remained a judge of the Federal Court and was made an additional judge of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. He undertook to devote, and has continued to devote, almost all his judicial work and time to the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. It has been understood that there would have to be a further appointment to replace Mr Justice McGregor as a resident judge. I have been making satisfactory progress in that regard and I hope to be able to make an announcement of that appointment shortly. Mr Justice McGregor will continue to provide regular judicial services to the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court in his continuing capacity as an additional judge of that Court. I am hopeful that, as has been past practice, other judges of the Federal Court will also be available from time to time to assist in the work of the Court. I have been in touch with the Chief Judge of the Federal Court on several occasions recently in relation to this matter. I am hopeful that there will be additional services, not only from the three judges but also on a fairly regular basis from another judge.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. On Thursday I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence to give an assurance to the Parliament that Tasmania would be able to participate in a substantial way in the employment and economic activities associated with increased defence recruitment, procurement and development. Pending the detailed response promised by that Minister and having regard to the Government’s acceptance of the principles outlined in the Callaghan report, will the Minister give that assurance to the Senate and to the people of Tasmania?
-I will look at the matter and get a quick reply for Senator Harradine. I will refresh my mind on the previous question.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Defence seen a report of a statement by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Hayden, raising and apparently promoting the question of some form of conscription? In addressing the National Youth Council of Australia he is reported, in the West Tasmanian Advocate, to have said:
This is a question your council and other youth bodies should look at very carefully.
. the council should begin some form of research in attitudes towards conscription.
I ask the Minister to tell the Senate what the Government’s attitude is towards conscription.
– I raise a point of order. I believe that Senator Lewis should substantiate that reference by producing and reading the article concerned because I think that he has referred to a newspaper article and taken it completely out of context. In doing that he misleads not only the person of whom he asks the question but also the Senate.
– I cannot sustain the point of order.
– The Government does not have any plans whatever in regard to conscription.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. By way of preface I refer to the heavy commitments that Australia incurred through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees regarding our intake of South East Asian refugees. What posture will the Government take in the expected aftermath of the Rhodesian elections when many of the losers will probably constitute an exodus from that country and claim refugee status? In view of the fact that Amnesty International has already damned Latin America and we are never so sympathetic towards political refugees from that area I ask whether any attitude taken by the Government will .be based on a quota system.
Following the motion I moved in the middle of last year calling for a Senate committee to examine the Numerical Multifactor Assessment System and refugee problems, both extremely complex immigration problems, when can I expect a decision on such a committee to grapple with the problems I have mentioned in the earlier part of my question?
-I am advised by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs that issues requiring resolution are complex and it is too early yet even to speculate about what might emerge in the aftermath of the Rhodesian elections. At the moment I am advised that large numbers of refugees are moving back into Rhodesia from surrounding countries. The operation is being run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and involves some 200,000 people. Australia has contributed $A1m to the United Nations refugee commission budget for this purpose. No consideration has been given to the likely need for a quota system for refugees being resettled in Australia. Decisions on refugee programs are made in the light of evolving situations, requests for resettlement or other assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner, the humanitarian aspect involved and Australia ’s capacity to assist.
Senator Mulvihill referred to his motion in the Senate. As he will be aware, consideration of that motion was adjourned on 23 August last year on a motion by Senator Knight. I understand that it appears as item 169 on the General Business list on the Senate Notice Paper. In view of the rate of progress in General Business last Thursday perhaps the honourable senator might be able to anticipate when it will be discussed. But it is No. 169 and I am unable to determine when it is likely that it will be discussed.
– I have a supplementary question. Can the latter part of the answer by substantiated by the helmsman of this chamber, Senator Carrick. As he is responsible for business in this chamber, can he tell me when he thinks we will reach item 169?
– With the full cooperation of the Opposition, the Government will increase the speed if it can. I will have a look at the situation and see what can be done.
-My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. In view of the Government’s recent announcement of changes to the excise legislation to encourage development of fuel ethanol technology, will the Minister indicate whether the issuing of only 50 licences allows adequate research and experimentation to be carried out, considering the interest demonstrated by private farmers, producer organisations and processing industries? Will he indicate to the Senate the reason that the Bureau of Customs notice No. 80/ 15 of 29 January 1980 restricts the licences to such a low number? In view of the enormous interest in on-farm production of ethanol, will the Minister indicate whether there is any possibility of the number of licences being increased to a meaningful and realistic level?
– There are two levels at which an understanding of the technology and production of ethanol can be developed. There is the current commercial production of ethanol in Australia today, substantially from sugar cane, and there is the need to find out how in small quantities, by way of biomass or farm waste, we can get ethanol in other ways. There is also the matter of looking at sugar beet, wheat and other matters.
The basic worry of the Government is that, whilst it wants to encourage this experimentation, it realises that it has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of the community. There is considerable danger in the production of an alcohol which is highly toxic, which can be lethal and which has been known to cause death and serious illness after human consumption. The Department of Health has stressed the need to place the strictest regulations on all experimental methods.
Therefore, that experimentation cannot be too widespread and we are granting some 50 licences to learn from experience. I have no doubt that if the experience is that this is a sane and sensible way of doing things, other licences will be issued. I will bring the question to the attention of my colleague the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs in another place and ask him to look at it.
-How does the Minister for National Development and Energy justify government policy which urges consumers to convert their motor vehicles to liquefied petroleum gas when it increased the price from $88 a tonne to $252 a tonne in January last year and narrowed the previous price advantage of LPG over petrol by limiting the extent of the flow-on of recent Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries oil price increases to less than full import parity levels?
– The fact of the matter is that liquefied petroleum gas is a petroleum product as rare and as significant as oil. I would have thought that the honourable senator would have acknowledged that that must be his own policy because his own leader, Mr Hayden, in an address to the Australian Gas Association last year stated:
It is not surprising that the bulk of naturally occurring LPG was exported when it fetched $1 10 per tonne on the export market but a much lower domestic price … If we want to ensure maximum domestic production of LPG then we must ensure that producers obtain a domestic price reasonably related to the export price, provided it does not act as a stimulus to inflation.
The whole of the statement of Mr Hayden, which was supported by Mr Keating, related to the need for such products to move towards their opportunity cost; that is, the real market cost. The Government wants to allow people to keep the initiative to convert to LPG. Indeed, some major companies have provided producer outlets for LPG. There has been a significant increase in automotive consumption of LPG. The Government itself is keen to encourage it. It believes that at this moment the price gap, which is something like 14c a litre, remains a significant incentive. It will keep that under consideration.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer the Minister to the so far unsubstantiated claims that the drug Debendox might be associated with some birth defects and ask: What is the appropriate method of investigating the claims promptly? Is such an investigation as yet in hand? What advice should be responsibly given to pregnant women in relation to using Debendox?
-A number of specific questions were raised. I will need to refer them to the Minister for Health for his information.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It follows a question asked by Senator Chipp in Question Time earlier today. Was this Office of National Assessments a unit created by the present Prime Minister or the present Government to advise the Government on assessments of overseas happenings? Did the Office of National Assessments in its report which was before the Cabinet when the Prime Minister prepared his statement on the affairs of Afghanistan advise that the Soviet move was defensive, that Afghanistan was not a non-aligned nation, that the Soviets were not aiming for the oil fields, and the real danger in the region was not the Soviet Union but the internal instability of countries, that the invasion reflected Soviet military arrogance and its defence paranoia?
-It is a fact that the present Government created the Office of National Assessments. No government, including this Government, would report what any intelligence document says. But if indeed Senator Cavanagh is looking for a reliable source as to whether it was a defensive or aggressive matter, might he not take the European Parliament and all those nations of Europe which resolved in the most vigorous of terms just how they recognised that this was an aggressive threat to the peace of the world? Might he not take also the 104 nations which saw the situation in Afghanistan as an overt threat to the peace and security of the world, as against the 18 communist nations? I would think that one could take the United Nations vote and the vote in the European Parliament as pretty substantial evidence that what the Government says is right.
– I ask a supplementary question. Do I take it from this answer that we should not take notice of the Office of National Assessment created and maintained by this Government, but in looking for threats to Australia should look to advice of foreign governments?
– What Senator Cavanagh takes notice of is a matter for himself. I will not be a party to indicating whether some asserted leak is correct or not. I will uphold what all governments have held, that intelligence documents are confidential documents. What I am saying is that any reasonable person looking to evaluate whether it was an overt threat or not would look to all those countries which in 1939 were overrun by an overt threat which emerged in 1936, 1937 and 1938. Those countries said that it was an act of aggression, as indeed did the 104 countries in the United Nations. But if Senator Cavanagh and his colleagues feel more comfortable with the 18 dissenting countries, God bless them.
– Pursuant to section 7 of the Advisory Council for Inter-Government Relations Act 1976, I present the Advisory Council’s second and third reports entitled ‘Staff Interchanges between Governments in Australia’ and ‘Relationships Between Federal, State and Local Governments ‘.
Senator SCOTT (New South WalesMinister for Special Trade Representations)For the information of honourable senators, on behalf of Senator Chaney, I present a report entitled ‘The Transport Planning and Research Program: Report of Progress to 30 June 1979’.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator SCOTT (New South WalesMinister for Special Trade Representations)For the information of honourable senators, on behalf of Senator Chaney, I present a report entitled ‘Inwards Duty Free Shopping at Australian International Air Terminals: An Economic Evaluation’.
Senator SCOTT (New South WalesMinister for Special Trade Representations)For the information of honourable senators I present a report entitled ‘Sandy HollowMaryvale Railway: Economic Evaluation of
Proposed Completion’. This report was distributed to honourable senators during the recess.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator SCOTT (New South WalesMinister for Special Trade Representations)Pursuant to section 10 of the Local Government (Personal Income Tax Sharing) Act 1976, I present the Queensland Local Government Grants Commission Report 1979 on the distribution of funds under the personal income tax sharing arrangements.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator SCOTT (New South WalesMinister for Special Trade Representations)Pursuant to section 10 of the Local Government (Personal Income Tax Sharing) Act 1976, I present the Victorian Local Government Grants Commission Report 1979 on the distribution of funds under the personal income tax sharing arrangements.
Senator SCOTT (New South WalesMinister for Special Trade Representations)Pursuant to section 10 of the Local Government (Personal Income Tax Sharing) Act 1976, I present the South Australian Local Government Grants Commission Report 1979 on the distribution of funds under the personal income tax sharing arrangements.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator SCOTT (New South WalesMinister for Special Trade Representations)Pursuant to section 29 of the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation Act 1977, 1 present the annual report of the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation 1979.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-by leave-The Regulations and Ordinances Committee has considered amendments of the Australian Capital Territory Motor Ordinance contained in the Australian Capital Territory Ordinance No. 32 of 1 979. This Ordinance provides for the wearing of seat belts by children in motor vehicles. Where proper child restraints are available, children must wear them and, where no special restraints are available, children must wear any adult seat belts that are available. The penalty for contravention of these provisions is imposed upon the driver of the vehicle.
The Committee received a number of submissions for and against the Ordinance, from persons in the Australian Capital Territory and others, and also had the benefit of submissions from the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott) and the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt). After carefully considering the Ordinance and the various submissions the Committee has decided to take no action in relation to the Ordinance. Because of the great public interest in the Ordinance and the number of submissions received, and because tomorrow is the last available day for giving notice of a motion to disallow the Ordinance, the Committee considered that a statement ought to be made to acquaint the Senate and the public with the Committee’s decision and the reasons for it.
It was put to the Committee by some of those who made submissions that by compelling children to wear adult seat belts where no child restraints are available, the Ordinance is compelling something that is not in the best interests of safety. Whether it is safer for a child to wear an adult seat belt than to be unrestrained in a motor vehicle is a question of safety policy which the
Committee did not consider itself competent to judge. It is sufficient to say that experts in the field of safety, including the advisers of the Federal and State governments, have concluded that on the whole it is safer for a child to wear an adult restraint than it is to have no restraint at all.
The Committee’s attention was, however, drawn to two provisions in the Ordinance which the Committee considered it ought to examine more closely. The first provided that an approved adult seat belt should be taken to be suitable for use by a child. It was put to the Committee that this provision amounted to an admission that what the Ordinance requires is not safe, and that it amounted to an attempt to declare safe by legislation what is in fact not safe. The submission of the Minister for the Capital Territory was that this provision is nothing more than a statement of the policy that, in the absence of proper child restraints, an adult seat belt is better than nothing. The Committee accepts that this provision is inseparable from the policy of the Ordinance. The second provision is to the effect that damages recoverable by a plaintiff shall not be reduced by reason of an offence against the Ordinance. It was put to the Committee that this again constitutes an admission that what the Ordinance requires is basically unsafe. The effect of the provision, however, is that where a claim is made in respect of injury to a child against a person other than the driver of the vehicle in which the child was a passenger, contributory negligence on the part of the driver will not be held to reduce the damages available to the child. The provision does not prevent the damages awarded to the child being increased because of negligence on the part of the driver of the vehicle in the form of an offence against the Ordinance. This situation could arise where damages are claimed from the driver of the vehicle. Looked at in this light it seems to the Committee that the provision is a fair one.
For these reasons the Committee does not intend to move for the disallowance of the Ordinance or take other action to have it changed. The Committee has asked me to draw attention to another matter which arose from its consideration of the Ordinance. The policy of the Ordinance is founded on the assumption that it is not practicable to enforce the wearing by children of suitable child restraints in vehicles. Some members of the Committee consider this assumption questionable. Now that easily removable approved child restraints are available it may well be possible and practicable to enforce the use of such restraints. Although this would be costly, it is important to do everything possible to reduce the number of severe injuries to children in motor vehicle accidents.
– by leave- The report of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations on expenditure by departments on newspapers and periodicals concluded that departmental management methods for the control of this expenditure are satisfactory in view of the relatively low level and slow rate of growth of this expenditure. The Committee noted that this was the same conclusion reached by a review conducted by the Departments of Finance and Administrative Services on departmental purchases of newspapers and periodicals.
The Department of Administrative Services will monitor further purchases by departments and authorities, as well as the effectiveness of controls over those purchases. The Government wishes to express its appreciation of the work done by the Committee.
Notice of Motion
-Is Notice of Motion No. 1 standing in the name of Senator Missen for the disallowance of regulation 20 of the Australian Federal Police (Discipline) Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rules 1979 No. 211, formal or not formal?
– Not formal.
Motion (by Senator Missen)- by leaveagreed to:
That Notice of Motion No. 1 standing in the name of Senator Missen for the disallowance of regulation 20 of the Australian Federal Police (Discipline) Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rules 1979 No. 21 1, be postponed until the next day of sitting.
Debate resumed from 2 1 February, on motion by Senator Jessop:
That the Senate, having considered the Fifth Report of the Committee of Privileges, resolves that-
1 ) It is the right of the Senate to receive notification of the detention of its members.
Should a Senator for any reason be held in custody pursuant to the order or judgment of any court, other than a court martial, the court ought to notify the
President of the Senate, in writing, of the fact and the cause of the Senator’s being placed in custody.
3 ) Should a Senator be ordered to be held in custody by any court martial or officer of the Defence Force, the President of the Senate ought to be notified by His Excellency the Governor-General of the fact and the cause of the Senator’s being placed in custody.
The Presiding Officers of the Parliament should confer with the Presiding Officers of the Parliaments of the States, and the Attorney-General should confer with the Attorneys-General of the States, upon the action to be taken to secure compliance with the foregoing Resolutions.
The terms of these Resolutions be communicated to Presiding Officers of the Parliaments of the States and the Attorneys-General of the States.
– I take it that Senator Jessop, who moved the motion, has completed his remarks. I second the motion which he put before the Senate. In so doing, I want to speak briefly in support of the motion to outline the reason why this matter came before the Standing Committee of Privileges and to make a few observations.
I support the motion and commend the Privileges Committee for its investigation of the matter. It came before the Privileges Committee because on 1 5 August 1979 1 contacted the Clerk of the Senate and spoke to him about the possibility of my arrest for the non-payment of a fine. The fine arose from my participation and arrest during a demonstration as part of a civil liberties campaign in Queensland. It is not my intention to enter into the rights and wrongs of that matter, to justify my position or to explain away or to rationalise my position in that campaign.
On 15 August 1979 I contacted the Clerk of the Senate. I informed him that I had received information that morning that I was to be arrested for the non-payment of a fine imposed under the traffic offences regulations and taken to Boggo Road gaol for seven days imprisonment. I advised the Clerk of the Senate that because of my arrest and my imprisonment I would not be able to attend the resumption of the sittings of the Senate on Tuesday 21 August. It had been my intention to travel to Canberra on Sunday 1 9 August to attend party meetings on Monday.
The Clerk of the Senate wrote a letter on that day because he was unable to contact the Clerk of the Court, it being a holiday in Queensland. It may be advisable for me to read the letter which he wrote on 1 5 August to the Clerk of the Magistrates ‘ Courts in Brisbane. It reads:
I was advised by telephone this day by Senator Georges that he was about to be arrested and committed to the Boggo Road Gaol for a period of seven days imprisonment for nonpayment of a fine imposed on him under Traffic Offences Regulations. He further advised me that, as the Senate would be resuming its sittings on Tuesday next, 2 1 August, it had been his intention to travel to Canberra on Sunday, 1 9
August, to attend Party Meetings on Monday, 20 August, prior to attending the subsequent sittings of the Senate in his capacity as Opposition Whip.
To obtain further information in relation to this matter, I have endeavoured to contact you this day by telephone but without success (but I know it is a public holiday in Queensland) and therefore write to ask if you will inform me urgently (a) if, as may be expected, you will be advising the President of the Senate, Senator the Honourable Sir Condor Laucke, of Senator Georges’ arrest and imprisonment and (b) whether the matter leading to Senator Georges’ imprisonment is of a civil or criminal nature.
Possibly that would have been the end of the matter if the Clerk of the Senate had not received a letter from the Magistrate’s Courts Office dated 20 August which read:
Receipt of your letter of the 15th instant in relation to Senator Georges is acknowledged.
I wish to inform that I will not be advising the President of the Senate of Senator Georges ‘ arrest.
– Who signed that?
– It was signed by the Acting Clerk of the Court, a Mr W. J. Smith. It continues:
For your information, I have enclosed copies of the Magistrates Court Bench Charge Sheets in relation to the two matters for which warrants were issued against Senator Georges.
Whilst it is a matter for legal argument, I would consider the charges to fall in the category of quasi-criminal rather than Civil actions.
I just make it clear to the Senate that I am not endeavouring to put that a senator should be treated differently from anyone else in these matters. I am not putting to the Senate that if a senator is in breach of the law, whether it be a traffic regulation or any other regulation, he should be treated differently. I may put to the Senate that he ought not to be treated in a lesser way, and that may be a strange proposition to be putting.
I have been involved in this campaign for some time. I have been arrested on three occasions. On the first occasion I was going to the assistance of my constituents on the footpath in Adelaide Street in Queensland to prevent them from being pushed through a plate-glass window. I was assaulted. I was bundled into a van and imprisoned for some 15 hours. On that occasion I may have been able to put before the Senate a matter of privilege concerning the right of a member of parliament to assist his constituents. I took the matter to the court, defended it myself and was acquitted of the three charges because, as the magistrate said, the evidence was completely in disarray. I had my satisfaction in that way. Nevertheless, a point that ought to be considered is that a member of parliament in his own constituency, seeking to assist his constitutents in a way in which he deems necessary, should be free to do so without harassment. Nevertheless, that is not a case that I have put to the Senate. I have spoken about it. I was influenced by the remark made to me in these terms: If you are upset by the way that you were treated then you must remember that the blacks in Redfern are treated in this way every night of the week ‘.
So I thought to myself that something more needed to be done concerning this matter instead of arguing about privilege. We ought to look very carefully at the way in which people are treated by those who are responsible for the administration of the law. That is another matter which we will take up on another occasion, possibly through another committee. But I was concerned that on that first occasion and subsequent occasions when I asked to make contact with the President of the Senate to notify him that I was in custody I was refused the right to do so. On the first occasion on which I was arrested I asked to contact my wife who was in Canberra and I was refused the right to do so. I was refused it on the basis that I was allowed one phone call but it had to be a local phone call and as that was a trunk line call, even though I planned to meet the cost by charging it to an authority, I was not permitted to make that call. I consider that to be a breach of a right of a person. Again, the notification of the President did not take place as I believe and as now the Senate Standing Committee on Privileges believes it should have taken place.
