31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2. 1 5 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the Senate that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) leaves Australia today to attend a meeting of the ANZUS Council in Washington.
– What! Again?
– I take it that the interjection means that the Labor Party does not want him to go to the ANZUS Council meeting in Washington. The Minister for Health (Mr MacKellar) will act as Minister for Foreign Affairs until Mr Peacock’s return on 8 March.
– I present the following petition from 42 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, as it is clear that unemployment is a long term problem in Australia, the Government should extend to the unemployed the same assistance as is given to any other disadvantaged member of the community. There is an urgent need to alleviate the financial hardship and emotional stress that the unemployed are suffering.
Your petitioners therefore pray:
1 ) That the Government adopt positive policies to reduce unemployment;
that the basic Unemployment Benefit be raised to at least the level of the poverty Une as calculated by Professor Henderson;
In line with other Social Service additional income awards, and in order to encourage work creation schemes and the fostering of initiative and self respect, that the $6 per week additional income limit be raised to at least $20 per week;
That the financial penalties above the earning of $20 per week, assessed on a monthly basis, be calculated at the same rate as other Social Security Benefits;
That the Commonwealth grant subsidies to state governments so that the unemployed can be granted transport concessions in order that they are not penalised in job seeking;
That pharmaceutical and medical concessions be granted to the unemployed equivalent to those received by other Social Service Beneficiaries.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present two petitions, similar in wording, from 64 and 218 citizens of Australia, respectively, 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;
That in the 1 976 census 78.6 per cent of Australian women said that they belonged to a Christian denomination, so that, it is very likely that a large percentage of Australian women have views which are not reflected in those parts of Draft Plan of Action issued by the National Advisory Council concerning family issues;
That your petitioners are very concerned that the National Women’s Advisory Council does not take into account the views of the majority of Australian women;
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.
Petitions received, and first petition read.
– I present the following petition from 7,423 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the level of supplementary assistance payable to certain eligible pensioners and some sickness benefit beneficiaries has not kept up with cost of living rises over the past five years. Supplementary assistance has remained at $ 10 per fortnight since 1 974. Taking into account C.P.I, rises, the $10 should have been raised to $17.50 in 1979 to afford the same purchasing power to pensioners.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, will ensure that supplementary assistance be increased to a more realistic level and tied to rises in the consumer price index to alleviate the extreme suffering by rent-paying pensioners who have little or no other income.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Lead Concentrates in Motor Spirit
– I present the following petition from 72 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That the lead content levels in Australia motor spirit have been proven to have detrimental health effects on our child population.
Your petitioners mosthumbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled should:
Take legislative action to reduce and ultimately remove lead concentrates from motor spirit in Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
-I present the following petition from 175 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 the role as a community service organisation in preference to the 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 two petitions, similar in wording, from 14 and 20 citizens of Australia, respectively, 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 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.
Petitions received, and first petition read.
-I present the following petition from 26 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That in order to: facilitate the development of the North of Australia provide an all-weather rapid land transport system from north to south and vice versa facilitate better defence of Northern Australia provide improved transport for primary and mining products to southern markets boost tourism
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should:
Urge that the Federal Government give favourable consideration to proceeding forthwith with the commission of the construction of the North /South railway from Alice Springs to Darwin as a matter of priority.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
The Deputy Clerk- Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth objection to the National Women’s Advisory Council and request the Government to abolish the Council.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Chipp.
That the plan to obliterate the traditional weights and measures of this country does not have the support of the people.
That the change is causing and will continue to cause, widespread, serious and costly problems;
That the compulsory tactics being used to force the change are a violation of all democratic principles.
Your petitioners therefore pray:
That the Metric Conversion Act be repealed to ensure that the people are free to utilize whichever system they prefer and so enable the return to imperial weights and measures wherever the people so desire;
That weather reporting be as it was prior to the passing of the Metric Conversion Act;
That the Australian Government take urgent steps to cause the traditional mile units to be restored to our highways;
That the Australian Government request the State Governments to procure that the imperial and metric systems be taught together in schools.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Martin.
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 any unrepresentative “Advisory Council”.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Sheil.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth objection to the Metric system and request the Government to restore the Imperial system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Sheil.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That because we already inherit constitutional safeguards and many free institutions which assure to us as an unconditional right, the enjoyment of all basic human rights,
And because the exercise of our true common law rights is the proper means of dealing with attempted infringements or abuses of our human rights or personal freedoms within the Commonwealth of Australia and its territories,
And because the Human Rights Commission Bill 1979 would virtually eliminate our common law rights and heritage by substituting so-called rights and freedoms as defined under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of December, 1966, which does not correspond with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in fact deletes some of its essential safeguards,
We have the conviction that the above-mentioned Bill would in due time destroy much of our traditional liberties and rights and established system of law, remembering that it calls for all ‘the laws of the Commonwealth to conform to it, that we would be liable to the definitions, whims and decrees coming from a foreign source instead of our own sovereign elected, constitutional parliamentary democracy, that the United Nations today is composed of a large majority of totalitarian type States, and that the Bill must certainly results in a quickly expanding costly bureaucracy with wide and alarming powers of investigation and opinion-making.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia willwithdraw,or repeal as the case may be, the Human Rights Commission Bill 1979 to protect the rightful interests of Australia and all Australians.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Sheil.
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 Peter Baume.
-I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That there be laid on the Table of the Senate, forthwith, the Auditor-General’s reports on Asia Dairy Industries (Hong (Cong) furnished to the Minister for Primary Industry and referred to in the Auditor-General’s report contained in the annual report of the Australian Dairy Corporation 1978-79, together with any subsequent reports relating to Asia Dairy Industries that the Auditor-General may have completed.
-I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether the Australian Government has received any official advice that the United States Government considers the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the Persian Gulf area to be an option in the event of hostilities in that area. Can the Minister advise whether alleged briefings of the Prime Minister’s advisers to that effect are correct? If the Government has been so advised, what is its view on the use of such an option and has it advised the United States Government of that view?
– Because this question contains a request for details of specific and confidential material between governments, 1 ask that Senator Wriedt place it on the Notice Paper. I give him an assurance that I will endeavour to expedite the answer.
-Could the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs indicate to the Senate the initiatives that have been taken over recent weeks and months to consolidate and to extend the implementation of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty and the cooperative measures flowing from this important measure?
– Following the signature of the Egypt- Israel Peace Treaty on 27 March 1979, Israel began withdrawing from Sinai in accordance with an agreed schedule. Throughout the ensuing period this schedule was strictly adhered to and on 25 January the interim withdrawal to the Ras Mohamed-El Arish line was completed. Almost two-thirds of Sinai, including the oilfields developed by Israel, has now been returned to Egypt. According to the Treaty, Israeli withdrawal from the remaining areas of Sinai will take place over the next two years.
Article 1 (3) of the Treaty states that on completion of the interim withdrawal the parties will establish normal and friendly relations which, as set out in the Treaty, include full recognition of diplomatic, economic and cultural relations and the termination of economic boycotts and discriminatory barriers to the free movement of people and goods. The first steps in this process of normalisation, which is scheduled to be completed within six months, have already been taken. The staff of the Israeli Embassy to Egypt arrived in Cairo on 17 February. The Egyptian Embassy to Israel is expected to be established on 20 February. The exchange of ambassadors will take place on 26 February. Preparation for other aspects of normalisation, including civil air links, tourism and communications, is under way.
The Peace Treaty had its origins in the Camp David Agreement signed in September 1978. The Agreement also included a framework for peace in the Middle East. In a letter to President Carter at the time of the signature of the Treaty, President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin agreed to negotiate continuously and in good faith with the objective of providing, in accordance with this framework, full autonomy for the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza. So far, while the negotiations have made some progress, agreement has not been reached on key issues. An early breakthrough on these issues is required if the understandable fears and concerns of others about the Treaty and the Camp David Agreement are to be allayed and the possibilities demonstrated by the development of relations between Egypt and Israel are to be realised in the Middle East as a whole.
– My question also is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister and relates to the recent trips by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. What does the Government feel was accomplished by these trips, in terms of Australia’s national interest, which otherwise might not have been accomplished well and efficiently through normal diplomatic channels?
– The Government viewed, as do the great majority of the nations in the world, the events in Afghanistan, Kampuchea and elsewhere as a major threat to world peace. The Government believed that a country of this size could, by its own good offices and by its own indication of its views and attempts at persuasion, help to organise and to consolidate the viewpoint of the world- not only the Western world but also the unaligned nations- so that there could be conveyed to the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics the clearest possible message of world revulsion at Soviet actions, and also so that the real meaning and implication of those actions of Russia could be understood throughout the world. The statement by the Prime Minister yesterday set out the thinking of the Government in this regard. I think that the Government aimed to accomplish matters of very great personal need for Australia and it has done so. It is acknowledged by the media in Australia and acknowledged internationally that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs have made a very significant contribution to a movement towards peace in this world and the security of Australia.
-I wish to ask the Minister a supplementary question. It is not a fact that apart from the meeting between Helmut Schmidt and Giscard d ‘Estaing in Paris there were no other itinerant Prime Ministers as a result of the Afghanistan crisis throughout the world? I repeat the question which I asked and which, with respect, the Minister did not answer: Why could this not have been done through normal diplomatic channels as was done by most other countries in the Western world?
– I am not aware of which other national leaders saw fit personally either to travel or to contact their opposite numbers in other countries by phone. I imagine that very many of them did exactly that. But it does not follow that, because the Australian Prime Minister did something and some others did not, what the Australian Prime Minister did was not in itself highly effective. The actions themselves, the commendation that has been seen, the obvious strengthening of the bonds between America and Australia, the understanding by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation of Australia’s attitude- all of these things have contributed measurably to a movement towards security and peace in the world. I believe that it is the duty of a Prime Minister and a Foreign Minister, particularly in a country which is in an area where there is great instability posed by Vietnam and Kampuchea, to go to other nations and to have discussions with them. To have first hand discussions and an understanding of what other nations are thinking ought to be vital to all Australians. I can only regret that the Australian Labor Party does not think so.
-Can the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs inform the Senate whether there is any truth in an article appearing in the Townsville Bulletin of 18 February 1980, attributing statements to Victorian Labor back bencher, Mr Clyde Holding, wherein he claims that the Federal Government is likely to slash funding for Aboriginal health programs in the 1980-81 Budget?
-Reports of this sort usually start floating around a little later in the year. I feel almost like the first cuckoo. On this occasion I can say that the report to which the honourable senator referred and which I have seen, and indeed the correspondence on which the report is based- copies of that were sent to me by Mr Holding- contain a fundamental misapprehension. It is suggested that the reason why the Government has commenced a program effectiveness review of Aboriginal health programs is a desire to slash the funds which are available to these programs. I am pleased to say that nothing could be further from the truth. As I have indicated previously in the Senate, the concern of the Government is to know just how effective these programs are. It is looking at that in the context of years of funding programs about which there is some controversy as to their effectiveness. I can put the honourable senator’s fears at rest. The effectiveness review which is being undertaken by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and other departments, including my own, has nothing to do with an intention to reduce funding.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the Prime Minister decided, without reference to Cabinet, to boycott the sale of rutile to the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics after reading about the proposal in an inaccurate newspaper report? Did he then reverse the decision, again without reference to Cabinet, because a number of persons with direct interests in rutile exporting personally contacted both himself and the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anthony, and persuaded them to change their decision?
– The answer to Senator Sibraa ‘s first question is no. The answer to the second question is no.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport whether he can confirm reports that British Cargo Airlines has withdrawn its service which has transported over 50 per cent of our chilled lamb to Saudi Arabian markets? Is he aware that the stated reason for the withdrawal of the service was Federal Government air transport regulations? Will the Minister inform the Senate which regulations are alleged to have led to the withdrawal of BCA services? Are measures to remove impediments to trade in chilled lamb to the Middle East under consideration?
– I have some information on the matter which the honourable senator raises in his question. I may have to supplement that with further inquiries of the Minister for Transport. My information is that British Cargo Airlines has been air freighting chilled lamb from Australia to Middle East destinations and is continuing to do so. But I am advised in terms which are not the same as those in the honourable senator’s question. I am advised that that company has carried Australian meat to Saudi Arabia on very few occasions only. My information is that the company has air freighted meat from Australia to that country on three occasions in the past year or so and it could not be said to have been involved in transport of meat to that country on any significant scale.
I am further advised that there has been no recent change in air freight policy which would have forced withdrawal of British Cargo Airlines from servicing the Saudi Arabian market. The previous Minister for Transport, Mr Peter Nixon, took measures some three years ago to encourage the development of meat exports by air. Those measures are still in force and my understanding is that British Cargo Airlines is still taking advantage of them to operate meat export flights to the Middle East on a regular basis.
The Government has not sought to dictate which markets meat exporters should service under the measures to which I have referred. It has been left to their commercial judgment to determine where meat should be carried and sold. There have been some recent representations from a number of quarters to allow further relaxation of current policy governing the operation of charter airlines carrying freight to and from Australia. This is a complex question that has implications of a wide ranging character. A review of the matter is currently being undertaken and the question will be looked at carefully when the results of this review are available to the Government.
With respect to whether there has been a withdrawal of some service by British Cargo Airlines, I will seek further information from the Minister, including any reasons that might have been advanced for that withdrawal. If I can usefully add to the information I have given, I will give a further reply to the honourable senator.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for National Development and Energy to his recent statement that, contrary to announced policy, the Government had decided to defer the adjustment of Australian oil prices in line with the $2 a barrel increase in the price of Saudi Arabian oil and that the next review of Australian oil prices would be made when the Government considered it appropriate. What is the present status of the Government’s import parity pricing policy and when will this further impost of $2 a barrel be passed on to Australian consumers? When it is, what further detrimental impact will it have on the living standards and costs of country residents?
- Senator McLaren has embarked upon a course of deciding for himself what the statement of Government policy was. I did not say, nor did the Government say, that it was contrary to Government policy to defer implementation of the $2 increase. Rather, it is strictly in line with the Prime Minister’s statement on the principles of import parity pricing made, I think, on 29 June last year that in future we would take a flexible approach to the timing of implementations of Middle East price increases. Let me make it clear that, quite apart from being contrary, the deferment is directly in line with the import parity pricing. The Government will continue those principles of import parity pricing that it has laid down. Senator McLaren asks what detrimental effects the $2 increase will have. The most important assurance that could be given to people in rural communities and urban communities is that in the years and decades ahead they will have continuous supplies of petroleum products and other forms of energy. Our import parity pricing is successful in each of the aspects it is aiming to achieve.
-Already everybody except the knockers such as Senator Grimes must be excited by the thought that the policy is attracting great ventures such as Rundle, which will attract billions of dollars of risk capital, with the possibility that in five, six or seven years time, from that one venture alone, Australia might be producing as many barrels of oil as we are importing today. Whilst it is permissible for Senator Grimes to knock every kind of project that would be good for Australia and Australians -
– You should get off the LSD.
-Let me say that the bulk of Australians must be excited by the fact that our policies are attracting to Australia capital for the development of synthetic fuels which will guarantee for the future -
– Get on the opium instead of LSD.
– Order! Senator Grimes, you must use parliamentary language and make no reflections on a Minister by interjection as you did a moment ago.
-I say to the Senate that I do not intend to respond personally to any of the completely unjustified personal reflections which were made yesterday and are being made today as part of a deliberate campaign. It is a matter for the Senate and the people of Australia to judge the behaviour of Senator Grimes. Having said that, let me say that I was asked a serious question -
– He is on a trip.
– Order! Senator Grimes, you cannot refer to an honourable senator in the terms you just used. I ask you to withdraw.
- Mr President, I withdraw, but I suspect that in view of what has happened in the last couple of days one cannot expect equal treatment on either side of the House as we have had in the past.
– Order! I regard that as a reflection on my impartiality. Senator Grimes, I have sought, every minute I have been in this chair, to be impartial.
- Mr President, I ask not only that there be an unqualified withdrawal as you requested but also that the reflection upon you be withdrawn unqualifiedly by Senator Grimes.
– The Minister should sit down and not get excited. Mr President, I respect you as President of this place and, of course, I respect the fact that you seek to be impartial and are impartial. The difficulty you have, Mr President, arises not from any lack of impartiality in your case but from the behaviour of the Minister for National Development and Energy. I completely withdraw any suggestion that you had any intention to be other than utterly impartial.
- Mr President, I think you have requested another withdrawal.
- Mr President, may I speak to the matter before the Chair? I have my own case to put.
- Senator Georges may proceed.
– It does not serve the Minister well to persist in this matter because he must accept some of the blame for the situation which has arisen. He has a tendency, in response to questions, to bait the Opposition and even to demand from it some reaction to the answer that he is giving. He has done so consistently, and for that reason I believe that you ought not to respond to his insistence that Senator Grimes withdraw.
– The matters have been determined. We will resume Question Time. I call Senator Carrick.
– I was asked by Senator McLaren whether we had acted contrary to principle. I have stated that we have acted fully in principle. He asked about the detrimental effect. I have said that the real beneficial effect of our policy is now flowing through and alternative forms of energy are about to be produced to ensure that Australia and Australians, including the rural community, will be looked after. I remind the honourable senator and the Senate that the action by the Government in recent days in extending the freight equalisation subsidy to rural areas has enabled rural areas to narrow the detriment that happens in regard to freight costs in those areas.
-Mr President. I wish to ask a supplementary question. I now ask the Minister whether he is giving the Senate a guarantee that the Saudi Arabian price will be the base at which the Government will fix the oil price as from 1 July this year.
-I have not said that there will be a fixation of a price from 1 July this year. This again perpetuates the old trick of the Australian Labor Party of stating what it wants by way of policy. 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.
-Can the Minister for National Development and Energy inform the Senate whether the New South Wales Government has applied to the Commonwealth Government for financial assistance in the following water resource projects: The Windamere dam near Mudgee and the Split Rock dam on a tributary of the Namoi River?
-My understanding and my advice is that there has been no application from the Wran Government to the Commonwealth Government for consideration of either of those two projects.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. By way of preface I refer to the apprehension felt by the Merchant Service Guild and other unions about the safety performance of Panamanian flag tankers off the Australian coast. It is in that vein that I ask the Minister: What stage has been reached in regard to a prosecution being launched under the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967 against the master of the Panamanian tanker Howard Star for passing within 60 metres of a submerged pipeline junction near the Esso-BHP Mackerel oil rig earlier this month?
-The relevant Act in this matter is, I understand, administered by my colleague the Minister for National Development and Energy, but I have with me the information requested by the honourable senator. I am advised that the master of that ship appeared in the Sydney Court of Petty Sessions, exercising Federal jurisdiction, on Friday, 8 February 1980. The case did not proceed on that date but was adjourned and put down for hearing on
Wednesday, 14 May 1980, with an undertaking being given by the master’s solicitor that the master would pay any fines imposed. So the case is still to be heard and it will be heard on 14 May.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware of reports that a senior officer of the Soviet KGB, General Loshkin. has been quietly touring western European capitals to discuss so-called security arrangements for the Moscow so-called Olympics? Is the Olympic movement concerned that these security arrangements are controlled by the Soviet secret police and that the Soviet Olympic organisation itself is controlled by the KGB through officers such as its deputy chairman, Mr V. Popov? Will the Australian Government investigate allegations that the Soviet Government has systematically placed bugging equipment in the residential buildings to accommodate athletes and other visitors in a similar way to the now exposed, outrageous bugging of the Australian Embassy in Moscow?
– I am aware of media reports that a senior KGB officer has been visiting western European capitals in connection with security arrangements for the Moscow Olympics. I have no information to substantiate or to refute those claims. I am also aware that the KGB is represented on the Soviet Olympic Committee. The Australian Government is not in a position to comment on allegations that the Soviet authorities have placed bugging devices in the Olympic village. Previous experience would indicate, however, that the possibility of such an occurrence could not be ruled out. Of course, in the handbooks handed out by the Soviet Government throughout its country it has indicated that the selection of Moscow as a site for the Olympic Games is the endorsement by the world at large of Soviet policies, both domestic and foreign.
-I refer the AttorneyGeneral to his statement yesterday on the recording of telephone conversations, or bugging as it is called. The Attorney will remember that he announced an amnesty to police officers and others who in the past had contravened the provisions of the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act 1960. 1 ask the Attorney: Will the Commonwealth be leading any evidence that has been illegally obtained by phone tapping against defendants in cases before the courts at the moment, such as the alleged social security frauds case in Sydney, or in cases which are pending? If so, does he concede that there would appear to be an injustice in such a situation insofar as the Commonwealth officers will be able to use evidence which has been illegally obtained without the fear of prosecution themselves for this breach of the law?
– I preface my answer by referring to the part of Senator Grimes’s question in which he said that his question related to recording telephone conversations or bugging. In the statement I issued I attempted to be careful in referring to the problem of recording because I do not think it is necessarily true that people, when talking about tapping or bugging, are necessarily thinking of what was the subject of my statement, namely, the recording of a conversation by one party to that conversation. I think that the more normal reference to tapping or bugging is when it is done by a third party unbeknown to either of the parties to the conversation. But I put that aside; I mention it only by way of preface to my answer.
The question Senator Grimes raised in relation to evidence which is being given in the social security case may raise a problem. Detective Chief Inspector Thomas already has given evidence, I understand not only in his cross-examination but also in his re-examination the other day, on the manner in which he participated in the recording of a telephone conversation. I think it would be quite invidious for me to make a specific comment on the legality or otherwise of that. I have my own views as a result of what I have read and other people can form their views in relation to the statement I have made. But I still think it would be most improper for me, as the first law officer, to say anything about the legal conclusions which may be drawn or argued in the case. The defendants are represented by counsel. No doubt they will put forward submissions in relation to the matter.
Further, the fact that evidence has been obtained by an illegal method, if it has been so obtained, is by no means the end of the question of the admissibility of that evidence. That is a separate question on which there is ample authority. On many occasions, indeed in a recent case in the High Court of Australia, it has been held that because evidence has been obtained by an illegal method it is not rendered inadmissible. I recognise that different questions do arise in relation to the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act and to evidence obtained illegally under that Act. But all those issues no doubt would be the subject of discussion, submissions and so forth in court. As I said, I do not propose to make any comment which might be seen to affect in any way the decisions which may be made by the magistrate in the case referred to.
– I have a supplementary question, Mr President. I do not wish to interfere with the court case proceeding at present in Sydney or with any other current court case, but I put it to the Attorney-General that an important matter of principle is involved. He has announced an amnesty to police officers or others who in the past contravened the provisions of the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act. In future evidence which is obtained by that means- therefore, by illegal means- may be given in a court case. I ask: In principle, is it fair that people who have obtained evidence by using illegal methods and who have been given an amnesty should be in that advantageous position relative to those people who are having that evidence used against them in a court?
– I thought I had answered that question. I think the two issues are quite distinct. As I said, the law will take its course. There is ample authority in relation to the matter and that will take its course. I do not see that there is any question of fairness applying to one party more than the other; I do not think that arises.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources aware of the concept of a globalised trade system in apparel and textile products that has been proposed by the United States apparel industry? Can the Minister say whether the Government has had any contact with the United States authorities with respect to this proposition? In view of the difficulties experienced by the Australian textile industry, is the Minister in a position to state whether it would be a progressive step towards establishing an international system for orderly marketing? If so, does the Government intend to support a proposed move by the United States Government to introduce such a system?
- Senator Jessop asks an important question. Many people in Australia are associated with and employed in the apparel and textile industries. Whilst I have some information on this matter I feel that the question is of sufficient importance that I should direct it to my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Resources, and seek a detailed reply. I shall so do.
– I also direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources. It relates to a speech made by his colleague, the Minister for Trade and Resources, at Warren in New South Wales on Saturday, 9 February 1980. I ask whether the Minister for Trade and Resources in that speech, in respect of trade with the Soviet Union, made the following statement:
We have moved for sanctions with grains, where we should not sabotage the successful United States efforts, and with strategic materials, where we are dealing with materials directly vital to the Soviet war efforts.
Did the same Minister three days later issue a media release on the same subject? Did he say that the Government had examined the matters relevant to the export of raw materials to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and that after considering the review the Government had decided that exports of these raw materials should continue normally, and that, whilst some materials exported to the USSR could be said to have strategic significance, they were used predominantly for industrial purposes? I ask the Minister this question because the two statements are at complete variance. Which one is correct? Which one should the Australian public believe and accept?
-Naturally I am not aware of the wording of particular statements that may have been made by my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Resources, in Warren on 9 February. The two statements, if taken factually, are not basically inconsistent. This Government agreed that it would co-operate with the United States Government in not providing the grain that the United States Government had withheld. It has continued to do that. I said yesterday, and I repeat, that there is in existence a co-ordinating committee called the Coordinating Committee on Exports of Technology to Communist Countries. All the countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation- the west European countries- the United States of America and Japan are represented on that Committee. It looks at the export of technology and strategic materials to communist countries. Every action that the Commonwealth Government has taken has been in accordance with the principles of that Committee and is in parallel with the action of all those who work together to form that Committee. The Government has been consistent. It has pursued in a consistent way the principle laid down.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. It follows a question asked by my colleague, Senator Rocher, relating to the difficulty faced by companies which are trying to air freight meat from Western Australia. When the Minister seeks information from the Minister he represents to give Senator Rocher a more complete answer, will he also ascertain the extent to which meat air freight difficulties are related to passenger air fare agreements reached with other countries?
– Yes, I will.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Minister will be aware that in 1978-79 Australia exported some 17,000 rifles to the Soviet Union at a time when Russian troops were aiding the brutal and repressive Marxist regime in Afghanistan and carrying out genocide in Eritrea. Do such arms appear on the list of prohibited items produced by the Co-ordinating Committee on Exports of Technology to Communist Countries which was just mentioned by the Minister and which was relied upon by the Prime Minister yesterday? If so, why did the Australian Government permit the export of those arms to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? Whether the answer is yes or no, why did the Australian Government not independently decide to prohibit the export of those arms to the Soviet Union while its soldiers were directly involved in deadly wars outside its territory? In any case, has the Government at this stage taken any steps to ensure that such arms are not exported to the USSR under any existing or future contracts?
-In fact I answered this question yesterday, but for the benefit of Senator Tate I reiterate that the rifles which were exported to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were re-exported to the USSR; that is, they had already come from the USSR and were being sent back. They were non-military rifles.
– When they did not want the rifles they sent them here, and when they wanted them you sent them back. Is that what you are saying?
-They were non-military rifles.
– They fire rubber bullets, do they?
– I take it again, if these interjections are to be part of Question Time, that the Labor Party, including Senator Walsh, does not want us to send the rifles back to the USSR. I cannot understand what honourable senators opposite are trying to say. The fact is that these rifles were not military weapons of any kind. They apparently came from Russia and were sent back. They are not regarded as military weapons.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs aware of figures recently released by the Official Receiver indicating that the number of bankruptcies in South Australia increased by 25 per cent in 1979 over the 1978 figure?