When I was arrested on the day which is referred to in the document which is before the Senate, I asked the arresting officers to notify the President of the Senate and they suggested that I should bring the matter to the attention of those who were to hold me in imprisonment. I did so on three occasions. I did not mind being told that it was not necessary to do so and I would not have minded that fact being explained in a reasonable way, but to be brushed off and told that the matter had been reported in the newspapers and that it was not a matter of concern to them whether the President knew of the incident I considered to be a wrong position to be taken by the highest person in authority at the prison. I was brought before him on the second day I was there. I asked him whether he had been informed by the first official to whom I had spoken that the President needed to be advised. He said no. It now appears that subsequently the Clerk of the Senate wrote to the court and the court responded in the manner outlined in the document which is before the honourable senators.
The report show clearly that the Senate in particular and the Parliament are concerned that there should be no harassment of members of parliament on their way to and from the Parliament by civil litigation. That is designed to prevent a person by an idle action preventing a member of parliament coming to this place. That is referred to at page 2 of the report. Another reason that privilege has been extended is that it provides a safeguard against the harassment of members of parliament by other persons using the processes of civil law. But I point out to the honourable senators that a strange situation has arisen in Queensland in which the harassment of members of parliament takes place by the use of criminal law. That is something which honourable senators should consider. In a State which has reached the situation which Queensland has reached, which has had a prolonged representation by a minority party for a period of some 25 years, the police force has come to the understanding that it serves the government of the day. It does so in a sort of para-military fashion. That has led to the harassment of members of parliament by the use of the laws of the day. This issue will have to be considered in that light.
Now it goes beyond the use of civil law by an individual to harass a member of parliament; in Queensland it is now the use of criminal law to harass a member of parliament. If that persists the Senate will have to consider the issue, because it does constitute an harassment, it is an harassment in the carrying out of one ‘s responsibilities. It arises because of the nature of the Government which we have in Queensland, which has been perpetuated over a long period due to the inflexibility of the electoral system which continually brings one party to power and which does not even allow the other two parties- the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Labor Party, which constitute a majority in the House- to express their points of view or to impose their policies upon the Parliament. That is a denigration of the parliamentary system in Queensland, which leads to these distortions. So I ask honourable senators to take into consideration the fact that a case could be made out to support the view that in Queensland in particular if the present system of, shall we say, single-party government persists the Senate might have to consider the misuse of criminal law, the traffic regulations and other regulations, in the way I have outlined.
Finally, I put it to honourable senators that it is necessary for the Parliament to ensure that the rights of its members and senators are not eroded. It is very difficult to raise a matter of privilege on one’s own behalf, but I was very close to raising a matter of privilege when Senator Bonner was, shall we say, very ungraciously treated in Mt Isa. I almost did so not because he was refused a drink because he was black- as I have said, that was a disgraceful action on the part of the publican- but because the subsequent denigration of the position of a senator by that publican to my mind was a breach of the privileges of this place. It is necessary for the Senate to protect its rights and the rights and privileges of its members. To move away from that position is to allow a continuing denigration of the Senate and of the Parliament generally.
Sufficient forces in this country- I speak of certain sections of the media- would like to see themselves with the power and not the Parliament. They will achieve that by continually denigrating this place, by denigrating and misusing the members of this place. I know that this puts a great responsibility on members of Parliament. Some criticism could be made of the role I have played in Queensland in breach of the law. But I put it to honourable senators that that was the first occasion on which I was forced to take sides on the matter that was at issue. On that occasion I was not part of an illegal procession. I, together with Senator Coleman and others, played a responsible part in keeping the contestants apart. On that occasion the contestants were the police force and the people participating in the demonstration. When Mr Whitrod was Commissioner of Police in Queensland there was an understanding between him and members of Parliament and other responsible people.
– He was too much of a democrat. They threw him out.
-Of course they did, because they thought that if Mr Whitrod saw his role as being independent of the government of the day he did not serve the government of the day and did not express its policies. But I believe that Mr Whitrod ‘s role was a responsible one. He sought the assistance of others who were responsible and he had constant communication with them. But under the new Administration- an administration which has been encouraged by the Premier of the day to be supportive of the government of the day- the atmosphere has changed completely. Anyone who opposes the Queensland Government is said to be opposed to the police. It is quite incorrect for that position to be taken. Do I overstate the situation? I point out that the Commissioner of Police in Queensland so misunderstood his position that on election night he was part of the official National Party group which saw the election results coming in. He had no right to be there. He had no right to appear to be aligned with the government of the day; in fact, not the government of the day but the ruling party of the day, which in this case was the National Party. The complexities and the distortions which exist in Queensland lead some of us to be in breach of the law. Now, of course, I have come to the position of trying to justify the actions which I took.
Let me get back to the question before the Senate. I think it is necessary to support this motion. In some ways it goes towards the hub of the matter in that if, for some reason or other, a member of parliament is taken into custody it is the responsibility of those who have taken him into custody to report to the Presiding Officer. Otherwise a member of parliament may be in a very tight situation- and we have had some very tight voting situations in this place. A member suddenly may be held for a period without the knowledge of the Parliament. It may be an exaggeration but it is a possibility that he could be held in custody without the knowledge of the houses of Parliament. The houses of Parliament could do nothing in order to correct the situation.
I emphasise what I said earlier. It is necessary for the Parliament to protect its members when they are being oppressed or harassed. I mentioned one case in particular, concerning the behaviour of a person in Queensland towards one of our senators in which I felt that we should have done something. In this case I believe that I was in breach of the law. If I had not been released the next day and had still been imprisoned on the following Tuesday when the Parliament sat, it may have been necessary for the Senate to have taken a closer look at the matter. That did not occur. I was released after 24 to 30 hours.
– I think I made the point, did I not, that in a similar case involving a member of the New South Wales Parliament the clerk of the court did the right thing and notified the Speaker?
– That is right. That was the Uren case.
– Yes. That is contained in the report. I recommend that it should be closely read. Some questions remain undetermined. Perhaps on some future occasion it may be necessary to determine them. I hope that the circumstances are not the same. Nevertheless, we ought not allow the rights of members of parliament to be eroded. Those rights existed substantially in 1 90 1 . 1 believe that over a period of 50 or 60 years a different attitude has been taken to the privileges of members. I do not think that we ought to depend entirely on harsh precedent, although that is our guide. We ought to look at situations as they occur, make our own judgments and establish our own precedents.
-I wish to speak briefly to the fifth report of the Privileges Committee and to the motion which is before the House. In general, I support what the Committee has said, with one exception to which I will come. I also support the motion that has been moved because I think it is desirable that we should declare our understanding of the law and the privileges which this House enjoys in respect of members who are imprisoned. The report sets out the statements of the law by Blackstone and others in respect of the right of notification which this Parliament has when members are imprisoned. The part of the report that I have considerable reservations about is paragraph 1 6 on page 6. It states:
The Committee considers that it is desirable that the practice of notification of the Presiding Officers of the imprisonment of members of the Parliament should be followed in Australia, not only for the reasons given above, but as a simple rule of courtesy, lt would be premature for the Senate to treat the failure to give notification of the imprisonment of one of its members as a contempt, until steps have been taken to make the attitude of the Senate known to the courts and to secure their co-operation.
I am not suggesting that I disagree with the statement that we should not proceed by way of contempt in regard to this matter but I dissent considerably from the very courteous but gentle expression of opinion in that paragraph. I believe that it is pretty clearly established that notification of imprisonment is a privilege of the Parliament. It existed at the time of Federation and we retained it. I note the letter from the Acting Clerk of the Court advising that he did not intend to advise you, Mr President, about this matter. I find that an objectionable and contemptuous letter in the extreme. I would have liked the Committee to have made some comment about it in the report. It seems to me that this is not a simple matter of courtesy; it is an important privilege of the Parliament that its members should not be denied.
We recognise that we can act on imprisonment of senators in civil matters and not in criminal matters. Senator Georges was involved in a criminal matter in the technical sense. It was a matter in which he made his own judgment that he should take a particular stand and should demonstrate. He chose to break the regulations. He also chose to pay the penalty for that because he believed that an outstanding cause was involved. I do not propose to go into those matters or some of the other matters which Senator Georges raised today. Some were irrelevant to the motion that is before us now. But the fact is that the report draws attention to a particular distinction. It is important that the Parliament should know when a member is imprisoned and to be able to make an immediate assessment whether it is a civil or a criminal matter and whether it should take some action. Therefore, I certainly dissent from the paragraph to which I have referred.
I do not want it to be taken that in voting for this motion I think that the notification of the Parliament is a matter of desirability or courtesy. Nor do I believe that it is a matter only of securing the co-operation of the courts. I think we may have to remind the acting Clerk of the Court who wrote the letter that every citizen in Australia is expected to know the law. I know that is an unreality in many respects, considering the extent to which we make laws but one can expect acting clerks of courts to know the law in regard to privilege, to comply with it and not to take such arrogant action.
– The point is that it is not clearly defined.
-It is clearly defined.
– It is custom.
– The law is not just a matter of statute, as the honourable senator knows. It is custom and tradition which the writers have expressed and which the parliaments have maintained. I think it is fairly clear that this is a right which we have. One ought to bear in mind in adopting this motion that section 49 of the Constitution, in relation to privilege, states:
The powers, privileges, and immunities of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and of the members and the committees of each House, shall be such as are declared by the Parliament, and until declared shall be those of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom, and of its members and committees at the establishment of the Commonwealth.
What we are doing today is declaring what we understand is the privilege of the Parliament as it was at the beginning of the Commonwealth. Today we are not passing any legislation to carry out section 49 of the Constitution. That must be declared by the Parliament, and the Parliament consists of the Queen and the two houses of the Parliament. I think it is high time that the Parliament declared its privileges, so that the obscurity of this particular situation does not eventuate. I thank Senator Chaney for indicating his support. It is desirable for both houses of Parliament that we should make very clear what our privileges are in a number of areas which are thought to be obscure or not known. There should be no possibility of lack of knowledge on the part of other authorities, whether they be clerks of courts or other officials, State or Commonwealth, as to what are the rights of the Parliament.
I do not believe that these matters of privilege are matters for the smug convenience of members of Parliament.
I think it is important that we should be able to carry out our duties. As Senator Georges said, by the tricky use of provisions one or more members could be absent. In a closely divided House an absence could be vital to a vote. I think these things ought to be faced up to, and it is high time that this Parliament declared its rights and privileges as it is empowered to do under the Commonwealth Constitution. I believe that we should carry this motion because it will clarify the situation in the eyes of court officials. I believe that we should not be taken as submissively asking for cooperation. I looked carefully at paragraph (4) of the motion, which says that the Presiding Officers should take certain action. It also says:
The Attorney-General should confer with the AttorneysGeneral of the States, upon the action . . . taken to secure compliance with the foregoing Resolutions.
I think it must be clearly understood that the consultation is for the purposes of carrying out the resolutions and not asking the States for their consent or whether they will or will not comply. It is a matter of ensuring that the resolution is carried out so that the circumstances which led to it do not happen again.
– Paragraph (2) of the motion states that the court ought to notify the President.
– Yes, that does clearly declare that there is an obligation on the part of the court.
– It did not do that.
-It did not do it. The report of the Senate Standing Committee of Privileges is very useful from the point of view that it clarifies some misunderstanding. The motion certainly has my support with the reservations that I have given.
-I support the motion and I congratulate the Standing Committee of Privileges on the care with which it has examined the principles applicable in the British House of Commons as at 1 January 1901 and argued for its conclusion that there was a breach of privilege in the failure of the court officials to notify the Presiding Officer of the imprisonment of Senator Georges. I do not want specifically to traverse again the ground which is covered in the report of the Committee and which was dealt with by both Senator Georges and Senator Missen in their different ways. But I do want briefly to take the opportunity that this report presents to canvass some larger issues which were touched on briefly by Senator Missen in his remarks.
The very appearance of this report and its contents constitute, in my mind, support once again for that proposition which has been advanced on innumerable occasions over the course of the century, that this Parliament should move systematically to define and declare its privileges in legislative form and indeed, as part of that process, to limit perhaps some of the privileges which have traditionally been claimed. We should not just limp along in this fuzzy, unsatisfactory haze that seems to envelop the whole law of privilege as it now applies. Senator Missen has read out section 49 of the Constitution, which is the foundation of our law of privilege as it presently stands. Until this Parliament gets around to declaring our privileges legislatively, the custom will continue to be oddly that which prevailed in the British House of Commons, not now but at the time of the formation of the Australian Parliament in 1901. Regrettably it seems so far to have been beyond the industry or wit of either chamber of this Parliament to attempt such a declaratory exercise. The last reference I can find to the matter being seriously raised was in 1978, when the House of Representatives Committee of Privileges made a recommendation arising out of one of the innumerable matters involving the Press which that Committee has dealt with over the years, that there should be a joint exercise of the two Houses, to try once and for all to come to grips with and tackle this particular problem. But my understanding- I welcome correction if I am wrong about this- is that this chamber, the Senate, once again, as has been the case so often in the past, got uptight about this particular stature and standing and was not at all keen about contemplating any such joint exercise. I regard that attitude, if it was the attitude of the Senate, as being one of absurd narrow-mindedness and one that is quite inappropriate when one considers the nature of the issues involved.
This fifth report now before us demonstrates the lack of clarity and community knowledge about some of these very important matters on which the Parliament has traditionally claimed privilege. That the report was necessary at all on this matter of reporting to the Presiding Officer the imprisonment of one of our members does to my mind, and I do put a charitable interpretation upon it, indicate either that the existence of this claim of privilege by the Parliament was unknown to the Clerks or at least that its significance was not appreciated. I am inclined to take a charitable view because after all, and I suspect this is what the Committee had in mind, this matter has not previously been dealt with in any literature of this Parliament. No Presiding Officer could be blamed for failing to have a detailed and lucid understanding of what Erskine May had to say about the situation as at 1901. If we fail to declare and define the privileges that we claim, we can hardly, I think, be heard to complain too vigorously in turn that those privileges are being defiled by miscellaneous outsiders.
I am a bit surprised- given what appears to be the relatively apologetic tone on the report generally and the willingness that the report demonstrates to actually argue, based on precedent for the existence of this privilege- that the report should contain the passage that it does in paragraph 22 dealing with its third term of reference, namely paragraph (c), which states:
Whether, if the Committee determines that the matter was of a civil nature, the arrest and imprisonment of Senator Georges constituted a breach of the privileges of the Senate.
The Committee rather grumpily dismisses this particular head of its terms of reference as being, superfluous and tautological’. I think that is a little unfair on the part of the Committee because although, as it goes on to explain, it is in a sense obvious to those in the know that if a matter does involve imprisonment on a civil matter then clearly it would, as the law of privileges now stands, be a breach. But again these matters are not the kinds of things that everyone knows. The language employed by the Senate Committee in dealing with this part of its reference is of that rather smug ‘well, everyone knows that’ kind. I think that is inappropriate language to be employed because I think, as we all know, the niceties of these privilege matters are just not known to the community at large. The difference in significance between civil and criminal and quasi-criminal offences is just not known to the community at large or even, I suspect, those most closely involved in the administration of justice outside. The reason it is not known is simply that we have not given any formal legislative or other delaratory expression to the matter. The fact that it appears in the House of Representatives Privileges Committee report in relation to the Honourable Tom Uren in 1971 does not seem to me to be any kind of answer to that claim. It is important, if we are to expect compliance with our claims of privilege, that we get down to the task of articulating them.
– Would you consider that the distinction between criminal and civil in these days might not be the appropriate reason?
– Indeed, and that is exactly a further point I wanted to make. It is not only a matter of declaring and clarifying what our privileges actually are, as they were understood and defined in 1 90 1 , but also a matter, in any such revision exercise, of considering carefully whether there is any current, contemporary justification for all or most or indeed any of the privileges that we so largely claim. I have great doubt whether the matter that is dealt with in this report is, properly speaking, in this day and age a matter of privilege at all. I do not seek in any way to pronounce finally on that question because it is a matter which I think needs to be argued out. It is a matter which needs to be examined, as is the whole fundamental question of not only notification of imprisonment but also the entitlement to imprison for different classes of offence.
– Tommy Uren would not agree with you.
– No, Tom Uren may not agree with me, but that is one of the matters that I think needs to be debated in a better forum than we seem to have been able to manage to put together in our 80 year history so far, because there are many such problems relating to the law of privilege which demand this kind of attention. It is not just a matter of clarification of things as they were in 1901; it is a matter of considering the kinds of questions which have arisen in various jurisdictions throughout Australia in the last few months. The abuse of the immunities conferred upon individual members of parliament to slur other people has been a very live issue in the Victorian and New South Wales Parliaments. There is the question of whether Hansard reports should be privileged from production in the courts, which is another matter that involves my litigious colleague in the lower House, Mr Uren. The right to legal representation before the committees of this Parliament is also of continuing concern.
A fundamental question to which we cannot seem to address our minds is whether it is proper in all cases that this Parliament- this House or the other House- be judge and prosecutor in its own cause, if not for all classes of breach of privilege then at least perhaps for some of them. There may be a case for modifying that principle and vesting some independent authority in another tribunal or in the courts. There is the question of the powers we have when we discover or decide, or someone else decides for us, that there has been a breach of privilege. Archaically, at the moment those powers are confined to a reprimand on the one hand or imprisonment on the other. The right of this Parliament to imprison people was exercised, in my mind disgracefully, in the mid-1950s in the Browne and Fitzpatrick case. I would hate to be a member of any parliament which perpetrated again such an outrage. At the moment, there being no power to fine, in an extreme case one might find one’s colleagues being tempted again to exercise what I would regard as the outrageous power of imprisonment. There is no rationality about the powers which are retained by this Parliament in relation to privilege matters. A further sanction that this Parliament has employed from time to time in Press breaches of privilege has been to withdraw Gallery occupation privileges from the offending section of the Press.
– Could you explain to those of us who are not lawyers why we have no power to fine? I thought we could.
– Our powers and privileges are those which existed in the British House of Commons as at 1 January 1901. Although there is no particular rationale for it, Erskine May says that there was no power in the British Parliament in 190 1 to fine in 1 90 1 , only power to reprimand or imprison. I cannot offer any rationale for that omission, because there is none. It is one of those innumerable bits of historical nonsense which accumulate over time and which need to be reviewed systematically by this Parliament. I do not now stop in any way to traverse what the answers to this variety of problems should be. I am saying simply that the case for exercising our powers under section 49 to define our privileges, and to rethink the procedures by which we are to protect them, is unanswerable. We ought to be rethinking the proper contemporary scope and application of all the various privileges that traditionally we have claimed, and whether there is a case for continuing to claim all of them. We ought to be considering whether it is proper and just that, as I said, in all this range of privilege matters Parliament should be judge and prosecutor in its own cause.
It seems to me that, based on first principles, there is a very strong case for thinking that, at least when a breach of privilege of the kind involving holding up this Parliament to contempt or ridicule is in issue, it is quite outrageous for the Parliament to be acting in its own defence. If it regards it seriously enough to proceed with, then it ought to go to some independent authority. Members of this chamber ought to be rethinking the matter of whether the Senate’s own traditional self-importance as a chamber is justified, and whether we should continue to drag our chamber’s feet in the establishment of some joint or co-operative endeavour to consider this whole matter. At the very least, we ought to be examining the case for establishing a joint committee of the two Houses- perhaps simply a combination of the two existing Privileges Committees, or another committee involving additional or new faces to consider afresh these matters and once and for all to do this long overdue job of considering our archaic reliance for protection on a law as it stood in Britain in 1901. (Quorum formed).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 20 February, on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Upon which Senator Durack had moved by way of an amendment:
At the end of motion add- and the Senate-
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 destabilising effect on the region: and as potentially the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1945;
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 nonaligned 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; and
urges the provision of humanitarian relief assistance to alleviate the hardships of the Afghanistan refugees in co-ordination 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 ‘-
And upon which Senator Button had moved by way of an amendment to the proposed amendment:
Atend of the proposed amendment, add:
– When this debate was adjourned on 20 February I had indicated that, rather than try to cover all the issues that had been dealt with by so many speakers already, and no doubt will be by many of those yet to come, I would like to look first of all at some of the comments already made, say something about them and then refer specifically to the Department of Foreign Affairs, because of its important role, and to some measures that I feel ought to be taken with respect to it. I referred to a brief exchange between Senator Wheeldon and me which took place on the previous day relating to East Timor. I want to make the point, as I did in that exchange, that I feel that what Senator Wheeldon said was not accurate. He suggested that the Government had given its approbation, or if not its approbation then certainly no serious condemnation, of the actions of Indonesia in East Timor. I said that that was not accurate, and I would stand by that statement. Senator Wheeldon had already made the point that the menace to world peace posed by the actions of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan did not equate with the actions of Indonesia in Timor. That is not to say- I do not think that he was suggesting it- that we ought not to be severely critical of Indonesia’s behaviour in East Timor because of its invasion and subsequent actions there. He then went on to criticise the Government for not taking the strong action with respect to Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor that it had taken with the Soviet Union.
I stress again the point that Senator Wheeldon made it clear that the two situations could not be equated in terms of the threat to peace. I reiterate that it was not accurate for him to say that Australia had indicated its approbation to, or if not its approbation it had not condemned, Indonesia’s activity in East Timor. In fact one might rather suggest that little had been done by the previous government in an attempt to counter what Indonesia clearly planned to do in Timor. I would simply point out that the first action taken to bring the attention of this Parliament to events in East Timor and to Indonesia ‘s actions with respect to it was taken by the now governing parties when they were in opposition through a matter of public importance raised by the then shadow Foreign Minister who is now the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) in the House of Representatives.
Senator Wheeldon ‘s statements with respect to East Timor not only were not accurate but also I think he made it clear that, with respect to the degree of threat to the peace, there is a great distinction between Indonesia’s actions in East Timor and the Soviet Union’s actions in Afghanistan. Senator Wheeldon went on to say that it was his recollection that detente means relaxation. In that sense, I would like to suggest that although there has been a good deal of talk about detente being dead, I do not regard that as being accurate. It is no doubt the case that, because of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, for the moment detente has stalled. But I am sure that there is an aspiration on all sides for peace, ultimately. Certainly there must be on ours. If that is so, we must seek detente and, if that is the case, detente is not dead. What we must understand, I think, is what George Kennan pointed out in his article in the Age of 1 4 February. It is an article to which Senator Wriedt referred. In my view Kennan puts his finger on the most critical element in this situation when he refers to the invasion in these terms:
It was a move decidedly not in character for either Aleksei N. Kosygin or Leonid I. Brezhnev. (The one was, of course, ill and removed from active work. The limitations on the other’s health and powers of attention are well known). Andrei A. Gromyko, too, is unlikely to have approved it.
These reflections suggest the recent breakthrough, to positions of dominant influence, of hard line elements much less concerned for world opinion, but also much less experienced, than these older figures.
What has happened in the Politburo is that there is a new alignment of forces, hard line forces, ones less experienced in international relations, anxious to take a harder line to prove themselves, presumably, in the power struggle that is a constant process within the Politburo, and perhaps less shrewd in their calculation of the reaction that would occur from the West, particularly from President Carter. Taking that into account, we ought also to consider the fact that it does indicate that the Soviet Union, if it feels threatened, may be prepared, through its leadership, to go a good deal further than it has in recent times. We in the West ought not to ignore or neglect the fact that the Soviet Union has felt increasingly threatened in recent times. That does not excuse its arms build up. It certainly does not excuse its suppression of civil rights or its invasion of Afghanistan. But we must recognise that in the not too distant future the Soviet Union faces potential problems with its oil supplies and its grain production, and that it has been facing a situation in which it is increasingly isolated in the world. In a sense it has asked for that isolation because of its massive arms build up in recent times. But it is a bit difficult to know which comes first. Given those developmentsparticularly the increasingly close alignment between China, Japan, North America and Western Europe- and other problems that the Soviet Union perceives, and the emergence of a new leadership at the top in the Soviet Union, we must accept that there is the potential for serious conflict.
Having said that, I have to ask in relation to Kennan ‘s article what is he really saying? While I have for long respected his views on the Soviet Union, and while I feel that in the statement to which I have already referred he has put his finger on the most essential elements in what has happened recently, he also makes statements in the article which are, to put it mildly, questionable. For example, with respect to what happened in Afghanistan, he says that many people have given: . . no serious account to such specific factors as geographic proximity, ethnic affinity of peoples on both sides of the border and political instability in what is, after all, a border country of the Soviet Union.
Is Kennan there suggesting that the Soviet Union has some right to move into areas across its borders where there is instability, such as Iran, or where there is some ethnic relationship with people within its own borders, for instance Kurdistan in Iran? It seems to me that there, clearly, he is justifying the invasion of Afghanistan on the most specious grounds and inviting the Soviet Union to go a good deal further should similar circumstances arise. He then goes on to say that he does not know whether this will get worse, whether the Soviet Union will go further, or what its motivations are. But he says:
Mr Brezhnev has specifically, publicly and vigorously denied any such intentions.
When reading that I can only doubt that George Kennan wrote it, because what on earth is
Leonid Brezhnev’s guarantee worth, public, private or otherwise, with respect to the intentions of the Soviet Union? While I feel that in that article, which as I said was referred to by Senator Wriedt, he has referred to one of the most essential elements in this debate which tends so often to be overlooked- the change in leadership and its response to the West- he has also said some things which I find outlandish and rather disconcerting for one who has the reputation that Kennan has.
Given, though, this point about the changed leadership and what it has already done in Afghanistan, I simply make the point that it is essential at this stage, given the recent changes and given the more recent action in Afghanistan, that in other countries- the West for want of a better term, but we hope a broader grouping than is normally referred to as the West, including many third world countries, Islamic countries- a firm stand will be taken to show the new Soviet leadership that that sort of behaviour is unacceptable to most of the world community, if not all members of that community. The Soviet Union must know now and the new leadership must be made aware that that sort of behaviour is unacceptable.
I mentioned earlier that I wanted to speak about the Department of Foreign Affairs, which has not been referred to by other speakers. I do it in the context of the Government’s decision to divert a good many resources to the defence of this country because of the instability created in the international situation by the Soviet’s invasion of Afghanistan. The Government has announced a range of decisions in relation to shoring up the defences of Australia and made it clear that as a nation we are prepared to do something more in terms of our own defence in the face of potential Soviet aggression. My question is whether we might do the same for the Department of Foreign Affairs? In an international situation which in recent years has been acknowledged generally as having become increasingly complex and more difficult to deal with, now, with the invasion of Afghanistan, that has been complicated even further. I should like to take the opportunity to refer to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on the Department of Foreign Affairs, which report was presented to this Parliament in February 1979. 1 stress again that that report was made before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and before the sort of instability that we now see in Iran. It referred even then to the enormous complexity of the international situation and the need for Australia to be effectively represented around the world so that we may know what is going on and can convey our views to other governments directly and effectively. The Senate Committee referred to staff ceilings in the Department of Foreign Affairs and made the following comment:
The Committee has received no evidence which suggests that the Department’s staff numbers should be further reduced. On the contrary, the Committee is satisfied, on the basis of preceding comments and details referred to later in this report, that there is a need for modest expansion, and recommends that this be provided for, commensurate with Australia’s increasing activities and responsibilities internationally.
I suggest that more recent events have made that suggestion by the Committee even more significant. I acknowledge that since the Committee reported, the Government has in the last two years resumed recruiting Foreign Affairs officers and has upgraded the departmental structure; there are now three deputy secretaries. I note in passing that the head of the Australian Development Assistance Bureau is not a deputy secretary. Because of the significance of development assistance in our foreign policy and more generally in Australia ‘s approach nowadays to external relations, I believe that that person should be a deputy secretary. This applies with even greater emphasis, given the potential instability in our own region and what has happened recently in Iran and Afghanistan.
The Senate Committee referred also to the conditions of service for people serving in various capacities in the foreign service. If they are to serve effectively their morale and the facilities available to them must be maintained so that they can do their job and live reasonably in what are often very difficult conditions. The Committee made a number of recommendations to that end. It also looked at overseas property management and the Overseas Operations Branch and suggested a number of measures along the same lines that ought to be taken to provide more effectively for the people who are representing Australia overseas and who are putting the view of the Government and the Australian community to other governments. If that view is to be put effectively then measures have to be taken to ensure that those people have the facilities to do so and that their morale is such that they can operate in the most effective fashion. The report also referred to the Australian Development Assistance Bureau and suggested measures which ought to be taken to bolster its operations.
In passing I express the hope that the Government ‘s response to this report will be made shortly. It is now a year since the report was presented. I think members of the Committee- the Chairman, Senator Sim, is in the chamberwould acknowledge that the recommendations made referred to quite fundamental elements of government policy with respect to the Department of Foreign Affairs, its role, staffing, structure and conditions of service. Therefore, it may be understandable that a response to measures relating to a major department of government administration might take some time. In May 1978 the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) indicated that in future responses to such reports would be made within six months of the report being presented. In this case, as the six months period has long since gone, I hope that the matter will be dealt with shortly.
In the circumstances I conclude by saying that whilst I do not believe that detente is dead, I believe it is more important that we all do what we can to reactivate it to the fullest possible extent. If there is to be peace it is important that detente be encouraged. The second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty is now under consideration by the super-powers involved in the negotiations. Whatever the problems of that treaty, whatever its inadequacies, whatever the difficulties involved in adopting SALT II, it is an important step and part of the effort to ensure international stability, arms control and, ultimately, peace. If it is not successful then we are taking a step backwards. If it is successful, it is a step forward. Surely we all hope that we might make some progress on a matter such as that. However elusive the concept of detente may be, surely ultimately it is what we all want if we are concerned with peace in the world now and in the future. ( Quorum formed).
– I delayed my entry into this debate for the purpose of trying to evaluate whether there had been any movement in the ideas expressed by Government senators in regard to this complex problem of Afghanistan and detente. I think that overall most of the contributions- with the two notable exceptions of Senator Knight and Senator Sim- have been predictable. Foreign affairs have occupied the attention of the Australian Parliament virtually since Federation but particularly during the First World War, in the 1930s, as well as in the 1940s, the 1950s and the 1960s. For a short period debate on foreign affairs slipped down the ladder in importance; perhaps domestic issues assumed greater importance. But the world being as it is foreign affairs has again emerged as a major issue.
Having read or listened to the speeches made by most Government speakers in the other place as well as in this chamber, I think it is most regrettable that they are continuing to kick the communist can without any regard to the basic problems that exist in relationships between the powers, and particularly between the major powers. That attempt to reduce complex international issues into a black and white, or perhaps a red and white, circumference is one of the weaknesses that this country has to recognise. It is pleasing to note that at least one or two senators have looked at the matter a little more objectively and a little more carefully than is normally the case in conservative debates which take place in the Senate.
First of all, it is clear that Soviet intervention in Afghanistan is indefensible and has no justification. I condemn Russia’s interference in that part of the world. Having said that, one has to look at what principles are involved in the statement to see whether, in fact, one has a selective approach to matters of international affairs and to see whether we genuinely believe in the principles upon which the United Nations was established and upon which that important world body operates. Of course, they are principles about which there can be no disagreement by any rightminded person. They are principles concerning self-determination, human rights, the rights of nations- self-independence and national independence- and the recognition of the principles of non-interference. But when we re-state some of those fundamental principles of the United Nations and apply them to Afghanistan we have to do so on a consistent basis. That is where the members of the Liberal Party and the conservatives in this country- whether they be in the Parliament, the community or the media- find themselves lacking in principle. They talk with a great deal of hypocrisy and double standards.
We have only to look at the country of Afghanistan, which Senator Sim acknowledged has been a cockpit of struggle between major powers virtually since its inception in modern history and since its establishment as a state, to see that for most of the nineteenth century and the twentieth century that country has been the scene of imperialist and imperial designs by major powers. The British made an excursion into that area almost 150 years ago and they have continually interfered in the internal affairs of that country. I condemn that interference equally as I condemn the attempts of the Czar in the latter years of the nineteenth century to have a sphere of influence in Afghanistan. If we are to establish principles with respect to this very complex problem of Afghanistan, we cannot stand aside from the interference in the internal affairs of many countries, which has become so pronounced not only recently but also over many years, in circumstances which make this Government be seen and described as a government that has double standards in relation to foreign affairs. All major powers without exception have breached the rules with respect to the fundamental and foundation principles of the United Nations. It has been a feature of history that powers which have slightly more influence, more mobility, more greed or more skills have utilised those faculties for the purpose of intervening and interfering in other countries. Ever since man has been mobile he has roamed Europe seeking to conquer countries. Ever since man was able to move around in boats he has done so for the purpose of establishing, firstly, the right to control another country and to establish economic penetration of that country and, subsequently, political penetration and domination of a country.
I find it incongruous and hypocritical for this Government and most of its speakers to suggest that what the Russians have done in Afghanistan, as at this point in time, has never happened previously in world history, and that as it is claimed that it has not happened even in recent years it therefore needs to stand condemned. We know that similar situations have arisen with respect to the major countries of the world. We do not have to go back very far in history to appreciate that the Germans established empires in the nineteenth century, that they established enclaves even in the Asian region and in the African continent. The Spanish have conquered parts of Latin America. The British established empires all over the globe. Even our presence in Australia is as a result of somebody wanting a country to belong to somebody else. That caused the establishment of our own country. We have seen the principle develop that countries are entitled to have spheres of influence. This happened in China. Even within the mainland of that country, which was under some form of indigenous influence, secret concessions were nevertheless established by foreign countries. So, the principle of establishing spheres of influence has been synonymous with the development of history.
The Americans have taken the view that they are entitled to do what needs to be done to maintain a stable atmosphere in Latin America. That has led America into conflict from time to time with a friendly neighbour such as Canada, where economic penetration has created a wave of nationalism. This has led America to establish processes of continual interference in the Latin American countries, be they Guatemala, Chile, Jamaica or Argentina. Mexico is a case in point where America established influences which denied the fundamental principles of the rights of man. Having seen that as a part of the historical development of the world, America has said: Well, that is our part of the world; keep out’. When popular revolutions and developments took place in countries such as Chile and Cuba we saw the conflicts that developed in those regions. We have seen the consistent interference by the United States of America in the internal affairs of all Latin American countries. The degree of the penetration and overthrow of legitimate governments in countries such as Chile by the overt forces of the United States, whether they be economic forces or forces of the Central Intelligence Agency, is on the Congressional record and on the records of the United States Senate. Having established that as a motivating force, as a principle, we found counter-balance developments in other parts of the world. So the Russians thought that if it was good enough for this to happen in other parts of the world it was good enough for them to establish friendly countries around its border. If spheres of influence are correct, the Russians are justified in having friendly governments around their borders for the same reasons that the Americans have justified having spheres of influence, friendly countries, around their borders.
It is strange that Australia remains silent on these matters. It is strange that we do not take an attitude of principal on these matters and that we jump up and down when one country seeks to apply that principle to its region, a principle which it has seen adopted by other countries over many, many years. It was the same reason which was America’s justification for its invasion of Korea and Vietnam. Of course, it was the justification used by the Indonesians in East Timor. They said that they did not want a small, independent, destabilised government in Timor. That caused Indonesia to invade a small, defenceless and backward country in December 1975. The Indonesians felt they were entitled to make that decision because they considered that the region was a sphere of influence. What did this Government do about it? What did it do about Vietnam? What has it done about all the other changes we have seen dramatically come about as a result of either quiet penetration, overt penetration or actual assassination and removal from office of those people who were the elected representatives? It is on the public record that
Mossadegh, who was the Prime Minister of Iran back in 1955- Senator Wheeldon reminded the Senate of this fact- was removed as a result of intervention by people acting on behalf of the United States of America. The Shah was put on the throne. That sort of intervention and inference has brought about the tragic circumstances of more recent times and the conflict between the people and the new government of Iran and the United States of America.
If we study the history of south-west Asia, the history of the whole Middle East, and look at the political situation in Turkey and Iran and most of the Arab countries, we see that it was not the influence of countries such as Russia that was predominant but rather the influence of the countries of the West. The Western powers were interested in economic and political domination of that part of the world. Of course Mr Fraser has been trying to do a Menzies and turn back the clock to 20-odd years ago when Mr Menzies left this country and went on a tour to tell the countries of the Middle East region what they should do about the Suez crisis. We know how he fell on his face trying to be a world statesman. As a statesman and a Prime Minister who claims to have some world stature, Mr Fraser would be last in the queue when compared with Sir Robert Menzies. Mr Menzies completely miscalculated in his endeavours to get himself on the world stage in respect of the Suez crisis in the late 1 950s. He made a mess of his interference. I refer to Alan Watt’s publication ‘The Evolution of Australia’s Foreign Policy from 1938 to 1965’. Probably nobody would disagree that he is one of the most eminent historians and foreign affairs officers that this country has produced. His evaluation, and I submit it is a correct evaluation, of what took place in that period when Mr Menzies was on the world stage states:
Australian historians of the future may well see in Menzies’ unswerving support for British policy on this occasion the most serious misjudgment of Australian postwar foreign policy- a mistake which made far more difficult the necessary adjustment of Australian policy to the changed position of Asian countries, in the shadow of which Australia, but not the United Kingdom, must inevitably continue to live.
Menzies ‘ speeches and comments on the Suez Canal issue make painful reading today. As late as 8 July 1957 the Prime Minister roundly declared that he was ‘utterly unrepentant about anything that was done or said over this great issue on our side’.
What did that really lead to? It led to the Nasser regime, the Nasser Government, and to the subsequent establishment of relationships with the Prime Minister of Egypt with whom we have now the friendliest and closest relationship. It led to that country playing a significant part in establishing friendly and correct relationships with the state of Israel. But this would not have happened if we had followed the advice that Mr Menzies postured in 1956 and 1957. Now Mr Fraser takes it upon himself to disown the statement he made before Parliament went into recess that he would concentrate in the next few months on the domestic issues in Australia, which everyone concedes are in an utter mess. Instead, he undertook a globe-trotting exercise. This man has not put into effect any of the basic policies for which he was elected in 1975. He broke the rules of proper conduct over his attitude and behaviour in 1 975 not only in challenging and removing his leader from office, but also in conspiring with the Governor-General to bring about a dramatic change in political events in this country. This man sets out on a trip in which he tries to upgrade his own standing- I suppose in that sense, Australia’s standing- over what is a very complex international issue. Fortunately, some Government senators in this place have seen fit to have some misgivings about the belligerent, hypocritical and war-mongering attitude that has been taken by the Prime Minister. He ignores the historical situation in Afghanistan, the fact that the country has been torn asunder by big powers and that it is a very important country from the Soviet Union ‘s point of view. He ignores the advice of his own foreign affairs officials.
The Prime Minister ignores the fact that Afghanistan was feudal and monarchial and deserved to have a change of government. Afghanistan needed change to bring about an improvement in the conditions of its people. Only 10 per cent of the people could read and write. There was no basic literacy, education or public health. The rights of women were at least 100 years behind the rest of the world. There was no transportation system. The country was a backwater compared with most of the rest of the world. The people lived under a feudal system of about 15,000 small villages with small numbers of people. The country was divided on ethnic grounds, provincial grounds and geographical grounds. It needed to be brought into the 20th century. Afghanistan had to rely almost entirely upon foreign loans in order to survive. It had to have economic aid not only from the USSR but also from the United States, the United Kingdom and even from India. It could not survive on its own resources. The country needed some assistance to be brought together for the purpose of evolving a modern state and enabling it to participate in all of the improvements of living that Western and Eastern civilisations can provide.
The uprising that changed the government in 1 975 was popular and had the support of whoever were actively interested in politics or national affairs in that country, whether it be the elite or the people from the villages, the towns or the bureaucracy-those people who had any understanding of the way in which a modern society should operate. Of course, what happened is a matter of great regret because after that revolution, Iran- the very country that is now itself subject to an intense political struggle for power- egged on by the United States of America, began to destabilise the political situation in Afghanistan. The Savak officials, who are now on the run in Iran, were the very people who worked inside the armed forces of Afghanistan to change the political orientation of the new government.
All the facts will come out as a result of this international commission which will be dealing with the problems in Iran because the people in that country know the extent of American interference in the affairs of Iran, the extent that the secret police officials and the Shah’s forces played in destabilising the new Government that came to power in 1975. The evidence will come out because the people of Iran, the new Government of Iran, whether it be the president or the Ayatollah, will insist, as indeed will the student movement and the other mass movements in that country, that all the facts about American intervention and interference in Iran ‘s affairs be revealed for international observation. As sure as day follows night, the threads will show that that same force was actively involved in the neighbouring country of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has been under the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union since the establishment of that country. Even the king, who was overthrown in 1 975, and his precedessor in 1 929 were regarded within that neutral and boundary area -
– They were hated.