– That is under the Tonkin Government.
-That occurred, of course, under the Dunstan Government. Has the Minister noted that most bankrupts have used credit indiscriminately or, more importantly, found it too easy to obtain? Furthermore, has the Minister noted that Bankcard has figured in many of these cases? Will the Minister consider examining the procedures involved in the issue of Bankcard in order to set standards to restrict the number of personal bankruptcies due to this overuse of Bankcard?
– I am not aware of the actual figures of bankruptcy in South Australia cited by Senator Messner. They are certainly a matter of interest and concern, particularly the other aspects in his question as to the reason in some cases for bankruptcy. I will refer his question to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and ask him to give me an early answer.
-My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. He will recall the question asked yesterday by Senator Wheeldon concerning what action the Australian Government took to protest about the presence of Soviet combat troops in Afghanistan last September. The Minister said in reply: the only people caught flat-footed were those caught by the subsequent massive invasion of military divisions.
I ask whether the Minister is aware that the Department of Foreign Affairs publication Australian Foreign Affairs Record dated September 1 979 said, amongst other things:
The United States has publicly expressed its opposition to any intervention in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and made known its concern both privately and publicly to the Soviet Union.
It also said:
Pakistan has also sought assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to assist in handling the 200,000 Afghani refugees now located in Pakistan.
It further stated:
Although Mr Amin -
Of course he was the President of Afghanistan- has secured political control, he is faced with a security situation which is becoming increasingly beyond his ability to handle.
It further stated:
There are Press reports that major military formations are moving across to the insurgents.
As this knowledge was available to the Australian Government four months prior to the Soviet invasion, is it not obvious that others, apart from the Afghanis, were caught flat-footed by the Soviet invasion even though they were obviously aware of the state of affairs in that country?
-If Senator Wriedt were to look at the answer I gave yesterday I think that he would find no disagreement with it. The fact is that it was the movement of some five military divisions into Afghanistan some weeks ago- not some months ago- that was the element of the invasion. It is true that there were signs of infiltration and subversion and signs that the Russians were attempting to stir up trouble, but that is not unknown throughout the world. It is going on pretty widely throughout the world at this moment. There were signs that they were trying to prop up a Marxist government in Afghanistan. The real military situation arose with the movement of four or five fully equipped Russian military divisions this year, not last year.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. As there is a growing awareness in the minds of government and the community in Australia of the need to become far more efficient in our ability to defend Australia against intrusion, will the Government hasten studies such as that presently being carried out by the Federal and Northern Territory governments of the feasibility of continuing the construction of the standard gauge rail link between Alice Springs and Darwin to enable rapid movement of all those items necessary for the defence of Australia and for the economic development of the north, particularly now that the TarcoolaAlice Springs standard gauge rail project will be completed later this year?
– The honourable senator has correctly drawn the attention of the Senate to the growing awareness in the minds of both the Government and the community of Australia’s need to be able to defend itself. I commend him for that. As far as the hastening of studies is concerned, I am pleased to advise him that the Government expects the study team to report to the responsible Minister in the Northern Territory and the Minister for Transport by the end of March. The Government is hoping that there will be no delay in receiving this important report. The study is required to take into account not only economic effects but also defence considerations, social impacts and the general effect of the railway on the future development of the Northern Territory. So the matters to which Senator Kilgariff referred are very much matters which come within the scope of the study.
– I direct my question to the Minister for National Development and Energy. According to a Press report in the Sydney Morning Herald of 27 November, Mr Max Strong, a Sydney biochemist, has been researching fuels from hydrocarbon plants in Utah for the past five years. Has the Minister read the report and can he state whether the Federal Government has contributed, or intends to contribute, funds from the petrol tax to such research in Australia? Can the Minister also give the Senate details of funds allocated for research into other alternative energy sources?
-I do not recall the specific item in the Sydney Morning Herald of 2 7 November, or a particular project by Mr Max Strong. However, I will seek that information and study it. I have said to my Department- and I say it publicly- that we will approach with open minds, with keen interest and with scientific examination any project with which individuals come forward and which they claim can add to the solution of the energy problem. I will take a similar step with regard to Mr Max Strong, if that step has not been taken already. The Government set up an institution called NERDDC- the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Council- whose job in life, with its very expert members, is to examine applications made to it by people seeking research funds and to recommend priorities in that regard. My recollection is that we have put forward approximately $38. 5m in various research grants to people in Australia for various projects. If the honourable senator seeks further information, I can make available to him the report of NERDDC which contains the list of undertakings. I repeat that, however way out a suggestion might be, we are prepared to take it seriously and have a look at it. I do not infer that Mr Strong’s suggestion is way out. We will be keen to examine anything that could provide a new frontier and a new breakthrough in the energy field.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Education aware that following a number of committee reports the Tasmanian Government has initiated a rationalisation program at the southern campus of the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education by transferring teacher education and a number of other disciplines to the University of Tasmania? Since not all staff will be transferred, inevitably there will be a redundancy problem. Have discussions taken place between the State and Federal governments on the difficulties involved and on meeting redundancy costs associated with this government-imposed cost saving scheme? In view of the wide ramifications for other institutions elsewhere in Australia, does the Minister not agree that there is a responsibility to assist staff into new jobs, offer short term contracts with the University or offer direct compensation for loss of careers?
– I have been aware- in my former capacity and now in a representative capacity- of the actions and proposed actions of the Tasmanian Government in attempting to rationalise, in its view, the various university and college campuses. Its view is that the Mount Nelson campus should be so rationalised that teacher education in southern Tasmania should become a university consideration, and therefore there should be a rationalisation which affects the total future of Mount Nelson and means rearrangement at the University of Tasmania and, of course, on the Newnham campus in Launceston. I am aware of that and it is my understanding today, as it has been before, that the Federal Minister for Education has said to the State Minister that this in terms of rationalisation is essentially a decision for the Tasmanian Government. I am aware of a great deal of heartburning among the people of Tasmania at the rationalisation but this is a State Government decision. The Minister for Education has indicated that, when the State Government has made up its mind, he will be glad if it would provide him with information because the Tertiary Education
Commission will need to examine the financing concepts. I understand that it is highly likely that the triennial funding will continue. That would be the TEC attitude and any redundancies would be undertaken within the financial programs that have been available. I must stress again that the decision is one which over several years the Tasmanian Government has been struggling with. Apparently it has now made a final decision.
– I wish to ask the Minister a supplementary question. Will such a move not prejudice the remaining Tasmanian College of Advanced Education campus at Newnham in Launceston?
– That of course will be a decision that Mr Holgate, the State Minister for Education, Recreation and the Arts, will have to announce. My understanding at the moment is that Newnham would not be prejudiced and that instead of having three institutions- Mount Nelson, the University of Tasmania and the northern Newnham campus- Mount Nelson would go and there would be a rationalisation between the northern CAE and the southern university. Lest there be any doubt about the matter, I will refer it to my colleague, the Minister in another place, and seek his comments.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education. Did the Government instruct the Tertiary Education Commission to meet with the Department of Education to review the number of post-graduate awards that the Government should offer this year? If so, when did or when will the meeting take place? Were the two parties asked to review the level of allowances payable to post-graduate award holders? Finally, was the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations invited to make representations to the meeting between the Tertiary Education Commission and the Department of Education?
– I am not aware whether there has been any formal meeting between the Department of Education and the Tertiary Education Commission with regard specifically to post-graduate awards and allowances. There is a continuous day-to-day dialogue between the Department and the Commission on this and other matters. I will ask my colleague whether there was a specific meeting. There have been numerous discussions. I am aware that the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations has been in contact with the Department on quite a number of occasions expressing its views. When I was the Minister for Education I had a number of deputations from the Council, and I was fully informed of its views. I have no doubt that my colleague has been also. But as to whether there has been a specific meeting I cannot say. I will find out.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport: As a full review of the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme is to be undertaken by the Bureau of Transport Economics this year, will the Minister request that the review consider specifically King and Flinders islands in the study in order to determine the special features of the disabilities suffered in relation to freighting costs to and from these parts of Tasmania?
– I am not aware of the precise scope of the review which is under way. I will refer that question to the Minister for Transport and ask him to give it consideration and to advise the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister for Social Security: In view of the current review by the Department of Social Security of people eligible to receive the invalid pension, can the Minister advise what is to happen to people who fall below the required 85 per cent incapacity but who are ineligible for unemployment benefit and are unable to work or find work, who have not just left employment and so are not eligible for sickness benefit, and who have a very small amount of money in the bank?
The arrangements under the Social Services Act with regard to invalid pension specify that a person must be permanently incapacitated to a degree of 85 per cent before an invalid pension is payable to him. Other tests such as income tests are applied. This is the arrangement which has been in existence under the Social Services Act since the 1940s. A person may be tested for invalid pension. If he meets the requirements, that is the appropriate pension for him. If not, there is the availability of sickness benefit, unemployment benefit or eligibility to be tested for special benefit. These are the arrangements that exist under the Social Services Act. Relevant applications can be made and the tests are applied for them. These arrangements have been in existence for very many years. There has been no change in the requirements for invalid pensions.
Recently many misleading statements have been made in the Press with regard to invalid pensions which I think have created some element of uncertainty. As I have stated, the Act covering invalid pensions has been in force since 1947. People in the Department are required to administer invalid pensions in accordance with the Act. We have had legal advice that the existing legislation does not allow the labour market to be taken into account when determining eligibility for invalid pensions. But that is not as a result of any change that has been made to the Act; that is an interpretation of the Act. A departmental instruction was issued about nine months ago to ensure that the provisions of the Act were being applied correctly. I would be happy to provide information for anyone who makes a specific inquiry.
What has been stated in the Press in recent weeks is entirely misleading. Testing for invalid pensions is conducted in conjunction with Department of Health medical officers. Of course, appeal provisions exist if a person finds some dissatisfaction or has queries with regard to any decisions that are made. I would like to think it is understood in the Australian community that there has been no change to the Act with regard to invalid pensions. Application forms have been reviewed recently and will soon be available in all States. At present I understand that they are not yet in use in all States. When they are in use it will be seen that they request information from those who seek an invalid pension. The tests that I have outlined will need to be applied in accordance with the Act. If there are difficulties with regard to sickness benefit or unemployment benefit the provisions of the Social Services Act with regard to special benefit may be tested by anyone who wishes to use them.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport by saying that no doubt the Minister recalls that during the parliamentary recess the yacht Charleston disappeared without trace en route from Hobart to Sydney. Is the Minister able to advise the Senate whether any containers have been lost from ships going from port to port, particularly on the eastern seaboard of Australia? He might also be able to advise the Senate- although I have not given him notice of this question- whether those containers would float and therefore be a hazard not only to yachts but also to other shipping. If he is not able to answer me today will he please do what he can to find out the answer?
– What about whales?
-It could be whales but I think it is more likely to be containers.
-I am glad the honourable senator indicated that I had no notice of this question. I can only say that I will find out whether containers are heavier than water and, if so, whether they will float or sink when dropped overboard. I have no information in my general brief as to the loss of containers. I will refer these matters to Mr Hunt and seek his guidance on them. I suspect, however, that whether a container will float will depend on whether it is empty or full and, if it is full, what is in it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether he can inform the Parliament of the approximate total cost of the last overseas trip by the Prime Minister. I also ask him whether, when detailed figures are available, he will provide for the Parliament a complete breakdown of figures covering total costs involved.
-I will seek that information and also make sure that we seek the comparative costs of the previous Government in relation to its overseas travel so that we will have the benefit of the demonstration of the economical travel by this Government compared with others.
-Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I am sorry that the Minister distorted the question. I asked for the cost of one trip-detailed and total.
– That is what I said I would seek to provide.
– I ask the Minister for National Development and Energy whether his attention has been drawn to a report in the Age newspaper of 12 February 1980 in which reference is made to a proposal for the use of two very large crude oil carriers, each of about 200,000 tonnes, to be moored in calm waters as storage for fuel. One of the proposed sites is the d ‘Entrecasteaux Channel south of Hobart. If such a report is correct, is the Minister aware of concern which has been expressed by environmentalists and others since that report was published? Is the concern well founded and, in particular, what environmental impact study in relation to possible spills either has been or will be conducted if any such proposal is to be implemented? Finally, why store fuel in floating tankers rather than land tanks or disused mines, as happens in a number of other countries?
– Because of the world emergency and the considerable uncertainty that there will be a continual flow of oil to Australia from the Middle East there has been under study over quite some months now the best means of storing in Australia a sufficiency both of crudes and of products and of ensuring that one could secure the supplies in world markets when they are available and at the right price. A number of alternative methods of storage have been under consideration. These include land storage in particular and the possibility of either leasing or purchasing one of these very large crude carriers, some of which are readily available. There is quite a glut of them at this moment in the world. No decisions at all have been made on the matter. It is under study.
The honourable senator asks why we should not have land tanks rather than a tanker. The answer is, of course, that it will take many months to create a land tank; it might take weeks to lease a tanker. That is a matter to be judged. I have seen suggestions that deep water ports such as those in Tasmania might be used. There is no contemplation at this moment of that. I think I have also seen some response by the Tasmanian Premier, who said that that suggestion would be all right if he got his share of the oil.
Looking at the significant point, that is the environmental impact, I acknowledge that anything that is done by the Commonwealth Government for storage of oil or petroleum products, whether on-shore or off-shore, must meet strict environmental conditions. We would certainly ensure that that would be done. We would ensure that if a VLCC a very large crude carrier- were to be contemplated discussions would take place with the Tasmanian Government. I give that assurance. But that has not happened at this moment.
– I inform the Senate that I have received the following letter, dated 20 February 1980, from Senator Missen:
Dear Mr President,
Pursuant to Sessional Order, I give notice that today I shall move:
That in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
The internal exile and restrictions imposed on the civil rights of Dr Andrei Sakharov and other Soviet human rights activists ‘.
Yours sincerely, Alan Missen Senator for Victoria
Is the motion supported?
More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
– I believe it is highly timely that at this early stage in the parliamentary new year the Senate should express a view on the subject which I raise. I move:
I believe the motion is timely because we are dealing with a man who, during our parliamentary recess, has been treated in a shameless way by the Soviet Union. This man is noted as one of the great scientists not only of the Soviet Union but also of the world and as a man who is a great human rights fighter. As all honourable senators will know, on 23 January of this year at last the Soviet Government chose to act against him in a direct manner. The Government sent him into internal exile. It sent him to live in the city of Gorky which is some 400 kilometres east of Moscow. It took him away from all contact with his friends, supporters and most members of his family. His wife, another great fighter for the cause, Yelena Bonner, is able to be there with him and to go backwards and forwards. He has been deprived of a great deal of his rights. He has been deprived of his telephone and his ability to communicate with people to a substantial degree and consequently suffers the hardship which has been inflicted upon many other persons who have supported human rights in the Soviet Union.
Dr Sakharov, as I say, is a famous Soviet physicist. He is restricted now in the extent to which he can continue work of importance in any area such as that. As a result of those restrictions many people throughout the world protested, including Mr Viner, the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the Australian people. Likewise a resolution carried in the European Parliament on 15 February condemned the Soviet authorities for their action and called on all the institutions of the European Economic Community to intercede with the Soviet Government for the liberation of citizens persecuted for their fight for freedom and for respect of the Helsinki Final Act. The resolution met with wide support in the Parliament, with only two British socialists voting against it. The Italian and French communists did not take part in the vote.
Already strong expressions have been made. This motion is even more timely because on 1 5 February, only a week ago, Dr Sakharov and his wife were both to meet with physical violence at the hands of Soviet police authorities in Gorky. A report of this incident appeared in the Melbourne Herald on 19 February. Fortunately Dr Sakharov was able to get to Western people the facts of this situation, namely, that he and his wife had actually been thrown out of the police station in the Volga city of Gorky last Friday when they went to inquire about a friend who had been detained. The friend was detained because he had come into the premises where they live. Of course, nobody is now allowed to do that. They went to explain the situation to the police authorities but were thrown out and assaulted. Mrs Sakharov, who has suffered from the effects of eye ailments for a number of years, was beaten around the eyes.
The situation is that the Soviet Union now dares to make this obvious attack on one of the famous scientific figures of this century. One could ask: What is the particular significance of Andrei Sakharov? He is, I suggest, the most well known and famous of the freedom fighters now in the Soviet Union. He was born in Moscow in 1921. He went to the Moscow University, did a brilliant course and graduated in 1942. He worked as an engineer in a war plant during the war years. He then joined the theoretical physicist I. E. Tamm who himself later became a Nobel Prize winner as, of course, Dr Sakharov did some years later in 1975. These two men and the people who worked with them then worked in secret. They perfected the thermo-nuclear reaction- the development of the hydrogen bomb. Many people describe Dr Sakharov as the father of the hydrogen bomb but he does not claim that title. He was one of an important team. But his work, I understand, scientifically is of a very brilliant type and he was recognised, of course, by the Soviet authorities. He became a full member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR at the age of 32. He also became a doctor of science at that time. In this period of doing this secret work he was also secretly honoured by the Soviet authorities. He was awarded the Stalin prize and received socialist hero awards on a number of occasions. He was treated, of course, as one of the very important elite of the Soviet Union. He received a very high salary, with all the perquisites of office and so forth which somebody in the Soviet Union is entitled to.
The very important point to make is that a man with a very great and very able mind, a man who no doubt could have lived his whole life in luxury and in a state of being respected by everyone, chose from this period to turn to an investigation of the state of life in the Soviet Union. He developed his ideas and he expressed those ideas in a state of very considerable danger. He then developed to become a great human rights fighter in the Soviet Union. He came to question his responsibility and the responsibility of the authorities for what was being done in regard to the testing of the hydrogen bomb. He became particularly concerned with this and he made complaints to the authorities. Of course he was very considerably rebuffed.
He then moved into other areas. He made many criticisms of a very valuable nature of the education system. He also took interest in the genetics area which had been shamefully mishandled in the Soviet Union. Again, he developed and met opposition and hostility from those people who had a vested interest in that area. As time went on, he continued to develop a wider interest, and to realise that the Soviet system was causing a great deal of anguish and meting a great deal of punishment on various people.
He attended trials. He went to see what was happening at trials and suffered the indignities which often were inflicted in the Soviet Union on people who attended trials and tried to support their friends there, who tried to ensure that there was a free right of expression at trials. He made declarations at those trials. Also, he strongly opposed the misuse of psychiatry, which was being practised by the Soviet authorities.
He wrote. I think that one of his particularly important writings is the essay Thoughts on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom. In that he set out some of the most vigorous criticisms of the Soviet system that have been made. Of course, they were likely in due course to lead him to danger because of the power of the persons he was attacking. I shall read a couple of extracts from that particularly fine essay. At page 93 he states:
Was it not disgraceful to allow the arrest, twelve-month detention without trial, and then the conviction and sentencing to terms of five to seven years of Ginzburg, Galanskov and others for activities that actually amounted to a defense of civil liberties and (partly, as an example) of Daniel and Sinyavsky personally.
Those two, of course, were among the early people who were sent to gaol in the repression of human rights activists. He made an appeal to the Government on that case; of course, it was rejected. He goes on to state:
Was it not disgraceful to permit the conviction and sentencing (to three years in camps) of Khaustov and Bukovsky for participation in a meeting in defense of their comrades? Was it not disgraceful to allow persecution, in the best witchhunt tradition, of dozens of members of the Soviet intelligentsia who spoke out against the arbitrariness of judicial and psychiatric agencies, to attempt to force honourable people to sign false, hypocritical ‘retractions’, to dismiss and blacklist people, to deprive young writers, editors, and other members of the intelligentsia of all means of existence?
He goes on to point out the victimisation of the Crimean Tatars, under which, we know, General Petr Grigorenko suffered so much. In those works and in other documents he wrote he expressed his views and he suffered as a consequence. He was taken off secret work. He was restricted in what he could do. But still, as one of the famous figures of the scientific world in Russia, he suffered only a certain amount of those restrictions whereas others had to suffer more. He was and could be seen as a shield behind which others were able to shelter. He still had his telephone and his chauffeur-driven car because the Soviet Union did not dare to go to the nth degree in the victimisation of this man. Nor, of course, did it try to expel him because it dared not let a man of his knowledge go out of the country.
In 1 970 he went ahead with the formation of the Human Rights Committee. That Committee and the members of it, who included A. N. Tverdokhlebov and V. N. Chalidze and other famous scientists, writers and intellectuals of the Soviet Union, went to trials and kept fighting for the cause of human liberty. When one realises that the aims of Sakharov and people like him are not limited ones, not confined to freeing prisoners, but are designed also to improve the state of the common people of Russia, one finds that this has been a consistent theme. Evidence of that is to be found in the foreword of Mr Harrison E. Salisbury to Sakharov’s book Sakharov Speaks, which was written in 1971. Harrison E. Salisbury said this:
Sakharov’s goals were unchanged. Once again, he called for a general liberalisation, an end to the political prison system, an end to the use of psychiatric institutions to punish sane prisoners, full legal rights for all Soviet citizens, an end to repressions on political, ideological, and religious grounds, freedom of information and press, full restoration of the rights of all nationalities and individuals repressed by Stalin, a rule of law, an end to dogmatism, adventurism, and aggression. He called for basic economic reform, democratic elections, efforts to modernise agriculture, a radical improvement in the educational system, a full-scale antipollution and environmental program.
Those are the normal, decent things which one would expect to be accepted in any decent and civilised society, whether one agrees with the proposals or not. But they only goaded the leaders of the Soviet Union to fury. They determined that when the time was ripe they should take the opportunity of dealing with this man. He became the leader of the human rights organisations, particularly after Alexander Solzhenitsyn was thrown out of the Soviet Union. He was regarded as the man who could throw the spotlight on these defects for the world. In 1 977 when the Soviet Union had to face up to the way in which it had failed to honour the Helsinki pact of two years before- it had to go to Belgrade to do so- he had several things to say about the Soviet Union’s implementation of the various accords on human rights. He said:
We are now living through a moment in history when decisive support of the principles of freedom of convictions, of open societies and of human rights is an absolute necessity . . . The alternative is a capitulation to totalitarianism.
He made that very clear to the people to whom he could get his word in that country. When I was in Moscow in 1976 I had the honour to speak on the telephone to Dr Andrei Sakharov. He was the only dissident who had a telephone. As I have told the Senate before, it was not a very easy conversation. I was cut off three times. But I managed to tell him that I believed that he was a man greatly respected and loved by people in this country and throughout the world for the great work he was doing for human dignity. I knew that I had an audience during that telephone conversation. I hope that the people listening got the message that I was trying to give to Dr Sakharov. We now know that he has been taken from Moscow and restricted in his activities.
Senator Martin will also speak on this debate. No doubt she will have more to say on the general matter. We are not talking only of Dr Sakharov in the debate on this motion. He is the banner bearer of freedom in the Soviet Union but many others who are unknown are suffering from persecution. The report on human rights in the Soviet Union by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence which was issued last year gives graphic detail in regard to the victimisation which other Soviet citizens have had to undergo. I believe that there is something very significant in the fact that at this time the Soviet Union has chosen to act as it has against Sakharov. This point of view was also expressed in an editorial in the West Australian of 24 January of this year. It stated:
For Moscow to act now against Dr Sakharov can only be read as a calculated show of defiance against the response of the US and its allies to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Such a toughening of attitude, at a time when Moscow might have been expected to soft-pedal in a bid to keep its Olympic Games hopes alive, virtually guarantees a wide Western response to the call for a Games boycott.
It is very significant that the action by the Soviet Union comes at this time. What is also significant is what has been disclosed by the Amnesty organisation. I have the honour to be the chairman of the parliamentary branch. In its report, which was reported in the Age of 17 January, it was pointed out that more than 40 people were known to have been arrested over the past three months for the non-violent exercise of human rights. The figure compares with 400 recorded arrests of people eventually brought to trial or committed to psychiatric hospitals in a period of four years to May 1979. The spokesman said:
The authorities seem to have thrown caution to the winds.
The Soviets seem to have increased the speed with which they deal with people. We know from reports from Moscow that there is a wish to get undesirables out of Moscow before the Games. We know that General Loshkin the Russian security chief for the Olympics, has said to West German questioners ‘that if freedom of expression were tolerated it could lead to outbreaks of terrorism’. He promised that ‘inflammatory speeches or gestures that could lead to political disturbances would be crushed with maximum force’.
We cannot say that Stalinism is dead. Stalin is dead but it is obvious that Stalinism is very much alive in the Soviet Union. It is being applied at the present time to ensure that people such as Grigorenko, Yuri Orlov, Alexander Ginzburg, Shcharansky, and Valentin Turchin are repressed. I met Valentin Turchin in Moscow. He now has the fortune to be able to work as a mathematician in New York. These people are among the leading activists who have been dealt with by the Soviet authorities in recent times.
Today I draw the attention of the Senate specifically to Sakharov, one of the finest voices that we have heard on human rights in the Soviet Union. He faces up to the question of whether it is important that one should protest or take action. In a speech which was delivered for him in Washington last September he said:
Tragedy abounds in today’s world. Blood is being shed in the Middle East, Latin America, Southern Africa, Northern Ireland, Ethiopia, Iran, and Afghanistan … in such circumstances, a discussion of violations of civil rights in the USSR and eastern Europe may appear a minor distraction from the more serious problems. But I am certain this is not so. I believe that the main front in the struggle against totalitarianism lies in the international defence of human rights wherever they are violated.
I echo those remarks. I believe that they are important. We must not allow current events in foreign affairs to overshadow the civil rights issue, thus enabling the Soviet Union to get away with the sort of beastliness which it is carrying on. I make no apology for having referred so much to Sakharov’s writings. He is a man we should hear. We ought to carry this motion today.
– I am glad that Senator Missen was afforded the human right to finish his speech, even though he was slightly over his time. I am sure that we would all echo the sentiments of the comments made in the latter part of Senator Missen ‘s speech in which he quoted the words of Sakharov himself. We must all use whatever influences we have available to us to ensure that the deprivation of human rights is, if possible, eliminated in every part of the world and certainly minimised where we are not able to take positive steps. In dealing with these issues of human rights we could do much worse than be guided by the views of the very person who is specifically mentioned in the motion by Senator Missen, namely, Dr Andrei Sakharov. He was interviewed by representatives of the French publication Le Monde in August 1978. As we know, he was the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize winner. In the course of the interview Dr Sakharov said:
It is essential to pursue a balanced approach and apply the same criteria to all human rights violations without being swayed by political considerations and oppositions.
In the same interview he also said:
What is important is for the defence of human rights never to fall victim to differences of opinion among groups, parties or nations. It should rather express the aspiration of mankind in a world already so cruelly divided.