– They were regarded as being part of the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union. Of course Senator Walters does not want to look at these things objectively. If Senator Walters applies her mind to what I am saying she will understand that I am opposed to any country having a sphere of influence over another country. I am opposed to the Soviet Union having a sphere of influence beyond its borders. I am opposed to the Chinese trying to establish a sphere of influence in Kampuchea. I am equally opposed to attempts to establish a sphere of influence in Latin American countries. I think we have to get back to the principle of the rights of all people to determine their own affairs free from outside interference. We cannot condemn one country without condemning others. Unfortunately all that our Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has done has been to take a one-sided approach to this question- a hypocritical approach- and to continue the same sorts of absurdities that characterised him when he was the Minister for Defence and when he was a member of previous conservative governments. Those governments described China as being the main enemy of this country when the war was on in Vietnam. Those governments did nothing to understand the social forces that existed and the changes that were taking place in many countries not only in our own region but also throughout the world. The policies of those conservative governments contributed to the problems of the African countries, including Rhodesia. The problems in Rhodesia are now being worked out. But an examination of the speeches of Mr Fraser and other members of the Liberal-Country Party Government in the period when the questions of apartheid and the rights of self-determination of people in Rhodesia or Namibia were raised will reveal the attitudes of the conservatives in this country on those questions. They did not support those principles. In fact, in retrospect this Government supported the illegal seizure of power by Mr Smith. It did not take a stand against the seizure of power by the Smith Government. It is only in more recent times that the conservatives have seen the error of their ways in respect of what happened on the African continent. I recall when those of us in the Labor movement who took up the cudgels against apartheid were traduced, criticised and condemned for suggesting that there was a case for isolation of the countries on the African continent which were practising the evils of apartheid. When we took up the question of racial discrimination we received little or no support from the Government parties.
The disturbing part of this whole debate about Afghanistan is that we tend to believe that if we isolate the Soviet Union we will in some way bring about some great awakening in the minds of the average Russian person- no evidence is produced to substantiate this claim- that if the Games are boycotted, if nobody goes or only a handful of people go to Moscow, the Russian people will then insist upon more principled policies being followed by their Government. I suggest that is a very simplistic approach. It is an erroneous approach. It is one that does not understand the evolution that is taking placeevolution which sometimes takes the form of a revolution. It does not understand the march of history which sometimes is inexplicable to us because we live in a society which is probably a little more advanced than one that is overthrowing a feudal society. After all many Western countries dealt with that problem three centuries ago. It was a bloody period. People suffered greatly at that time from the forces of feudalism.
Now, three centuries later, we are still being confronted with the problem of eradicating feudalism from the face of this earth. In 1975 Afghanistan took the first step to do just that, but it had to have support and understanding. It got them from the Soviet Union. It did not get them from the West. Aid from Western countries was reduced. We forced Afghanistan more and more into the arms of the Soviet Union, by the smallminded, petty-minded attitude that we took about that revolution, in that because there was a change in political power ipso facto it had to be regarded as being our enemy. We did the same in respect of Vietnam when that country was devastated by one of the greatest war machines in history. Vietnam had fought a civil war for independence for almost 100 years. In recent times it fought for 30 years for independence. It was blasted with napalm bombs, defoliants such as agent orange, and suffered from the effects of chemical-type warfare which this Government and the conservatives in this country supported almost to a man.
At the end of that war when Vietnam, having signed with America a treaty of agreement to end the war and to establish relationships with it, asked the United States to honour the commitment that country had made when it signed the agreement, a commitment to provide aid for the reconstruction of the country, what did we do? I recall taking a deputation of Vietnamese officials to our own Foreign Minister over two years ago to request that the Australian Government use its endeavours to get the United States to honour its economic commitment on the reconstruction of Vietnam. What did this Government do? It did very little that was concrete and purposeful. What did we do? We drove Vietnam into the hands of the Soviet Union. We forced Vietnam to conclude economic agreements in order that it could survive as a nation after having been devastated by many years of murderous war.
Exactly the same thing happened in respect of Afghanistan after the 1 975 revolution, the coup that took place among the articulate and organised sections of the Afghanistan people.
We have forced it to become more and more dependent on the Soviet Union. Having put it in that absolutely dependent position, the Government was obliged or it may have done it quite willingly; who is to know?- to sign treaties of friendship and co-operation which gave the legal means by which the Soviet Union could be asked to send in troops, given the destabilised political situation which had developed in that country.
I go back to the isolation of the Soviet Union and the boycott of the Olympic Games. I think we are making one of the most grievous mistakes we could possibly make. We do not understand the social forces which exist in countries which have made dramatic changes to their social systems. It is a mistake which I think we will live to regret. It is a miscalculation of the Russian psychology. I quote from a Broadband debate on Afghanistan which took place. It expresses what I wish to say; perhaps it expresses it a little better than I would. Certainly, I endorse what was said, which includes the following:
People think that if the Russians have to queue for bread, or if they have to turn down their heating then they are going to kick out the Communist Government and they are going to turn against Brezhnev. That ‘s not the way Russian society works, there’s a lot of grumbling in Russia and a lot of inefficiency and complaints, but when the foreign countries turn the screws on Russia, there is a patriotic response and Brezhnev is quite right -
He wants to survive- to touch this note in his major Pravda interview he said we survived the allied invasion after the Revolution -
Did that not happen? Did the allied powers not invade Russia after the 1917 Revolution and did they not cause tremendous devastation? Did they not back the wrong side, the White Guards as it turned out to be? Brezhnev was reported to have gone on to say:
The journalist then said:
And the Russian I met the other day put it to me like this, and I was convinced by what he said, although I was aware it could just be propaganda, he said: In Russia people don’t like mixing sport and politics. When the Russians pulled out of the World Cup in 1973 because they wouldn’t play against Chile, this was very unpopular in Russia.
Honourable senators will remember that in 1 973 the Allende Government, which was a leftleaning government, was overthrown. So the Russians decided that they would not allow the match to go on between Chile and the Soviet Union. The report went on to state that Russian people said:
So it went on. What that journalist was really saying was that we have no understanding of the thought processes of the Russian people, that we will not bring about a change in the Government’s attitude by isolating them. Will any Government senator claim that the isolation of the People’s Republic of China from the United Nations from 1949 to about 1971 or 1972 was a profitable or sensible exercise, that it contributed towards peace and international understanding, that it in any way contributed towards the wellbeing of the Chinese people, or that it in any way contributed to a lessening of international tension? In fact, it did quite the reverse. That isolation exacerbated the holding of sentiments within that country which would have been difficult for us to understand if in fact the war in Korea had not ended in the way in which it did and it had led to a world confrontation.
Unfortunately, one has to say of our Prime Minister that he has no political nous about international affairs, that he has no political understanding about the events and the evolution of events that are taking place in the world and the struggle of people, wherever they are whoever they are, to have the right to determine their affairs. There is no power on earth that can stop people ultimately determining the form of government they want or having the form of society they want. If little Vietnam could achieve that against the American holocaust- the American war machine- there is no doubt what will happen to the people in Afghanistan, even though they probably will be upset and are upset about the current state of affairs.
If any attempt at outside intervention is made by Pakistan, or the People ‘s Republic of China, or the United States, we will be back to having another Vietnam in a different part of the world. That is not what is desirable and it is not what our foreign affairs experts advise this Government that we ought to be about. It is not in the best interests of the Australian people that this Government should act in the way in which it is acting and for sections of the Australian media to be hysterical about this issue as though it were the first time such an event had occurred in world history. It will not contribute anything towards a proper normalisation of relationships between countries.
As I said, I think the Russians have made a serious miscalculation. I think they have created more problems for themselves than they calculated. I am sure that they regret the steps they have taken, despite their treaty commitments. The Russians in fact have done a great deal of harm to their own cause, their own philosophies, their own objectives. They have strengthened the conservative influence on a world scale. They have strengthened the rightist trends- in world affairs temporarily and, of course, they have sealed the fate of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty negotiations of the United States. They have put a temporary stop to the movement towards detente. I agree with Senator Knight that that is an important objective of all governments, whatever their political persuasion, whatever their economic interest may otherwise dictate. It is an objective that all right-minded people would subscribe to. The Socialist International Party, with which my party is associated, has made a number of pronouncements. Mr Deputy President, I seek leave of the Senate to incorporate in Hansard a statement on international affairs issued by a conference of that Party which to some extent takes into consideration all matters about detente and Afghanistan.
The document read as follows-
Socialist International party leaders ‘conference, Vienna, 5-6 February 1980
Statement, 6 Feb 1980
The evolution of international relations at the beginning of a new decade gives rise to great concern. A disposition for confrontation has displaced the will for peaceful cooperation in spheres of decisive importance. The policy of detente between the big powers and in Europe is in danger. A further acceleration of the arms race is coming about. North-south relations are subject to increasing strains.
The Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan has violated international law, as well as the sovereignty and right of self-determination of that country.
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, although this process is restricted mainly to Europe and the world powers. It is in the interest not only of one side but to the benefit of all concerned that the tensions between east and west be reduced and that cooperation be extended.
This progress of detente has gradually deteriorated. This has clearly been demonstrated by the new developments in the field of medium-range nuclear weapons.
The negative development has been made more serious by the fact that the Salt II (two) treaty has not yet been ratified by the United States.
The achievements of detente must not be jeopardised. A return to the cold war would bring the world to the verge of a disaster.
It appears that the world is in danger of arming itself to death. It is indispensable that concentrated efforts are made to limit intercontinental as well as medium-range nuclear weapons in quantity and quality so as to achieve an equilibrium on a lower level.
If the means adopted in the past prove no longer to be a subject of fruitful negotiation new approaches must be considered as quickly as possible. In this connection, commitments entered into in the past must be strictly honoured.
Events in Asia are a further urgent reminder that the relationship between north and south should finally be put on a new basis. The destiny of the third world should no longer be determined by the strategic considerations of power politics of the super powers or of the blocks, but be based upon the concept of a new international economic order.
This concept should inspire all efforts undertaken to prevent the outbreak of new conflicts which could lead to widespread conflagrations. New efforts should be made as regards the Middle East as much as to South-East Asia, Southern Africa or Central America.
The struggle for human rights is waged with great courage and sacrifice in all continents.
In Latin America many democratic socialists have lost their lives in that struggle. In the USSR, the harassment of Andrei Sakharov is a clear example of the constant persecution of those expressing dissenting opinions in communist countries.
The Socialist International is deeply concerned by the dangerous escalation of tension, the intensification of the arms race and of the great power rivalries and the growing resource to force in international relations.
Recent developments have only strengthened the conviction of democratic socialists that there is no alternative to detente. Relaxation of tensions, exchanges of information and views, the peaceful settlement of international disputes and active cooperation are needed so as to prevent the speeding up of the arms race and to guarantee social and economic development worldwide.
It is particularly in times of growing tensions and mounting crises such as the present that contacts are indispensable if mistrust is to be diminished, confusion removed and security created.
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 bc taken advantage of, - that the USSR withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, - that preparations for the second follow-up meeting of the conference on security and cooperation in Europe (Helsinki) 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 HI ( three) as soon as possible.
The Socialist International calls for the release of the hostages in the US Embassy in Teheran and considers that this would be in the best interests of the Iranian people and of international cooperation.
The Socialist International will put increasing emphasis on its contacts with the non-aligned movement.
The Socialist International wants to play an active role in promoting a meaningful dialogue since the future of detente is at stake. Member parties should utilise all their possibilities of contacts in order to promote a policy for the continuation of detente, for the improvements of relations between the United States and the USSR and for the promotion of concrete results in negotiations on arms control and disarmament.
The president and the vice-presidents should evaluate the development of these contacts and consider new initiatives along the lines agreed upon at this conference.
– That statement takes a more moderate view than that which is being taken by the United States and by the Australian Government. It takes a view which has been expressed by the governments of Europe. Decisions may be made by the European Parliament. There may be differences of view about the Russian position on Afghanistan, but subtantially the people of Europe do not want to see any development of tension either in their region or in the South West Asian region. They want to return to the period of detente, of normalisation of relations between contending world powers. They do not want the world to develop on the basis of conflict between the super-powers. They do not want the Americans intervening in their affairs. They do not want the Soviet Union interfering in their affairs. Having been engaged in useless wars twice in a lifetime, they do not want that to happen to them again. That is why the President of France and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany have taken the stand that they have taken. They are refusing to be bludgeoned, pushed, harassed, encouragedwhatever descriptive word one likes to use- to take a position which will widen the conflict between East and West and which will create conditions that will break the harmony that has been a characteristic of the evolution of Europe since that disastrous war from 1939 to 1945. That, of course, is why we take a broader view than this Government has taken over the Afghanistan issue.
We say that Australia is a small power. It ought not be too involved. Australia certainly ought not to support the posturing, Menzies-like attitude that Mr Fraser has taken. He has been travelling around the world talking to world leaders as though his view has greater importance than the views of President Carter. He has been running around as a message boy among the major powers. What an absurd proposition it is that the Australian Prime Minister should go to Carter, go to West Germany, and run back to
Carter with a message. What is wrong with the normal forms of international relationships? Does it mean that our foreign Ministers cannot do this? The next week Mr Vance was in Europe talking to the same people. Our Prime Minister has had an absurd preoccupation on this issue as though it were the only important issue and as though it were, in the terms of the motion, the greatest threat to peace since World War II. That is what was said about Korea and Vietnam. That is what Mr Menzies said about the Suez and Cuba. In fact, every time there has been any international conflict the exaggerated words have poured out of the lips of our Australian conservative Prime Ministers as though they were two bob a dozen.
That sort of attitude will not solve one whit the problem with which we are confronted. The Government is ignoring historical developments and the spheres of influence. It is ignoring the fact that, whilst condemning the invasion of Afghanistan, we have to find a means to reduce the fear which was part of the Russian scene and part of the Chinese scene when countries like America and Australia refused to have relations with them. One had only to go to those countries in past years and speak to people there. When I mention the word ‘fear’ I do not suggest that people were fearful of us to the extent that they were on their knees. I refer to the concern they had about their isolation, about the attitude that was being taken and about the decisions they had taken to determine their own affairs. If we think that big Mr Fraser- little Mr Fraser in world affairs- will in some way or another have any influence upon the thinking processes of the leaders of the Soviet Union, we are gravely mistaken. Unfortunately, we have seen the actions of two men faced with elections and defeat. Carter is likely to lose his pre-selection battle with Senator Edward Kennedy, as the polls indicate. He has taken a very strong principled stand on all the matters to which I have referred about interference by his country in the internal affairs of other countries, whether it be Chile or Vietnam. With the polls showing the Labor Party’s support in this country as being greater than it was in 1969 and 1971-72, Mr Fraser has decided to elevate this issue as the most important one on which to win an election.
It is that hypocrisy which sickens an ever growing number of Australians about the role that our Prime Minister has played in the Afghanistan issue. It has enabled him to put the issue on the front page. This is the man who was elected to take politics off the front page. He wanted to elevate sport to the front page. There is nothing wrong with that but politics is about living. He is the man who has put politics back on the front page with all his posturing throughout various countries. What is he now trying to do? His final death gasp is to try to establish the fact that the Australian Government can direct the sporting bodies of this country, interfere in the way they operate, and try to tell them what they should do in respect of the Olympic Games. The Government is trying to exercise control, influence and direction of our sporting organisations. At the moment this control happens to relate to the Olympic Games. My colleague, Senator McAuliffe, might find that the Prime Minister will have some view about rugby union and rugby league next year, in the unfortunate event that the Australian people return him to power again. This man is paranoid about power, in the way in which he operates and has operated since 1974-75. He is a man who will use any trick to try to get his point of view across. He will involve himself in conspiracies and break the rules in respect of any matter on which he can come out on top. That is what he is trying to do in respect of the Afghanistan issue.
– He wanted to put a boycott on the Montreal Games too, over the New Zealand issue.
– That is right, as Senator McAuliffe reminds us. Mr Fraser has a feeling that he and he alone can make decisions about what should happen in this country. After all, he is only the Prime Minister who was elected to govern for all people. By God, he has certainly learnt how to govern for the few he has around him- largely that group in the big business sector of our country. I am sure that he has picked a loser.
He may have thought he was on an odds-on favourite with the Olympic Games issue. He thought he would get away with it. He hoped to continue the momentum that he built up over Afghanistan. He continued to intimidate and humiliate Australian sportsmen to try to force that section of the Australian people to carry the main burden of his attitude- not the attitude of the Parliament or of the Australian people, but his attitude- in respect of the Olympic Games. What is the position? On every occasion on which a poll has been taken if it has not shown the Australian people to be evenly divided, it has shown that the majority of people are not in favour of a boycott of the Olympic Games. The Prime Minister’s counterpart in the United States, President Carter, who is as much out the window as any man would ever have been, even in respect of his own party, is still trying to stand over the sportsmen in his own country. While this was happening, what came out of the meeting of the International Olympic Federation? A unanimous decision was taken. The representatives from Australia, America, West Germany, Franceevery country in the Olympic Federation- voted unanimously to proceed to send their athletes to Moscow.
– David McKenzie will have a lot to tell the Prime Minister when he returns to Australia.
– Because of my association with the sporting fraternity I know that the Australian Olympic Federation decided to forward Mr Fraser ‘s view to the world body. It did not endorse it even though attempts were made by the Liberal Party to suggest that by sending Mr Fraser ‘s view to the International Olympic Federation it represented the Australian view. It did not. It represented Mr Fraser’s point of view. It did not represent Australian public opinion. What does the Prime Minister do? He pontificates every time he appears on television, radio and in the newspapers. He says that we are against holding the Games in Moscow because of what has happened in Afghanistan. He claims to speak on behalf of the Australian people. He no more speaks on behalf of the Australian people about the Olympic Games than he does when he talks about reducing interest rates, reducing the rate of unemployment, reducing deficits or reducing anything else. These promises were part of his spiel when, unfortunately, he grabbed power in 1975. The Australian people are starting to see through the hypocrisy of this man and this Government over the Afghanistan issue. They are starting to discern that there is a difference of opinion between Mr Peacock and Mr Fraser on the question of the attitude we should take on this matter. There is certainly a difference of opinion between Mr Fraser and his advisers. I would be the very last to suggest that governments have to accept the advice of their advisers, but it was Mr Fraser and his Government that caused a reduction in real terms in our defence expenditure when they came into office. There was a dramatic decrease in the amount of money allocated for defence.
The Government was saying only a year or two ago that we could live for 10 or 15 years without any threat to the security of this country. We all know that if there is to be another war it will be fought not by men and womenPresident Carter suggested that we ought to have women fighting in the front line; that is how paranoid he is- but it will be fought with sophisticated and highly complex weapons that will require the highest forms of skill in the operators. Heavens above, if modern technology warfare continues at the rate it has over the last 10 or 12 years, we will require soldiers to be university graduates, not ordinary citizens, to be able to use the weapons. We could not even buy on the international market in less than five years the weaponry, warships and planes we would want to put us in some state of preparedness for the war which it is alleged will result from the deterioration in international affairs.
The amendment the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) has proposed for the consideration of the Senate would have us believe that we face the greatest threat since World War II. It smacks of hypocrisy and it does not deserve the support of the Australian people. It certainly does not deserve the support of this Parliament. That is why we would urge the deletion of words from the amendment and why we would take a more positive position, as is suggested in our amendments, calling for detente, SALT agreements and an understanding of what is happening in the many and varied problem areas that exist on the earth. To that extent we would hope that some Government senators, as indeed Senator Sim and Senator Knight have, will show a little more enlightenment and understanding of the sorts of problems we are dealing with in the modern world and not return to the old communist can-kicking which had been characteristic of Liberal and Country Party politics since the end of World War II.
– The Afghanistan debate has been going on for some time both in this Parliament and in the community. I suppose that while the unfortunate events that are now taking place within that country continue the debate will continue also. Therefore it is important that the Parliament devote some time and attention to a general discussion and a debate on the issue, not only looking at the events but also looking at the Australian assessment of the events and the Australian response. We should endeavour to look intelligently at the whole situation, recognising its deep complexity and the many factors arising out of the wide diversity of historical facts that have beset this country in this part of the world over many centuries.
In the opening week of this session of Parliament Senator Carrick on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), put down a statement in the Senate on Afghanistan. The very name Afghanistan involves several considerations at the moment. It involves consideration of the Soviet invasion of a territory, the world wide expression of opinion and call for action, particularly the call for action concerning the forthcoming Olympic Games in Moscow. It involves Australia’s assessment, its response and its call for Australian community interest in the matter. So the form of words of the heading of the Prime Minister’s speech to Parliament is the very essence of the debate.
The situation in Afghanistan is a very serious one. The Prime Minister’s movements to the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany and France I think, contrary to what other people have said, were of considerable importance both to Australia and to the total situation. The situation has changed since he carried out those visits. The situation is changing today. Whilst it may be agreed that in looking at these changes we should preserve some flexibility of assessment, it is also very important that there should be expression of strong conviction. When the Prime Minister was speaking to his electorate he said: the invasion presented a sharp challenge not only to the United States but further that it was having a profoundly destabilising effect extending far beyond Afghanistan and its immediate neighbours.
It is important that we all have a clear idea of the implications of Soviet action in this area. When I say that I mean that we should give a fair amount of clear thinking to the idea of the implication of Soviet action in the area and we should be alert to possible next moves by the Soviet Union. As it stands now, large Soviet forces have invaded a small, non-aligned, independent country. It is significant to remember that the action taken against Afghanistan is similar to that taken against Hungary and Czechoslovakia in earlier years. None of us here forget the Baltic states situation which commenced as far back as World War II and which regrettably is still very much in existence.
On this occasion the Soviet Union has moved outside the Warsaw Pact group of countries, outside the Iron Curtain bloc, and this carries new implications for other countries, particularly bordering nations such as Iran and Pakistan. We all know that those countries are not without their problems already. They have every reason to fear for their security. The next Soviet objective could well be designed to give access to the Persian Gulf or the Arabian Sea. It does not take much speculation to see that with that sort of access the Soviet Union could assert control over much of the world ‘s oil supplies and a new dominance in the Indian Ocean.
The present crisis has all of the ingredients of those earlier examples to which I have referred. I think it is proper to point out that it has two additional features. As I have just mentioned, it has all the ingredients of threatening the world’s supply of oil. Oil of course is the lifeblood of modern society. It occurs at a time when there has been considerable discussion in relation to nuclear parity. The Soviet Union has achieved nuclear parity and at the same time has been increasing its superiority in conventional arms.
It is important that countries which value their independence and sovereignty and which value world peace should look at these developments quite seriously and make up their minds about the way in which they should respond. We should ask ourselves the question: ‘Do we respond with elements of acquiescence and a recognition with some form of appeasement or do we respond with firmness, resolution and in a sustained way? The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan commenced at the end of last year. Since then it has continued to put men and arms into Afghanistan. There are a considerable number of Russian troops there. We have heard over the weekend of the situation in the capital of Kabul and we have some idea of the suffering that is being experienced. At the moment of conducting this debate there does not seem to me to be any indication that there will be any cessation of hostilities or any withdrawal in the forseeable future. It is in every sense of the word an occupation.
As I have said before and as I say again, and it is important that we do say it again, this is not the first occasion on which the Soviet Union has used armed forces to crush people who are independent and who have not been causing the Soviet Union any particular trouble. I have referred to Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Baltic states. I have referred also to the fact that this invasion marks the first direct and massive use of Russian forces against a non-aligned country. This is a fact which we should take into account. We should ask ourselves what attitude the Russians have to non-aligned countries now and what their next move might be, if one is planned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m
-(Quorum formed). Before the suspension of sitting I had progressed a short way through my contribution to the debate on the Afghanistan crisis. I was in the process of pointing out that this invasion by the Soviet army marked the first direct and massive use of Russian forces against a non-aligned country. That may be a fairly straightforward statement, but it is essential that we recognise that for some 30 years or more the Soviet Union has consistently sought to extend its influence into non-aligned countries or, as we better know the situation, into Third World countries and Third World situations. It has done this by supporting insurrection, by causing the infiltration of existing governments, and by exploiting its own ideological appeal and giving aid. I have moved in some Third World countries and I have found over and over instances of where Soviet aid has been strategically placed to make an ideological appeal.
In the last weeks we have seen the movement of a very powerful land army into one of the world’s most sensitive and strategic areas. As I said before and as others have said, Afghanistan controls the entrance to the Indian sub-continent. In recent years, as we have already observed, its importance has increased immeasurably because of its relationship to the world’s main supply of oil. The Soviet moves into Afghanistan and its operations in that area must have, and do have, the most extraordinary implications for the stability of world order. Whilst that may be true and whilst it may be asserted in international terms that this is what is happening, the major impact of the invasion of Afghanistan is in terms of human life, and the costs have been high. If I read my weekend bulletins correctly, they continue to be high. We still receive reports of the savage murder of women and children and of the savage destruction of life in the villages and towns, and that the whole operation has contributed to the already very grave refugee situation. Already half a million refugees are in the border areas alongside Pakistan, and this figure could increase to one million refugees. Events of the weekend have given further evidence of the savagery of the Soviet occupation and emphasise the possible ultimate danger to the rest of the world.
It is important to say again that the effect of these events is not only in serious international terms but also in grievous human terms that spread far beyond the boundaries of the immediate conflict. As most people will remember, there were situations involving refugees at the end of World War II and for years afterwards. There was a refugee problem relating to the Baltic countries. I saw something of the refugee situation in Berlin shortly after World War II. It has existed in the Middle East and in Africa. Most of these situations- I would go so far as to say nearly all of them- directly or indirectly resulted from communist action or communist influence. It is true that over the years the situation has varied, but in recent times it has worsened and, I regret to say, for the same reasons.
I wish to refer to a document entitled The United Nations in Action, which is a weekly summary published by the United Nations Information Centre for Australia and New Zealand. It draws attention to the crucial refugee situation that now exists in and around the borders of Afghanistan. This issue is dated 15 February, so it is very recent. In a cabled message to Governments around the world, the High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Hartling, has pointed out that the flow of refugees from Afghanistan into Pakistan has increased dramatically and that their number has already reached about half a million, and- I repeat what I said a moment ago- will almost certainly reach a total of a million. In Geneva the High Commissioner has launched an appeal to the international community for increased assistance for Afghanistan refugees this year. Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) has indicated that a cash contribution of $lm to the Afghanistan refugee situation has been made already. This money is required for tents, medicines, clothing and other basic requirements. Mr Peacock has pointed out already that Australia moved quickly to provide humanitarian relief for the refugees from Afghanistan. During his visit to the Pakistan area last month he announced an initial gift of 10,000 tonnes of wheat, valued at nearly $2m.
Those references are an intrusion into this situation, but they serve to highlight something of the flow-on of the distress being caused. (Quorum formed). The matter of refugees is not only distressing as we see it but also I draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that refugee situations throughout history have tended to be the forerunners of international events of some calamity with some tragic flow-on. Here, we have the refugee situation in one areaAfghanistan and Pakistan- influencing the position in another.
Honourable senators will recall the circumstances in Indo-China in 1978-79 and the arrival of the boat people in this country. For the first time Australia had a refugee problem on its own shores. To a degree that problem was halted and dealt with, but I think the Senate should be reminded that the very nature of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan is such that the situation has been aggravated, and may well arise again. Australia may find itself in a position where it has to deal with a particularly difficult problem as a result of what is happening in Afghanistan now. One of the direct results for the world, and perhaps an indirect result for Australia, has been the aggravation of the refugee situation. We need to remind ourselves that the Soviet action occurred at a time when most countries of the Western world, and I presume also the Soviet Union, were following through their committal to a policy of detente. In this situation, as I read it, there was no provocation. On the other hand, it came at a time when the United States was tending to show considerable restraint, not only in its general policy but also in its other international relations. I suppose the example of this shows up in its response to the holding of the American hostages in Iran.
We must remember that the crisis needs to be seen not only in the strategic terms which I have endeavoured to relate but also in historical terms. I come back to some points that I made earlier in relation to events that followed the Second World War. We had a period which was known as the Cold War. (Quorum formed). In the Cold War that followed the Second World War there were negotiations between the nations of the West, and negotiations between them and the Soviet Union. The concern of the nations of the West was frustrated, even as these negotiations were going on, by a series of Soviet actions which demanded some sort of response. But so far as detente was concerned, as late as the early 70s the Soviet Union signed with the United States and others an understanding which, as I understand it, related to basic principles which were designed to form a kind of new relationship between the Soviet Union and the rest of the world, in particular the nations of the West, and, I suppose, especially the United States of America. These principles of detente have interested me as I have endeavoured to understand international relations and to speak with people who were victims of various Soviet situations over the years. I suppose it is easy enough to talk about mutual restraint, but when one has been the victim of a situation where there has been no restraint it is very hard for one to have a conviction about restraint. The principles affirm the importance of avoiding a confrontation. That is a valuable principle. Any plan is valuable if it will prevent the exploitation of tension or one gaining an advantage over the other, as is also the renouncing of any special claims or special privileges in any given situation. All of these read well and they are essentially a compromise. I believe that as they were designed they work very well in a complex international situation in which there is considerable aggravation by a country such as the Soviet Union.
I think it would be true to say that the United States interpreted these principles of detente wisely and well. It also interpreted them as having universal application. But I think history will show that the Soviet Union, on the other hand, interpreted them very narrowly and gave real effect to them in only one or two given instances. As such, of course, it has caused a considerable amount of difficulty and a very great number of problems. The variation in the interpretation of detente was such that whilst it worked as it went, it resulted in the sort of situation that it worked where people obeyed the rules but it created grave difficulty when people did not obey the rules. I do not think I am being unfair when I say that over the years the Soviet Union did not obey the rules and the basic principles laid down. So it is clear from the Soviet’s record that its invasion of Afghanistan means that it, the Soviet, used the period of detente and the opportunities provided by detente to become extremely active in military terms and to pursue its interests in the Third World, a point which I would emphasise in relation to earlier comments that I made with regard to the Soviet Union. (Quorum formed).
I have been emphasising the way in which the Soviet Union has used the opportunity of detente and used its relations with the Third World to move into the present situation which is causing so much distress to Afghanistan. That being done, it is not without significance that world reaction has condemned strongly the Soviet action. I turn first to the comment of the British Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, where she said:
The Soviet Government’s actions reveal a brutal disregard for accepted rules of international behaviour . . .
Afghanistan is a symbol and a warning.
I turn to the statement by Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, which reads:
The occupation of Afghanistan very directly affects vital interests of the Third World and the non-aligned States. But the crises concern all members of the family of nations.
Then there is the interesting comment from the Islamic Foreign Ministers’ Conference held at the end of January at Islamabad:
The conference condemned Soviet . . . aggression against Afghanistan and denounced and deplored it as a flagrant violation of international laws . . . lt was a violation of the freedoms of people which could not be ignored.
Member states were called upon to envisage through appropriate bodies not participating in the Olympic Games.
The United Nations General Assembly resolution, which I think is familiar to all honourable senators, said, amongst other things:
Recognising the urgent need for immediate termination of foreign armed intervention in Afghanistan so as to enable its people to determine their own destiny without outside interference or coercion.
I think, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) has reminded us from time to time in answers to questions, there were 104 nations voting for that resolution; 18 were against it and there were 18 abstentions. The Joint Declaration issued by the French President and the German Chancellor on 5 February considered that: . . Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan is unacceptable . . . could have the gravest consequences for the world.
Closer to home, the Foreign Minister of Australia, Mr Peacock, recently returned from a visit to Asia with what he called ‘some very clear impressions’. One of these clear impressions was that there was a general recognition in the area that the resolve must be found. Mr Peacock went on to say that the resolve must be found now to meet what he called Soviet expansionism. Moreover, Mr Peacock said, that there was recognition that this resolve must have the staying power to match the durability of Soviet aims. He said that this conclusion was not based on any wish for conflict; it was based on the belief that political resolve now was the only alternative to armed conflict later. Again Mr Peacock drew attention to what he called the link between Afghanistan and Indo-China. This is another area that I have been pursuing in my remarks. Mr Peacock said that this was symbolised in the most moving terms by the large and growing refugee population which both situations have created in Asia.
When we look at the Australian situation in regard to this matter a number of general responses are evident. One of these is a renewed thinking on the part of the Australian community in relation to the matter of redressing the trend in the military balance. Diverting large sums of money for defence is something which most nations do not welcome, least of all when doing so is bound to increase taxation or demands on the public purse, or even run the risk of serious inflationary pressures. I think it is true to say that as long as the Soviet Union persists in diverting approximately 13 per cent of its gross national product to increasing its already substantial military power maybe we have no real choice in the matter. The main burden in this regard must fall on the great powers and in particular on the
United States of America. I think honourable senators will recall that President Carter has already announced a series of measures which will strengthen the armed services of the United States of America.
As in all international situations of some gravity, the great powers are entitled to look for support. They look for support in measures taken in other countries which value their independence, such as Australia and in other developed countries which might reasonably be expected to take some significant part in any world situation which might develop. I think we should all be warned that this aspect of the Afghanistan position is such that, unless we see a change in Soviet behaviour, the main problem areas in this decade will not be so much those in the European theatre, as has been the case at other times and in other circumstances, but in those areas of the Third World about which we have been speaking.
It seems to me that in the past wars, conflicts or international situations of tension have started either in Europe or between great or substantial powers. As honourable senators know, lines have been drawn in Europe which make it a fairly tight community. Today we have a danger zone. Wars could start in undefined areas of the Third World and, before we know where we are, could draw in the rest of the world. I make this point with some emphasis. (Quorum formed).
I just made the point that one of the major dangers existing as a result of this international situation is that wars, conflicts or tensions could start not so much between major powers or even middle powers but in the undefined areas of the Third World. Before we know where we are the rest of the world could be drawn in. Bearing in mind this intrusion of the Soviet Union into the areas of the Third World and its aggression in Afghanistan, it is very important that countries such as Australia formulate strong, positive and coherent policies in relation to the Third World. In recent years the Australian Government has placed particular emphasis on its relationship with the Third World. This is not an easy policy to initiate or to carry through. But the Australian Government’s actions in recent years in relation to trading programs, aid programs and other matters concerned with our relationship with the Third World countries- Australia is placed in a part of the world where there are a substantial number of Third World countries- have shown that we have placed emphasis on the formation of positive and coherent policies in relation to Third World countries.
The Third World countries have very many problems, not the least of which is their political structures. They are subject to challenge from within and challenge from without. Their political problems are, of course, their own business to a certain extent but I think that in an international situation of some seriousness such as that which we are discussing tonight it is important that Australia take whatever opportunity it can to assist in any area, whether it be in relation to their political structure or in the area of trade and aid programs. At the same time we must take heed not only of their needs but also of the warning which the Soviet aggression into a Third World area places for us.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan- that part of southern Asia- has happened at a time when, in another part of southern Asia, Vietnam is consolidating its control over Kampuchea. In that exercise it has the active and massive support of the Soviet Union. Mr Peacock, in his tour of the Association of South East Asian Nations, recognised the implications that one situation has for the other. On his return he made a statement concerning the formation of some resolve in the area. These implications, as well as the extreme gravity of the crisis in world terms, have determined, will determine, and are determining Australia’s response. We are aware of our particular areas of power; we are aware of our limits of influence. On the other hand I applaud the action which the Government has taken because it would have been irresponsible for Australia not to have taken some action at the time. The Government has taken a number of decisions, and these have been explained to the Senate. Their purpose is to ensure that Australia’s attitude towards the Soviet action is made known with absolute clarity and with absolute effectiveness.
In this complex situation, with its mixture of races, religions, history and geography, we express our grave concern and look for remedies. We should either leave the situation as a business-as-usual position or we should respond as an alert and prepared community. A nation that responds in a prepared and alert way becomes strong in its international relations and is in the best position to influence international opinion. It could be detente; it could be disengagement, but a proclamation of principles must be made and the lessons of history must be learned.
– We on this side of the chamber and all reasonable minded, thinking people, irrespective of their political persuasion, would have to condemn intervention of one country in another. It is not only morally wrong but also unjust. The wrongs of the world can never be solved by one country invading another. I condemn Russia most certainly for its intervention in Afghanistan. For many years Afghanistan has had a reasonably good relationship with Russia. This relationship goes back to 1922 when a treaty of friendship was agreed between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Afghanistan. As late as December 1978, a treaty of friendship was adopted between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Afghanistan. The Russians also sent troops into Afghanistan. These troops were invited there by President Amin, much to his regret, I imagine, as he was consequently murdered.
Looking at the world situation, I believe one can see that super-powers have invaded other countries and intruded into other countries’ affairs for quite a number of years. I do not mean that Russia alone has been doing this. Russia and the United States of America for some years now- since those two great powers have been recognised as super-powers- have been interfering in the affairs of Middle East and Third World countries. Many people have been slaughtered. Great disruption has occurred. The adversities of war and invasion have been.suffered by many people. The first invasion by Russia that we all probably remember was Hungary. Russia also invaded Yugoslavia, the Baltic countries, Eastern European countries and Poland. Invasion has been the answer to any country that has dared to say that it would like to manage its own affairs and to have its own type of socialism. Russia has intruded into many countries in such circumstances. Many people have died in Hungary and in other places simply because Russia would most certainly not allow people to think for themselves or to have control over their own destinies.
All peoples of the world, irrespective of their close neighbours, have different ideas and want to manage their own affairs in their own ways. Unfortunately, because of the attitude of superpowers, many people in the world have not been able to do this. American intervention is no better than Russian intervention. America interfered first in Vietnam. It interfered in Chile. It has influenced many governments, as have the Russians. Great upsets have occurred in the world because of intervention by super-powers. Because of American intervention in a civil war, the Vietnam conflict is not finished today. America, Australia or many of the other Western countries that intervened in Vietnam should not have intervened. It was a civil war that could have been solved quickly. I believe that as a result of intervention many of the Vietnamese people were forced into a situation of allying themselves with Russia.
Today already 3.5 million people have been butchered in Kampuchea. Another one million refugees are on the border between Thailand and Kampuchea. I believe that those million refugees will die. Half of them will die of starvation and disease and the rest, I believe, will be slaughtered if they attempt to go into Thailand. Probably, if they go into Thailand, they will be driven back and the Vietnamese will finish them off. I do not believe that anything can save these people. This situation is the direct result of intervention by super-powers. I do not believe that any country has the right to do that. As I said, Middle World and Third World countries have a great deal to fear from super-powers. I believe that the super-powers will never fight each other because they have the capacity to destroy each other. But they have the capacity to destroy many other nations. Looking at the track record of both of these powers, I believe that all countries, including Australia, should look very, very closely at what is going on the world affairs today. Neither of these super-powers will stop at the destruction of any country if it is in its interest or it feels it is in its interest to do so.
We say that we rely on the support of the United States. I believe that if it was in America ‘s interest to uplift the Japanese to see that they had sufficient fuels and material supplies, America would sacrifice this country without hesitation, the same as the Russians have sacrificed and would sacrifice many of the Eastern countries. I do not believe that there is very much difference between Australia and an Eastern country. I think that such a situation can be a flashpoint; a grave danger to any country that believes or thinks it has the support of either of these superpowers. It is very dangerous indeed. I am alarmed at the lack of defences in this country and I am alarmed that we have to rely on America or some other power. It is not good enough to do this and it is a very dangerous situation to be in. Billions of dollars have been spent over the years on Australian defence. I believe that Australia’s defence is nowhere near adequate. I do not believe that we could stop a tribe of island people armed with bows and arrows from coming to Australia in dug-out canoes. I believe that this situation is a disgrace. I also do not believe that we can rely entirely on the ANZUS Pact. Under certain circumstances, I am certain that America would not defend this nation. I think that is a matter that we should severely and carefully look at.
Much has been said about what we should and should not do and whether we should stop exports of grain and different commodities to the Soviet Union. I believe that one of the most effective ways to stop aggression- and I oppose all aggesssion from any quarter- is for the people themselves to rise up and protest. The only way that people can do that is by peaceful demonstrations. I fought on the Vietnam issue. I opposed that not solely because it resulted from America and Australia interfering in another country’s political activities. I believe that it was morally wrong for any country to do that. It is absolutely wrong for countries to intervene, to cross borders and to use unrest as an excuse to invade another country. The Vietnam war was not stopped with bullets. It could not be stopped with bullets. It was stopped because millions of people throughout the world stood up and said that it was morally wrong and unjust. People eventually did listen; the war was stopped because of the protests of the people. I believe that we should not be ceasing our grain or wool exports or anything else. I believe that we should not be stopping the athletes from going to Moscow. In my opinion that is not the action we should take. The rest of the world should fear both super-powers. I hope that one day the middle nations and the Third World nations will speak out and that their people will demonstrate in the same say as demonstrators marched on the streets over Vietnam.
In the early days of the opposition to Vietnam 1 marched in a rally in Adelaide. There were only 50 of us. People hissed and spat at us. I believe that what I did was correct. Even members of my own party doubted the wisdom of my intentions at that time, but I and many others were proved right. We saw the Vietnam issue as a terrible wrong. I saw the danger then of super-powers exerting their power over the rights of smaller nations. I could not ever accept that. I would have to object. Eventually when the true story was told, not only Adelaide but also Melbourne and other capital cities in major countries condemned what was going on. I believe that intervention by any power should be condemned and that people should march peacefully. We should never go along with the violence that the superpowers perpetrate on other people. Vietnam is a lesson we should never forget.