They are similar sentiments, of course, to the quotation that Senator Missen used. At the time that Dr Sakharov made those statements he would have been more aware than anyone else of the risk that he ran by publicly maintaining his objection to certain aspects of Soviet policy. Many of his colleagues had been imprisoned and exiled. Many of them had been stripped of their various rights and honours which they had received in their own country. Dr Sakharov would have been aware that it was only the prestige which he enjoyed and which attached to him because of the work that he had done as a nuclear Psychicist which restrained the authorities from taking similar action against himself. Now that he has finally suffered a similar fate to that of many of his colleagues, his words take on greater significance. He would quite rightly be entitled to expect that defenders of human rights would not react in an emotional fashion but would continue the struggle to improve the quality of human rights which were so ably carried out by him.
Nations have moral and legal obligations to be involved in the promotion of human rights at home and abroad. During this century there has been growing recognition that the abuse of human rights is a legitimate subject of international concern and that their enforcement can no longer be left to national governments alone. The Charter of the United Nations established as one of its key purposes the promotion and encouragement of respect for human rights and fundamental freedom for all without distinction. In adhering to the Charter all member states have incurred obligations to support that objective. No country could question that position without justification. The performance is not simply a domestic matter but one in which the international community has a moral responsibility. The protection and the promotion of human rights throughout the world are two of the important activities of the United Nations, which has established very high standards.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a resolution which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948, established the basic parameters but was not legally binding as an international agreement. The provisions of that document were transformed in the international law by the development of two international covenants; namely the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, and the international covenant on civil and political rights. The latter covenant recognises the following rights: The right to life; freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; freedom from slavery; the right to liberty and security of person; the right to liberty of movement and freedom within the territory of a state; the right to leave any country; freedom from arbitrary expulsion; equality before courts and tribunals; the right to recognition as a person before the law; the right to privacy; the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; the right to hold opinion without interference; the right of peaceful assembly; the right to freedom of association, including the right to join trade unions; and the right to take pan in the conduct of public affairs. This latter covenant was adopted by the General Assembly in 1 966 and was ratified by the Soviet Union in 1 973. It might be added that it is no credit to Australia that as yet we have still not ratified this covenant.
In addition to these fundamental documents, the United Nations has taken considerable interest in human rights in recent times. One matter of importance was the final act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, which placed human rights on the agenda of East- West relations. Although there has been considerable recognition of human rights issues, full implementation of these international arrangements will be a very difficult and long task. Part of the problem is that there are differences in perception of human rights as between Western democracies on the one hand and the vast majority of principle states of the United Nations on the other. Western countries generally accord priority to civil and human rights, but Third World countries consider that the most essential human rights are the economic rights of their citizens. They are the basic necessities of survival. While in the West the emphasis on the rights of the individual is paramount, many other countries, including the Soviet Union, stress the rights of the citizen in his own country and his responsibilities to that society.
These differing approaches have hindered the development of any really co-ordinated and effective action to promote and defend human rights. Western democracies have been particularly concerned by the comparatively low priority developing countries and eastern European countries accord to civil and political rights. In the West there has also been concern about the reluctance by the United Nations majority to support measures to improve that body’s ability to deal with situations of gross abuse. On the other hand, developing countries have often considered Western efforts to be somewhat hypocritical and have accused Western countries, including Australia, of concentrating on civil and political rights issues which our domestic traditions hold very dear, while at the same time paying insufficient attention to the economic context in which they occur. Experience has shown that situations of severe economic hardship do impede the development of conditions and mechanisms to guarantee the enjoyment of human rights. For this reason we must accept the responsibility to promote those economic rights, as well as the civil and political rights, which implies a strong commitment to international development. At the same time, we should expect nations to move progressively towards internationally accepted standards and refrain from actions which alienate human rights.
It is clear there is little hope of successfully dealing with breaches of human rights, such as the Sakharov case, in isolation. The Australian
Government quite rightly condemned the treatment of Dr Sakharov, but that step on its own is not sufficient to lead to any lasting improvement in human rights issues. It is important that when abuses of human rights occur, such as the issues encompassed by the present motion, we use those issues to promote a strengthening of the mechanisms to prevent human rights violations. I have no doubt that progress in this direction would be welcomed by Dr Sakharov.
In the long run the most effective means of promoting human rights internationally will lie through multilateral action under the auspices of the United Nations. Mechanisms created by that body must be expanded and made more effective in dealing with patterns of violations by various countries. Australia could use its position on the Human Rights Commission to call for a more positive response when the Commission identifies patterns of gross violations, leading to full investigations of the matters with a view to proposing to the government concerned measures to correct the position. It is a pity that over the past decade the performance of the United Nations in dealing with gross abuses of human rights has been very poor. There has been a lack of common will to take action in many serious situations. Action has been taken only in a few situations where the United Nations majority considered that the political position as well as the human rights situation warranted action.
Notwithstanding this poor record, the United Nations offers the best hope in reaching some satisfactory resolution of these issues. We have seen in the past the problems of the taking of unilateral action by individual countries as this too easily lends itself to highly political judgments. There has been a growing recognition that human rights are subject to international jurisdiction and influence. The recent report on Human Rights in the Soviet Union by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence recognised that the civil rights of Soviet citizens have improved considerably since the Stalin period ended in 1953. As the report noted, there was still great scope for improvement. It cannot be doubted that much of that improvement has occurred as a result of international contact and pressure.
The Soviet Union may not be following scrupulously the terms of the international covenants that I have mentioned but it is a party to those covenants and that fact alone places considerable restraint on the actions of the authorities in the Soviet Union- or at least it should. This latter point is important. The Wheeldon Committee, as it was called- Senator Wheeldon will be taking part in this debate- noted that the Soviet Union had made substantial progress towards economic equality. It pointed out:
Provided there is no display of obvious dissent against the Soviet system, a citizen is assured of a pension, free education and health services. Housing at a nominal rent and staple foods at subsidised prices are also available.
No matter how much we may disapprove of the way in which the Soviet Union views its obligations on these particular aspects of the human rights issue, we cannot equate the situation of citizens within that country with those who live, for example, in Kampuchea, Uganda, South Africa, East Timor or a whole range of countries. The fact is that pressure from the international community has caused considerable improvement in the Soviet Union, and we can expect that pressure to lead to further improvement. Senator Missen referred to what has been seen in other countries, particularly by Amnesty International, the parliamentary branch of which Senator Missen is president. Many members of parliament belong to that organisation because they are horrified by the things which they know are occurring. In the Amnesty International Newsletter of November last year we find the heading ‘Human rights consistently violated in Afghanistan’. In regard to Uruguay, under the heading ‘Torture decision’, the newsletter states:
The Human Rights Committee set up under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in its first judgment on an individual complaint, has concluded that Uruguay has violated the right of a person not to be subjected to torture, the right to be promptly informed of charges and the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time.
In regard to the Social Republic of Vietnam the newsletter reports:
A 60-year-old journalist has been detained without charge or trial in Vietnam since June 1978.
In the case of Tunisia, the newsletter continues:
A young Tunisian trade unionist is serving a 3-year sentence for publishing and distributing a clandestine newspaper.
The newspaper was an attempt simply to offer some comments on an organisation that existed in that country. The person arrested is reported to have undergone prolonged torture in police custody. In relation to Columbia, the newsletter states:
A young medical doctor who has been working among peasants in the Columbian countryside is awaiting trial before a military court on charges of ‘subversion’.
He was arrested in May of 1979 after his house had been searched. He was accused of ‘having created a medicines co-operative with persons considered to be members of subversive groups, and having provided medical attention to alleged members of guerrilla movements’. There is also an article in relation to the Sudan, which states:
Several hundred suspected political opponents of the government . . . have been detained in Sudan in the last few months . . .
In relation to an Amnesty International report on Malaysia, the newsletter states:
The Al report on Malaysia . . . has been banned by the Malaysian government. The ban was promulgated in the fortnightly government gazette on 30 August. People found in possession of or publishing the report faced the threat of a fine or imprisonment.
The headline to the report on Paraguay reads: Missing communist leaders “died under torture” ‘. There is then a most gruesome account of what happened to them. Those cases are just snippets from one issue of Amnesty International Newsletter. As members of this Parliament know, the great majority of material which is compiled by Amnesty International is based on quite substantive information. So we have these terrible violations of human rights all around the world, which I am sure every one of us deplores. As we know, the Australian Government introduced a Bill to establish a Human Rights Commission to ensure that Australia complied with its international obligations. As we also know, due to objections raised by various State governments in this country, particularly those which do not have the greatest record in this respect- that would include the Government of Queenslandthe Bill was withdrawn and subsequently amended. In its current form it will do little to ensure that State governments comply with international treaties on this issue.
It is unfortunate that we in this country have not been able, collectively, to adopt a more responsible attitude in carrying out our international obligations. It is of value to the Senate that we do have the opportunity to bring before the Australian people our joint concern in this Parliament of the need to ensure the rights of individuals in all countries. Only yesterday honourable senators heard a reply given by the Leader of the Government (Senator Carrick) concerning objections that were made by the Australian Government to the Singaporean Government about the detention and imprisonment of certain political prisoners in Singapore. The reply was quite simple. The Singaporean Government said to the Australian Government: ‘You keep out of it; that is our business. We will do what we like in Singapore’.
– We should not accept that view, should we?
– No; but, as the Leader of the Government pointed out, this is the stock answer given in most cases by most governments: ‘It is our business; you keep out of it’. Unfortunately, the world community has not reached the stage where it has a mechanism that is good enough and strong enough to enable us to pressure other governments sufficiently to rectify their ways. I can assure the Senate that the Australian Labor Party stands very firmly behind the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
- Senator Wriedt ‘s speech ranged over many subjects, including the subject of Dr Sakharov. It is timely to remind the Senate of the matter of urgency which was moved by Senator Missen. Specifically, it is:
The internal exile and restrictions imposed on the civil rights of Dr Andrei Sakharov and other Soviet human rights activitists.
That does not in any way deny concern about human rights and civil liberties in other countries. Senator Wriedt saw fit to refer to the particular relevance of the United Nations in this context. I think it is therefore relevant for me to remind Senator Wriedt that the Australian delegation to the current session of the Commission of Human Rights in Geneva will be supporting moves for the expression of the Commission’s concern at the detention and deprivation of human rights, specifically those of Dr Sakharov. Certainly the Government clearly is supporting that as a line of relevance. However, I think that today we have to make the point that it is relevant that the Senate unanimously resolve that the treatment that Dr Sakharov has received is a matter of urgency.
Interestingly, Senator Wriedt saw fit to point out that different countries have different philosophies of human rights and that sometimes they perceive them in relation to their own internal domestic situation, particularly as it relates to the economies of their countries. In that context it should be remembered that Dr Sakharov has been imprisoned without trial. He has requested a trial under the laws of his own country, the Soviet Union. There can be no conflict of opinion in regard to philosophies under circumstances where he has requested a trial under the laws which obtain to human rights in his own country. Why should we in Australia consider it a matter of urgency as we are well removed from the countries where a man has been imprisoned without trial.
Senator Missen has said much, and I shall not traverse the same ground, regarding the significance of Dr Sakharov, his background, the position that he held in Soviet society and the reasons why he chose to change his position as against his Government and to become one of the groups that we refer to as the dissidents within the Soviet Union. Senator Missen mentioned that he had had the privilege of speaking with Dr Sakharov when he visited the Soviet Union. I would like to say a few words about Dr Sakharov and quote from him in order to give the Senate some idea of the importance that he might place on what we might say today in Australia about the position in which he now finds himself.
I will not quote at length but I refer to a lengthy article of personal detail about Dr Sakharov. It states:
The young nuclear physicist was lavished with rewards rare in Soviet society- a large salary, a beautiful apartment, a chauffered car and awards from the Soviet Government.
But Dr Sakharov chose to dissent, and by deciding to follow his conscience, he traded privilege for persecution. His life was threatened, his apartment searched. He suffered threatening telephone calls and letters, surveillance by the KGB, vilification in the Press. And yesterday -
The article is dated 24 January- he and his wife, Yelena were banished into internal exile. Dr Sakharov continues:
This is the kind of life that wears you out,’ he said recently. AH I get is moral satisfaction that, if not me, then who? ‘
It is a very lonely sort of moral satisfaction- as I think all of us can appreciate- when all one can say is : ‘If it is not me, who will it be?’ Essentially it must be someone else. The loneliness of that moral correctness now has led to the ultimate loneliness- exile within his own country. There is no reason to believe that Dr Sakharov would not, as most people do, like his country; but he has a difference with the Government on specific issues. Now he finds himself an exile within his country. He has shown great courage in choosing to follow the path that he has as well as choosing personal deprivation as against personal privilege which he had previously chosen.
I think tribute should be paid also to those in the Soviet Union who have joined in an internal protest and to the courage of the supporters of Dr Sakharov who have come out publicly within the Soviet Union. It is all the more outstanding because of the fact that the Soviet Government has chosen to treat this man in this particular way. Leading dissidents, writers and outstanding members of the Soviet community have shown great courage by calling a Press conference to pay tribute to Dr Sakharov as being a most significant leader. One of them said that the name Andrei Sakharov had become a synonym of nobility of spirit, heroism and humanism. That is how he is viewed in his country. I believe that he is viewed similarly outside his country. It is important that those of us who believe that honesty and dignity of the human spirit are important join together around the world to echo those sentiments and support the man who has become that synonym of nobility of spirit, heroism and humanism.
There also has been external protest- protest in a number of countries. This is seen as important, both within the Soviet Union and outside. There are those who describe Dr Sakharov as the most important single voice for democracy within the Soviet Union. Those who have known him and who are no longer in the Soviet Union, but are former Soviet citizens, have said that his internal exile has been the most important single loss to the civil rights movement within the USSR.
One ought to remember that the USSR is a comparatively civilised country. It has a long culture, an intricate culture, a well developed culture, and it is not altogether relevant to compare it with some of the emerging nations where literacy, or development or expression of culture is something which is fairly recent. I think that the Soviet Union can reasonably claim, on the basis of its history, especially the history of its very rich culture, to be culturally one of the very advanced nations in the world. Therefore I believe that we can judge it according to the standards that we would set for advanced nations. Further, it is important that we protest- each one of us who has the opportunity to raise a voice- loud and long, because there is some evidence that the Soviet Union will, under certain circumstances, respond to external criticism of the treatment of its dissidents.
There is the celebrated case where five dissidents were released suddenly in April 1 979. The best known of them is Alexander Ginzburg and Valentin Moroz and others.
– And Leonid Plyushch.
– I am referring to a particular group of five people who were released in April last year. They paid tribute to the role that they believed that Western protest against the treatment that they had received had played a part in their release. As far as they were concerned they were released very suddenly, in exchange for two Soviet spies who had been convicted of espionage in the United States of America. I refer to what Andrei Sakharov said when he heard of the exchange. I am quoting from a document called ‘A Chronicle of Human Rights in the USSR’, published by a group called ‘The Movement in Defence of Human
Rights in the USSR Continues’. Mr Sakharov said:
We are glad for our friends who have been released, and for their families. But we are disturbed by the flagrantly unjust treatment of Iosif Mendelevich.
I am sure that Senator Wheeldon would be much better than I am at pronouncing these namesbecause he has had much more practice.
Yury Fedorov, and Alexei Murzhenko who were not released with the others involved in the Leningrad ‘airplane case ‘. Likewise, we are disturbed and deeply hurt by the continued confinement of Yury Orlov, Anatoly Shcharansky and other members at the Helsinki watch groups, We are convinced that only a general political amnesty can provide an effective foundation for confidence and mutual understanding between the USSR and the United States and other countries.
That statement was made on the night of 27 April 1979 by Elena Bonner and Andrei Sakharov. It is interesting to look at the effect that we may or may not have, from outside, at the words of.those released dissidents at a news conference in New York. Edward Kuznetsov made a statement on behalf of four of them; Pastor Vins made a separate statement for a different reason. It is interesting to get the reaction of these released dissidents. Edward Kuznetsov said:
I have already been asked on two occasions what amazes me most about New York. And 1 answer, the fact we are here. I cannot conceive of anything more remarkable.
We thank everyone from the bottom of our heartseveryone who has helped us to get out of prison clothing. Thanks in part to the fact that the repressive aspect of Soviet internal policy is an object of continuous and active attention on the part of a large number of people in the West . . .
That is a statement from the dissidents who were fortunate to be released and who would grieve, I am sure, for those who were not released with them. There are many, many chronicled cases of people who have been exiled and imprisoned within the Soviet Union. That was an outstanding release in that there were several well-known people involved in that group of five. Covered were Jewish dissidents, a dissident who campaigned for the rights of the ethnic cultures within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and others. It covered a broad spectrum. Clearly it was believed that the reason this particular group was chosen was that they were amongst the best known of the Soviet dissidents who had been imprisoned. It was hoped that by choosing a group which covered a broad range of interests- religion, culture, politics and ethnic communities- the voice of criticism in the West would have been in some way stilled.
I will quote from an opinion expressed in an article ‘Refuseniks freed to clean up Games’ published in the Australian dated 2 May 1979. It states:
The Kremlin ‘s dramatic decision to free some of its best known dissidents is widely believed to have been prompted as much by the 1980 Olympic Games as by Soviet-American relations and the possibility of an early Brezhnev-Carter summit.
The comment on the Olympic Games is now a little outdated in view of more recent events. The article goes on to say that Western observers believe that the Soviet leadership was looking even further ahead to next year’s Olympic Games in Moscow, seeing the Games as a way of helping the country’s image. I think it is incumbent on all of us who have the privilege of having a voice in the public arena to make it clear to the Soviet Union that it cannot on the one hand release five people and on the other hand imprison, in the worst possible circumstances and without trial, probably the most outstanding man that the West would look to as a leader of democratic views and human rights views within the Soviet Union.
The point of our protest, the point of our supporting this very specific urgency motion in relation to Andrei Sakharov and other Soviet human rights activists, is very important. We have the views that the released dissidents put on the matter. Alexander Ginzburg, one of them, said:
No matter how many people they - that is, the Soviet authorities- put into prison, no matter how many people are put into exile, the numbers who speak out always remain the same.
In other words, so long as the Soviet Union continues to repress its dissidents then there will be more and more dissidents. It may be in that context that the Government of the Soviet Union made the extraordinary decision to exile Sakharov in particular. Finally, I should like to quote from an article by Dr Reddaway, a senior lecturer at the London School of Economics, and who I am told is an authority on Soviet affairs, to indicate what he sees as the importance of the Western view on this subject. Dr Reddaway stated:
The Soviet regime’s current assault on dissent- of which Dr Sakharov ‘s exiling is part- poses a serious new challenge to the West.
Further on in the article he stated:
This year will show whether or not Western protests are determined enough- as they were during the last crackdown on dissent in 1977- to compel the Soviet leaders to back off and bring the present purge to an end.
Dr Reddaway went on to give some more details in the article. I am afraid that I cannot quote further because my time has almost expired. But it is interesting to read that and then to conclude, as Dr Reddaway concludes in this article, that it has been as a result of Western comment on the treatment of dissidents that in fact the Helsinki group survived in the Soviet Union. There are those who see the arrest of Dr Sakharov as the most significant recent attempt on that group. It is important that we make sure that those who have left the country or been exiled from it and those who stay within it, so far as we can communicate with them, know that we still care. It is also important that the Government of the Soviet Union knows that those who still have a free voice, those in free countries, will speak out freely in condemnation of its flagrant abuse of civil rights.
– The Opposition supports the motion which has been moved by Senator Missen. In the House of Representatives notice was given by our colleague, Dr Klugman, of a motion dealing with this same matter. I should like to read the terms of Dr Klugman ‘s motion, as I believe it expresses the views of the Australian Labor Party on this question. The motion reads:
That this House-
1 ) views with grave concern the continuing suppression by the Government of the USSR of those of its citizens daring to claim the right to free political speech;
specifically deplores the action of the Soviet Government in silencing by internal banishment the voice of the most prominent and respected such dissident Andrei Sakharov;
) condemns such action as a clear violation of the spirit and substance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Helsinki Accords, to all of which the USSR is a party;
believes that such action is a clear breach of those indispensable minimum standards of behaviour necessary for membership of the international community of civilised nations, and
requests the Government to transmit this resolution to the Government of the USSR.
On behalf of the Opposition, Dr Klugman gave notice of this motion in the House of Representatives because of the strong opinions which are held on the treatment of Dr Sakharov by members of the Australian Labor Party, as I am sure they are by the overwhelming majority of those Australian people who have sufficient interest in these matters to be aware that anything has happened within the Soviet Union. I believe that it is important for a number of reasons that this matter should be raised. First of all, even if no good comes of it, even if it does not influence anybody to do anything, there is something just about the brave actions of a man such as Sakharov being acknowledged, even if it does not improve his physical situation and even if it does not prevent similar events taking place in the future. What Dr Sakharov has done and has been doing now for a number of years has shown exemplary dedication to democracy and to the practices of a free society. His have not been the actions of an irresponsible person; they have been the actions of a man who has reached the pinnacles of his profession inside the Soviet Union. He was a member of one of the most privileged groups inside the Soviet Union, the scientists, particularly those who were engaged in the sort of research in which he was engaged such as nuclear physics and the development of nuclear weapons. Despite that, Dr Sakharov was prepared to jeopardise his own position without any possibility of any benefits coming to him personally as a result of his actions, solely because of his dedication to truth and those basic freedoms to which civilised people have subscribed since the time of the enlightenment.
Having said that, I think it is important that we look at the more general questions which are raised by the Soviet Government’s treatment of Dr Sakharov. Senator Missen has said quite correctly that Dr Sakharov is a man with a distinguished career. He referred to his brilliant career at Moscow University. Even if Dr Sakharov had had a disastrous career at Moscow University, that is not the issue that is involved in this question. The fact is that Dr Sakharov is an individual who is prepared to stand up for those human rights which are supposed to underlie the very basis of the sort of democratic society which we believe we have or hope that we have inside Australia. One may well wonder whether any protest that is being made here or anywhere else will have any effect on the Soviet Government or influence the Soviet regime to change its policies in any way. I think that one is entitled to have doubts as to whether protests do have much effect.
Any observer of the practice of Soviet foreign policy and Soviet internal policy over the period since there has been a Soviet government is forced to the melancholy conclusion that provided the Soviet government obtains that physical power which it is seeking it is not concerned particularly about resolutions which are carried by any parliaments or any political parties, including its allegedly fraternal communist parties. The fact that there were protests about its action in Czechoslovakia and Hungary and that there are now protests by an overwhelming majority of the members of the United Nations in relation to what Russia has just done in Afghanistan, has in no way caused it to vacate those countries which it has occupied. It would appear that while in the process of invading and forcibly occupying other countries the USSR will be able to continue with its tirades against other countries, accusing them of committing serious acts of aggression against the other countries which are a mere pecadillo compared with what it has done in at least three countries within the last 25 years in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Afghanistan. I think it is significant that only within the last few months Soviet diplomats have been expelled from New Zealand and Spain. A diplomat was expelled from New Zealand for allegedly interfering in the internal politics of New Zealand, and a Soviet diplomat was expelled from Spain allegedly on the grounds of engaging in espionage.
– And Canada.
– I am referring specifically to the attitude which was shown by these diplomats on being expelled which was one of contempt for the countries to which they had previously been posted. Some derisory remarks were made about New Zealand by the Soviet ambassador to New Zealand when he was asked to leave, and only a few days ago, when the Soviet diplomat was expelled from Spain on the grounds that he had been engaged in espionage, he made some weak attempt at humor by saying: What is there to spy on in Spain?’ This reflects a contempt for the attitudes adopted by other countries.
The only way in which the Soviet Union will be affected is if it believes that there is some sort of united opposition to the Soviet Union by those countries which believe in freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and the other democratic liberties which are being breached by that country. That does not mean that it is not worth while to be carrying resolutions such as that which is before the Senate at present. Even if somehow or other news seeps through to the Soviet Union about resolutions of this kind- one sometimes wonders to what extent that can be the case- even if the Soviet Government is not affected but somehow someone can affect the Soviet people and they can learn and become aware that people in countries such as Australia are aware of what the Government has done to Sakharov and condemn it then this may, one hopes, have some influence upon the Soviet people. After all, there are short wave radios and presumably these days there is at least, even in the Soviet Union, some dissemination of information.
Apart from the Soviet people it is necessary that people in other countries throughout the world should be made familiar with the condemnation by democratic countries of these arbitrary, brutal and oppressive Soviet actions. Many people throughout the world at present, in a number of the so-called Third World and underdeveloped countries, tend to look in the direction of the Soviet Union and see it as being some sort of saviour from their present ills. The more they become aware of the reality of Soviet power the less chance there is that we will see further countries fall in the way in which Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Afghanistan have fallen in recent years.
The attack on Dr Sakharov is part of a consistent pattern of attacks by the Soviet authorities on people of various religious beliefs who have tried to exercise that religious freedom in a way which the Soviet Government has not approved of. The Soviet authorities have also attacked members of various minority nationalities in the Soviet Union who have tried to preserve their own national traditions and culture and, in some cases, have merely tried to preserve their own language. Certainly, people who have expressed any form of political view which can be held as being contrary to that of the Soviet Government have also been attacked. I do not believe that there can be any more telling indictment of the regime in that country, with all the other things that have been done by the Soviet Government, than the fact that no political party other than the Soviet Communist Party is legal within that country and that nobody can advocate any political policies opposed to the policies of the Soviet Communist Party without breaching the law and being subjected to persecution and imprisonment. For the Soviet Union still to parade itself as some sort of democratic country, when no other alternative point of view whatsoever can be publicly expressed within that country, tells one all that one needs to know about the Soviet Union. Whatever criticisms may be made of all sports of Western countries- and we have heard plenty of criticisms of other Western countries- certainly no one can say that in any other major Western country is there such an atrocious situation that the only political doctrine which can be expressed is that which is provided for the people by the Soviet Government and by the Soviet civil service.
The Soviet Union in its behaviour is completely in breach of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, the so-called Helsinki Agreement. The Soviet Union, which consistently talks of detente, has acknowledged that the signing of the Helsinki Accords was an integral part, a corner-stone, of what was described as detente. I think that one only needs to read just a few paragraphs from Principle VII of the Final Act of the Helsinki Accords to see just how clearly the Soviet Union disregards those Accords which it says are the corner-stone of detente. The Final Act, to which the Soviet Union is a party, states:
The participating States will respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.
They will promote and encourage the effective exercise of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and other rights and freedoms all of which derive from the inherent dignity of the human person and are essential for his free and full development.
Within this framework the participating States will recognise and respect the freedom of the individual to profess and practise, alone or in community with others, religion or belief acting in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience.