Mr Fraser, the Prime Minister, has been running all over the world. First he went to America, then to England and then to Europe. I do not believe that these visits were necessary. I believe he portrayed himself as a lap dog. He was running around trying to be friendly to this one and to that one. I do not believe that that attitude helps anyone. Mr Carter, the American President, and Mr Fraser are faced with an election year. I believe that both politicians are using the Afghanistan situation for their own political ends. I do not think that it is worthy of anyone to do so. I believe that the people should be outspoken. I am very disappointed that this Government did not think about having or even offer to have some talks with the Opposition. There should have been a united front on the Afghanistan issue. I cannot stress that more strongly. I believe that if there were a genuine feeling to overcome these problems- there should be sincere and genuine approaches to overcome intervention in any country- an approach should have been made to the Opposition and a united front presented. Such an approach should have been and could have been achieved.
We should not be making political mileage out of somebody else’s suffering. This has happened time and time again. I do not believe that it is good enough. We have to be sincere in our foreign policy. If we condemn the Russians for going into Afghanistan we should be prepared to condemn anyone who intrudes into another country’s affairs, especially when violent force is used and people are murdered and butchered. What amazes me is that we very conveniently forget many things. Much has been said. We have heard about the intervention in Timor. The Timorese helped our soldiers in the past. I believe that the Timorese should be given more help than they have been given. Many other speakers have mentioned these things.
One matter that has not been mentioned is that the Government last year had the audacity to abstain from voting on the United Nations decision on Cyprus. I can understand why such a thing like that occurred. I understand from today’s papers that the Turkish Army is to be armed again. Is the suffering of people in Cyprus any different from or any less than the suffering of people in Afghanistan or Timor? Do some people bleed less? Do bullets hurt less if they are American or Russian? They do not. All people suffer. We should be sincere in the condemnation of intervention by one country in another.
Cyprus had a population of some 600,000 people. The country was invaded in 1974. Some 200,000 people have been displaced from their homes. The Turkish Army now occupies 40 per cent of Cyprus. Suffering in that country is still going on. People are still bleeding. They still suffer the injustice of being thrown out of their homes, farms and businesses. The Turkish Army still controls many of the tourist industries in that country. The livelihood of the people on the island has been taken away.
Australia did not find the time or the decency to vote on Cyprus at the United Nations. We abstained. What a disgrace! Have we learnt nothing from man’s inhumanity to man? Must suffering continue? We condemn one action but not another. I think that that is a terrible attitude. It should never be tolerated in any reasonable society. I believe that unless we are sincere and consistent in our foreign policies we should not hold up our heads and say that we, as Australians, condemn one section and not the rest. Violence is violence wherever it is. I believe that mankind will learn to come together only when people all over the world have compassion and understanding for each other. We should condemn violence wherever it occurs. It is just not good enough for Australian to refrain from voting on an issue or to put itself forward as a great supporter of one section of the community, whether it be the American side or the Russian side. That is no way to carry on.
– How would you have voted on Cyprus? You say not to take sides and then you criticise the Government for abstaining. What would you have done?
– We should condemn that violence. We should not be supplying the Turkish Army with arms as we are doing today.
– It was an invasion.
– It was an invasion?
– They were living in perfect harmony, both of them.
– Turkish people have been living in harmony with the Cypriots for many years. The situation was inflamed so that the Turkish could take over that island. Eventually they will take over the island.
– If you would not take sides and abstain which side would you take in Cyprus?
– We should not take sides but should condemn violence wherever it occurs. It is not right for a government to abstain from voting simply because the Turkish Army is being used by the American forces. It is no use standing up in this place or in any other national forum and condemning one side without condemning the other. The Turkish people in Cyprus were living in harmony with the Greek Cypriots until they were pushed by the Turkish people and feelings of nationalism emerged. One will not get support by condemning one side and not the other. The smaller and middle Third World countries in Asia, I do not believe, are being fooled by Australia’s attitude to the invasion. They are fearful of what is going on in the world. Australia should be showing a lead to the rest of the world by condemning the invasion of one country by another.
Much play has been made on the proposal not to send the Australian Olympic team to Moscow. I believe the Australian team should go. The gathering of sportsmen from all over the world is one way of getting the people together. The pingpong tournaments in China resulted in new consultations between Australia, America and China. I believe a better understanding of the problems of the three countries has been achieved. I believe the sportsmen and sportswomen if they were to go from Australia to Russia for the Olympic Games would be great ambassadors as they have been wherever they have gone. I think we will be the losers if we do not allow our Olympic team to go to Moscow. I have never been to Russia, but if it is as is saidbecause the people there have restricted media they are not aware of what is going on in the outside world- would it not be logical for our sportspeople to go to Moscow and explain their position? Would it not be logical that in meeting sportsmen from all over the world some compromise could be reached with the Russians and some truth could flow through to the Russian people? Of course it is.
I do not agree that Australia should stop exporting wool to Russia. About 530,000 bales of wool went to Russia last year, and this year over 600,000 bales will be exported. Australia is a trading nation. I agree that we should not stop trading. I have never believed in calling a halt to trading. The Government has decided not to make up Russia’s shortfall in wheat because of the American decision to withhold supplies. I think the Australian decision is absolute rubbish. An agent can buy wheat or any grain in this country, place it on a ship and send it to any part of the world. The agent can sell that grain while the ship is at sea. The goods are exported on foreign ships which usually fly a flag of convenience. The ship can be diverted to Russia without Australia’s knowledge. This Government knows that as well as I do. I know for a fact that dealers in wheat and all types of grain have at times sold wheat on the high seas as often as six times and diverted it from one place to another. There is not one Australian ship that takes grain out of this country; not one. Some Australian ships carry general cargo but not bulk grain. We would not know where those foreign ships went. It is hypocritical to say that we will not make up the shortfall due to the American decision to cease exports to Russia. The grain can be bought from agents anywhere and sent to Russia. This Government, as I have said, knows it and is fully aware of it. It is no use hiding behind that sort of nonsense.
A decision was taken by the Australian Government not to send rutile to Russia. We all know what rutile is used for. It is used for the manufacture of jet engines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, the jet engines for and the skin of those rockets. It is ridiculous to say that rutile is a raw material that could not be used for war. It is. We agreed to send these materials. As I said, Australia is a trading nation. I do not disagree with bans. Australia should not be worried whether the importing country has a communist government or any other type of government. We do not have to love the government of the importing country. The philosophy in this country is that we do not have to agree with a certain type of government. However, we should be friendly with that government and we should trade with it. We should be helping many of the underdeveloped countries. We should be helping the refugees in Kampuchea. Some of the wealth from this country should be diverted to that area.
I would like to refer to what Mr Anthony said not so long ago about uranium safeguards. He said that the nuclear safeguard treaties with Iran, South Korea, the Philippines and Finland were a great step forward. He said we should be sending our uranium to those places. In those days Iran was a marvellous country. I wonder what the Government ‘s position would be if we were shipping uranium to Iran now. Is Iran a safe area now to which we can ship our uranium? When that statement was made by Mr Anthony the Shah was a great man. He has been proved to be a thief and a murderer. Most certainly he is. I must say that the people of Iran probably have jumped out of the pan into the fire. I do not believe they will benefit more now than they did when he was in power. What has happened in South Korea? All of a sudden, the President was shot. Is that a safe country to ship uranium to? Is the Philippines a stable country? I do not believe it is. I have been told that the Soviet Union enriches the uranium that goes to Finland. It is said that our foreign policy is very good. I think it is very inconsistent, not only in respect of our dealings with people but also on the sale of our uranium. If it is all right to sell strategic materials to Russia I wonder how long it will be before we send our uranium to Russia. As I said, the uranium that we send to Finland is enriched by Russia. Under those circumstances I do not think we should worry about what we export to Russia. For all we know, Russia may already be taking our uranium.
I go along with the statement of the Socialist International Conference that was held in Vienna. I will not read the whole of it because it has been incorporated in the Hansard in another place. I quote just one section of that statement, which reads:
The Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan has violated international law, as well as the sovereignty and right of self-determination of that country.
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.
I believe that all nations should join in condemning Russia for going into Afghanistan. Russia will find that it is a situation parallel to that which happened in Vietnam. Russia will find it very difficult to withdraw her forces from Afghanistan, although I believe that in the months or years to come she will very much want to do so. In the long term Afghanistan will tie up a lot of Russia’s troops, just as Vietnam tied up a lot of the American troops. The cost not only in materials but also in the suffering caused the Afghanistan people will be as severe as it was in Vietnam. That should be a lesson to anyone. Violence cannot be tolerated in the world and should be condemned.
Whatever we do in the future we should learn to stand on our own two feet. Instead of buying our armaments from overseas we should build them, if we feel that we need them- I believe that we do. We have spent millions of dollars in the United States of America, from which I do not believe we have received very much value. A committee recommended that the shipbuilding industry in this country should be maintained. That recommendation was not accepted. Instead of going to the United States to buy our frigates we should build them in this country. Countries such as Brazil are building much of their defence force requirements and are exporting a lot of what they do not need to Third World countries. We should look very carefully at what armaments we can make successfully and we should make them. We have a high level of unemployment. It is just a waste of money to go outside this country to buy war equipment for our armies. How much of the contract for aircraft, which we probably will sign in the very near future, will go to our industries? I believe that it will be very little.
– Thirty to 40 per cent.
– That remains to be seen. If the FI 1 1 is an example, I do not believe, nor do the industrialists in this country believe, that our industries will have very much involvement with the aircraft which is purchased. Probably it will be the FI 6. 1 do not believe that Australian manufacturers will get very much out of that. That is a disgrace. Are we any less a people than the Swedes, who manage to build their requirements in armaments? Are we any less a people than the Brazilians? I do not believe that that is so. I believe that Australians have a lot of good things going for them. Industries and people should be employed in meeting the defence needs of this nation. We should develop what we need to meet our defence requirements. Probably we will never have all the necessary technology; we may have to go outside this country for that. I do not deny that we may need to purchase some of the necessary technology. We went to Germany to buy our Leopard tanks. Much of that type of armament could have been manufactured in this country. The armaments which are used on the frigates we buy are not manufactured in this country. The shells and other armaments are not procurable in this country so we have to go outside to purchase them. I think that is wrong. We should look sincerely at this matter. I do not go along with the Government in saying that what happened in Afghanistan is the most dangerous event since the Second World War. I do not believe that that is so. That type of intervention has occurred previously throughout the world, unfortunately. I believe that we should do better in our attempts to stop that from happening. We should seek allies other than America in trying to stop intervention because America ‘s hands are as dirty as those of the Russians in these fields. We will have to be more sincere in the future if we are to be listened to.
I will not go on any further, but I make a plea to this Government under no circumstances to try to stop athletes from going to Moscow to attend the Olympic Games. They have trained for a number of years. The cost in time and money has been great for those people. They never again will have an opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and once the opportunity to compete is lost it is gone forever. I believe we most certainly should continue to trade with the Soviet Union. I do not think that ceasing to trade will stop such interventions and I do not believe that we will do any good whatsoever by stopping our athletes from competing in the Moscow Olympic Games.
– The Senate is debating a motion that the Senate take note of a statement put down in this place by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) and two amendments which have been moved to that motion. The honourable senator who preceded me in this debate, Senator Elstob, during his speech demanded that we as a nation, we as a Senate, condemn violence wherever it occurs. That is what this debate is about. This debate is about the Senate condemning violence and condemning aggression wherever it occurs under the circumstances that we have before us today. The honourable senator who preceded me mentioned a tragedy that occurred in Cyprus during the term of the Labor Government that preceded us. I can assure him that those on our side of the Parliament condemned the violence roundly and without equivocation at that time.
The honourable senator made much of the proper role of peaceful marches, peaceful demonstrations, as a means of protest against invasion and aggression by the powerful against the less powerful. He instanced his participation in some such marches in years gone by during the Vietnam issue. Let us for a moment accept the validity of what he says, namely, that these kinds of marches are a legitimate way of expressing one’s abhorrence of what is going on. I ask the honourable senator, through you, Mr Acting Deputy President: Where are the marchers who were out in such force 15 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago? Where are they marching today to demonstrate and to emphasise their concern about what is happening in Afghanistan? They are not to be seen and they will not be seen because a very selective morality is abroad in this nation at the present time. I would be more impressed by the honourable senator’s argument if I saw the same kind of response today now that it is Afghanistan that is being attacked.
The Australian Senate has a record over some time of having been concerned about a number of issues relating to foreign affairs, human rights, civil rights and the hounding of particular individuals. The Parliament has an active group belonging to Amnesty International. The Senate has been the place where many of the petitions for amnesty have been started and promoted and where many debates have taken place. A debate took place in the Senate within the last week about an individual and a group of people- Dr Sakharov and those like him whose civil rights have been abridged. The Senate is the place where, soon after I first became a senator, we expressed our views on the invasion of the Baltic States and the subsequent recognition by the Labor Government of the day of the legality of that takeover. It is proper in these circumstances that the Senate should say something about Afghanistan, express its views and explore some of the issues which are raised.
All the Australian people to whom I have spoken have very genuine worries about the Afghanistan situation. They are worried by any event that they see as reducing stability or increasing threat in the world, particularly if it is carried out in a way which could affect the interests of Australia. The invasion of Afghanistan does both these things. It reduces stability in regions of the world which are important to us and it increases threat and activity in regions in which we operate. During this debate we need to separate fact from electoral rhetoric. I point out to honourable senators opposite, who are so fond of making the point that this year is an election year for Mr Fraser, that we are not unaware of the fact that it is also an election year in which the Australian Labor Party is involved and that it, the party in opposition, is making electoral capital out of what should be an issue of principle. We have to separate fact from the protestations of Soviet apologists. The Young Labor Association in New South Wales, with a motion before it, refused to condemn the invasion of Afghanistan. It is all very well for Labor senators to enter this debate but they will have to explain to us why their own party organs are not themselves condemning what has happened. During this debate we need to separate responsible behaviour from the kinds of responses which we have been getting and which I consider to be cavalier, cheap, flippant and often ill-informed.
I am asked four questions when I go around the community. Firstly, why is the invasion of Afghanistan by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of any importance to Australia? Secondly, what broad international support is there for our position? Are we mavericks out on our own or are we part of some broad response? Thirdly, what is the best course for Australia to be following? Fourthly, why is it important or desirable for Australia to push for the Olympic Games not to be held in Moscow? Let us take the questions in order. Why is the invasion of Afghanistan by the USSR a matter of importance to Australia? We understand that Soviet policy is and always has been expansionist. The Soviet Union is an evangelical, proselytising country. It is not evangelical in the religious sense but in the sense of advancing its own political philosophy wherever it can. In Afghanistan we have seen a pro-Marxist regime in existence. We have seen the Soviet Union determine, in line with its own philosophy, that it will not lose anything which it has gained and that it will use force if necessary to maintain its. hold over a country.
In Afghanistan there is a Marxist regime. When the internal stability of that regime was threatened, the Soviet Union did not hesitate to march in with its troops to ensure that, whatever movement was going to replace it, whether it was part of the pan-Islamic movement or any other movement, it did not occur. If it had, the Soviet Union would have lost something it had gained over the last few years. The issue is one which has ideological and philosophical aspects to it while, at the same time, it is a matter of territory and Soviet expansion, country by country. Why are we in Australia so concerned about Marxist ideology? It is mainly because it is wrong. The several tenets on which Marxist ideology rests are wrong. We know that the dozen countries in the world with the highest standards of living, affluence and the greatest achievement are all liberal democracies. None of them is a country which follows Marxist ideology. This is not so because democracy follows affluence. It is not that affluent countries can afford to be democratic. It is the reverse. The existence of a liberal democracy is an absolute requisite for the kind of progress we seek and for the kind of society which we value. It is an absolute requisite for the development of the enterprise which we believe drives our society on to better standards for everybody.
The institutions of democracy which we value and which Marxists reject shape our state and make possible the things which we have achieved. If one carries out even a brief examination of the countries that are communist Marxist and those which are liberal democracies one will gain some very interesting insights into just how false the Marxist doctrines are. Marxism declares that only fully developed capitalist societies will go communist but that is not borne out by history. Most of the countries that have become Marxist or communist have in fact been poor pre-industrial nations. (Quorum formed).
Marxist theory says that a Marxist state develops because the proletariat becomes poorer and class distinctions increase, but in all of the industrialised countries the working class has become richer and less revolutionary. Marxist theory says that the workers will rise themselves and bring about the emergence of a communist state but in fact almost every Marxist state that has emerged has not been as a result of a rising by the workers, it has not been the result of a popular vote but it has been by force of arms and by takeover by a small, elitist group who could not care less about the proletariat.
Marxist theory says that with the development of industrial society ownership becomes concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. The facts that emerge show that the opposite in fact is occurring. In industrial societies of the kind we have ownership is being possessed by more and more people. So honourable senators can see that the kinds of conditions which exist in the liberal democracies are leading further and further from the conditions which were said to be essential for the development of Marxism and Marxist states. This is the reason why the USSR cannot tolerate losing any territory it holds or any nations that it holds captive to its own ideology. We require time to prove to the doubters in this country that Marxist theory is false, that Marxism in practice according to the books from which it is derived does not occur and that communist theory and ideology do not work because the more people we can demonstrate that to the less likely it is that more states will go that way.
In the time available to me I am not able to develop or extend the analysis made by my colleague, Senator Puplick, but I am attracted to his view that in examining what happened in Afghanistan we should also look very keenly at what is going on inside the USSR at present, especially in the Politburo, because of its own political problems, and to its own particular power groupings. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his statement pointed out that over a decade the Soviet Union has continually been doing its best to make the world less peaceful, to increase belligerence, to increase instability and to increase confrontation. (Quorum formed). I am grateful for the interruption, during which my colleagues have reminded me that Soviet aggression has been going on for longer than the last decade. But I want to refer to what has happened during the last decade.
I remind the Senate that in 1973 it was the USSR that started supplying arms to the Middle East belligerents in a large way, that it was the USSR that moved its surrogates into Angola and destabilised Southern Africa, that it was the USSR that provided arms and instructors in Ethiopia, that it was the USSR that supplied materiel, instructors and weapons in black Africa during much of the turbulence that has occurred there, that it was the USSR that played a major part in destabilising the Yemen and that it is the
USSR which is supplying major support to Vietnam while that nation is actively engaged in aggression against other countries.
While the USSR is able to put $3m a day into supporting Vietnam, it is unable to help support the United Nations or its agencies. I saw a document today setting out the contributions made by different countries to the United Nations International Children’s Fund. I could not see any contribution from the USSR but I saw those of the countries from the Western world. I could not see any contribution from the countries that talk about Marxism and human brotherhood. It is only the so-called decadent West that is able to get in and make its contribution. The USSR has contributed only 3 per cent of all the nonmilitary aid to the Third World. It is big on military aid but it is very small on donating the kind of things people need to eat, to be housed and to live decently.
– Soldiers do not grow rice.
-My colleague, Senator Martin, points out that soldiers do not grow rice. The USSR’s record is disgraceful and if it wants to take its place in the civilised world it has to answer all these questions. We are reminded that the USSR has not hesitated to crush the aspirations of people within its sphere of influence over many years. We remember Hungary in 1956. We remember Czechoslovakia after the ‘spring’ of 1968. We remember the takeover of Eastern Europe. We are aware of the Gulag Archipelago but not too many people on the other side have told us about that. We have debated in this Senate the banishment of Andrei Sakharov. The Prime Minister pointed out in his address, and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) pointed out, that it is the people of the USSR who are suffering under the conditions of that country.
It is the Australian Labor Party which recognised the legality of the Soviet takeover of the Baltic states. (Quorum formed). The USSR has a record of aggression and imperialism unequalled in today’s world and the previous ALP Government recognised the legality of the USSR’s takeover of the Baltic States- an act which we reversed. The USSR is the worst imperialist aggressor that we have today. It has been so for decades and it has been the major aggressor possibly for centuries. It has no respect for individual or national rights, and it is most indifferent to the needs of people.
In Australia we have other reasons to be concerned by the events of recent years. We have reason to be concerned about the situation in
Iran, about the Soviet takeover of Afghanistan and about recent events in Saudia Arabia. They have all made much more important the Indian Ocean and the strategic importance which now attaches to that body of water. For many years the Indian Ocean was regarded only as the back door to the Middle East, but it is of vital interest to this country, as it is to the United States. Most of the world’s oil passes through it. The free, non-communist world at present is urgently studying ways to increase the security of the Indian Ocean. Events in Afghanistan have put the Indian Ocean under more threat and have made it less stable. For example, the United States is seeking to increase the presence of its armed forces in or near the Indian Ocean so that they can react quickly to crises in the area. As recently as 12 February the United States Government announced a decision to send to the area an additional naval task force of 1 ,800 marines.
However, at the present time the Indian Ocean, important as it is, has only a very small United States intervention potential. In early 1979 the USSR maintained a fleet of over 20 ships in the region, but the United States had fewer than a third of that number. The nearest United States naval task force was in the South China Sea, a week’s sailing from the north-west Indian Ocean. Australia has an interest in seeing that the Indian Ocean becomes an area which is safe and secure and that our strategic interests can be properly taken into account in this region, as in others. We are looking to the United States and to our other allies to take significant action to increase their presence in the Indian Ocean and its surrounding areas. In fact, the United States is now starting to make approaches to some of the states around the Persian Gulf, close to the Indian Ocean, in regard to developing a base on Diego Garcia. The United States has a small presence in Bahrain and is developing a presence in Oman. It is looking to Somalia and Kenya, with the hope of using Mombasa. We must make sure that we can still get the things that we need in this country. We need a continuing supply of oil and we need to know that our allies can get the oil which they require, the supplies of which will be threatened if the USSR can destabilise the area around Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states more than it has done already.
The next question I posed at the beginning of my speech was this: What broad international support is there for Australia ‘s position? Are we mavericks or odd men out in the world; are we part of some minority position; and are we on our own? If one listened to some of the Labor speakers one might think that that was the case. One might think that we had protested when others had remained silent and that our protests were in some way unusual. In fact, our responses are neither exaggerated nor inappropriate. Australia is in step with most of the nations of the non-communist world. We are part of a mainstream of Western and Third World outrage. It is the Labor Party which is isolated. Let us not forget that the Young Labor organisation in New South Wales, when it had a motion before it, refused to condemn the invasion of Afghanistan. I would like honourable senators opposite to explain that away when it is their turn to speak. We are part of the mainstream of response. We know that in the United Nations 104 nations condemned the action by the USSR. But, Young Labor would not. We know that the Islamic Foreign Ministers condemned what had happened and expelled occupied Afghanistan from the Islamic conference. We know that President Carter, Chancellor Schmidt, President Giscard and Prime Minister Thatcher all spoke on behalf of their countries in unequivocal terms and expressed their abhorrence at what had gone on. We know that there came from the powerful European Economic Community an extremely strong statement. From the European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg on 16 January this year came a motion in 10 parts condemning in the strongest terms the action taken in Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. I will remind the Senate of only three paragraphs of that motion. They state that the European Parliament:
Condemns the armed intervention in Afghanistan, which is contrary to the provisions of the UN Charter.
Requests the Commission to review immediately all economic, commercial, credit and financial relations between the USSR and the European Community, specifically in the field of high technology, agricultural products and antidumping practices and to report to the Council of Ministers.
Paragraph 9, which was supported by all but the most extreme left wing groups of the European Parliament, states that the European Parliament:
Calls upon the International Olympic Committee as well as the National Committees of member states and the Federations of the National Athletic Associations talcing part in the Olympic Games with the representatives of participating athletes to reconsider whether the summer games should take place in Moscow if the occupation of Afghanistan continues.
We in Australia are condemning the armed intervention in Afghanistan. Australia cast its vote in the United Nations. The Government is making its position clear in this Parliament; it is making its position clear in international councils and it is making its position clear in everything it says and does relating to Afghanistan. Australia has carried out a review of all its relations with the Soviet Union and, as I will mention in a moment, has taken actions which demonstrate quite clearly our resolve to make clear to the Soviet Union its concern and distaste. Finally, we are buoyed up and supported by the call by the European Parliament for reconsideration of the holding of the summer Olympics in Moscow. I am only one of millions of Australians who, whenever the Olympic Games are mentioned, cannot help thinking of 1936. 1 am sick of some of the statements from the opposite side of this chamber which remind me of the kinds of statements that came from certain politicians in the 1930s when appeasement was in fashion and when a firm stand and firm words could have done so much to save so many. I ask honourable senators, when they make their own positions clear about the Moscow Games, to consider 1 936 and to consider in retrospect what we should have done when the Berlin Games were on.
I asked the question early in my speech: What is the best course for Australia to follow during this crisis? Australia has committed itself to increase defence preparedness. Does anyone think that is inappropriate? That is a most appropriate action- to increase our commitment to spending, to involvement, to our own defence. Would the ALP do otherwise? I would hope not. We have followed the prescription of the European Parliament. We have reviewed our links with the USSR. We have reviewed our trade; we have reviewed our contact. The speech put down in this place by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) set out in detail some of the things which we have done. We have supported the United States in its boycott of grain sales to the Soviet Union. We have limited Soviet shipping contacts with Australia. We have cut out Soviet cruise ships’ activities in this country. We have suspended fishing feasibility projects involving Soviet participation. We have suspended all visits by Ministers and senior officials between Australia and the Soviet Union. We have suspended periodic consultations by senior representatives of Australian and Soviet foreign ministries. We have not accepted Soviet approaches to establish direct air services between Australia and the Soviet Union. We have refused to agree to a Soviet request to station Aeroflot technical personnel in Sydney. We have carried out an indefinite suspension of bilateral science collaboration with the Soviet Union. We have decided not to proceed with earlier proposals with the USSR to conclude agreements covering matters such as agriculture and consular dealings. We have excluded new activities under the current program of cultural cooperation, and so on. We have decided not to support the staging this year of the Olympic Games at Moscow unless the Soviet Union withdraws from Afghanistan. I am reminded that, in contrast with what we have decided, the Leader of the Opposition and Labor spokesman on foreign affairs, Senator Wriedt, issued a Press statement in which he said:
Whilst Australia should support a Security Council resolution condemning the use of Soviet forces in Afghanistan and demanding their withdrawal, it would be unwise to support action which could be harmful to Australia ‘s interests.
In the rest of the Press statement it became pretty clear that he was talking about our economic interest.
– What a brave statement.
-My colleague says: ‘What a brave statement’. That is the point. It was the kind of statement which wanted sixpence each way, and not too much action. If the ALP had its way it would have thrashed the Russians with a feather, softly on the wrist.
What about the Olympic Games? Why is it so important for us to consider that the Olympic Games should not be held in Moscow? Why do I feel so committed to this fact? Alone in this Senate I represent a religion whose members lost six million people in a war that need not have occurred. I cannot forget the fact that the holding of the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936 helped give to Hitler a legitimacy which he did not deserve and which his regime did not merit. I am attracted to another view which has been expressed on the Olympic Games. I quote the view:
It is quite clear that the Olympic Games in Moscow should be boycotted, not only because of what happened in Afghanistan, but also because of the type of country that the Soviet Union is, and there should never have been any suggestion that the Olympic Games should be held there.
Does any Opposition senator disagree with that statement?
– Yes, I disagree with it.
– I indicate the fact that by way of interjection Senator Melzer disagrees with that statement. I will read it again: lt is quite clear that the Olympic Games in Moscow should be boycotted.
The honourable senator disagrees. That statement was made in the Parliament by Dr Klugman, a member of Senator Melzer’s party. Members of her own Party are quite prepared to say that the Olympic Games should have been boycotted and should not be held in Moscow.
I am attracted to the Australian of 25 February and the editorial on the front page where it stated its view why the Olympic Games should not be held in Moscow. This is the view of only one newspaper and one newspaper’s editor. But part of it is worth quoting:
A boycott of the Moscow Olympics is all about stopping the Soviet Union from continuing its calculated policy of expansionism aimed at world dominance.
Does anyone disagree? The editorial continues:
A boycott of the Moscow Olympics is all about getting a message to the Russian people that the world abhors the Soviet Union’s denial of human rights to dissidents within its borders and its subjugation of free people and nations- in particular, Afghanistan.
– Hear, hear!
– I note that my colleague, Senator Missen, who has taken such a leading role in this area, is in agreement. The editorial continues:
A boycott of the Moscow Olympics is all about Andrei Sakharov, about the tens of thousands of Russian Jews who want freedom but may not journey to it and about the unknown multitude of political prisoners denied ordinary civil liberties within the Soviet Union.
The fact is that our involvement in the Games would be like the involvement of Europe in the 1 936 Berlin Games. We would become parties to giving legitimacy where legitimacy is not deserved. We would be parties to giving approval where disapproval is called for. Our presence there would be used by the Russians to indicate approval of a regime which does not exist and which never will exist.
We are not alone in the stand which we are taking. We are not just a maverick nation out on our own seeking to have the Games put off. We are part of a large number of concerned nations which are working towards a boycott on a broad base by many nations of these doomed Olympic Games. With us are nations which have expressed their view already, nations such as the USA, our sister country New Zealand, countries from the Pacific basin, countries from the Third World and countries of the Middle East. We have Egypt seeking a boycott, as is also Great Britain. Canada, under the Government which was just defeated, declared itself in favour of a boycott. Saudi Arabia wants a boycott. The Netherlands wants a boycott. The People’s Republic of China wants a boycott. Bahrain, Chile, Kenya, Malaysia, Norway, Pakistan, Taiwan and Bermuda are already on record as favouring a boycott. The kinds of nations which oppose a boycott, which want to go to the Games, and with which the Australian Labor Party wants to be associated are countries such as South Africa. It wants to line itself up with Yugoslavia,
Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Italy, Mexico and the Iron Curtain countries.
All we need is for this coalition of nations that is worried about the Games to continue to push for the mounting of a really effective boycott which the Russian people will hear about and know about. It comes down to a value judgment which can be taken by every Australian who wants to examine the issue. Does our duty to our elite sportsmen, who have worked so hard, who have put so much into their preparation and who so much want to perform and to succeed, outweigh our duty not to give legitimacy to the USSR and to the aggression which it represents? I have very great sympathy and feel very great sadness for the athletes. I recall the sadness that many people watching the Winter Olympics felt when some American skaters who had prepared for them for years had to drop out of the competition because of last minute injury. If our athletes could not go to Moscow I think that they would feel at least as much distress, at least as much disappointment, as those American skaters felt only a few days ago.
The holding of the Olympic Games is optional. We can, with good will, create other international competition. We can create circumstances where our athletes can compete, can demonstrate their excellence and where they can achieve and show us what they can do. But if we go to the Olympic Games we will be engaging in a diplomatic activity which we should not be engaging in. We will be missing out on an opportunity which is vital that we take up. The diplomatic imperatives override the sporting ones on this particular matter. My colleagues opposite who take a contrary view very properly value the rights of the individual sportsman but I ask them in their argument to set these against the damage that the Olympic Games could do if they are held under these circumstances. I ask them to explain to me what they would have done in 1936. How would they have behaved then? If they tell me that I will understand their position.
Berlin, Munich, Moscow- can anyone doubt that the Olympic Games are a great political event? Already people have told us that this is the case. Boycotts of the Olympic Games are not an unusual thing. In 1948 Palestine, Rumania, Bulgaria and Venezuela boycotted the Games. In 1952 Nationalist China boycotted the Games in Helsinki. In 1956 the People’s Republic of China, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq boycotted the Games held in Melbourne- our own Olympic Games. Interestingly enough, a combined team attended from the two Germanies. The reason that the
Netherlands would not come to Melbourne was that it was protesting Soviet intervention in Hungary. It was a principled action which I think we have to try to emulate. In 1964 Indonesia and North Korea did not go to Tokyo. In 1968 South Africa was not allowed to go to Mexico. In 1972 Rhodesia could not go to Munich. In 1976 Taiwan was not permitted to go to the Games. Can anyone tell me that the Games are nonpolitical? Taiwan was not allowed to go for purely political reasons.
Algeria, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Upper Volta, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia- all boycotted the 1976 Montreal Games. They all boycotted because of the participation of a country of which they disapproved. Which country was it? Because New Zealand was allowed to go to Montreal all those countries boycotted the Games. Boycotts are part of the history of the Olympic Games, part of the history of what are intensely political Games; they always have been political and 1 think that they probably always will be.
– That is a disgraceful statement.
– I hear Senator Douglas McClelland ‘s interjection. I was in Melbourne for the 1956 Olympic Games and watched the water polo game which some honourable senators may remember. I think that the water polo game that I saw was between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Hungary. I saw enough blood spilt there and enough of what went on in that game to know that my statement is not disgraceful and that Senator Douglas McClelland ‘s interjection is totally cynical and does him no credit.
– I remind Senator Baume that in 1956 the People’s Republic of China was not represented in Melbourne because the Australian Government did not recognise the People’s Republic of China. ( Quorum formed).
-The Australian Labor Party spokesman on sport, Mr Cohen, in the House of Representatives on 20 February 1980 said:
The Australian Labor Party’s view was that if a total boycott of the Games could be effected, or a near total boycott, it could certainly have some impact on informing ordinary Russians of the rest of the world ‘s view of their action in Afghanistan.
Mr Cohen was also quoted in the community Press. I happened to come across a copy of the
Australian Jewish Times to which Mr Cohen offered a statement.
– It is unusual that you would see it!
– I notice some expressions of derision. (Quorum formed). In the article which appeared in that newspaper Mr Cohen is reported as having said that if West Germany, China, Japan, Canada and Britain as well as Australia and the United States withdraw the boycott would be succesful. He went on to say:
If that happened the games would become a fiasco and the Soviet Union would be severely embarrassed . . .
I quote Mr Cohen because that is precisely the point we are making; it is precisely the outcome we are seeking.
I remind the Senate that the European Parliament urged all its member countries to reexamine their involvement in the Olympic Games. (Quorum formed). Australia is one of a large number of governments which already favours a boycott of the Games if there is no withdrawal by Russia. We are part of a group which includes the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Islamic states and the European Parliament. So, Australia is not alone. I return once again to the view of the Australian Labor Party. In the Australian newspaper of 28 January following a Labor Party conference, Mr Keating, speaking about Afghanistan, was reported as saying:
It is so far away from our area of interest and Australia is not threatened, so we should leave it to the big powers.
That statement reminds me so much of Mr Neville Chamberlain in the late 1930s. I remind honourable senators that in that newspaper report there appeared the account of an attempt to get the Young Labor movement to vote on the matter. In that newspaper report, it was stated:
On Saturday the conference had a tied vote on a motion criticising the armed intervention by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. .
That means that as many members of the Labor Party were prepared to vote against such a motion as were prepared to support it. Let the Labor Party explain that to the Australian people. (Quorum formed). For all those reasons, I would like to see the Government make a responsible decision. I would like to see Australia not involve itself in these Olympic Games. I would like to see the Government press on with its determination to upgrade our defence and to let the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics know what we think and what we are prepared to do. For all those reasons, I support the statement put down in this place by Senator Carrick. I support the amendment which has been moved by Senator Durack and I intend to vote against the second amendment which has been moved by the Labor Party.
– I support the amendment moved by Senator Button. I am sickened by the hypocrisy I have had to listen to in this place tonight. I have heard a lot of mice roaring in the South Pacific. Honourable senators on the Government side of the chamber keep telling us to go back to 1936 and what happened then. So, let us go back to 1936. As Senator McLaren said, remember who was loading pig iron for Japan and who was trying to stop that. It was the members of those terrible unions that Government senators love to criticise. They were the people who were trying to stop a United Australia Party Government- a Menzies-led Government- from taking that sort of action. Government senators should remember that the UAP was what their party was called before they had to change their name to the Liberal Party of Australia so that the people of Australia could forget what they did while they were the UAP.
– Tell them who allowed the Olympic team to go to Berlin.
– The same Government allowed the Olympic team to go to Berlin. Government senators have very facile feelings about these sorts of things. What sickens me most is the demonstration of the blind hate and prejudice against a country such as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that honourable senators opposite love to trot out at times such as this. They hate the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics because its system is not the capitalist system that their Government supports. So, no matter what the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics does or tries to do, it is the blind bigotry of honourable senators opposite that sends them on to attack the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It is that same blind bigotry that is taking the world closer to war at the present moment.
Senator Baume raised the matter of dissidents in the Soviet Union. He raised the matter of the Baltic states. He chided people for not being out marching. But he never mentioned East Timor, a matter on which his Government took no action. No Government senators were out marching for East Timor. They have never been out marching in the streets for the Aboriginal people of Queensland or Western Australia and yet they are terribly concerned about the civil rights of the people in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Many Government senators side with South
Africa. Many of them side with the Smith regime in Rhodesia. It is becoming more and more apparent that, in an election year, this Government wants to divert attention from the failing system it has in Australia and from the economic problems which it cannot do anything about. It is desperately searching for ways to bolster this system. It is not the first time that a Liberal Government has used war and the threat of war to sop up unemployment, to increase industrial profits and to get this rotten system going all over again.
I wish to quote one of the Government’s stars, Senator MacGibbon, who spoke in this debate and whose comments certainly have not been denied by any Government senator. He said:
We face an enemy in the Soviet Union that is committed to total socialised control of an economy, and in that situation there is no personal freedom whatever. Once one takes away a person ‘s individual economic freedom one takes away also all his civil liberties.
The Government should have a look at the individual economic freedom it is taking away from so many people in Australia today. What sort of economic freedom do the young people in Australia have? They cannot get jobs and the Government is not doing anything about it. The only job the Government has in sight for young people of Australia is putting them into a uniform, conscripting them and using them while it rattles sabres at the rest of the world. What sort of economic freedom do the great bulk of the unemployed have in Australia? As the unemployment figures creep up and up the unemployed have less and less freedom. Again, the Government of honourable senators opposite does nothing about it. In fact, honourable senators opposite enjoy the situation because that is what they said the Government would do. They said that the Government would control the workers and the unions. There is nothing that controls workers more than having 1 50 people at the factory gate. Nobody does very much then about rotten conditions and low pay. That is the sort of control the Government puts on workers and that is where economic freedom goes out the window.
While Government senators are professing to be so concerned about countries on the other side of the world they might look at what goes on in this country. At the moment their Government is assessing invalid pensioners and their pensions. Pensioners are in a bad enough position as it is but the Government has them terrified while it assesses whether they are 85 per cent incapacitated or 84 per cent incapacitated. Pensioners are people with great economic freedom and great ability to stand up for themselves and to stand up to this terrifying world that they live in. Not many jobs are available. Cuts have been made in pensions. At the same time people are snooping and sniffing around other people ‘s beds and bedrooms to decide whether they will continue to be paid the pittance of a pension that the Government pays them at the moment. Senator MacGibbon dares to stand up in the Senate and criticise other countries because they do not, in his words, give economic freedom to the people of their countries.
While other countries are taking careful and serious steps to keep away from the brink of war, our Prime Minister leaps in and does all in his power to exacerbate the situation. It is not for him to say that we must view the situation with care and that we must worry about what will happen to the little people of the world. In he goes and helps to make the situation worse. When war was nearer our shores, when the Vietnam war blew out- it almost blew out into a world conflict- what did Mr Fraser and his like do? Was the Government carefully taking steps to stop the war? Was it taking steps to chastise the people who were pushing that war into near world wide proportions? Was it taking steps to reduce the danger? Not on your life. They were the days of ‘All the way with LBJ They were the days when our young people could be poured into a war.
The Government went even further and made up a story that Australia had been invited in by Vietnam. The Prime Minister and the Government have poured scorn on the story that Afghanistan could possibly have asked the USSR to come into Afghanistan and to help keep order. The Government told us that the Vietnamese people asked Australia to go into their country and save them. That was a lie. But those sorts of things do not get brought out now. But the Opposition remembers back to the story which was proved to be an out and out lie. It was said that we were invited into Vietnam for what turned out to be a civil war. But the Government pours scorn on the fact that Afghanistan, a small country on the borders of Russia and Pakistan, could possibly have asked the USSR to help. The Government hates the USSR and does not want it to do anything that would help another country to be friendly with it.
Australia, again after the days of ‘All the way with LBJ finds itself a toady to the Americans. In his extraordinary speech Senator MacGibbon says: lt is up to us to support those countries. In the West we tend to forget about this because no longer are we mixed up with colonial powers. Because the European powers no longer practise colonialism we tend to forget that anticolonialism still exists.
Anti-colonialism exists in Australia. In 1975 we found out that we were nothing more than a colonial power. It is a cheek to say such things when the Prime Minister rushes across the world to lick President Carter’s boots and to say: ‘Yes, sir; no sir’ and to agree with everything he says. The only American ally to put its muscle where its mouth is is Australia. It is no longer much more than a colonial power, another State belonging to the United States of America.