That is a document to which the Soviet Government has put its signature. We have seen what has happened to one of its most eminent men of science, Dr Sakharov, when he has attempted to exercise those very rights. He has been exiled to Gorky, once the city of Nizhny Novgorod, in the same way as throughout the tsarist era, people who stood for freedom against the tsars were exiled. Despite their having a world view, which the tsars did not have, and despite their being somewhat more efficient, the regime in the Soviet Union at present is, so far as the liberties of the citizen are concerned, in no way better than it was under the tsars. The same exiles, the same imprisonments and the same trumped up charges still occur. There are even some new developments such as the committing of war heroes such as Major-General Grigorenko to psychiatric institutions because they decided to differ with the official policy of the Soviet Communist Party on some issue.
It is proper that we should be protesting about this. It is proper that we should be voicing some democratic solidarity with Dr Sakharov. But if we are to do this we have to do it not merely because we are opposed to the Soviet Union because of its anti-capitalist economic policies or because the Soviet Union is a major superpower. I believe that if we are to do this we need to be doing so as part of a consistent belief that human rights, freedom of the individual, freedom of speech and assembly, and freedom of the people to change their government by way of a free election are things which we stand for everywhere. If we do not do that and if we only raise these objections in relation to the Soviet Union- if we do not raise these objections in relation to Indonesia or Chile- we are making a mockery of what we are saying today. We are making hypocrites of ourselves and we are not honouring Dr Sakharov, a man whose example ought to be seized on by all of us as the way in which all of us should conduct ourselves as democrats.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-by leave- The Australian Democrats have been advised that because of pressure of business on the Senate time was not available for us to make a major contribution to the debate which has just ended on the erosion of civil liberties in the Soviet Union. I had sought to make such a contribution and it is a source of some disappointment to me not to be able to do so. However, I wish to indicate the support of the Australian Democrats for the motion, our unequivocal abhorrence of the erosion of human rights in the Soviet Union and elsewhere and in particular our sympathy for the plight of Dr Andrei Sakharov.
-by leave- I too would have desired and, indeed, sought to speak in support of the motion which has just been unanimously passed. I wish now to express that to the Senate. I do not wish to interrupt the unanimous atmosphere on this matter by any argument that I might have with the Whips over the placing of my name on speakers lists. I wish to make it perfectly clear that I will raise that in this chamber at another stage.
-by leave-On 19 November 1979 I sought leave to have incorporated in Hansard a table that I had had prepared concerning the salaries and allowances payable to the President of the Senate, to the Leader of the Opposition, to junior Ministers and to Cabinet Ministers. That leave was given and the table was incorporated. On 28 November Senator Chaney in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services wrote to me in the following terms:
During the Committee stage of the debate on the Remuneration and Allowances Bill 1979 you incorporated a table in Hansard which appears on page 2456 of the Hansard of 19 November. I am informed that the table is incorrect in a number of aspects and am attaching, for your information, a schedule which sets out the correct position.
Having received that letter I rang one of the Senate Clerks and through him arranged for the new table to be incorporated in the weekly Hansard that was being published. I am now told that, for whatever be the reason- it may be that my staff sent the wrong table or there was some mistake on the part of the Printer- the table that appears in the weekly Hansard in fact contains some inaccuracies. Now I seek to correct that table as well as the table incorporated in the daily Hansard. I seek to have incorporated in Hansard the table that I now tender and which was sent to me by Senator Chaney on 28 November.
The table read as follows-
– I apologise to the Senate for the errors although I consider those that appeared in the original table on 19 November to be minor.
– In a statement I made to the Senate on 22 November last, I referred to work being done on the information systems and services of the Parliament. I now wish to provide more details to the Senate and to advise of the latest developments.
A parliamentary interdepartmental committee has been studying this matter for some time. By February last year, the committee had identified a number of activities which appeared to have a potential for automation. The committee recommended that, because of the technical complexity of the subject and the rapidity of technical developments in the area, specialist consultants should be retained to analyse the information needs of senators, members and the Parliament generally, and to report on possible applications of automated systems in meeting these needs. As well as helping to improve existing services the consultancy will also provide information that will be essential in planning for the new Parliament House. The report will be made available to the Parliament House Construction Authority in its consideration of overall facilities.
Mr Speaker and I accepted the recommendations to engage a specialist consultant. Then followed a considerable amount of internal preparatory work to identify and document information flows prior to calling for tenders. A brief for proposed tenders was prepared, incorporating the broad terms of reference I have just outlined.
A number of firms expressed interest in the consultancy. Following a rigorous selection process, Mr Speaker and I have now agreed that the tender be awarded to Logica Pty Ltd, a firm which has considerable experience in the information technology area and one which is independent of equipment manufacturers. The study will begin on 3 March, and the consultants will be assisted by three parliamentary officers working full time on the project.
It is proposed that there will be two main stages in the exercise. The first, to conclude in
June of this year, will culminate in the formulation of an overall plan covering those information systems and services where automation is seen as being efficient and cost effective. After this initial plan has been evaluated by the parliamentary departments, Mr Speaker and I will decide whether the project will proceed further. If we agree that it should continue, the second major consultancy activity will be the development of a detailed design for the information systems. The complete study would then conclude early in 1981.
We trust that the proposed study, which has fundamental implications for the future of the Parliament, will receive the endorsement of all senators and members.
Motions (by Senator Durack) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Acts Interpretation Act 1 90 1 .
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Amendments Incorporation Act 1 905.
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Statutory Rules Publication Act 1903.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion ( by Senator Durack) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the several stages for the passage through the Senate of the Bills being put in one motion at each stage and the consideration of such Bills together in the Committee of the Whole.
Bills presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
Acts Interpretation Amendment Bill 1980
The amendment of the Acts Interpretation Act made by this Bill is designed to facilitate the computerised phototypesetting of Commonwealth legislation by enabling legislation to be printed with section headings in place of the present marginal notes, and with endnotes in place of the present footnotes. I understand that, for technical reasons, the computer controlled printing system operates most efficiently if extraneous interruptions to the flow of typesetting like marginal notes and footnotes are eliminated.
The Bill amends sub-section 13 (3) so that section headings and endnotes shall not be taken to be part of an Act in exactly the same way as marginal notes and footnotes are now not taken to be part of an Act.
In two cognate Bills- the Amendments Incorporation Amendment Bill 1980 and the Statutory Rules Publication Amendment Bill 1 980- provision will be made to enable endnotes to be used in reprints of Acts and statutory rules to refer to the enactment by which each amendment incorporated in a reprint is made.
At present all Bills and Acts when first passed are printed in pamphlet form using the hot metal printing process. The metal printed pamphlet then has to be re-keyed onto the computer system for printing the annual volumes of Acts. All annual volumes of the Acts have been so printed since 1974. New Commonwealth statutory rules and ordinances and regulations of the Territories are also printed from metal type. The annual volumes of statutory rules and laws of the Australian Capital Territory are being re-keyed for computerised phototypesetting commencing with the 1979 volume.
The computerised phototypesetting of all legislation, including Bills, from the initial drafting stage is expected to be introduced gradually over the next 12 months. This will mean a reduction in re-keying and proofreading operations. If Bills and other legislation are originally set up by the computerised phototypesetting process all subsequent printing can be done by this process. Where particular legislation has been subject to significant amendment, reprinting from computer tapes of that legislation, as amended, can be expected to be less costly. A further advantage of complete computerisation of the typesetting of legislation is that the publication of annual volumes and of pamphlet reprints can be expected to be more expeditious because of the more efficient use of staff resources which will be possible.
The Joint Committee on Publications, in its report dated 8 June 1978, stated that the Committee was convinced that the use of the computerised phototypesetting process for the production of Commonwealth legislation would be a most worthwhile innovation. The Committee supported the rapid and total application of the process to all Bills, statutory rules, et cetera and recommended:
That all necessary assistance be given to the Government Printer to ensure that, as soon as possible, all production stages of all Commonwealth legislation be undertaken by the computerised phototypesetting process.
The software development necessary to enable new legislation to be processed through the computerised phototypesetting system in the Printing Office has proceeded to the point where the new processing methods can now be introduced. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Amendments Incorporation Amendment Bill 1980
This Bill is a cognate Bill to the Acts Interpretation Amendment Bill 1980 and the Statutory Rules Publication Amendment Bill 1980 and makes provision to enable reference to the enactment making each amendment incorporated in a reprint of an Act to be made in an endnote to the reprint. The reasons for the introduction of this Bill are the same as those referred to in my speech on the Acts Interpretation Amendment Bill 1980. 1 commend the Bill to the Senate.
Statutory Rules Publication Amendment Bill 1980
This Bill is a cognate Bill to the Acts Interpretation Amendment Bill 1980 and the Amendments Incorporation Amendment Bill 1980 and makes provision to enable reference to the Statutory Rules making each amendment incorporated in a reprint of Statutory Rules to be made in an endnote to the reprint. The reasons for the introduction of this Bill are the same as those referred to in my speech on the Acts Interpretation Amendment Bill 1980. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
-The Opposition does not oppose these Bills, the introduction of which, I suppose, has arisen from a report of the Joint Committee on Publications, which report I understand was unanimous. Having said that, I think I have said all that is necessary to be said.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate. (Quorum formed).
Debate resumed from 1 9 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 1 980 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 ‘-
-The Senate is deliberating on the statement put down yesterday by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) concerning the Government’s response to the brutal, cynical, unpardonable invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. It will be necessary for me later in my remarks to call attention to what I regard as some of the divisive, contradictory complex of proposals put forward by Mr Fraser on behalf of the Government in that speech and in statements made over the preceding weeks. But initially I want to make it abundantly clear that the Australian Labor Party joins with the Government in its unequivocal condemnation of this invasion by the Soviet Union of a free and independent nation, transforming that nation of Afghanistan into a colonial vassal of the new policy makers in the Kremlin. An important aspect of the crisis that we are facing in international affairs is the insight it gives us into the nature of the leadership emerging in the Politburo to replace Mr Brezhnev and the other ageing leaders of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
There is no doubt that the Australian Government’s vote in the United Nations was correct and proper. The Labor Party supports entirely its being pan of the 104 nations in the United Nations which voted for a resolution calling upon the USSR immediately and unconditionally to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in order to enable its people to determine their own form of government and to choose their economic, political and social systems free from outside intervention, subversion, coercion or constraint of any kind whatsoever. I applaud the Australian Government’s participation in that vote.
Having said that, I would say that that correct diplomatic response was probably the major step for the Australian Government to take in the world community of nations. It was possibly sufficient for it enabled the Australian Government to join in a wide cross-section of nations, including many from the so-called non-aligned bloc, to bring about an utter humiliation of the Soviet super-power. The propaganda offensive launched by the Soviet Union in an attempt to justify its invasion was dealt a body blow within three weeks of the invasion. No one could interpret the United Nations vote as anything but a condemnation by the whole world community, apart from such countries as Cuba which we know are subject to total direction in their foreign policy by the Soviet Union. That vote amounted to a rejection by the total world community of the absurd Soviet Union claim that the Afghanistan President, who was the most auspicious victim of the invasion, in fact invited Soviet troops into his capital. The Soviet Union has been rebuffed by the whole world community. That response by the Australian Government was a good, proper and correct diplomatic one.
What the Australian Government has now done by its insistence, in the words Senator Durack uttered in this chamber yesterday, that the question of the Olympic boycott is overwhelmingly the most important aspect of the foreign policy of this Government has been to introduce into the world community and into the Australian community a note which I believe will fracture and fragment the world community’s response to this invasion, which certainly will cause division- it is proving to be divisive- within the Australian community and which will prevent a united and principled response by the whole Australian people to this invasion.
The question which arises is: What further political and practical steps could the Australian Government take? I support entirely, as does the Labor Party, the decision by the Australian Government not to fill the shortfall in the supply of wheat to the Soviet Union resulting from the embargo by the United States Government on the 17 million tonnes destined to be delivered to the USSR under contracts that had been arranged. In my view, that was a practical political expression of support for our most important ally in the trading area; we were able to give it the support it deserved. In that area of commercial trading, we took a decision which I believe is supported by the whole of the Australian population.
When we come to the further list of government responses I think we come to a situation in which the Government is revealed as confused and not thinking through the implications of its proposals. It has engaged in reversals of decisions and, as I said, it has engaged in making a series of proposals and claims on the Australian people, in particular our Olympic athletes and the Tasmanian community, as I will detail later, which are unfair and which are not enabling the burden to be shared equally among the whole Australian community, which I believe the Australian people would accept. What the Australian people will not accept is a singling out of particular sections of the community, a discriminatory action, a fixing on either our Australian athletes or, as I will demonstrate, the Tasmanian community to bear the burden of our protest to the Soviet Union.
The list of government activities and proposals in this area, after the two which I have endorsed- namely, participation in the United Nations protest and supporting the United States grain embargo- range from the absurd to the plainly unworkable. For example, one finds that the Government has taken the courageous step- it is really a fiasco- of banning Russian cruise ships, but only after 31 May when the cruising season finishes. At the very same time as the Government announced that ban, it was made quite clear that the Soviet merchant fleet will be free to ply our ports and to carry our cargoes. The reason for that is clear: The Russian cargo line, Far Eastern Shipping Corporation, which carries our primary produce to Europe, the United States and southern American ports and to South East Asia, has been under-cutting and providing competition in its rates to the traditional conference lines. There is no way that the rural lobby will allow that element of competition to be removed from Australia’s trading ventures. So we have a situation in which cruise ships will be banned after the cruising season has finished on 31 May but trading and merchant vessels of the Soviet Union will be allowed to operate quite freely in and out of our ports.
But what is that compared with the fact that in 1978-79 some 17,000 rifles were re-exported to the Soviet Union from this country at the very time when the Government knew that Russian troops were engaged in supporting the then brutal and repressive Marxist regime of President Amin in Afghanistan. That occurred also at the very time when, as was pointed out by Senator Missen and me in this chamber virtually a year ago this very week, Russian generals were engaged in directing a genocide of the Eritrean people in a situation on the Horn of Africa which was at least as sensitive as is the situation in Afghanistan if one is looking to the control of the West’s oil supplies because, as honourable senators know, the ultimate aim of the Soviet Union there is to gain a warm water port directly opposite Saudi Arabia.
But that is not my point. My point is that killing and maiming was going on at the direction of Russian generals in Eritrea and in Afghanistan at the very time that those 17,000 rifles were reexported to Soviet Russia from Australia. It is no good the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) answering me as he did this afternoon in a slightly offhand way and saying that they were only hunting rifles. Tell that to the victim of the bullet when it thuds into his body and shatters his life. Tell him the description which has come from the lips of an Australian Minister of State of the rifle. See whether that gives the victim any consolation.
We come then to the Australian Government ‘s decision on agricultural products. I do not want to be misunderstood. At this stage I am not advocating that Australian agriculture should be dislocated by our withdrawing totally from trade with Soviet Russia. But what one is looking for is consistency. What one is looking for is a sharing of the burden within the Australian community. What I believe one has in fact in a continuance of our wool and wheat trade, worth hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to Australia, is an instance of the Government capitulating to a very clear threat from the Soviet Government. Whereas the Australian Government might well have decided on a temporary embargo on wool sales to the Soviet Union as a form of protest, what the Soviet Union did was to recall from Canberra its foreign trade representative, Mr Tikhonov for consultation in Moscow and to let it be known, on the eve of the Australian Agricultural Outlook Conference here in Canberra, that if Australia pursued any trading sanctions against the Soviet Union the Soviet Union would not send wool-buying teams to our wool sales this season and perhaps for seasons to come.
Mr Asimus of the Australian Wool Corporation immediately informed the Australian Agricultural Outlook Conference that that would have a catastrophic effect on Australia’s wool and other agricultural pursuits with the Soviet Union. The people at that Conference were shocked at that prospect. The message got through to the Government and, as a result, it crumbled in the face of that clear indication by the Soviet Union that we would be the ones to suffer and not the Soviet Union if we were to engage in any embargo on trade in agricultural products with the Soviet Union.
I suppose though that the turning point for the Australian people in this whole episode occurred with the Government’s decision on rutile. The Prime Minister of this country, on the eve of his departure to the United States of America, forbad the export of that product which, when refined and processed, becomes an ingredient of the metal titanium, which is essential to the war industry of any nation employing advanced technology. He then went to the United States to find, among other things, information for and to compile a list of strategic materials which could be prohibited from being sent from Australia. We have not yet had that list tabled in this Parliament. As we all know, the export of rutile is now to go ahead.
I come then to the Olympics. There we have the most despicable range of actions by an Australian Prime Minister and his deputy certainly that I have witnessed since entering this Parliament. There we have the hectoring, the bullying and the domineering of a group of Australians, both athletes and their officials, by a Prime Minister who only last year when funding preOlympic training said words to the effect that the Australian Government, unlike the governments of some other nations, did not interfere with the voluntary organisation of athletics pursuits in Australia.
What we have seen over the past few weeks is an attempt by the Government to use the $500,000 which it has committed to the Australian Olympic Federation to send the Australian team to Moscow- money earmarked for the use of our athletes- as a lever to take away the real free choice of the Olympic Federation in this matter and to require it to make a decision totally in harmony with Government policy. In that respect I see no difference between the Australian Government’s relationship with our Australian athletes and that of the most totalitarian dictatorships who use their athletes to further their foreign policies and nationalistic pretensions around the world.
What we find further is an attempt, which I regard as most despicable, to describe our athletes if they go to the Olympic Games as aiders and abetters of the Russian atrocities in Afghanistan. That is a most despicable creation of a scapegoat for the failure of the West’s foreign policy which enabled the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the first place. I believe that that attempt to place some son of stigma on or bring into disrepute our athletes will return on the head of the Prime Minister and his Ministers and those back benchers who do not repudiate that attempt to bring shame to our athletes should they choose to pursue to its natural conclusion the years, the lifetime, of dedicated training which should find its natural conclusion in competition among the best athletes from around the world.
It is true that when the Olympic Games were first created by the Greek people they thought it was a sign of their superiority above the barbarians that a treaty of peace, a truce, was arranged between all the warring city states to enable the 40,000 or so spectators to travel to Olympia and view these athletic contests. The Olympic Games were then both a symbol and a cause of peace within the Greek city states. Unfortunately, we cannot expect in the modern world that the Olympics will ever be conducted in a situation free of war, armed conflict, fighting, killing and maiming between the inhabitants of nations. I believe that it is unfair in the extreme for this Government to require our athletes to bear the burden of sacrifice when, as I have said, agricultural and mineral trade will go on with the Soviet Union unimpeded.
This singling out of our athletes for discrimination combined with all the power and browbeating that attaches to the office of Prime Minister, is also apparent in a decision the Government has made in relation to Tasmania. I now turn from general matters to a matter of concern to me as a Tasmanian senator. I feel that I would be failing in my responsibility to the Tasmanian community if I did not make it clear that I protest most strongly at my State’s being singled out, fixed upon and selected to bear the only significant economic burden of retaliatory measures against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In Tasmania, through no fault of the recently elected Lowe Government, some 12,900 people are out of work. The number of Tasmanians in the 15 to 19 year age group seeking full time work rose last month by 700 to 7,400. This is a frightening phenomenon in a community of 400,000 people, as is the case in Tasmania. Therefore, it was with very high hopes that the Tasmanian community looked forward to the setting up of a joint fishing venture with the Russian fishing corporation, Sovryblot and its Australian partners, Henry Jones IXL Ltd, and Commercial Bureau (Australia) Pty Ltd.
This project, with the building of a dry dock in Hobart, to service some 300 to 400 vessels plying the waters around the south of Australia, New Zealand and the Antarctic, with a cannery and with the fisheries’ victualling and provisioning, would have provided jobs for about 1 ,000 Tasmanians. By decision of the Federal Government those jobs are no longer to be created within the Tasmanian community and specifically the Hobart community. At the time when this decision was announced, the Tasmanian Premier on behalf of the Tasmanian community accepted the decision, believing as we all did that this was the first, perhaps the most ready to hand signal to be sent to the Soviet Union. We believed that it was the first in a line of consistent decisions which would cover the whole span of trading and commercial relationships with the Soviet Union. But what we have found- the Cabinet decision reversing the earlier decision on rutile was the symbol- is that all other trading and commercial ventures seem to be going ahead unimpaired. The fishing venture which would have created 1,000 jobs in Tasmania, in Hobart in particular, is left as an isolated instance. Tasmania is being asked to bear the only significant economic burden of the Australian Government’s response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
I believe that the Tasmanian people, as Mr Lowe, the Premier, indicated, and indeed the Australian people, would accept a real economic burden and hardship if fairly distributed. All we ask for in Tasmania is a fair go. I ask whether, in the course of this debate, a Minister could indicate that if there is an easing of international tensions in the near or middle future after the unpardonable invasion of Afghanistan by the USSR, contacts will be kept open with the Soviet Union to enable a restoration of the project which is so important for the Tasmanian community. Unless this discriminatory singling out of Tasmania is not remedied the Government will eventually pay the price. I do not put the matter on any political basis as crude as that. I simply ask that we in Tasmania get a fair go when the Government is reviewing the whole gamut of trading and commercial relationships with the USSR. Regretfully, I therefore come to the conclusion that the Government, rather than creating a situation within Australia which would lead to a united principled stand by the Australian people against this invasion, has allowed divisions and a sense of unfairness to creep into the debate. We have been diverted from a unified condemnation of the Soviet aggression to a debate- a necessary debate, given the Government’s insistence on its overwhelming importance- about Australian participation in the Olympic Games. I hope that Government senators opposite and their colleagues in the House of Representatives do not adopt an entirely servile and subservient attitude to the requirements of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet in relation to the appropriate range of Australian responses to the invasion. If honourable senators opposite continue to support the pressures, the bullying, the hectoring and the domineering tactics adopted by the Prime Minister, particularly in relation to our athletes and their officials, I believe the Australian people will eventually condemn them. We want a sense of fairness in the whole operation.
I believe that the editorialists around Australia are beginning to come to the same conclusion. My remarks are in no way the product of any party feeling. They are shared by the editorialists. The Australian of 14 February states:
The Federal Government will have to demonstrate more convincingly that it is prepared to ask all Australians to share the burden of sacrifice.
The Examiner, the Northern Tasmanian newspaper, of the same date, states:
The Advocate, the leading regional daily in Tasmania, published in Burnie, in its editorial of 15 February, stated:
But if the Soviets are to be punished, we should use all the means at our disposal, whether the most potentially damaging or not. It is a discriminatory and cynical exercise to seek sacrifices from the sporting fraternity while maintaining exports of rutile and grain and keeping the heat off mining and rural interests. There is a principle involved. And if it is valid, the price paid for upholding it should be spread fairly throughout the community.
There is no doubt that the Australian electorate is also moving that way. As published in the current issue of the Bulletin magazine, in answer to the question ‘If Russia does not withdraw from Afghanistan and the Games are still held in Moscow, are you for or against Australia boycotting the Olympics?’ The number in favour of the boycott is registered at 43 per cent and the number against the boycott at 47 per cent. This shows an exact reversal of the figures of one week ago. I do not bring these figures to the chamber with any sense of superiority. They do not give me any great pleasure. But they indicate what I fear has been the result of the Government ‘s insistence on making the Olympic boycott, to use Senator Durack ‘s words in this chamber yesterday, overwhelmingly the most important tenet of the Government ‘s policy in regard to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. It has introduced a divisive note into the community.
I ask, even at this late stage, that the Australian Olympic Federation, free of coercionparticularly of the financial kind- be allowed to make a decision which these good Australians ought to be left to make in the interests of athletes and the Australian nation. I believe that they are capable, loyal Australians, well able to make that sort of judgment. I believe that unless the Government does so it will be condemned- as the Australian electorate is already beginning to condemn the Prime Minister for his handling of this issue- and I believe that that condemnation will be visited on the Government at any time it chooses if it should dare to call an early election.
– I have much pleasure in supporting the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on Afghanistan and in giving my unqualified support to Senator Durack for the amendment that he has moved to the motion regarding that statement. I have been very impressed with the quality of the Prime Minister’s statement. It is a most intelligent document. It is very well researched and it is very closely reasoned in its conclusions. It is simply the best document that I have ever seen presented to this Parliament. Before I speak to that document I would like to deal briefly with some of the points that have been raised by the three previous Opposition speakers.
Regrettably the Opposition case has been entirely negative. It made no telling criticisms at all of the Government’s position. It is not able to show that there is anything that the Government has done wrong at the present time, and most compellingly it has not come up with any improvements. There is not one point that has been made by the three previous speakers where the Government’s actions in the interests of Australia could have been improved. I take that to be a measure of the thoroughness with which the document was prepared. Senator Wriedt implied that we did not really have much cause for alarm and that somehow it was all okay in the dream world. He rejected the reason that was put forward that the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets was an expansion of Russian power. He tended to suggest, on page 38 of the Senate Hansard:
The central issue remains, as it has from the beginning and has done for many years, the relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States.
He is implying that if the United States and the Soviet Union could get along together at a personality level, we would not have any troubles. With kindness to Senator Wriedt, that is a very naive view of international affairs. I have lived out of Australia for much of my adult life and I have no illusions at all about international affairs. There certainly is a veneer of convention and sophistication in the way that nations conduct their relationships one with another, but underneath it all is the threat of power and of vested interests of nations as they perceive them. To classify the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the terms that Senator Wriedt did- that it was some sort of personality incompatibility between the two leaders- is an extraordinarily naive and dangerous view in my judgment.
Senator Wheeldon made one of his rare but brilliant speeches. He made many points that would have been of value to his party had it had the intelligence and the time to listen to him. I differ with Senator Wheeldon on a few minor points. (Quorum formed). Senator Tate made a rather inarticulate defence of economic sanctions, which even his own leader, Senator Wriedt, admitted never worked. I am surprised that he did not listen to the advice from his leader on that point.
– He is too sensible to listen to his leader.
– I am not sure of that, Senator. These are very serious times. To quote Senator Wheeldon, ‘we are under threat from a very powerful enemy’. It is a committed enemy. It is an enemy which is dedicated to the destruction of democratic values. The times now are worse than they have been at any time since 1945. It is not true to say that today is a comparable time with that of the Berlin airlift, of Korea or of Vietnam because the issues now are very much wider and very much more important than they were in those times. What we were involved with in those previous conflicts was possibly a loss of face if we lost the fight with the Russians, and maybe the loss of some territory. But now if we lose the fight with the Soviets, we lose our economic life. When our economic life is put at threat all sorts of consequences are possible.