Mr Fraser is the only foreign politician who has endorsed totally President Carter’s position. Why should that be so? Other politicians and statesmen around the world have taken a longer and more considered view. But not our Prime Minister. Mr Fraser has put Australia in an isolated position as the only declared supporter of virtually every aspect of Carter White House policy. Is it any wonder that some of the American people look at us with some distain, as a country rushing in to get under the umbrella or wing of a stronger country. We are saying to America: ‘We will go all the way with you but you have to look after us’. Evidently it is impossible for us to take some sort of independent view of what is going on.
Mr Fraser travelled round the world as a messenger boy for Jimmy Carter, endeavouring to pick up Western support for America’s moves. He failed. He was not even invited to the summit meeting of heads of government that was called to discuss the matter. Why, if he is such and important personage in this situation, was he too not called into the summit meeting? Let us face it, if Australia did not turn up at the Olympic Games people would look down the list of competing nations and say: ‘What country was it you said did not come? ‘
Why is there this hysteria? The reason is that this Government sees it as a heaven sent opportunity to divert attention away from the worst unemployment in Australia’s history and away from a worsening economic situation with which this Government is quite obviously incapable of dealing. The Government is not interested in a healthy nation or a well-educated nation. It is not interested in a nation with logical energy policies or logical transport policies. This Government is just interested in profit. It is interested in the sort that Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd came up with in the first six months of this financial year. Its profits were $234m. That is what spells success to the sort of Government we have in Australia at the moment. I refer also to Alcoa of Australia Ltd, which, in 1979, made a net profit after tax of $94.9m, a 56 per cent increase over the net profit for 1 978. Industry in this country is looking to the glorious profits that will come out of a country put on a war footing. Although the Government cannot find money for jobs for all the kids plenty of money will be found for us to go to war. That is the heart of the matter. War means profit for the few. People like Malcolm Fraser, Senator MacGibbon and the rest see that as the goal.
Government senators have used extravagant phrases in this debate. Why has there been no comment on the Chinese invasion of Vietnam? Why was the same sort of sabre-rattling action not taken on the current crises in Kampuchea and South East Asia? Why has no action been taken by this Government to facilitate the unification of Korea? If we really care about peace- I must say that statements by people like Senator MacGibbon pour doubt on that- why was no comment made by the Government on the American influence in South America? Why was no comment made at the time when Chile fell, when the Americans intervened in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua?
Senator Baume made much of liberal democratic societies. Was Chile a liberal democratic society before Allende was thrown out or after the Yanks put their stooges back in? If we believe in peace why was there no rebuke for America when she threatened Jamaica just this February? On 28 January an article reported:
The Carter Administration has decided that if the Jamaican Prime Minister, Mr Manley, does not moderate his pro-Cuba policies, the US may use all available influence and pressure to drive him from office.
Mr Manley was given a timetable, expiring in June, after a meeting in Miami in November, when he conferred with Mr Philip Habib, representing the US National Security Council as special adviser in the Caribbean, and Mr Andrew Young, former US Ambassador to the United Nations . . .
The Americans told Mr Manley of the Administration’s grave concern over the apparent policy shift contained in a speech he made in Cuba in August -
So much for the Government’s concern about large powers threatening small countries. Such action goes unnoticed. It is all right when the great United States makes that sort of statement. We do not notice those sort of things when they are done by the US.
I do not know why the USSR invaded Afghanistan. Our Prime Minister has done nothing to help give me any real information about what went on there. There is a report that the Office of National Assessments advised the Prime Minister that the action taken was defensive. There is a report that says that Mr Fraser rejected its advice- his own Department’s advice- that the invasion was a defensive move by Russia and that the real danger to countries in the region was the threat of internal instability. One report says that Mr Fraser ‘s own Department advised that the Soviets were not aiming at capturing Middle East oil supplies. There is a report that says that Mr Fraser angrily rejected that report saying that the Office of National Assessments was a complacent organisation. Of course, he would find it a complacent organisation; it did not agree with his being able to carry out the sorts of things he likes to do to a country and to a regime that he hates.
Nobody can do other than deplore the move made by the Russians. Everybody deplores that sort of action. Nobody likes violent action anywhere in the world. That is where we on the Opposition side differ from the Government. We deplore all violent moves. We are not selective.
If the United States makes such a move, as it has in South America and in Vietnam, according to this Government that is okay and there is no comment about it. If the United States makes threats against little countries like Jamaica sitting off its shore then according to this Government that is all right too; we do not even comment. Our Prime Minister does not go rushing across the world to say: ‘Just a minute. You are a large powerful country and you have got no right to bully small countries on your verge in that way’. But if the Russians make one move, if the Russians do anything immediately we are told that a third world war is imminent. Nobody can do other than deplore the move made by the Russians, but they are not stupid people. They would have known the criticisms that would have poured in when they made that move. So why did they do it? It is difficult for poor old Opposition back bench senators to find out because we are not privy to the sorts of information that Ministers get. They do not pass it on to people like us. But I found an interesting article written by Conrad Ege and published in Counterspy in America. It was written in late 1 979, prior to the Soviet intervention. Counterspy is an American journal supported by people such as Bob Moore, National Secretary of the Mobilisation for Survival. Part of that article states:
After the defeat of US economic, strategic, and political interests in Iran and the dissolution of CENTO (a military alliance of Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan aided by the US), the US Government is very sensitive about the Middle East and South Asia region. Assistant Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, expressed that sensitivity during his trip to Turkey in spring 1 979 where he negotiated for US intelligence stations and explored the possibility of establishing a successor to CENTO. For an alliance like that, it would be helpful’ to have a government friendly to the US in
Afghanistan. Besides that, Afghanistan would be an excellent place for intelligence stations aimed at the Soviet Union.
The article goes on:
A US institution which has had close ties to the CIA in the past is still active in Afghanistan: the Asia Foundation. According to Joel W. Scarborough, Asia Foundation’s representative in Afghanistan … the Foundation ‘has closely collaborated with other American governmental agencies in Afghanistan, especially ICA (International Communication Agency . . .
Are the Russians paranoid about being surrounded by enemies? Is not every country paranoid about being surrounded by enemies? Were not the Americans paranoid about the situation in one little country off their coast- Cuba? Did not we almost all go to war because the Americans were paranoid about the Russians being on Cuba, so close to their shores? When we recall that in the USSR in the last war three out of every four people died, when we recall that two out of every three men in Russia died is it any wonder that the Russians are paranoid about being surrounded by enemies, by people who hate them? Senator MacGibbon said:
It is too much, I suppose, to believe that a country surrounded by enemies, surrounded by bases, with scandal after scandal due to the Central Intelligence Agency infiltrating countries around the Russian border, might indeed feel that it has to protect those borders against the sorts of enemies it has. Do I believe that the CIA was involved in Afghanistan and involved against the USSR? I remember Allende in Chile. I remember what happened in the Dominican Republic. I remember what happened in Vietnam. I remember evidence being given in treason trials in the United States of CIA involvement in Australian politics. I remember that a young man went to prison there because he maintained that while he was decoding for the CIA he noted that it was involved in union activity in Australia. As a prominent ex-CIA man in America has said, the CIA interferes in political processes in America; why would not it interfere in Australia?
This statement is pious nonsense from a man like Malcolm Fraser who advocated Australian interference in Vietnam. The statement by Mr Carter is pious nonsense from a man like Carter who at the same time as the hysterical chest thumping was going on was threatening Jamaica with exactly the same fate. It was pious nonsense from America which in January was reported as pressing its European allies and Japan for a relaxation of controls limiting sales of military related technology to China. At the same time the United States was seeking tighter restrictions on sales of these items to the Soviet Union. The American moves followed a promise during the visit to China of the United States Defense Secretary. Dr Brown, to provide Peking with advanced technology that has military as well as civilian applications.
Is it any wonder that the USSR becomes paranoid when people are being sooled on to its very borders, when in a not very subtle fashion the United States is encouraging people close to USSR borders to attack Russia?
– That was the assumption of the Office of National Assessments, but Fraser rejected it.
- Mr Fraser says it is a pretty useless sort of organisation. His words were ‘a complacent organisation’. To my mind this Government finds peace unpalatable and unprofitable. The Government’s attitude was summed up by Senator MacGibbon, and it has not been denied. I feel that what the honourable senator had to say sums up exactly what this Government is all about. Senator MacGibbon said:
All of us in the West have been to concerned with welfare; too much emphasis has been placed on social security and not enough has been placed on national security. Australia spends 2.7 per cent of its gross domestic product on defence, compared with 6 per cent spent by the United States of America.
That sums up this Government’s attitude. From that comes the policy that sells wheat, wool, meat, minerals- all war materials- to the USSR while denying athletes the right to meet and perhaps develop a closer understanding with Russians. The Government is always very pious about how one can learn to be a good citizen by playing the game, by learning to be a good loser and by all those other rather sickening phrases that can apply to people who indulge in sport to excess. Therefore I find it extraordinary that in this instance the Australian Government does not want to send young men and women to meet the young men and women of other nations to exchange views, to talk to each other, to get to know each other better, to develop, as I said, a closer understanding. But that is the very area in which Government supporters draw the veil. I think it was Senator Primmer who said roubles before runners. That exactly sums up the whole attitude that the Government has taken to this situation. The statements made by Senator MacGibbon, and not denied, reveal that this Government is prepared, because an election is due, to endanger the fragile fabric of peace in this world in an attempt to divert this nation’s attention from the very real economic problems we have. It enables government policy to move closer to conscription to sop up those hundreds of good, honest, intelligent, hard-working kids in the community that this Government will not give jobs to. Thus, because the Government really believes the USSR is wicked and should be destroyed, it brings the world closer to a fearful nuclear war. I ask senators to vote for the amendment that has been moved by Senator Button.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to raise a matter which touches on the difficult problem of overpayments of social security benefits, a problem which I am sure all honourable senators have had to face at various times. I suppose I, as shadow Minister for Social Security, have seen as many of these cases as most people. Every week one is faced with the problem of people who have been overpaid and who have been asked to repay those overpayments. Sometimes they are overpaid because they have not declared increases in income over the years. Some cases go back many years. Sometimes the amounts of money have been of up to $2,000 or $3,000.
Tonight I wish to bring up a case in this place because it seems that it is the only place in which I can raise it. I refer to the case of a young man named Anthony Waters of Tamworth in New South Wales. Anthony is an Aboriginal. He has a family and two very young children. He is unemployed. He frequently gets casual work to support his family. In the past when he has had casual work he has declared the income from that work to the Department of Social Security. In March 1979 during one fortnight he failed to declare $135.20 in casual earnings although, as I said, according to a letter from his wife and from investigations I have made, on previous occasions he had declared any amount he had earned. But on that occasion he forgot to do so. Whatever the reason, according to the letter from his wife and according to investigations I and my staff have made since then, they received an unemployment cheque, not for $192.40, which was the usual amount, but for $57.20. Because of that great reduction, they went to the local office of the Department of Social Security. They were told that their money was reduced because he had failed to declare his income, that he had repaid the money in the light of the reduced second cheque and that there would be no further problem because the matter had been adjusted.
That occurred in March last year. On 5 December last year, nine months after the overpayment occurred, Anthony Waters was served with a summons ‘to be further dealt with according to law’, although he and his wife had been assured that everything was all right, that the Department in fact had received repayment of the excess payment which it allegedly had made to that man. The Department of Social Security is authorised- I believe it is properly authorised- to recover overpayments made to pensioners and to beneficiaries in such circumstances. I point out that the Department’s manual states:
The Department does not automatically launch civil proceedings against debtors but takes action only as a safeguard when: the debtor refused to give a written acknowledgment of the overpayment; or the debtor makes an acknowledgment but fails to honour his promise to repay, or falls badly into arrears.
As I have pointed out, there is no dispute between the Department of Social Security and Mr Waters. The money has been repaid; in fact, it was repaid last June. My question is: Why the prosecution? What is the point of the Department of Social Security prosecuting this young man and his family- a man who suffers the twin disadvantages of being unemployed and being black? The Department knows quite well that the Waters have no money. Does it believe that there is any public merit in prosecuting this man who failed to declare $135.20 of casual earnings almost a year ago and who learned the hard way very quickly that the Department had recovered that money by taking it from the next payment, thereby forcing him to support his family of four on $57.20 for the next two weeks? I suggest that it is enough of a lesson for anyone who depends almost entirely for his income on the Department of Social Security to have happen to him what happened to Mr Waters.
When the summons was served Mr Waters believed that a mistake had been made in view of the fact that nine months had gone by, the money had been recovered by the Department and in fact he had been assured by the Department that all was well. So he went to his local office of the Department of Social Security to ask what the summons was about. The officers in that office of the Department refused to discuss the matter with him and told him: ‘You had better appear in court or you will be in worse trouble’. A further complication arises because no dispute mechanism is available with the Department of Social Security at this stage. Once a summons has been served it is too late to appeal against a persecution or an injustice one may think has been done. It is too late to appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. It seems that at that stage it was too late for anyone to act on Mr Waters ‘ behalf except in the court room.
I tried to ascertain from the Department what was going on. I sent a letter to the Minister for Social Security (Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle) on 24 January this year, as soon as the matter came to my notice. It was more than two weeks before Mr Waters was due to appear in court. Despite continued phone calls and a telegram to the Minister’s office, it was not until Friday afternoon, 8 February- the last moment before Mr Waters was due to appear in court; he was due to appear on 1 1 February- that I received any information. I was told that the Minister said that the Director was continuing with the prosecution action. No explanation of any kind was given to me except the allegation that there were discrepancies between the story I had and the story the Department had. On Monday, 1 1 February, after it was arranged for Mr Waters to be represented in court by the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and the court case was adjourned for a month, I asked the Minister to give me an explanation of those discrepancies. I wanted to know where I had been misled, if I had been misled. I wanted to know what were the discrepancies between the stories.
Two weeks later, on Friday last, after making repeated requests to the Minister’s office for an explanation, I received nothing but a letter from the Minister saying that the matter was now before the courts and she would not enter into any discussion on the facts of the case. My question is: Why was the matter before the courts at all? Did the Minister in fact authorise a prosecution against this young man who in fact had repaid the money many months before? Did her Director-General authorise the prosecution, or was it the State Director? I find it difficult to understand why this man, who is not a criminal, should be prosecuted in this way. I suggest that it will do nothing for his family and nothing for society to try to demonstrate that he is a criminal. The Government has recovered the whole of the $135.20, but seems intent on putting this man into court and, if possible, gaoling him.
I merely contrast that situation with the attitude the Government adopts towards citizens who have far more clout and political power than unemployed Aboriginals. I contrast it with the attitude of the Government towards information from the Department of Health that it has overpaid pharmacists by over $60m over the past three or four years because of flaws in the reimbursement formula which is used to calculate payments to pharmacists. I ask honourable senators to contrast the case I have outlined with the Government’s attitude towards the fact that Senator Rae and his Committee are looking into overpayments to wheat farmers, overpayments which will be found to be far in excess of the $ 135.20 which was overpaid to this young man.
– But they are all white.
-They are white. They have political clout. I am sure that none of them will go to gaol. The Treasurer (Mr Howard) has acknowledged that anything up to $ 1,000m is lost to the revenue each year by tax avoidance. How many of those people go to gaol? But here is a case of a man from whom the Government has got back its $135.20. But it is not content with that. It is taking a punitive and, I believe, quite frankly, a racist attitude towards a young Aboriginal father whom it was thought probably would submit to this discriminatory treatment by the Department without a protest. I am protesting on his behalf. I believe that it is a case which never should have gone to court. I believe that the Minister should ensure that in future that kind of thing does not happen again. The possible penalties this man can suffer are a fine of $500 or six months in gaol. It is a sick society, a sick government, a sick Department of Social Security, which takes action only against the least secure, the least educated and the poorest people in the community.
All of us have seen many cases of overpayment of much more money than this. These cases have resulted from people- as Senator Cavanagh said, white people- failing to declare increases in income, sometimes over five or six years. In some instances they have been overpaid by thousands of dollars. I have yet to see any of these people prosecuted. Most of them, quite reasonably, after representation from members of parliament, are able to pay the money back in very small amounts, sometimes over two or three years. But in this case the amount was only $135.20. It was paid back in a fortnight. Nine months later the man was summonsed and dragged to court. We can get no explanation as to why he was charged. One can only come to the same conclusion that Senator Cavanagh has come to by interjection and that everyone I know of who is involved in this case has come to, that is, that he has been prosecuted firstly because he is black and secondly because he is unemployed. I urge the Government even at this late stage, when the case has been adjourned in the court, to look seriously at what has happened to this young man and his family.
-! am not familiar with the facts of this case. Apparently the matter has been drawn to the attention of the Minister for Social Security (Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle). I will draw her attention to the remarks made by Senator Grimes in regard to this matter. It appears that this is a prosecution for an offence. From what Senator Grimes has said, I think that a clear distinction must be drawn between recovery by civil proceedings of money overpaid and what may apply in those cases, and prosecutions for alleged offences under the Act. I gather that the proceedings to which Senator Grimes has referred involve such an offence. There are clear distinctions and certainly there is a number of prosecutions for such offences. There is no reason to believe that this person has been singled out. Apart from that I have no comment to make as I am not aware of the details in relation to the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented, pursuant to statute:
Commonwealth Banks Act- Appointments- P. J. Costigan and N. N. Dixon.
Defence Act- Determination- 1980- Serial No. 2 - Southern Rhodesia Allowance.
Lands Acquisition Act- Statement by the Minister describing land acquired by agreement under sub-section 7 ( 1 ) of the Act, for specified public purposes.
Senate adjourned at 10.42 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 20 September 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The following table sets out the information requested:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 20 November 1979:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following information in response to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 22 November 1979:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 23 November 1979:
What action is proposed, as a result of the recent quarantine alert, to implement jointly with the States new education programs and new penalties in line with the real seriousness of quarantine, as soon as possible, bearing in mind the Report of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources, The Adequacy of Quarantine.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Recommendations of the Report of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources are under consideration. The following new education and publicity programs have been implemented during 1979-80:
A pilot quarantine television-based publicity campaign was carried out in Newcastle in December 1979 and January 1980. This program was supported by posters and pamphlets and is being used as a basis for a national quarantine publicity campaign under consideration;
Pilot television segments designed to encourage compliance with quarantine requirements have been prepared in several languages for screening on ethnic television stations in Sydney and Melbourne in the near future;
Short radio programs in several languages pointing out the importance of Australia ‘s quarantine controls have been broadcast over ethnic radio stations in Sydney and Melbourne and distributed to ethnic stations in all other States. Initial broadcasts are being evaluated;
Leaflets printed in 13 languages summarising Australia’s quarantine controls were distributed to Australia’s overseas posts in 1979 for insertion in passports when a visa for Australia is issued;
A publicity package entitled ‘Eye on the Coast’ explaining the coastal surveillance program and providing background material on animal and plant quarantine was distributed to all non-metropolitan coastal town newspapers;
Proposals to further extend education and publicity on quarantine, in Australia and overseas, are being developed.
Maximum penalties under the Commonwealth Quarantine Act were increased substantially in February 1979. The imposition of penalties is determined in each case by a court of law
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 1 9 February 1 980:
– The Minister for Science and the Environment has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Airline Employees: Dismissals
– On 4 and 5 June 1979 Senators Evans and Chipp asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations, similar questions without notice concerning the summary dismissal of airline clerks by Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia and consequent industrial disputation.
I answered the senators’ questions on 6 November 1979. It has since come to my attention, however, that one of the dates quoted in my answer is incorrect. The Minister for Industrial Relations has provided me with the following further information:
I am advised that the Airline Employees Association applied for registration on 6 June 1 979, not 25 September 1 979 as indicated in the Senate on 6 November 1979. 25 September was the date set down for hearing by the Industrial Registrar of objections to the Association’s application for registration, and was erroneously specified as the date on which the Association applied for registration. This does not in any way affect the substance of the answer given, but it is necessary that the true position be stated for the Senate.
Unemployment in Alice Springs
-On 17 October 1979 Senator Robertson asked me a question concerning the dependants of United States servicemen based at Pine Gap undertaking employment.
The Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs referred the question to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs who has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
United States military personnel when on duty in Australia, together with their dependants, are admitted to Australia under the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Australia. There is nothing in that agreement to preclude employment in Australia by dependants.
The responsibility for the policy relating to defence relations with the United States comes within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Defence.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 February 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1980/19800226_senate_31_s84/>.