The view of the present situation has got to be taken in the long term. We cannot see it in isolation. What we are seeing is a consistent pattern of behaviour from the Soviet Government over the last 35 years. It is an entirely consistent pattern of growth and acquisition of people and of land. It is a growth by stealth in some cases, by overt aggression in others. Having acquired those properties and people, the pattern is marked by an unrelenting hold on those possessions, as the Czechoslovak and Hungarian -
– I raise a point of order. If the honourable senator is going to take that extreme and gloomy view, he ought not to be reading his speech; he ought to be giving it freely and without reference to the script that he has before him. I attract your attention, Mr President, to our procedures in this place.
-I rise to explain that I have notes here. I do not have a written speech. I would have thought that the fluency, the articulateness and the naturalness with which I am delivering it would have been quite clear to Senator Georges. I repeat the point that once the Soviets have acquired any territory, they hold it unrelentingly, in the way they did in Czechoslovakia and Hungary. There are two specific differences with the present occasion. Firstly, there is a threat to oil and therefore the economies of the Western nations. Secondly, we are now at a time of nuclear parity and possibly military superiority in conventional weapons by the Soviet Union. The consequence of taking on and challenging the Soviets when they are in a position of military equivalence to us cannot be foreseen.
The threat to oil is an extremely important one. Japan and the United States simply cannot tolerate a cessation of supply. The United States imports over 50 per cent of its oil and Japan over 80 per cent of its oil from the Middle East. It is rumoured at the present time that the United States has said that if there is a threat to the production or supply of oil, it will use nuclear weapons. I do not know whether that is true, but at least it illustrates the severity of the situation. When we deal with the military strength of the Soviets at the present time we see that they have achieved parity in the nuclear field. There is very good evidence that they have achieved conventional military superiority, which poses dangers for us because we cannot predict what the reactions of the Russians might be when they are challenged. But challenged they have to be. It may be that they feel emboldened to take extreme steps to challenge us. It may be that they feel they cannot allow time to pass because we will gain the ascendency again.
The other point about the nuclear military strength of the Russians is that it does make it very difficult for us to enlist the support of the uncommitted nations because naturally they like not to offend the winners. They like to be on the winning side of any equation. If they see the Soviets in a position of overwhelming military superiority, it then becomes very difficult for us to take the diplomatic initiatives that we need to enlist their support. Fortunately, in its heavy handed, brutal action of the invasion of Afghanistan, as the vote of 104 nations in the United Nations General Assembly showed, the Russians are on a very counterproductive line at the present time. Afghanistan is a prize of very great strategic value, despite what the Australian Labor Party says about it. I cannot accept that it was not an attractive option for the chiefs of staff of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It advances them physically towards a warm water port; it threatens both flanks and the front. It threatens Iran and its oil supplies; it threatens Pakistan on its other border and Baluchistan in front of it, where the Soviets have been stirring up insurrection with the various tribes in that area for many years. In its threat to Iran, Russia is able to threaten the source of oil in the fields, or it has the threat of interdiction in the Straits of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf area.
None of these strategic options that the Soviets have now gained are compatible with the safety of the Western alliance. It serves to remind us in the West that after years of detente the Russians have not changed one bit. They never really subscribed to detente; they just used it as a trojan horse behind which they made their advances. In 1973 there was the resupply of Middle Eastern belligerents; in 1975 there was the Angolan civil war; in 1977 there was the Ethiopian situation; and there were all the other issues such as Yemen, Vietnam and Kampuchea. Despite the success, from a Russian point of view, of their foreign policy, they have gone ahead and spent 13 per cent of their gross domestic product on building up their conventional and nuclear armaments. If they were acquiring diplomatically and by other means territories and people, why would they be spending all of this money building up their military potential, unless there they had another goal? As Senator Wheeldon so accurately portrayed, that goal is their domination of the world, when they get the chance.
The measures that we must take if we are to survive are very clear. We must stand up and resist the Russians wherever possible or we will go down. There is no quick solution to this problem; it will continue to be a problem for 10 or 15 years. That sort of situation is always very hard for a democracy to cope with. We cannot take the short term view. We cannot live from day to day and hope that somehow or other if we are kind to the Russians they will change their spots and go away, because the Russians’ view of international affairs is totally different from that of our own. They take the oriental view; they think in terms of generations, not in terms of hours, days, weeks or the short time spans with which we are comfortable. We have to maintain the will to win, and maintain it in the long haul. Therefore, our requirements are for cohesion and co-operation between members of the Western alliance. We have to maintain the will to win, to increase our military strength, to have patience, and to take the offensive by means of propaganda warfare and by making available military supplies to those nations that are prepared to defend their own nationalism.
Cohesion and co-operation are absolutely critical. The allies need an agreed objective; we have to know where we are going and what we are doing to the USSR. The basic countries in the alliance will be Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and, I hope, France. It will be an important function of those nations to support the United States, who is the nominal leader of the Western alliance. It needs our support very much. I was in the United States three weeks ago. I lived in the United States through the closing days of the Vietnam war and saw a society that was racked by internal dissent. It was a pluralist society; a society that I thought would never have a common goal. On my return I was staggered to see in the United States today the unanimity of purpose, the nationalism and the will to survive and to take on the Russians. There is support for the President. I went to Capitol Hill and talked to Republican senators. The support that they are giving both publicly and privately to the President and to the nation is an object lesson to the dissidents in the Australian Labor Party. They recognise the importance of national issues and of the bipartisan policies on which the nation’s values stand. I hope that the Labor Party takes some notice of what is occurring in the United States.
The relevance to Australia of what is going on in the United States is that we have to support the United States through the 10 or 15 years ahead in this struggle with the Soviets, because if we do not we will all be cut down as individuals and will fail as a nation. The second thing we have to do is to increase our military preparedness. All of us in the West have been too 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.
Honourable senators interjecting;
– Order ! There are far too many interjections. Senator MacGibbon has the call. Honourable senators will cease interjecting.
– I do not think it really matters, Mr President. The final thing we have to do is to go on the offensive against the Russians, not in an overt, massive, military way but in a propaganda way- by supporting in a military way the legitimate national aspirations of the nations that Russia is trying to dominate. There is no point in trying to run a propaganda campaign against the Russians because they are a people who have never known freedom. It is of no use talking to them about human rights but there is very real value in talking about human rights, quality of life and the benefits of a free economy to its satellites in eastern Europe. That is an area into which we ought to put a lot more effort. We can see the proof of this in the way in which Yugoslavia hived itself off from the Soviet Union in the late 1 940s.
The other thing that we have going for us is the great tide of nationalism that is appearing. It can be seen in Afghanistan at the present time. There are nations who wish legitimately to go their own way and who do not wish to be subjected to the heavy jackboots of the Russian army. It 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. (Quorum formed). Because the European powers no longer practise colonialism we tend to forget that anticolonialism still exists. It is a most powerful weapon and, if we used it intelligently, it could become a great buttress against the expansion of the Soviet Union.
Let us look at the particular needs of Australia in this conflict. The first is for some diplomatic activity. We have to influence the independent, non-aligned countries and use the store of goodwill that we have built up for years to provide a buttress to the ideologies of the Soviets. The second diplomatic step that we have to take is to give support to the United States in its lonely role as the leader of the Western alliance. We also have to build up our own military defence because diplomacy, on its own, is not enough. We need a defence force; we need to have the overt means of implementing policy if we are challenged. No form of diplomacy can exist without an effective means of implementation. In Australia we are suffering from years of neglect of our defence forces. We lifted the percentage of Federal Budget outlays on defence to 9. 1 per cent in the last Budget, and are recovering from the rundown under the Labor Party. But we are still a long way short of where we were 10 years ago when we were spending 14.2 per cent of Federal Budget outlays on defence. I applaud the moves proposed by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to expand the armed Services, because they will significantly add to our defence capacity.
In the few moments left to me, I wish to review some of the principal changes that will take place in the armed Forces of this country. Firstly I refer to the Royal Australian Air Force. The new TFF- tactical fighter force- requirement is well advanced in the planning stage. The aircraft are in production and only several weeks ago I was at Fort Worth and St Louis looking at the FI 6 and FI 8, the two contenders on the short list. They are both excellent weapon systems. In this calendar year a decision will be made on which of those aircraft will be bought for the Royal Australian Air Force. They will significantly increase our air superiority and our strike capacity.
The second significant announcement made by the Prime Minister was the fitment of precision guided munitions to the Fills. This implies that the analog electronic systems in the Fill will be changed to a digital system, which will allow a whole range of precision guided munitions to be fitted to these aircraft. In turn this will allow these aircraft to operate in a hostile environment, a capacity that they do not possess at the present time. This is particularly important because the flight envelope of the Fill, although now some years old, is still excellent. It is right at the top of the state of the art. The airframe and engines of the FI 1 1 are as good as anything in existence at the present time. It makes very good sense to give them the electronic fit that allows them to use the stand off weaponry that is so essential today. I hope that, while we are looking at the fitment of precision guided munitions to the FI 1 ls, we will look also at the possibility of obtaining more aircraft to make up for those that we have lost through attrition.
The Prime Minister announced that the P3Bs would be fitted with Harpoons which will materially augment their capacity as maritime patrol aircraft in a sea interdiction role. The provision of air refuelling is long overdue. It is a very welcome addition, having regard to the distances that we have to operate in the Australian environment. My final wish is that the Government will look seriously at the purchase of a Grumman Hawkeye E2C aircraft to provide an airborne early warning and command system which, integrated with the radar system and possibly the new Jindalee system, will give our northern defences a great uplift in capacity.
The Royal Australian Navy has been promised a weapons fit of the Harpoon to the Oberons, the DDGs and the purchase of a fourth FFG. The value of this is obvious, particularly for the Oberons because the submarine force is one of the most undervalued weapons in the Australian armament. It is silent, effective, long range, and very hard to find. It has an excellent passive and active detection system and is a most potent deterrent for any aggressor against Australia. The fitment of the Oberons with the underwater released Harpoon will greatly increase their capacity and therefore their deterrent effect.
Finally, I refer to the Army. The decision to upgrade the two battalions in Townsville to full strength and put them on an operational basis is most welcome. One of the unfortunate things that have happened to defence in Australia since the Second World War has been the way the Army has been downgraded. Even at the highest levels of this Government there is a failure to perceive that the needs of the Army are every bit as real and every bit as expensive as the needs of the Air Force and the Navy. Most people have been in the Army at some time or other. They tend to think of the Army- its public image- as a group of people in khaki uniforms, wearing boots and riding around in big trucks.
The needs of the Army today are every bit as capital intensive as the needs of the Air Force and the needs of the Navy. For a reason that I do not understand the Army always seems to miss out. It does not receive the share of budget allocations that the other services, with their glamorous and highly visible weapons and weapons systems, always seem to get. But the Army does need highly trained men; it needs highly sophisticated electronic equipment, it needs battlefield radar, it needs nightfighting equipment for low illumination and all sorts of other equipment. It needs precision guided munitions, missiles and trucks. We do not have any form of motorised infantry in Australia. If we require a force to defend this country, to take out insurgent groups, we will need to have a high degree of mobility. With the exception of the Leopard tanks, which have great mobility and fire power, we do not have enought effective armoured fighting vehicles. We need something in the way of wheeled vehicles with higher mobility so that they can move around the terrain in Australia.
If we can point to one deficiency in the Army it is in the field of artillery. We are preparing to purchase some new 155 millimetre field pieces, but leaving the 105 as the close support infantry weapon- a weapon that was designed in the mid- 1930s. When I was at Kangaroo III in October at Shoalwater Bay I saw some of the 105s that were being used by the Townsville unit. They had maker’s plates on them showing they were made in 1944. It is now 1980! We have no self-propelled artillery at all.
It is a very brief resume of the armaments that the Government is planning to increase for the Australian defence forces. It is very pleasing to see that the Government is solidly increasing the forces’ capacity over a series of years. It is no flash in the pan, no glossy production of weaponry that will impress voters and only have a short term effect.
This is a very testing time for the nations of the Western World. We are in for a period of sustained stress- a time when our will to win will be tested, and tested over decades. We have the capacity to survive, provided that we organise ourselves and keep together. It is very important that we do that because our personal freedom as a nation turns on our economic freedom. 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. That is the challenge we face in the long term and that is why it is so important that we support the Prime Minister and that as a nation we get behind him, the Government of this country and the other nations of the Western alliance and resist the aggression that is now manifest and which is a symptom of a very long term disease spread by the Soviet Union.
– It was with a feeling of deja vu that I listened to Senator MacGibbon and his contribution to the debate on this very important subject. We used to hear speeches like his through the 1 950s and 1960s. What Senator MacGibbon advocated was a return to the policies that this country had in those days and to which apparently the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) also wishes to return. They are policies of unquestioning allegiance to United States foreign policy and United Nations activity- policies which failed in the 1950s and 1960s, and which failed miserably in Vietnam. Yet we are now told that the only way out of our difficulties is to return to those days and to those policies of failure. To compound that, Senator MacGibbon tried to get for himself the support of Senator Wheeldon who, with other speakers in this debate, has given a very thoughtful contribution yesterday and again today. In fact what Senator Wheeldon called for was that we set our aims, make sure that we know what sort of a world we want and support those who support us and agree with us. He asked that within this country where possible we agree by consultation, although obviously this will not always be possible, and that we establish a policy so that we all know what we are about. The third and probably the most important point that Senator Wheeldon made was that we should oppose aggression and suppression of human rights wherever they occur; not selectively just in the Soviet Union, “not selectively just in any Eastern bloc country, not with the selective nonsense that we have just heard from Senator MacGibbon. We should oppose any aggression and suppression of human rights throughout the world. It is important that we do this, and it is important that we are seen to do this in a consistent way.
Senator MacGibbon said that we should use our influence to get the non-aligned countries on side, to- get them to support us in world affairs. But we cannot get the non-aligned countries to agree with us and to support us if we follow blindly the line of the United States of America or any other country. Those countries are nonaligned because they want to go their own ways, to determine their own destinies and to determine their own place in the world. Senator MacGibbon then proceeded, in the second half of his speech, to go through a shopping list of armaments which may impress some people in this country but certainly would not frighten the Soviet Union or any of the other larger countries which may influence our affairs.
The invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union has been rightly condemned by all sensible people in the world. This condemnation crosses ideologies. It crosses the whole political spectrum. The vote in the United Nations was a considerable setback to the Soviet Union because of this broad spectrum of countries which opposed what it had done.
– How have they reacted?
-I am happy to hear Senator Walters’ sibilant voice here. The Australian Labor Party joins with this condemnation and it joins with the Socialist International- of which it is part, of which Mr Willy Brandt is
President, of which Helmut Schmidt is one of the vice-presidents, and of which Chancellor Kreisky is another vice-president- in condemning this intervention and in asking the United Soviet Socialist Russia to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. What we do not do, and what the Socialist International did not do, and what Willy Brandt has not done, is to start beating the war drums in this hysterical manner, deliberately trying to exacerbate international tensions for short term domestic political gain. This is what I submit that the Prime Minister of this country wishes to do and this is what I submit that many, but probably not all, of his colleagues wish to do. Prominent members of the international community, while abhorring the aggressive and unnecessary action of the USSR, do not see this as an end to the need to take part in dialogue, to attempt to reach some agreement to prevent the mad arms race which is likely to overcome us. They certainly do not believe in appeasement. They do not believe in bowing to pressure from an expansionist USSR. But by the same token, to take this action in Afghanistan as a reason to throw out attempts to create world peace and to cut down armaments in the world is a disastrous line to take and a line with which we should not agree.
As I said, the Prime Minister chooses to refer to Willy Brandt, a Nobel peace prize winner, head of the socialist group of the European Parliament, President of the Socialist International, ex-chancellor of West Germany and ex-mayor of Berlin. But Willy Brandt is a man of peace. He does not fly around the world with cries of alarm. He is as strong in his condemnation of the actions of the USSR as anyone. He has suffered as much or more at the hands of the communists and nazis as anyone in this country. But still he seeks peace and agreement where possible, not confrontation, and not the sort of bellicose sabre rattling that we have. His place in history, I suggest, is assured. It was not achieved by the sort of showmanship and grandstanding that we are seeing from the Prime Minister. Willy Brandt’s recognition as a statesman is worldwide and, as I said, his place in history is absolutely assured. Beside him, the actions of the present Prime Minister, as I shall show after dinner, are the actions of someone of very much lesser stature.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m. (Quorum formed).
– Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner I was saying how I regretted that on an occasion such as this, when an important issue is being debated, we had in fact listened to a speech from what sounded like one of the last of the old Cold War warriors who believe that the way to conduct foreign affairs and international affairs in future is to divide the world into two groups- them, led by the Russians, and us, led by the Americans- to arm to the teeth, to escalate expenditure on arms, to cut expenditure on social welfare in the belief that somehow this will solve our problems despite that fact that this sort of attitude in the 1 950s and the 1 960s was an obvious failure. I also drew attention to the fact that on occasions such as this the Prime Minister tends to draw for support on people such as Willy Brandt, the President of the Socialist International, who in fact shows a very different attitude from that of the Prime Minister. Willy Brandt suffered considerably from totalitarian ideologies. He suffered firstly from the nazis and then the communists but, despite his objection and continued opposition and to these sorts of ideologies, he retains his desire to see peace in the world, to see disarmament, and he strives and works very hard to achieve this.
The proposals of Senator MacGibbon are in fact the proposals of the Prime Minister. From statements of other Government members in the past, it is obvious that they are the Prime Minister’s proposals and not the unanimous proposals of the Government. What we have in the proposals of Senator MacGibbon is a foreign policy which is based on an automatic and unthinking reaction to anything that looks like a communist threat, whether it is direct or indirect. It involves automatic support for anyone who makes noises against communists, no matter what they are like and no matter how oppressive they are, together with unquestioning agreement to the Americans in their foreign policy. I suggest that that sort of attitude leads us into the troubles which America has got into in the past, which the Western world has got into in the past and which Senator Wheeldon talked about. Allies who go along with anything that the United States says unquestioningly, without caution and without putting a different view are not allies.
To give unqualified support to anyone who proclaims to be anti-communist and who proclaims to be against the communist regime leads us into the sorts of troubles that the Americans and we have got into in the past. It leads to the sort of nonsense of the Americans and, by implication Australia supporting people such as Duvalier in Haiti and General Ky in South Vietnam. For 40 years the Americans supported the Somoza regime in Nicaragua. For years we supported the regime of the Shah in Iran despite the difficulties that he created for his people and the obvious resentment he created amongst his people. Now Mr Fraser, President Carter and Senator MacGibbon say that we should give unqualified support to someone such as President Zia in Pakistan, whose idea on human rights and humane treatment of people is to cut off the arms of thieves, to stone adulterers, to lock up his political opponents, to hang his political opponents and to put large numbers of people in prison for political crimes.
– And to bomb the American Embassy.
– And to bomb the American Embassy. In the eyes of oppressed people throughout the world we- and by ‘we’ I mean the Western world- frequently seem to support the oppressors. As Senator Wheeldon so eloquently pointed out, the oppressed in those situations frequently turn to those who offer them support, and often that is the Russians, the Chinese or some other regime we would not support or their allies. Not only has our foreign policy been based on this very selective view of what is oppression and who are the oppressors but also we have taken grossly inconsistent positions over time scales. I said that Senator MacGibbon ‘s speech sounded very familiar. One could read Hansard or one could listen to speeches made through the 1950s and the 1960s and find the same things being said, with the one exception that in those days the bad boy was China. We got involved in a war in Vietnam, in the words of Prime Minister Menzies at the time, to stop the downward thrust of China through Indo-China, Vietnam. China was the enemy. China was the bad boy. We did not recognise the government of China. We had no dialogue with China. Now China is our friend. It is our dear and close ally. All is forgotten and the same speeches are being made but now Russia is the enemy. It should not be assumed that I am a proponent of what is going on in Russia.
– It highlights the hypocrisy.
– All it does is to highlight the hypocrisy and nonsense that is going on. One decade China is the bad boy; the next decade, and for the next several centuries, according to Senator MacGibbon, the Russians are the enemy. I merely take that view- Senator Martin may well say that it is naive- that as a moderatesized nation we should always make it clear that we oppose the intervention of one country into the affairs of another no matter what country is doing the intervening, whether it is the USSR in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan or Eritrea, whether it is the Cubans in Angola, Eritrea or anywhere else, whether it is the United States in Chile, Guatemala, or Vietnam, or the Vietnamese in Kampuchea or, closer to home, the Indonesians in Timor. If we are a nation which believes in human freedom and civil rights we should oppose the oppression of human rights and civil liberties whether it is by censorship, by guns or by any other means and whether it occurs in Prague, Tehran, Johannesburg, Islamabad, Kabul, or anywhere else. We should do so with some consistency.
I agree with Senator Wheeldon that if possible we should do so within our political system and, if we can, in a bipartisan way. Of course, it is not always possible but it is certainly impossible if we do it without consultation and without talking to the people involved. If we decide to take some action we should take action which results in the burden being shared equitably throughout the community, and this action should be seen to be consistent by our neighbours. This has not happened in this case. It has not happened with this Government in the past and it is not likely to in the future because, as I said, the policy on Afghanistan is obviously the policy of the Prime Minister. It is inconsistent and certainly has no fairness. We agree entirely with some of the reactions to the events in Afghanistan. We certainly must disapprove of the Russian aggression and intervention.
– The Soviet.
-Well, the Soviet intervention. But we cannot approve of the sort of hysteria and the inconsistency of the response of the Government. This response is based mainly, I believe, on a mistaken perception of the effect on the domestic political scene rather than on a sense of international responsibility.
It seems to me ludicrous that in an age of instant telecommunications and wide diplomatic representation and in the presence of what is an allegedly close relationship with our neighbours the Prime Minister of this country should have to take off in a VIP jet, with carefully selected journalists, to let President Carter, Chancellor Schmidt and President Giscard know his views. It is nonsense. No other head of state did the same thing; no other head of state so shamelessly postured over this tragic issue for domestic advantage. I suppose that is a matter of style. It shows the style of the Prime Minister of this country. To compound this performance by then pretending to act as a messenger and go-between between Europe and the United States of America adds an element of farce to the issue.
The comedy is further compounded by the list of sanctions. A serious list was read out by the
Prime Minister outlining what we would do to let the Russian people and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics know what was going on. The sanctions have been listed by other speakers; I dare say they will be listed again. The Prime Minister has said that the Government will stop Russian cruise ships coming to Australia, but only after the cruise season so that nobody will be affected; that it will limit the sale of some grains, but in May, if things are a bit tough, it will lift the sanctions; it will cancel the scholarships of four post-graduate students who were going to the USSR, but will not cancel the visas of the Russian wool buyers who come to this country. Feasibility studies on fishing and joint fishing ventures in Tasmania, as Senator Tate points out, are to be banned. A few people will be victimised. Those who will be victimised are not the citizens of the USSR. The Government has said that it will continue to ship rutile, wool and wheat as it claims that these are not strategic items.
I do not favour trade boycotts in general because they do not work. They usually hurt the wrong people. I do not favour boycotts or actions which throw the burden on to those who by and large have little political clout and representation. There seems to be an effort in this case to make the young and the unrepresented bear the burden of our foreign policy. I will give an example of different sorts of behaviour. In 1939-40 people in this country thought that we were under grave threat, and they were right. I refer to people like Senator Carrick, who went and joined the military forces and suffered considerably for it, and to Senator O ‘Byrne, Senator Withers and others who fought for what they thought was right and who fought to preserve the freedom of this country. Later on, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, some people who are still with us and who were then of fighting age firmly believed that this country faced a grave threat from the Chinese coming down through Indo-China, invading us and taking us over. Those people did not do what Senator Carrick, Senator O ‘Byrne and others did although they were of military age and in two cases that I know of were in the military reserve. They sent others to fight and to die and would not take any responsibility for the action themselves. They postured in this place about the threat we were under. What they did was cowardly, and what is being done now is cowardly.
The boycott on the Olympic Games was announced without any consultation with the local Olympic committees and without discussion with any of the members of the International Olympic
Committee. Certainly no attempt was made to explain anything to the athletes involved. It is no wonder that these people resent that sort of nonsensical behaviour. Despite the fact that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) said on 9 January that he in fact opposed a boycott on the Olympics and said that it would be ineffective and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) said later that he had grave doubts about whether such a thing could be effective, the Prime Minister, who was always willing in the late 1960s to send people off to Vietnam, was perfectly willing this time to make people suffer by boycotting the Olympics when it would not affect him at all or certainly would not affect those people whom he considered were his supporters and who sold wool and wheat. This is a cowardly and bullying thing to do, as Senator Tate has said. The reaction of the athletic community and the local Olympic community has been a sensible one and a very quick one. Despite the tub thumping and the table thumping by the Prime Minister, Mr Ellicott and others, they have stuck to their guns. This sort of reaction to what has happened in Afghanistan does no good to the people of Afghanistan and will do nothing to convince the citizens of the USSR of the errors of the ways of their Government.
When we consider the invasion of Afghanistan and the tragedy that has happened there we must remember, I believe, that Soviet interest in this area is not new; that Australian interest in this area is very new; and, in fact, that Western world interest in recent years has been largely absent in the area. The Soviet presence in Afghanistan was obvious to everybody many years before the Marxist revolution in 1978. Soviet military presence, in the role of advisers et cetera, was obvious to anyone in the world who was interested. Throughout 1979 anyone who read reports in La Monde and in the Guardian Weekly read of a succession of mutinies, of civil disturbances and of rebellions in Afghanistan. These rebellions were put down with the assistance of Russian troops and Russian airmen.
President Taraki and President Amin were said to be and obviously were conducting repressive ruthless activities to put down rebellions in their country and were doing so with Russian assistance. In September when President Taraki was murdered and Amin became President a further regime of brutality was introduced. Although Afghanistan remained a member of the non-aligned group of nations the Soviets obviously considered it very much in their sphere of influence and heavily subsidised the country with military and civilian aid.
What was the position of this Government and the United States at the time? Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries. Our aid has been meagre. We have given less aid to that country than we have given to countries like Bhutan and Nepal. We have had no diplomatic representation, except the odd visit each year from the Ambassador from Islamabad or from one of his staff. Our interest has been very little. When Senator Wheeldon asked a question on the Russian presence in Afghanistan last September very little interest was shown by the present Government.
This country and the West generally left Afghanistan to the Soviets. The Soviets assumed that it was their area of influence; so, we should not be surprised at the events. Therefore, we were caught on the hop when the Soviets invaded; we should not have been. As vigorously as we supported the United Nations motion we should have opposed vigorously the aggression that took place in Afghanistan. These events were suddenly of such interest that the Prime Minister of this country said that they were the greatest threat to world peace since 1945, despite the fact that in the intervening period we had had the Berlin blockade, the Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam, the Korean War, and the invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Even allowing for the usual political exaggeration we suggest that this is a bit much. The reason that this has suddenly become such a momentous event and has been brought forward for domestic political consumption is that this is an election year.
Of course Afghanistan and what is happening to its people are important, but so was what happened to the people of Timor. But we had no national broadcast to this country on the events in Timor. We had no national broadcast to this country on the events in Kampuchea. None of those events warranted the sort of support that was made and the nonsense that is now going on. On none of those occasions did we have an address to the nation full of rhetorical questions such as the one we saw on television the other night. None of those events involved the sort of diplomatic worldwind that the Prime Minister has conducted since December last year. None has resulted in the call to arms that the Prime Minister has made in this country.
Obviously there is a different factor involved with Afghanistan compared with all of these other tragedies, including even the one right on our doorstep. I am afraid that the difference is the domestic political situation; the shambles in which the Government finds itself. It needs to do something that it believes will distract the people of this country from the very real domestic and economic problems that we have. To compound all of this, the only people who are being asked to make a sacrifice for the good of the people of Afghanistan are the Olympic athletes, four postgraduate students, and probably a couple of people who may be employed on cruise ships after the cruising season is over. Tasmania’s economy will also be affected through the joint fishing agreement. They are the only ones who are being asked to suffer. The other group being asked to suffer by Senator MacGibbon are those people in this country who will not get the benefit of increased social welfare expenditure because this Government wishes to spend vast amounts of money on the purchase of arms because of what has happened in Afghanistan.
We must condemn vigorously what has happened in Afghanistan, as we have done. If we take action we should take action which is spread throughout the community in a fair way and we must take action which is seen to be consistent by our neighbours. In future we must take action when countries such as Indonesia invade countries such as Timor and when people such as President Zia of Pakistan shoot people, hang people and cut their arms off. We must speak us as loudly as we have spoken following this incident. Then we will be taken seriously throughout the world. Then we will have a sensible foreign policy which both sides of the Parliament can support.
-When one is losing an argument there are two standard ways of trying to turn it in one ‘s favour, and we have seen both of them demonstrated by Opposition speakers in the debate on Afghanistan. The first way is to change the subject if it does not suit one.
– You want to forget your old Queensland debating union days and get into the big league.
- Senator McAuliffe is familiar with the same rules as I am. The second way is that if one can sufficiently confuse the issue then there is every chance that when people attempt to answer one’s argument they will not be able to answer in realistic terms. I remind the Senate of what we are debating. Yesterday in the House of Representatives the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made a statement relating to Afghanistan. In the Senate the Leader of the Government (Senator Carrick) delivered the same statement. An amendment was moved to the motion: ‘That the Senate take note of the statement’. The amendment deals with a number of issues. It condemns the invasion of Afghanistan. It notes that a significant majority of world opinion, including Islamic opinion, has viewed the invasion with grave concern. It calls for immediate unconditional and total withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. It urges all independent-minded nations to take action separately or in concert to register their abhorrence of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and it urges the provision of humanitarian relief assistance for the refugees. That is what the debate is all about. I listened to the debate and -
– You haven’t read that bit about the greatest threat since 1 945.
– She does not want to acknowledge that.
– I have listened to the debate for some hours.
– You have not acknowledged that, have you?
– Order! Senator Walsh, you can extend the normal courtesies of this place to the honourable senator who is now speaking. No more interjecting, thank you.
– I am just asking her whether she acknowledges it is the greatest threat since 1945.
– Order! The honourable senator will make his speech later.
– She doesn’t; she is not that stupid.
– Order ! You will obey my direction.
– Yesterday the debate started in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. The debate has continued for some time. I have listened with some interest to see what the response of the Opposition would be because I had noted last week with some interest what appeared to be the response of the Australian Labor Party to the position that the Government had put to the Australian people, and at that stage it was a pretty formless response. I thought that in the course of several hours of debate in the House of Representatives and in the Senate that response would have taken some form. I listened of course with particular interest to the contribution of Senator Grimes. With due respect to him-I wish him no harm- I am sure an appropriate epitaph to the honourable senator in due course would be: ‘He meant well’.
Many worthy issues have been covered by Opposition senators in this debate but they have followed that primary diversion of trying to turn an argument in their favour. They are not prepared when confronted with a specific situation- that is, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan- to state specifically where they stand in relation to it and to make their position clear. So they have raised many other issues, all of which may or may not be worthy. But I find it interesting- I am sure Lee Kuan Yew is immensely flattered- when in this debate Opposition senators attempt to equate the actions of the Soviet Union with the actions of Singapore. In criticising the Government of the Soviet Union and concentrating on it in relation to a specific action, one does not thereby excuse all the actions of all other governments which might come under criticism for specific reasons. We are debating a very specific issue; that is, the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, what it means to the world, what it means to our region, what it means to our nation and indeed what it means to the human race. We do not even have to take the debate in isolation because it can be seen in the context of other actions, but we must consider it seriously.
It is easy to use some of the very superficial words and terms that have been uttered by Opposition senators in relation to this matter. A word that Senator Grimes used was ‘hypocrisy’. It is easy but it is also hypocritical to answer the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan with a sneer as one mentions the word ‘Afghanistan’, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) did on television last week. It is easy and it is hypocritical to raise red herrings to dodge the situation because one does not want to address the central issue. It is easy and it is hypocritical to appeal to the Australian public on the ground of fairness to some Olympic athletes. I will come to that matter later. I want to say that in all that the Opposition has been saying they have been following the soft options. Tonight Senator Grimes used the term ‘shamelessly posturing’ in relation to the Prime Minister. That term could as easily be applied to Opposition speakers.
We are talking about the invasion of an independent sovereign nation- a small nation in terms of population, in terms of economic development and in terms of military potential. This small nation was invaded by one of the superpowers. When a super-power takes that action it has relevance to the entire world and it deserves to be regarded on its merits. We ought to ask ourselves: Why did the Soviet Union invade Afghanistan?
Yesterday I received in my parliamentary mail a document entitled ‘On Events in AfghanistanLeonid Brezhnev’s replies to a Pravda correspondent- Tass statement’. I mention in passing that this public relations exercise by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Embassy was addressed to ‘Mr Kathryn Martin’. I mention that in passing because I do not know whether it is an indication of the failure of the Soviet’s public relations or whether it is meant to be a studied insult. I find in it that Brezhnev uses, as the Soviet justification for invasion, the words:
What a response! ‘The government of friendly Afghanistan’ were Brezhnev’s words. It was a government headed by a gentleman called Amin who, if he did indeed ask the Soviet Union to come in and do something for him, must have bitterly regretted it in short order. Not only did the Soviet invade a country under a pretext which it could not use but which it previously had used for Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland- I do not excuse it for what it did in those countries, but it had a pretext to put forward on those occasions- but also it murdered the country’s President.
– You cannot say that with any reliability.
– Well, he died after the Soviet Union army invaded the country. There was not any grieving- on the contrary- at Amin’s death. At that rate one cannot accept Brezhnev’s claim that what one would consider the constituted Government of Afghanistanfriendly Afghanistan’, to use Brezhnev’s words- really invited the Russians in. It is a small country and perhaps they hoped that the world would not care; perhaps they hoped that the Western world was as decadent as they claimed to their own population and that the Western world would not respond in any way. It was a different invasion in diplomatic senses from some other invasions. They have got away with them. They got away with the invasions of Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia because they could invade under the pretext of military agreements. There was no such military agreement with Afghanistan; there was just dear old friendly Afghanistan which invited them in- and the head of the Government subsequently died.
What does this invasion mean in terms of the Kremlin’s attitudes towards the world? It is not just a matter of our sympathetic response to a small country which has been crushed under the boot of a Soviet army. What does it mean in terms of Kremlin attitudes? What does it indicate in terms whether the Soviet Union gives a hoot about what another country believes? Earlier today we had a debate on a matter of urgency relating to the arrest and exile of Andrei Sakharov. I would like to quote from a document in relation to Afghanistan put out by the Moscow Helsinki Group to which Sakharov put his signature in support. These are Soviet citizens talking about the actions of their own country in Afghanistan. The document reads:
A war is going on in Afghanistan; Afghans are dying and so are our boys- the sons and grandsons of those who went through the Second World War, and of those who never came back. A mighty super power with a population of 260 million is suppressing the independence of Afghanistan, a nation of 1 7 millions, while the Soviet mass-media claim that our people are giving their unanimous support. But in reality people in the USSR have neither truthful information nor the right to express their opinion, even on such an arbitrary step by the Government as the start of a new unjust war.
The Helsinki Final Act confirmed the indissoluble link between the problem of preserving peace and respect for human rights, lt is the absence of basic human rights which gives the leadership of the USSR the possibility to take decisions affecting not just the future of our country but of all humanity without any form of control. A state which does not respect basic individual rights, especially if it is one of the most powerful states in the world, poses a danger not just to its people and its neighbours, but to all people on earth.
The governments of 104 countries have expressed their opinion in the UN General Assembly on the invasion of Afghanistan by troops, but the representatives of our country declare that the USSR will ignore the Assembly’s Resolution.
We appeal to all those who still remember the Second World War, to those who fought in Vietnam and who spoke out against that war, to those who are opposed to the death penalty and to those who are helping the people of Kampuchea, to those who are campaigning against torture and calling for the release of prisoners of conscience- to believers and atheists, to workers and businessmen, to scientists and artists, to sportsmen and sports fans, to public and political leaders, to all people of good will, because this affects everyone who holds peace dear and does not want a third world wan fight for the implementation of the resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan fight for the fulfilment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in all countries!
That document from the Moscow Helsinki Group covers in four paragraphs what the Opposition has implied in most of its members’ speeches and it says it superbly. But, with all the points raised there, which cover all the opposition which has been raised by the Australian Labor Party to the motion and to the Government’s case on Afghanistan, it gets to the central issue, that is, intelligent Soviet people are saying: This action of our Government is a threat to world peace’. They do not excuse any fascist governments. They do not excuse any actions of any governments which those honourable senators on the other side of the chamber who normally bray would want to raise at this stage. They make none of those excuses. They make it clear in human terms that if a super power can do this to a small nation the entire human race is at risk. They say it very clearly and simply.
As I said, that document was published by the Moscow Helsinki Group, signed by a number of people and supported by, amongst others, Andrei Sakharov. The document is dated 21 January 1980. One wonders what relevance the inclusion of Andrei Sakharov ‘s signature on that document has to the fact that he is now exiled without trial. That sort of statement from within the Soviet Union which is rare and hard to get out, is terribly important because it illustrates a people looking at its government which is acting in a totalitarian and arbitrary way. If we in the free world cannot come as quickly and as clearly to the crux of the issue, if we cannot express the issue as simply as that, if we cannot decide to say that it is wrong and that to allow a super power to get away with that action against a small nation is a threat to the entire world, what encouragement is there for those people who believe is civil rights and in the future of the human race? As the statement indicates, the Kremlin can lie internally and it can confuse or lie to its own population, but it cannot lie externally. Brezhnev’s replies can be read by anyone and can be seen through in terms of how they present themselves.
What has been the world response, the response that those civil rights campaigners within the Soviet Union would have looked for? It has been clear and, I would say, virtually unequivocal. In the United Nations General Assembly a motion deploring the Soviet action, calling for the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, was co-sponsored by 24 non-aligned Third World nations. The vote was 104 in favour to 18 against, with 1 8 abstentions. That is as clear an indication of world opinion as one can get. We have amongst the countries voting against the motion the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Angola, Byelorussia, Cuba, Czechoslvakia Democratic Yemen, Ethiopia, the German Democratic Republic, Granada, Hungary, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Mozambique, Poland, Ukraine and Vietnam. Not one of these countries has struck a blow or has any standing on the subject of human rights or the freedom of the peoples of the world. It is an entirely predictable list of countries who would not dare to oppose the Soviet Union. Some of them in the past dared to stray a little from the path that was preordained for them by the Kremlin and suffered under the boot of the Soviet army.
There we have it- as clear an opinion as we can get. That is the response which was expressed through the United Nations, sponsored by what we call non-aligned nations- not people who are going to what the Labor Party wants to call khaki elections’, but people saying what they felt, indicating to the Soviet Union by their vote just what that country’s actions meant to them in personal terms and indicating as clearly as we should here in our Parliament what the Soviet Unions actions mean to us.
The Soviet actions have a real relevance in world terms. Again, we must remember that one of the two super-powers of the world has taken this move. If Opposition senators seriously want to talk about Iran, Singapore, Indonesia or some other country that is always open to them. On previous occasions they have brought up the subject of a few of the countries that have been mentioned in the debate tonight. The situations in those countries have been debated. But this debate, quite unequivocally, is about the Soviet Union and Afghanistan. For Opposition senators to talk about other countries is just to show that they have very little to say about the subject under debate.
The Soviet action has a relevance to the world, in terms of future world peace. It has a particular relevance in our region of the world. We face instability in our region which is aided and abetted by the Soviet Union. There are those who would say that it appears that the Soviets are following a policy which will lead to instability by the sheer flooding of refugees into neighbouring small, poor countries. The Soviet Union is well established in its relationship with Vietnam. Vietnam has established dominance over Laos; it has invaded Kampuchea. Whatever the reasons for that situation and however we want to construe it, there is a Soviet bridgehead in our part of the world. Of course we should not panic. Of course that should not lead us to ordering more destroyers, submarines or aeroplanes. But at least we ought to realise that the Soviets are in the region, that they are a super-power and that their presence has the potential for having some future effect on us. I do not look with any glee on the prospect of war. I support what the Government has announced in terms of defence spending. No matter how Opposition senators cackle and bray, nobody on the other side of the House could accuse me of being a warmonger. I do not relish the fact that we have to look so hard and carefully at our defence position at the moment. I am glad that we have carried out a proper review and come to the proper conclusion. I do not welcome the fact that we have had to do this, but we have had to do it. We have had to recognise the fact that we are pan of the world community of nations. We recognise the fact that we have a particular role to play in the Indian Ocean, the Indian sub-continent, the Pacific and South East Asia. We have faced the fact that the only superpower that we could ever depend on would be the United States of America, but we cannot go to that country for charity. The United States must be convinced that we are sincere in our wish to keep this area of the world stable and to make the appropriate response. We will never be a super-power, so it is easy for Opposition senators to heap scorn on the amount of money that we have actually spent and what we will end up with. It is easy for them to say that we cannot fight the Soviet Union with that. Nobody is suggesting that Australia is aiming to be a superpower. Nobody is suggesting that Australia believes that by itself it could repulse the Soviet Union. What we are saying is that we have an obligation to face the fact that we are part of those regions of the world that I have mentioned and that we must meet our own responsibilities so far as our resources allow.
It is easy, as Senator Grimes did, to take the soft option and to talk about what defence spending means in terms of pension increases, welfare spending or anything else. Such spending is immediate. It goes into people ‘s pockets. Senator Grimes may be a little distressed that he might not be able to give that the emphasis in the next election that he would like to give it to try to turn the issues. It is reassuring in my opinion, although I treat it with no great joy, that the Australian nation and the Australian Government have faced realistically their own responsibilities in defence spending and are proceeding with them. There is a relevance in regional terms. We do not have to panic about the fact that the Soviet Union is friendly with Vietnam. We can lament the fact. The United States of America has seen fit not to recognise Vietnam and to leave a vacuum in that part of the world but we must face the fact that the Soviet Union is in Vietnam and Kampuchea. The evidence is there. There are free countries which are worried about it and which look to us for moral support and for support in their worry that the invading army is but a few miles away. It has been easy to sit back in Australia with our sea barrier and pretend that the threat is not there, but those days have gone. We must face our responsibilities, whether in government or in opposition, and realise that that sea barrier is no longer our guarantee against invasion. It is important to us in our region that free nations stay free and that they look to us for an indication of support to know that they are not on their own against powers much greater than they are.
I mention briefly the subject of the Olympics. It has been raised and I have a view on it. I am not afraid of broaching the subject in the terms of the debate on Afghanistan because it is part of that debate. It has been said in previous debates that the Soviet Union believes that the staging of the Olympics in Moscow is a vindication of its foreign policy. I would dread to be part of a country that would pursue a line in that knowledge. I wonder what the athletes who went to the 1 936 Games in Berlin now think about the views that were taken by governments and sporting bodies then. I wonder why Australians would seek to contribute their money to the Soviet economy in foreign exchange. It is not just a question of Australian athletes going to Moscow. Australian tourists will also go. These days the Olympic Games are big business. From the information that I have been able to glean to this time, a minimum of 4,000 positions are available for Australians to take tours and view the Olympic Games. I estimate- it is a conservative estimate- that those 4,000 Australian tourists are worth $A15m in foreign exchange to the Soviet Union. That will be our contribution to the Soviet Union’s foreign exchange. What will be the total contribution of the potential 300,000 to 500,000 people who would go to Moscow to watch the Games? I do not see why the free world should give to the Soviet Union the foreign exchange which finances its army in other small countries.
– Tell us about the wool that clothes the army and the wheat that feeds it. Tell us about that. You are not dinkum.
-It is fortuitous that Senator McLaren for once foreshadows a subject which is relevant and to which I was about to come. Again, Opposition senators put us in the no win position. We have said that we will take issues one by one and judge them on their merits. A statement has been made in relation to wheat which is a realistic and correct statement. A statement has been made in relation to titanium which is a realistic and correct statement. If we had decided on a total economic boycotting of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the result would have been ludicrous in at least some detail. Because we have said that we will take the issues case by case, Opposition senators say: ‘Ah, but you do not mean it because you are not doing it in every area’. They put up a totally unrealistic scenario and then criticise us for not following it. They falsely attempt to put us into a no win situation. They refuse to look at the selective situation. They insist that we ought to have undertaken a blanket measure in our approach to trade with the Soviet Union. If we had done that then it would have been the reverse. The simple fact is that wheat is sold on a different basis from wool.
The Soviet Union gloats and gloats in Australia that it has done its buying of wool for this year, before the Afghanistan situation blew up into a major situation. The Russians do not care if we cut them out of the wool auctions. That is what is being said to us in our own country. It is a lot more difficult to enforce the exclusion of a country under an auction system than it is under a wheat system. We have taken steps to make sure that we do not make up the shortfall of grain sales from the United States of America to the USSR. I am satisfied that the statement which has been given in detail on that subject will be pursued. It is easy to make that case. Of course we all feel sorry for the athletes. The Australian Labor Party turns around and says fatuously: But you are being traded off for the wool growers’. That is not true. It is not so easy to explain the details. What is easy is to see what has happened. A super-power has invaded a small country, which under no circumstances could defend itself against invasion.
What is easy to see is that the Kremlin has by that invasion thumbed its nose at world opinion because it believed that the free world was so weak it would not respond in any reasonable way. What we know is that the Olympics and certain aspects of trade are important to the Soviet Union. We know that we, as one of the nations of the free world, must act in a way which indicates to the Soviet Union that we will not accept that it can trample over a country like Afghanistan, distant and irrelevant as it may seem to some Australians. When the Soviet Union accepts that we, other countries of the free world and non-aligned nations mean what they say on the subject, then we have some hope foi the future. I hope sincerely that the Opposition will never have cause to regret some of the empty, fatuous words that we have heard said tonight. I hope that the message goes through clearly to that super-power that such words do not represent the resolve and intention of Australia.
– I am fortunate in following Senator Martin rather than speaking before her because I might have been chastised, as Senator Grimes was for 10 minutes. But of course the burden of Senator
Martin’s complaint about Senator Grimes speech was that he diverted from the subject of the debate. For quarter of an hour, according to my watch, Senator Martin told us about the iniquities of the Soviet Union. She even quoted from a speech made by Mr Brezhnev to prove her argument at one point, which I think would be an unlikely source in normal circumstances. But Senator Martin really did not need to spend all that time telling us about that. Yesterday the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made a relatively measured statement about the history of Soviet iniquities over many years and about Australia’s response to the invasion of Afghanistan; a response which I think could fairly be described as tepid and riddled with inconsistencies.
Last night Senator Durack moved a motion condemning the Soviet invasion. Those are the matters which are the subject of debate in the Senate tonight. We on this side of the House have little disagreement with the motion moved by Senator Durack. There is only one silly phrase in it. That is the reference to the invasion of Afghanistan as being potentially the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1945. That is an example of the Liberal Party and Malcolm Fraser’s wishful thinking in domestic political terms rather than a realistic assessment of what the Afghanistan situation amounts to.
– Are you going to vote for it?
– Yes, we are going to vote for the Government’s motion, with the exception of that part which we will seek to have deleted. I think it is a silly statement. If one thinks of the Berlin crises, the Middle East situations, the Cuban missile crisis, the Korean War, to which Australia sent troops, the war in Indo-China, to which Australia also sent troops, and the domino theory, which was then dominant in Liberal Party thinking- if one thinks of those previous occasions when there have been threats to the peace of the world- then to put the Afghanistan situation in a more grave category than any of those is, of course, quite ludicrous.
If I need any support for that view I would refer Government senators to a statement made by the Foreign Minister of Australia, Mr Peacock, in the Sydney Morning Herald of 2 1 January. He clearly did not believe on 21 January- he has changed his mind on a lot of issues since then, I agree- that this was the most serious risk to world peace since 1945. Having said all that and saying that we agree with the thrust of the motion which the Government has put forward, I think it is only fair and accurate to describe the Government’s response to events in Afghanistan as windy rhetoric, opportunistic and muddled. It illustrates all the failures of this Government’s capacity to foresee situations and to respond to them. The Prime Minister’s statement yesterday is another example of what might be called Fraser ‘s law; the amount of noise he makes is in inverse proportion to his capacity to do anything. This was very clearly manifest and I will illustrate this in connection with this recent series of events.
A number of questions should be legitimately asked about the saga of this Government’s response and the international safaris of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs which illustrate the incompetence of this Government. Let me refer to the fact that, immediately after the recent Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the suggestion was put to the Australian Prime Minister on a television program that really he was beating the issue up a bit for domestic election purposes. The Prime Minister adopted an air of hurt outrage. ‘Fancy me, the Western District’s answer to George Washington, doing a thing like that! Fancy me doing anything for cynical political purposes! I find that suggestion abhorrent’, he said. He then did some pretty quick mental thinking and said: Look, it is not true that I am beating this up for domestic election purposes. I have been telling people for 10 years about the possibility of something like this occurring. ‘
The Prime Minister made a virtue of his consistencies on the threat of Russian expansionism. I put to the Senate that if the Prime Minister relies on his consistencies in relation to the threat of Russian expansion then he has got some very serious questions to answer about the behaviour of this Government. The first question he will have to answer was well illustrated by Senator Wheeldon ‘s question in the Senate in September last year. He asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) a question about the presence of large concentrations of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. He asked what the Government was doing about this. Of course Senator Carrick did not know, so he got an answer from the Foreign Minister. The Foreign Minister said: ‘Yes, the Government knows about this and we are concerned’. How was that concern manifested by the Fraser Government with all its foresight and the Prime Minister’s inconsistencies on foreign affairs issues? Did it take diplomatic initiatives? Did it go to the Russian ambassador? Did it summon him down to Nareen on the 3 1st of the month to tick him off about what was happening in Afghanistan? Not at all! According to what we have been told in this Parliament, nothing happened. Did the Prime Minister rush off on an overseas trip? Not at all! None of those things were done.
In September 1979 there was a report from the Foreign Affairs Department warning of what was happening in Afghanistan. What action did this Government take? Nothing, according to what this Parliament has been told. For the information of Government senators who can read books, there was a book published in 1 978 by Mr Malcolm Booker, a former member of the Foreign Affairs Department. He was an intelligent but impeccably conservative correspondent on international affairs. Mr Booker, in his book The Last Quarter, laid down a scenario for what has now happened in Afghanistan. All that sort of information should have been available to a government that was not as ignorant and as complacent as is this one. Mr Booker, in the context of his analysis, drew attention to the fact that Afghanistan was very much in the Soviet sphere of influence. As Henry Kissenger put it, it was 80 per cent in the Soviet sphere of influence. So Mr Fraser, the Prime Minister of Australia who said he knew all about this menace of Soviet expansionism in answer to a question when he was trying to get himself off the hook following an accusation of political cynicism, has that question to answer. Why did he not do anything about this situation which he knew to exist beforehand?
The second question he has to answer is: If he knew of the incipient Soviet threat beforehand, why has the Government allowed Australia’s defences to run down, as they have been allowed to run down by the Fraser Government? Defence expenditure in Australia in the last four years has been $ 1,500m below the projections of the 1976 defence White Paper. That is the action of a government whose Prime Minister knew all along, according to his own words, that this sort of thing would happen. Every Australian knows that the Australian defence forces are in a mess. We know that the Army has complained about a lack of bullets; that we have chartered aircraft to survey the coastline of Australia; that morale is low in many services; and that the Prime Minister, on his way back from America, met in Hawaii the crew of an Australian submarine who told him that we could not keep all our submarines in the water because morale was so low and there were insufficient crews. When the Prime Minister made his speech yesterday he said that, really, the Government had to do something about this situation. There is also the delay in the replacement of the Mirage jets, and so on. All these things have been known to the Australian people for a long time, but apparently not to the Government.
The third question the Government has to answer, if the Prime Minister knew about all these things and about the menace of Soviet expansionism, is why for four years he has consistently allowed his noisy Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) to go into the Parliament day after day and defend the defence White Paper of 1976. I invite any of the Government senators who read to have a look at that White Paper. They will find that there is half a page on the subject of the Indian Ocean, because that was not regarded as an important area insofar as Australia’s defence requirements were concerned. In brief terms, the paper is predicated on the notion of perceived threat to Australia. It is also predicated on the notion that Australia, in the world defence context, has local responsibilities and that anything that happens in the Indian Ocean is essentially a theatre of super-power activity in which Australia can make no significant contribution; it is an area of great power concern. Senator Martin said tonight that Australia has a role in the Indian Ocean. I would have been grateful had she told us what it was, in view of the defence White Paper and comments about Australia ‘s defence role.
Australia’s Minister for Defence, who can talk his head off on every occasion except when we have, in the words of the Prime Minister, the greatest international crisis, does not even come back from his holidays to deal with that crisis, and adopts for the first time in his political career the maxim that silence is golden. He does that in what the Prime Minister described as Australia’s hour of greatest defence need. We never heard of Jim Killen all through January, but people who see him around Parliament House will notice that he has a good tan.
Instead of tackling these basic issues and allowing this quite chronic neglect of the defence White Paper, to which Senator Martin did not bother to refer in her new analysis of Australia ‘s strategic role in the Indian Ocean- this is the first time we have heard about it from a member of the Government- and instead of answering these three questions about the defence of this country, about which the Prime Minister with all his foresight must have known when he tried to get himself off the hook in answering a question on television, the Prime Minister provided no answers but instead set off on a safari to see President Carter and Mrs Thatcher. That was the response of our Prime Minister.
As I understand the Fraser Government’s foreign policies- if anybody can understand them- their basis for the last four years has been that Australia should try to improve its position and its respect among the non-aligned nations. This argument justified the Prime Minister’s safari to Lusaka. He went to show the Africans and other non-aligned peoples that Australia was predominantly concerned about them, that we were not a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant outpost in the Pacific, but a country that belonged to this region and which was concerned about the interests of non-aligned countries. But the moment he gets a crisis on his hands, does he go back to see his new-found friends in the nonaligned countries? No, he heads straight back to the club to see Mr Carter and Mrs Thatcher. It was only when Senator Wriedt reminded him that there was a place called France and a place called Germany that he decided to go to those countries too. So off he went on his extraordinary crusade. He was the only Prime Minister from any country to embark upon a venture of that kind.
In talking about this trip of the Prime Minister and that of the Foreign Minister it is important to make one very simple point. The Australian Government was the only government that found it necessary to send two such eminent gentlemen on a perambulation around the world. The various activities of those gentlemen provides a quite extraordinary study for analysis. First of all, the Prime Minister said that he was going to America to tell the American people what Australia’s views were. Sad to say, he did not get much opportunity to do that. He got only four minutes on Los Angeles television, jammed in between a tribute to Jimmy Durante and the local snow report. He had no other television coverage on the whole of his trip to America, the purpose of which was to tell the American people what Australia’s views were. Many honourable senators will recall the comments of Jody Powell, President Carter’s Press adviser, when he found that no journalists had covered Mr Fraser’s visit to President Carter. At first the Prime Minister set out to tell the American people of Australia ‘s views. Later, as the trip became worse for him, he began to say that he was really there to consult. I will catch up with the European part of his trip a little later.
– This is really constructive stuff.
-That is what I am here for; that is what I am paid for. I want the honourable senator to understand that.
Honourable senators interjecting-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Jessop)- Order! I remind the Senate that interjections are disorderly. I have been trying to listen to Senator Button’s remarks but he has been interrupted constantly by interjections. I suggest that all honourable senators bear in mind that interjections are disorderly. I ask that Senator Button be heard in silence.
-When the Prime Minister of Australia got to Germany he saw Helmut Schmidt. I spoke to someone in Germany the day before the Prime Minister arrived. Nobody knew he was coming, although presumably Helmut Schmidt knew. He subsequently saw him. I put to the Senate in very brief terms what I believe Helmut Schmidt told the Prime Minister of Australia. This is confirmed by Fraser ‘s own comments about what happened. He said to the Prime Minister of Australia: ‘Yes, Mr Prime Minister, we agree with you that the world situation is very serious, very dangerous and very important. It is too serious, too dangerous and too important for someone like you to be wandering around the world, beating up the issues when we in Germany have to face up to them in a very real way such as you in Australia do not. We are right here in the firing line, but you are not.’ I do not know what Giscard d ‘Estaing said to the Prime Minister, but when the Prime Minister came out from those discussions he had no comment. He went back to report to President Carter on the failure of his mission.
At the same time, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) was off in the other direction, having indicated right at the beginning that he was going to ‘persuade’ South East Asian nations to Australia’s point of view. The language changed as the Foreign Minister went around those various countries. He was going to persuade them to our point of view; then he was there to consult, then he was there to exchange views. Finally, he was there to receive their opinions. He returned to Australia after that trip during the course of which he used those varying descriptions of what he in fact was doing. The Prime Minister returned to Australia in somewhat similar circumstances.
All of the time that the Prime Minister was away on this trip, he let go the floaters which have caused all of the confusion in this debate. For example, in Los Angeles he said, yes, he believed in the banning of grain sales to the Soviet Union.
– Did you see that on television or did you read it in the Press?
-I read it. He floated the idea that we would purchase an aircraft carrier. He talked about a number of defence matters while he was overseas. All of these ideas came back to Australia. Everybody became confused because the Prime Minister was deliberately causing confusion in order to give an added lustre to this trip upon which he had embarked. I want the point that I am making about this matter to be clear. As a Labor politician, I have no objection to Malcolm Fraser making a fool of himself. But I do object to him making fools out of us. I speak when I say that as an Australian citizen and not purely as a politician. One of the most important things is not to kid ourselves about our own importance and capacities when we cannot deliver. That is an exercise which encourages cynicism in a society and receives the jibes of the world. As an example, I mention that when in Indonesia Mr Peacock was described in the Indonesian Press as a man who walks tall with a small stick.
– No, a short stick.
– A short stick- I am sorry. I, as an Australian, do not like to see our Foreign Minister described in that way. I think that he is not just making a fool of himself; he is making a fool of this country. That is something which I would not regard as a profitable exercise in foreign relations. I invite honourable senators to compare that behaviour with the record of a country like Sweden which has an impeccable performance in foreign affairs. Sweden is the most widely respected country in the world. It has no itinerant Prime Minister to explain its view to the world, just a society with a very low level of unemployment and the capacity to put 700 fighters into the air to back up some of its planes. It has not the sort of shonky arrangement that I referred to earlier and none of the other aspects to which I referred earlier. The situation there is totally different. I mention also a country like Holland which is comparable in size -
– Have you a comment on its taxation system?
– I am not here to comment on its taxation system- or ours, Senator. I suppose next you will ask me to comment on its suicide rate or something like that. These matters are not relevant to this debate. The sad fact is that our Prime Minister went overseas with all the pomp of the Court of Louis XIV and came back as the court jester. That is sad for all Australians. Of course, because of all the leaks that the Prime Minister carried on with while he was overseas- I refer to such statements as he made on grain sales to the Soviet Union and the claim that any Australian athlete who went to the Olympic Games in Moscow would be a supporter of Soviet foreign policy- great confusion was engendered through his visit. There was great hysteria in the Australian Press and that hysteria reached a climax when a fortnight ago the Australian carried the banner headline: Fraser to Stop Russians in the Pacific’. The next Government speaker can tell us about that. There has been an arrangement to send an Orion aircraft to Fiji. I understand that that is in pursuit of that little piece of hysteria.
I have drawn attention to the fact that this Government was not ready, in terms of defence or foreign affairs, for the crisis which developed in Afghanistan. It is confused; it is muddled: Because of that, it has become very cynical and opportunistic. Senator Grimes dealt with what I would call the doctrine of selective sacrifice in relation to international affairs which occurred under the hands of a similar government when we were involved in Vietnam and is occurring again now. It is a sacrifice which Liberal governments in this country have developed to the stage of an art form. The rhetoric comes from the Liberal government; the sacrifice is made by somebody else. Exactly the same is happening now as happened then.
I wish to say a word or two about the Olympic Games. For a long time Australia has subscribed to the charter of the International Olympic Committee. That charter provides that the Committee shall choose the site of the Games. Senator Martin and other speakers on the Government side have gone to great trouble to prove to us that the Soviet Union wants the Olympic Games in Moscow. I would have thought that that was pretty obvious from the fact that at the beginning it asked to have them there. But there is no real point in that particular argument. I draw attention to the fact that we have to try to sort out for future times what we mean by the notion of an effective boycott. At the time of every Olympic Games since the Second World War there has been a major international crisis. It is only the high artful imagination of the Fraser Government that in 1980 invents the notion of the boycott.
– Precipitated by the host country.
– In some circumstances, yes, Senator.
– For example?
-The Olympic Games which were held in- well, not precipitated by the host country, Senator, but I think we might have -
– That was the question.
– I am not here to answer questions. Next year I will be over there and the honourable senator can ask me questions at Question Time, but not at the moment. Every Olympic Games since 1948 has been characterised by some international crisis and the response has not of course been the same as it is on this occasion. Again it is a matter of developing some consistency of approach about this sort of issue. Because of those inadequacies in the past we have adopted an approach which illustrates, as I have said, bad defence planning, bad foreign affairs planning and a scatty response. We have the bizarre spectacle of this gung-ho Prime Minister from Nareen, shooting from the hip all around the world and coming back to this relatively measured response, as I said, made in the House yesterday. It was only when he returned to Australia that he mentioned one very important thing in all this hubbub that was going on. He said in his address to the nation that countries of the Western world must look to the social cohesion of their own societies if we are to meet the sort of threat of Soviet expansion. Nice thought! I do not think he got it from Tony Eggleton. It is something that he really ought to think about in an election year because the social cohesion of this society- if we are to adopt the sort of response which some of the more hysterical speakers on the Government side would like us to do- is going to be very important when seeking to explain to the Australian people not only the significance of defence spending generally, the issues which are raised in the Defence White Paper and so on. That will be done only in a society where people believe in its future, have a share in the wealth of that society and a share, for example, in the work which that society is able to offer to people. I am glad that, after all this tripping around the world, the Prime Minister has come back to this thought. I think it is a very constructive one. I should like to conclude, for Senator Martin ‘s benefit, on a charitable note and commend the Prime Minister for that thought. I do not know where he got it from but it is beaut to see that it entered his head. Somebody once said of Austen Chamberlain that if a radical thought ever entered his head, there was no sign of one leaving it. The same sort of comment could be made about the present Prime Minister.
In spite of all Senator Martin’s dire forebodings we agree with the proposed amendment which has been brought forward by the Government, except with regard to the passage which I mentioned earlier in my speech. I wish to move two amendments to the proposed amendment which was moved by Senator Durack. They are designed to give honourable senators something constructive to think about. I move:
At end of the proposed amendment, add: (0 Views with extreme concern the possibility that stra tegic arms limitation may be abandoned and an uncontrolled arms race resumed;
– Shakespeare once wrote:
Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.
I do not pretend to be either as chaste as ice or as pure as snow but I quote that passage tonight because, while agreeing with the denunciation of Russia, I will try to paint a picture showing why the Russians invaded Afghanistan. It is different from the reasons given by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and Government speakers. Lest by doing that I am accused of being an apologist for Russia’s intervention in Afghanistan, I say now on behalf of my party, the Australian Democrats, that we condemn it as being a cruel and ruthless act, so much so that we will strongly support the amendment to the proposed amendment moved by the AttorneyGeneral, Senator Durack. I give notice that we will be supporting Senator Button’s amendment insofar as the deletion of the words ‘and is potentially the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1945’. I think Senator Button was rather kind in describing those words as silly. We would go further. But in any event we will certainly give consideration to the other amendments moved by Senator Button when we see them in print.
I feel a little sad about this debate because of its uselessness. I feel even sadder because by and large it has been an excellent debate with first class contributions coming from both sides. But I say it is useless because nothing that is said in this debate can unravel what has already been done or can change the course of the Government commitments already made. In fact, this Parliament has no power over such things. It is now a rubber stamp just to ratify the actions of the Prime Minister by weight of numbers. In recent times I have pondered about the power of the Prime Minister of Australia, particularly under a Liberal Party government in which there are appointed ministries rather than elected ministries.
Pro rata, Malcolm Fraser at this time has more power over the lives of 13 million Australians than Jimmy Carter has over 220 million Americans. Jimmy Carter is subject to the checks and balances of the parliamentary system, whereas a Prime Minister of Australia is not. It is frightening to have so much power residing in the hands and mind of one person, no matter what his qualities might be. In recent weeks, since the monstrous Russian invasion of Afghanistan, we have seen the Prime Minister of this country committing Australia to a certain course of action- almost committing it too far, even into dangerous areas. He has done this without reference to his Cabinet, without reference to his own party, and certainly without reference to the Parliament. I would have thought that a Prime Minister going overseas on a mission so important- here I beg to disagree with my friend Senator Button; I do not believe that the Prime Minister should not have gone overseas and I commend him for that act- would have been much helped by listening to the debate of democratically elected parliamentarians in the House of Representatives and the Senate so that he would have had a broader view of how Australians felt about the Russian invasion.
What worries me even more is that this one man- let us leave aside for the moment that at present it happens to be a man called Malcolm Fraser, because this is not a personal thing- even disregarded the views of the Department of Foreign Affairs. I am not suggesting that that Department has an infallible hold on logic or what is right, and I do not raise this to score a point on the Foreign Minister on the Olympic boycott. On 8 January, as has been said, he said: ‘I am not moved by the suggestion of a boycott’. Only 13 days later, this same man said: ‘It is the heaviest rebuff that could be served on Russia’. Were there any events in the intervening 1 3 days that could possibly have changed Mr Peacock’s mind? Of course there were not. There was the direction of one man against the Foreign Minister obviously acting against the advice of his department. I pay credit to Mr Peacock that as a good Foreign Minister he pays attention to departmental advice. Overriding all that was this one person, the Prime Minister, acting unilaterally. That, to me, is the danger that faces our relatively small country in the future and it is to that that I want to speak tonight, particularly on the danger of over-reaction. I agree with Senator Button and speakers on this side of the House that there was an over-reaction, going almost into dangerous ground.
There are some who are unkind enough to say that the motivation of the Prime Minister was to strut the world stage, that he was trying to make domestic political capital out of the matter, to seek international notoriety. Donald Home said that the man likes turmoil, that he has no worries at home. Others have said that he has an obsessive and blind allegiance to the United States and therefore to China and therefore against Russia. I do not want to canvass any of those points. I think that we are doing the debate a disservice if we pursue that personal attack on Mr Fraser. Let us assume for the sake of argument that the man has a genuine concern that the Russians have an overt plan to conquer the world militarily and that the action in Afghanistan was one of the first moves in that direction. Let us attribute to the Prime Minister the honourable motive that he really believes that. Of course, the Australian Democrats discard it as rubbish and consider that it is an over-reaction. But let us for the sake of argument assume that he sincerely believes that. This is where I am critical. I do not believe that he took enough advice, consultation or looked at the problem logically enough before he left for overseas or made any of his pronouncements. In fact he said something on page 5 of his speech that no speaker has picked up so far. After quickly dismissing the suggestions of some people who say that there could have been defensive reasons motivating Russia, he stated:
In any case we should not be hypnotised by speculation about possible motives. It is more to the point to consider consequences.
I believe that is an outrageous statement. I think that when reacting to an international situation, knowing the massive dangers into which that can lead Australia and indeed the world, the most important thing is to speculate on the motives or possible motives of another power, particularly the Soviet Union. I believe it is a respectable excercise for us in this chamber to measure the validity of Mr Fraser’s response and to assess the reasons for the Soviet act of aggression. I say simply this: If the Russian act was a cut and dried first move to gain control of the Persian Gulf, the first of a series of moves for world conquest, of course, one would take a certain reaction and a certain reaction would be demanded of America and the free world. However, if one believes that it was a defensive motivation, surely one’s reaction must be absolutely and entirely different. I think we must accept the premise that even those in the cloistered atmosphere of the Kremlin with their siege mentality must have anticipated some outrage at their action, not just from the West but from Islam and the Third World. Therefore, to their minds it must have been of paramount importance to go into Afghanistan when they did.
Let me examine whether it was a purely offensive move. At this stage I agree with the Prime Minister that Russia’s published reasons are absurd or, to use his words- and I think they are good words- insultingly unconvincing. No logical person in his right mind, as Senator Martin pointed out, could accept the Russian excuse for going into Afghanistan. But the Prime Minister supports his reason for embracing the global conquest concept with his self-constructed motive. He sets that out in his speech as follows: . . what we have seen in the last weeks is the thrust of the most powerful land army in the world into one of the most sensitive strategic areas . . . Afghanistan is not strategically peripheral or inconsequential. It occupies a pivotal role, historically recognised in the long contest for influence between Britain and Russia. Afghanistan controls the gateways into the Indian sub-continent. In recent years its importance has been increased immeasurably because of its proximity to the world ‘s main supply of oil. Currently, the situation across the border in Iran has made it more sensitive than ever.
The Prime Minister sets up a motive. That is all right. I agree that he poses a possible motive but he advances no clinical, documentary or conclusive evidence to prove that motive. Instead he advances persuasive and unclinical evidence by saying: ‘Well, look what Russia did in the Middle East, Angola, Ethiopia, Black Africa, North and South Yemen and Vietnam’. Of course, these monstrous acts by Russia are on the history books. But none of those acts justifies accepting a belief that the act in Afghanistan was for world conquest. Whilst we agree with the Prime Minister that these were outrageous acts, they do not prove or even support his conclusion on the Afghanistan invasion. We believe it is dangerous because of the naive way in which he is seen to follow the Americans in this pursuit. I would have thought that we have learnt the lessons by now of the danger of setting deadlines on a super-power. As soon as a country sets a deadline, as Mr Carter did, it immediately atrophies the situation. No room is left for the other super-power to manoeuvre. Not to lose face seems to be the name of the game in foreign affairs today. Without demeaning the United
States of America, I add to the record the Australian Democrats view that the United States has not always been right in its foreign policy determinations. It was a disgraceful act when it gave up Cyprus for grabs. Its policies in Vietnam certainly have not proved successful. Nor were they successful in Cuba, in Iran or even back in the 1940s when it just clawed together certain independent nations in Europe and called them all Yugoslavia, thus taking away the birthright of Croats, Macedonians and many other people. What worries me even more about the Prime Minister’s speech was the almost casual way in which he rejected the defensive mechanism. He said:
Some commentators have placed heavy emphasis on the defensive concerns of the Soviet leadership in relation to Afghanistan, its worry about the possibility of the collapse of the Marxist regime there and the spread of internal fighting or of Islamic revivalism. I do not discount these elements.
But then Mr Fraser said:
They are part- perhaps an important pan- of the total picture. But they are certainly not the whole picture.
In the rest of the Prime Minister’s speech he proceeded to discard those sorts of reasons totally. I think that is the danger of a shallow quick reaction. I am asking the question tonight, and I confess that I do not know the real reason why Russia sent its tanks into Afghanistan. I will not accept the rather trite reason given by the Government. I confess that I still do not know why. I condemn the invasion but I do not know the basic reason for it. On the face of it I believe that the proposition that the invasion is the start of something bigger is not supported by evidence. If domination of Iran were the target, surely Russia would quietly foment further chaos in Iran and, when the time was ripe, move straight across its own border. Instead she has shown her hand and cleverly given the disunited Iranians not only a rallying cry but also a reason to tone down their anti-Americanism. That was hardly a typical Russian clever act. Surely America’s formidable task of extricating the hostages in Tehran has been made a lot easier as a result of the Russian invasion. The same argument surely applies to any other possible ultimate target. Why not head straight for the real objective rather than digging in and allowing itself to be bogged down in such a troublesome area with its terrain, the climate, the politics and whatever? The Soviet’s move into Afghanistan has succeeded in pushing China and America into even a close embrace. It has made the Indians nervous and it has given United States military planners all the reasons they could desire for escalating their military presence in the Indian Ocean.
If the Russian objective in moving into Afghanistan was to alter the world power balance in its own diplomatic interests of subversion, at which it is a master, it cannot be rated as one of her successes. Is not it possible that under the guise of pacifying Afghanistan the Soviets might have some other limited objective such as a Russian dominated Baluchistan, giving access to the Persian Gulf? I again say that I do not know, and I do not believe that the Government has given us reasons which suggest that it knows. One assumes that the careful calculation of long term effects did take place in the Russian ‘s planning. No doubt it did, but colouring everything was surely Russia ‘s own experience in Afghanistan and her fears about her own central Asian Muslims, of whom there are something like 50 million.
I repeat, at the risk of being tedious, that the Australian Democrats condemn the Russian invasion. But what we are asking is whether the Government reacted properly. Did the Americans and Mrs Thatcher react properly? Did they really go deeply into the reasons why Russia went into Afghanistan. I am trying to find a reason other than that it was the ultimate in world conquest. Was it a siege mentality? America has been playing the China card fiercely in recent months. China has become more closely allied with that maniac, President Zia of Pakistan. Let us not judge the Russian mentality by our own standards of logic. It has a siege mentality and it is quite possible and probable that it reacts in ways which we do not understand. Therefore that lends weight to the idea that we should proceed cautiously.
Perhaps the most potent of the possible defensive motives was the need to save face. It was the need to save face that led to the United States escalation in Vietnam. I think we would be making a mistake if we did not appreciate how important loss of face is to a super-power.
What was happening in Afghanistan before the Russian tanks moved in? The Russian puppet Taraki had been replaced by Amin. The civil war had intensified, with units of the Afghan army defecting. Russian and Eastern European advisers were attacked and, according to reputable news reports, killed and the heads of some publicly displayed. From the Russian point of view, this upheaval surely had to be quelled or the Russians would appear unable to control events in a primitive Muslim society at their own back door, despite their previous aid, advice and intervention. Given the Muslim ferment going on in Iran, the rot could well spread to within the Soviet Union if Afghanistan were not pacified.
For the Russians, perhaps, this consideration outweighed all others. Given Mr Carter’s quiescence in 1978 and the Russians insensitivity to sending in their tanks their miscalculation was perhaps understandable but in no circumstances excusable.
I now turn to the Olympic Games. I think I can say that I have been consistent in my stand on a boycott of the Olympic Games. Last year when a boycott was first mooted by some Liberal back benchers I attacked the idea in the Press, in this place and on national television. For the record, I issued statements this year on 15 January, 23 January and 13 February denouncing the concept of a boycott. It was hypocrisy to begin with. This has been said before, but I think I was the first one to say so three weeks ago. We are hearing in this chamber tonight that it is all right to denounce the Russians and to call them monsters, that it is all right to take their filthy money to prop up our balance of payments situation, but it is not all right for decent young men and women to compete with other nations. I find that sort of stance despicable.
I admit to some bias when talking about the Olympic Games. I had the great honour to prepare Melbourne as the host city for the 1956 Olympic Games. I can say that one of the most exciting, satisfying and rewarding times of my life was to be in that Olympic city in 1956 and to be with thousands of young men and women who were not the slightest bit interested in politics. They were from every nation and of every colour, religion and creed. I saw them competing with one another, socialising with one another and discussing matters with one another. Despite the peripheral capital that America and Russia make out of how many gold medals they win, there is so much good and international understanding by thousands of people from every country at the Olympic Games that even politicians cannot destroy it. I am unhappy that they are now doing so.
One could argue- I would hot- that if all Western and non-aligned nations decided to boycott the Olympic Games the boycott could have some effectiveness, but Mr Fraser seems to have reacted due to some ignorance. It is not governments which compose the Olympic Games, governments have nothing to do with it. The Olympic Games is a matter for sporting associations and for the group of self-appointed men, two from each country, who form the International Olympic Committee. The Olympic Games is nothing to do with governments. Once the Games are staged, of course, governments interfere in the sense that they subsidise athletes.
The communist bloc and the Americans have been doing that for years. The Games themselves are not run by governments and are not subject to governments. Certainly a boycott led and organised by the United States would not be effective because it would be seen to be an example of super-power rivalry rather than a spontaneous upsurge of world indignation.
What is the objective of a boycott? I have heard statements that nothing else can show the Russian in the street that the world is aghast at his Government’s behaviour. I believe that is a naive assumption. The analogy with 1936 is false because Hitler had been in power for only two or three years and did not totally control the media. The Kremlin has been controlling the media and controlling Russian minds for years and years. If anyone wants an example of the pathetic way in which the masters of the Kremlin regard the human mind, let him look at the bunch of nonsense which was put on all our seats a few days ago. It is sub-titled: ‘Leonid Brezhnev’s replies to a Pravda correspondent.’ I thought that the document would be interesting and that there would be a few questions and answers in it. There are 23 pages and only two questions of about four lines each.
Let us not kid ourselves. If we are successful in getting a boycott there will be an upsurge of nationalism among the Russian people. It will be manufactured by the Russian Press which will say: ‘Look at what the filthy Americans have done. Look at what the imperialists have done. They have taken away our precious Olympic Games’. As the American spirit of nationalism rose over Iran, the Russian nationalism will rise over this matter, and the masters in the Kremlin will make sure it does. This could turn out to be a public relations victory for Russia rather than a loss because of the way in which the Russians can manipulate and have total control of the media.
I refer now to a matter of higher principle. The world now periodically goes to the brink. I quote Koestler quite often, but let us remember what he says:
Man’s self-induced extinction on this planet is now almost a statistical certainty.
We politicians have brought this about over the years by our methods of confrontation, by the deals we do, by the intrigues we engage in, and by the way we are not outraged at the way the Americans use the Central Intelligence Agency or the way the Russians use the KGB. The superpowers arm leaders of smaller nations and groups they despise.
Would any decent person in Australia have commended giving one rifle to that maniac, that torturer, that killer, President Zia of Pakistan three months ago? Of course, anyone who suggested that in Australia would have been condemned, but now it is respectable. Politicians have done that. We have turned the United Nations, which was supposed to prevent all wars, into a farce because of our greed and our selfinterest. We, the politicians of the world, have destroyed everything good in international exchange and understanding. There is nothing left that is decent in international exchange except a decent healthy sporting contest in which every nation participates and which is not run by governments- the Olympic Games. Politicians now say that that is the last thing, let us get it and destroy it. To me that is despicable. The Olympic Games, the most brilliant beautiful contest raised in 1896 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, looks as if it will not last even 100 years. Let there be no mistake, if these Games are boycotted there will be no Games in Los Angeles in 1984. The last Olympic Games would have been held four years ago. If that is so, it would be a tragedy.
The Australian Democrats agree with the Prime Minister that peace must be maintained. We say that war is the ultimate obscenity and the ultimate insanity. Let us not discount the possibility that even people like the Prime Minister who want peace may unwittingly cause it to fracture by over-reaction and by reacting too quickly under false stimuli. We must be consistent. If we condemn the Russians for going into Afghanistan- and condemn them we shouldwhy should we not condemn the Indonesians, a nation of 130 million people, for crippling tiny Timor? If it is right to boycott the Olympic Games in Moscow, why was it not right to ban the Indonesian Davis Cup team which came to Australia virtually weeks after the Indonesian occupation of Timor? We must try to understand the acts of other nations, not just as we see them or want to see them in the light of our prejudices but also by looking more deeply into what might be motivating them, albeit illogically and falsely.
What frightens me is that our Prime Minister has so much unilateral power that he genuinely concluded in a period of days that the Afghan war was the start of a major Russian offensive. There was no reference to Mr Peacock or to the Cabinet. We could be led to the brink one time too many. I am conscious that what I am about to say could lose my party many votes and it could bring me in for a good deal of criticism. After the next election, when we hope to have the balance of power or the balance of reason, the Australian
Democrats will not support a Bill which seeks to conscript young Australians to fight unless the territorial integrity of our own country has been invaded.
Finally, I make this plea to the Prime Minister: When this crisis goes off the front pages of the newspapers and when the next crisis erupts, as inevitably it will, I ask him to show more restraint, to react only after clear, careful and prolonged deliberation and consultation and first to contemplate the hideous consequences of a wrong decision.
– I wish to address my remarks this evening to some of the issues concerned with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which will set me off on a tack somewhat different from that which to date has concerned honourable senators on either side of the chamber, with the possible exception of Senator Chipp. Some of the views which I will express will be somewhat akin to a number of ideas which he has raised. Indeed, without going into the subject, I am even prepared to say that he would find my views on the issue of conscription not altogether unacceptable to him.
I wish to analyse this present crisis in the light of the history of Afghanistan over the past quarter of a century. I wish to try to analyse the reasons which I believe have motivated the Kremlin to this extraordinary extension of the Brezhnev doctrine, to say something about the significance of the Western response to Soviet activity and to say something about the purely local Australian response both in terms of the Olympic boycott and our international trade situation.
It should be recognised that Soviet and, indeed, Russian interest and intervention in Afghanistan goes back well over 150 years. Those familiar with the history of both the Anglo-Persian and Anglo-Afghan wars of the latter part of the last century will recall that the Imperial Court of St Petersburg was an active participant in encouraging instability and revolution in both those countries. It was part of the long-term aim of the czars to push their boundaries towards a warm sea. The significant fact that Soviet aid to Afghanistan first began as far back as 1919 indicates two things. The first of these is that the Soviets have always-I repeat, always- regarded Afghanistan as being within their own sphere of influence. The second is that Western political analysts have always failed to understand the relevance of internal Afghan affairs to which I now wish to turn.
As I said, Russian assistance to Afghanistan goes back to 1919. Louis Dupree, perhaps the most informed Western commentator on Afghanistan, when writing in July and August 1 979 about this situation said:
Why did the Soviets take the plunge into foreign assistance for Afghanistan so soon after World War II? The answer is rather complicated, but boils down to a theme articulated repeatedly by Nikita Khrushchev when he was First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union: the ultimate victory of world communism over capitalism through peaceful competition in the developing world.
In the period from 1953 to 1963 when Daoud Khan was the primary political force in Afghanistan he moved his civilian government into a fairly close alliance with the Soviet Union. In 1963 he resigned and power passed into the hands of the King, Mohammed Zahir who for the next 10 years maintained an experiment in unstable parliamentary democracy in that country. But Daoud returned to power on 1 7 July 1973 in a bloodless coup which overthrew the Royal family and sent the King into exile. That government which was established in 1973 was a government consisting of two factions. One is known as the Khalq or Peoples Party which was Daoud ‘s own organisation and the other was the Parcham or the Banner faction which was then under the leadership of a person by the name of Barbrak Karmal. As far back as 1973 Barbrak Karmal was a significant actor within the Afghan political situation. Immediately after the formation of that government President Daoud tried extremely hard and very successfully to reduce the influence of that Parcham faction. He, however, became subject to the sort of neoptistic practices which are endemic in a country like Afghanistan and in his turn he was removed in a coup on 27 April 1978, which brought to power President Taraki who once again turned to Barbrak Karmal who again became a VicePremier in that government.
Karmal, a plotter and schemer of some repute, attempted to promote his own position within Afghanistan in an abortive alliance with the military forces in that country under the leadership of Colonel Qader The splits which eventually occurred in the coalition government led President Taraki to take action against Vice-Premier Karmal and to send him into exile by making him ambassador. In fact, the whole of the Parcham faction was purged and sent off as ambassadors. Barbrak Karmal was sent to Prague. Nur Mohammed Nur was sent to Washington. Abdul Wakil was sent to London. Muhammed Baryalay, who was Karmal ‘s brother, was packed off to Islamabad, and even Karmal ‘s mistress, Anahita Ratebzael was sent off as Ambassador to Belgrade.
The Revolutionary Council which eventually expelled the Parcham faction from the party entirely decided at a later stage to recall these foreign ambassadors. It was recalling them quite obviously to take punitive action against them. Those ambassadors refused to be recalled and went into hiding within the Soviet bloc. The same Louis Dupree writing, as I said, in July 1 979 made this comment about where the fugitives had got to:
No one seems to know exactly where. Rumours are that the Kremlin is keeping the Parcham leadership under wraps as a possible alternate cabinet if the Taraki-Amin regime collapses. This is unlikely, but the possibility cannot be . . . discounted.
As far back as July of last year one of the most significant commentators on Afghanistan was already saying that Barbrak Karmal, as a pawn of the Soviet Union, was being kept under wraps by the Soviet Union for possible return to Afghanistan and for the possible return to a situation of that country being entirely within the Soviet orbit.
On 28 March 1979 once again the regime changed. Taraki was put under pressure by his own deputy, Hafizullah Amin, despite the fact that in March 1979 David Lynn Price, another significant commentator on Afghanistan was already saying- and I use his words: . . Nur Mohammed Taraki, can now also count on the support of approximately 5,000 Soviet civilian and military advisers.
So in March 1979 commentators were drawing attention to the danger of 5,000 Soviet advisers within Afghanistan. The coup which President Amin soon staged led to, as we all know, the most brutal suppression of nationalist and religious minorities within Afghanistan. On 16 September 1979 he had finally staged his coup and launched his wave of repression. That lasted until December of that year when Karmal was at last brought back to Afghanistan by the invading Soviet troops who had intervened in that country. They removed the Government of President Amin, brought about the execution of President Amin and then brought back from eastern Europe Karmal and his group of former ambassadors who now constitute the puppet government of that country.
It is important, I believe, to ask the question whether this is in fact something entirely new within Soviet or, indeed, Russian foreign policy. We know that the drive to warm water was a feature of the governments of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, the Empress Elizabeth and the whole range of Czarist dynasties. We know that on numerous occasions the Russians have sought to intervene within that area of Europe and further which they regard as being encompassed by the Brezhnev Doctrine or within their sphere of influence.
In 1939 we had the occupation of Lithuania and Latvia, in 1939 the Russian invasion of Finland, in 1940 the occupation of Estonia, from 1946 to 1949 the suppression of dissent in Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, in 1948 the Berlin blockade, in 1956 the Hungarian revolution, in 1961 the Berlin wall, in 1968 the invasion of Czechoslovakia, in 1975 the Russian-backed North Vietnamese invasion of the south, in 1975-76 the Russian ferrying of Cuban and East German troops to Angola, in 1978 the Russian assistance to the Cubans and others in propping up the brutal regime in Ethiopia. (Quorum formed).
I do Senator McLaren the justice of believing that he called for a quorum because he thought the quality of my speech was sufficiently impressive that more honourable senators should hear it, rather than my imputing to him the motive that he drew attention to the state of the Senate because he was annoyed at my attacks upon the imperialist behaviour of the Soviet Union. I was making a point by listing the record of the Soviet Union in the intervention in other countries and its brutal suppression of national independence. I got up to 1978 with its intervention in Ethiopia. In 1 979 we had the Russian backing of Vietnam in its invasion of Kampuchea and through to 1 979 with the actual invasion of Afghanistan.
– What about Eritrea?
-I said Ethiopia. I said it twice. If Senator McLaren did not interrupt Senator Tate all the time he would be able to hear what I am saying. The point I was making about what was new in this situation is that there are two new factors. The first is that an analysis written early last year by McConnell and Dismukes on Soviet diplomacy in that period had this to say:
The USSR has never made a show of force in support of a successful coup against an established government before time has proven the new regime’s control and thus the emergence of a new status quo.
This is now the first occasion on which that principle has been laid aside by the Soviets, the first active intervention in a coup d’etat while it is in progress against a regime purportedly making itself either friendly or at least co-operative to the Soviet Union. The second new factor in this situation is undoubtedly the role which China has come to play in world affairs and in Asian affairs in particular. When the Soviets were busily engaged in the rape of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 China was still regarded as a pariah and an outcast on the international scene. This is now a situation in which the role of China in international diplomacy and in Asian affairs in particular has made, in my judgment, the Soviets resort to this pre-emptive strike, resort to an intervention in the affairs of a neighbouring, allegedly non-aligned country because of its fear of the expansion of Chinese influence in Pakistan and on the other borders of the Soviet Union.
After a study of the way in which Soviet foreign policy is made and the personnel charged with making Soviet foreign policy, I am inclined to draw some conclusions which I believe relate to what has happened in Afghanistan but, more significantly, relate to the importance of making a forceful and constructive Western response. I believe that what we have seen in Afghanistan is a flexing of muscle within the Soviet Politburo directed towards securing for certain factions the succession to President Brezhnev. As everybody knows, President Brezhnev is sick. It is unlikely that he is able to have a full grasp of the affairs put before him in order to make decisions. It is a thing we have seen with the government of old men. It is a thing we saw with the Government of Mao Tse-tung at a certain stage.
I believe that over the past couple of years one can identify within the Soviet Union and within the changes which have taken place within the Soviet Politburo a significant struggle for the succession to Brezhnev. It would be very crude simply to line this up along the lines of a faction of hawks and a faction of doves. But for the sake of the analogy at the moment, because there is not time for me to go into the complexity of how the factions of the Politburo line up, I will use those terms. It is clear that the faction of hawks has been gathering in recent months and in the course of the last year around two significant figures, Mikhail Suslov and Dimitri Ustinov, Ustinov being the key factor, the Minister for Defence, the first Minister for Defence in 20 years who is not a military man.
Ministers of Defence in the Politburo have played a most significant role. Marshal Zhukov, who was the Minister from 1955 to 1957, was the man responsible for saving Nikita Khrushchev’s neck when he was in a minority on the Politburo. He was succeeded from 1957 to 1967 by Marshal Malinovsky, the man who planned and executed the campaign against the Hungarians. He was succeeded from 1967 to 1976 by Marshal Grechko the man who was responsible for the
Czechoslovakian situation and for the massive increase in the armed forces of the Soviet Union. Then, in 1 976, for the first time, we saw the installation of a civilian politician, Dimitri Ustinov.
If one follows what has been happening at the Politburo a couple of elements are revealed. There is the emergence of the hard line of Suslov, which is to be seen in the outpourings of the Russian Press, in his more frequent travels around the Eastern European bloc and in the way in which Dimitri Ustinov not only has installed his own supporters in cadet membership of the Politburo and the Central Committee but also has moved to establish a relationship with the Soviet military not previously thought possible for a civilian Minister for Defence. One can see that from the statements which are issued from the Politburo. One can see it from the parades, from Ustinov’s role, from his increasing donning of military uniform and from his increasing hawkishness from a position which was not expected some time ago.
I believe that what has happened in the case of Afghanistan is that those people who might loosely be described as doves, among whom I believe President Brezhnev in Soviet terms would have to be included, in fact have lost out in an internal struggle to a far more hard-line regime within the Politburo. They were faced with this decision, which was encapsulated in an article in the Economist of 22 September 1 979, which opened with these words:
The importance of the second president of Afghanistan literally shot out of office in 1 7 months is the possibility which lies behind the event: that, for the first time, a country which has been sucked into the Soviet orbit may have a chance of scrambling out again.
I believe that it was the determination to prevent that which has led the hard-liners in the Kremlin to take that extraordinary decision, that extraordinary gamble. It was a gamble based upon the presumption that the West would be too spineless and weak to react.
– What about Yugoslavia?
– I will come to that in a minute. It was based upon a situation in which President Carter had been seen to be extraordinarily weak kneed over the presence of the Russian brigade in Cuba. He had made threatening noises and had backed off. A judgment was made that Jimmy Carter and the Western Alliance were too weak to resist. Here was an opportunity to enforce greater control over a client nation which would not be missed.
The importance that I attach to the Western response to this situation is that unless those persons who constitute the hard line group within the Politburo are convinced that the West is determined to make some sort of adequate response to the Afghanistan situation, when the slender thread by which hangs the life of Marshal Tito at the moment is broken, as it is likely to be in all probability within the next few weeks, the Soviets will then be on notice about the sort of decision which they will be able to make about what will happen in Yugoslavia. They will also be faced with a decision about what they should do in terms of Pakistan. Pakistan, squeezed as it is now between a revitalised hostile Indian government and an overtly hostile Soviet government, will undoubtedly be a great trouble spot.
It is at times like this that the heir presumptive to the throne of the Labor Party must be choking on his words of criticism of a former Labor Prime Minister. He said that the former Prime Minister was too interested in what was happening in Outer Baluchistan. It is in Outer Baluchistan that this matter is now preoccupying the attention of the world. It may be all very well for Mr Hawke to say that Outer Baluchistan does not matter as much as M3 matters but at this time not a person in this country is prepared to agree with him. I think that the importance of establishing a viable Western response to the latest act of Soviet aggression has implications not only for Afghanistan, Pakistan and West Asia in general but also for Yugoslavia, Romania and for the whole of the balance of power in Europe. It has implications for whether the Soviet Union is emboldened to intervene in any direct way in the affairs of the unstable regime in Iran, where once again the life of the man who directs things may be cut off at any moment, plunging that country into as much instability as Yugoslavia could be plunged into. I believe that history is instructive in the sense of what may have happened if the occupation of the Rhineland had been resisted. A former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mr Helms, was quoted in Time magazine. Referring to the Soviet intervention, he said:
It’s no gamble at all. What are we going to do about it? We have no forces there, no bases. What can we do for the time being but remonstrate?
For the time being we can do very little but remonstrate and prepare not to allow such an intervention to happen again. In terms of Australia’s position, I believe that the arguments about the Olympic Games are worthy of a separate debate. A great deal of agonising must go on in the minds of all Australians as to their response to this matter. Some time ago one could have even said that there was some sort of bipartisan approach to the matter. When Mr Hayden was interviewed on the AM program on 23 January 1980 he said:
I believe, the Labor Party believes that a boycott supported by a majority of the countries of the world could be effective and could have a helpful psychological impact on the Soviets making it quite clear to them that their expansionary aspirations and behaviour will not be tolerated by the rest of the world.
On 23 January 1980 Mr Hayden had a view about the boycott somewhat different from that expressed tonight by Senator Tate. Certainly, it is something that bears thinking about. After all, if the boycott is to include the United States, if it is to include the most significant African sporting nation, Kenya, and if, as I understand this evening, the European Parliament has passed a resolution asking the nine members of the European Economic Community to join the boycott, then indeed there would be a boycott which would live up to the terms that Mr Hayden said that the Labor Party , and he would be prepared to support as a reasonable demonstration of disquiet and disapproval of what the Soviet Union was doing.
– Wishful thinking!
-It may be wishful thinking. It may have been wishful thinking on Mr Hayden ‘s part on 23 January to say so. I see that Senator O’Byrne says that it was. But it is still a point to be considered and it is still a point to be borne in mind. I notice that Robert Kaiser, a well known commentator on Soviet affairs, writing in the Guardian Weekly of 20 January 1980 concluded his lengthy article by saying:
Western Olympic committees made it clear that by going to Moscow they are not endorsing the Soviet regime or its behaviour, but the Russians will surely see it differently.
There is no doubt that the Soviets are attempting to make massive propaganda for their system and for their policies from the holding of the Olympic Games in the Soviet Union. We know that the quest for legitimacy within the world community that the Soviets have been pursuing would be greatly assisted by this. I believe that the idea that sport and politics are separable is no longer tenable. With the greatest respect to Senator Chipp, I do not think that was even tenable in 1956 when countries such as Holland and Spain boycotted the Melbourne Olympics because of the Hungarian situation. The punch-ups that occurred in the Olympic pool between the Hungarian and Soviet sportsmen certainly indicated that there was already that element of politics in sport. Who can say that politics and sport were not integrally bound up after the massacre at the Munich Games? Who can say that the exclusion of South Africa, the exclusion of the Republic of China and the anti-New Zealand boycott at the last Games did not tie the two things together? Who can say that the opposition of a large section of the Australian community to Springbok tours of Australia has not tied up politics and sport? I agree with Senator Chipp that politicians, past and present- I hope not in the future- have certainly loused up the situation with regard to politics and sport. However, there is no unscrambling this particular egg. There is a necessity to perceive things in terms of the realpolitik of the day.
I believe that the Soviet invation of Afghanistan is yet another instance in a long series of Soviet intervention and suppression of free people and free nations around the world. Some countries, such as the Baltic states, Hungry, Czechoslovakia, have been crushed directly. The Soviets have been prepared to subvert some countries to install their puppets to do the crushing and the murdering for them. They have simply been prepared to strong-arm other countries in whatever way they can. The Afghanistan situation is different in this respect. It is the first country into which they have sent their troops, which under no circumstances was comprehended by anybody within the terms of the Brezhnev doctrine. They did so, I believe, on the assumption that the supine attitude of Western foreign policy and American foreign policy in particular gave them grounds to believe that they could get away with it and nobody would be any the wiser. They thought that people would be outraged, would make noises and would pass pious resolutions, but that in the long run nobody would do anything significant. Indeed, they thought that nobody would do anything that the Soviet people might get to hear about. Unless those beliefs are shown to be false- in other words, unless the Soviet people do get to hear about the outrage of the world and unless the Soviet hawks are convinced of the determination of the Western powers that the lesson of Afghanistan is not to be repeated in Yugoslavia or Romania, is not to be regarded as the green light for further intervention into Pakistan, regardless of the horror of the regime which is currently in power in Islamabad and is not to be regarded as the green light for direct intervention in Iran, either now or at the time when the Ayatollah Khomeini has passed from the scene- the Soviet Union will be entitled to draw the lesson that Hitler drew from Neville Chamberlain, that is that he could get away with bluffing the West every time and that he could occupy the Rhineland without any adverse consequence to himself.
The price that we will pay for not making an effective and proper response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan will not be paid by the young sportsmen and women of this country who will be required to make sacrifices; it will be paid by every young man and woman and older man and older woman in this country who may be called upon to make sacrifices if the situation in Afghanistan is regarded as something that the Soviets can indulge themselves in with impunity. Unless we are prepared to make the hard decisions now, and if necessary to make some of the sacrifices now, the price that we may well be asking the young men and women of the West to bear in order to resist this aggression at some later point will be a much higher price. The price that it would have cost to intervene against the Germans in the Rhineland would have been nothing compared with the price that we had to pay to bring the Second World War to an end. Unless we realise that that is a lesson of history that we ignore at our peril we will be in very considerable trouble.
– Until my colleague, Senator McLaren, directed attention to the state of the chamber at about 10 o’clock this evening there were two Government members in the chamber. One was Senator Puplick, who has just resumed his seat, and the other was the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Carrick. We are now debating a motion and an amendment, which the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) has moved, which refers to potentially the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1945. I would have thought that if Government members were sincere in their words, that every man and woman who is sitting on the benches opposite would have been here to listen to the debate, which it is said is the gravest international crisis since 1945. Out of 33 or 34 members on the Government side of this chamber there were a mere two here at 10 p.m. when Senator McLaren directed attention to the state of the chamber. Only two here to debate and listen to what the Government says is the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1945.
I speak in this Parliament, as my colleagues on this side do also, not only as members of the labour movement but also as Australians. We express our concern, and the concern of our fellow Australians, about the future of our nation and our fellow Australians after having heard and read the ministerial statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) about Afghanistan. As my leader in this Senate, Senator Wriedt, has said, we are not here to argue about the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. We have gone on record as saying that we oppose it, and we strongly oppose it. We and the members of the trade union movement of Australia have expressed our constant opposition. The body to which we are affiliated internationally and the body to which my colleague Senator Wheeldon referred last night, the Socialist International, went on record on 8 February this year at its leaders conference in Vienna as saying that the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan has violated international law as well as the sovereignty and the 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. We make no apology for that determination because our party is affiliated with that organisation. It has, as a body, pleaded for the withdrawal of Soviet troops; so do we of the labour movement.
Although we appeal for that, we reject the hypocrisy and the political stunt of the present Government. Insofar as I, the labour movement of Australia, Australians as a whole and democrats are concerned, we say that no nation has the right to make excursions over another’s border. We have always adopted that attitude. We opposed American and Australian involvement in the war in Vietnam. We opposed military intervention in or military occupation of Timor. We opposed the overthrow of the Allende Government in Chile. We objected violently to the overthrow of the Labor Government in this, our own country. Because we must be consistent, we oppose the military involvement in and the military occupation of Afghanistan.
As an Australian it concerns me that we have a Prime Minister who does not know or who refuses to understand, appreciate or comprehend the meaning of the word ‘unity’; let alone know how to accomplish it. Today in Australia we, as one, as a nation and as a people oppose the Soviet action in Afghanistan. But the actions, threats and the statements of the Prime Minister have done nothing but create further divisions within our own nation. As an Australian, the Government’s hypocrisy and its double standards attitude concern me. We have a Prime Minister who, throughout his political life, has lived off political intrigue and divisiveness. On this issue he, allegedly on behalf of this nationdown under- said that detente is dead. He was calling for international division in sportsmanship and creating new tensions and disturbances. He is spreading the poison of hate and division throughout the world. We all know his record as Minister for Defence in this nation when, at the time of the Gorton Government, he stuck the political dagger into the then Australian Prime Minister. We know how he climbed over the Liberal leader, Mr Snedden. We know the infamy of his actions with the former Governor-General of this country in the dismissal of the Labor Government.
– Order! You cannot say infamy in respect of the Prime Minister.
-Mr President, I have made the accusation. We know of his disloyalty to Senator Withers.
– I take a point of order, Mr President. I believe you said that the honourable senator is not to use a certain phrase. I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I ask the honourable senator to use parliamentary language in his speech. He must not refer to a person as infamous. That is unparliamentary.
-We know of the Prime Minister’s actions in respect of the dismissal of the Labor Government and his associations with the former GovernorGeneral. We know of his disloyalty to the former Leader of the Government in this Senate, Senator Withers, and to so many other colleagues of his. Now the leader of this nation, the Australian Prime Minister, is let loose on the world to create international divisions and tensions in international affairs. Let me refer to what the present Prime Minister said in 1976 after the Montreal Olympic Games. He is reported in the Australian of 26 July 1976 as having said, after having visited the Australian team in Montreal:
While Australians have traditionally looked forward to taking home medals on a large scale this year, to have taken pan is the major thing.
He said that in 1976, after the Montreal Olympics. All he is interested in now is keeping the Australian team from involvement in the next Olympic Games after Montreal. If it were not so serious for Australia it would be more theatrical than any comic opera written by Gilbert and Sullivan. Suddenly- overnight, as it were- from a position where he favoured Governor Connally for President of the United States, he hopped on a Royal Australian Air Force Boeing VIP aeroplane and flew to Washington.
To build on the drama, he reportedly told journalists on the aircraft that we would be at war within three days. We remember the statements of Mr Menzies in the 1950s that Australia must be prepared to be at war within three years. This fellow has cut it from three years to three days.
So the Prime Minister boarded the plane, arrived in Washington and received so much publicity in the United States that he got about six lines on the tenth page of the Washington Post. He saw his newly-won friend, President Carter, who always affectionately referred to him as ‘Prime Minister John’. As the President of the United States sent Muhammed Ali one way, to Africa, he ostensibly sent our Prime Minister another, asking him- so it is said by Mr Fraser- to report back on his discussions with the President of France and the Chancellor of the Republic of West Germany. It is obvious that President Carter was not too impressed after Mr Fraser had returned because within a day or two he sent Secretary of State Vance to the same countries on a follow-up reconnoitre.
We had the spectacle of the Australian Prime Minister travelling the world preaching his doctrine of boycott while the International Olympic Committee- the body that everyone agrees is the body that should make the decision unanimously decided that the Olympic Games should be held in Moscow. I have already stated what the Prime Minister said to the Australian team in Montreal in 1 976, namely, that the main thing was to take part. Let us look at some of the statements that were made back home in Australia by some of the Prime Minister’s senior Ministers while he was away. The statements of his Ministers are a mass of conflict and hyperbole. For instance, on 19 January, three days before the Australian Government decided to ask the Australian Olympic Committee to impose a boycott on the Olympic Games being held in Moscow, the Australian Foreign Minister, Mr Peacock, spoke at a Young Liberals convention at La Trobe University. The incident is reported as follows:
Mr Peacock said … the Government had not decided on retaliatory recommendations.
If Australia were to act unilaterally, it would have little direct impact, ‘he said.
The indications are, however, that other countries are moving closer to the point of decision on making some recommendations.’
We are not waiting for others to make a decision for us.
What we are saying is that where a number of countries take a decision, it has a powerful effect. ‘
That was the attitude of Mr Peacock on 19 January. However, the day before, on Friday, 1 8 January at Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) said:
We have a responsibility to do whatever we can to resist the efforts of the Soviet Union to impose its will on others.
We face greatly changed international circumstances as the Soviet Union pursues its aims, and Australia must do all it can to prepare itself to respond to those changed circumstances as sensibly and realistically as it can.
A week later, on 25 January, not a member of the Labor movement but a member of the Queensland Liberal Government, Mr Porter, the Minister for Aboriginal and Islander Affairs, said that the boycott would not affect Russian policy but would hurt innocent athletes who had trained for the Games.
– He is hardly a left winger.
Exactly. He is hardly a supporter of mine and he is hardly a supporter of Senator Chipp ‘s. Indeed, he is hardly a supporter of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I would think that normally he would be a supporter of the Prime Minister. The newspaper report in which his comments are reported reads:
He was joined in his criticism by the Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Dr Edwards, who said the decision should rest with the Australian Olympic Federation.
Dr Edwards said Russia was not a new aggressor, but had been one when the decision was made to hold the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.
That was the attitude of the Liberal Party in Queensland. In typical fashion, the Premier of Queensland came out in opposition to what his Cabinet colleagues had said. On 28 January, Mr Bjelke-Petersen was reported in the CourierMail as saying in relation to the Australian Prime Minister:
He must come out crystal clear and say there will be no games in Moscow as far as Australia is concerned.
That alone indicates the division that the Australian Government has created within the State of Queensland. The Premier is saying that there should be no Games in Moscow but the Deputy Premier, Dr Edwards, and the Liberal Minister for Aboriginal and Islander Affairs, Mr Porter, are saying that the only people who will suffer will be the Australian athletes. On 26 January, three or four days after Federal Cabinet had taken a decision to request the Australian Olympic Federation to insist on a boycott, the Federation met. It stated:
The executive noted with some concern that as a result of preliminary inquiries made to 25 January 1980, that as yet no NOC-
That is, national organisation committee- including the USOC has made an unequivocal decision to refrain from participation in the Moscow Olympic Games.
Although the executive will pursue its independent inquiries, it was felt it would be helpful to have available any information as to the attitude of other NOCs (as distinct from governments) which might become available to the Australian Government through diplomatic channels.
I suggest that the Australian Government, through the Ministers who sit in this chamber, and the Prime Minister have not yet conveyed to the Australian Olympic Federation any details of the attitudes of any national organisation committee which have become available to it so far as a boycott of the Olympic Games is concerned. In other words, on 26 January the Australian Olympic Federation said: ‘Put their names up or shut up’. The Australian Government has said: We will shut up’.
But the sad story continues. The Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anthony, went on record at Warren in New South Wales on 9 February 1980, when addressing a meeting at the Macquarie merino field days. He told the people in the far west of New South Wales what this Government had done about boycotts of Russia. He said:
We have moved for sanctions with grains, where we should not sabotage the successful United States effort, and with strategic materials, where we are dealing with materials directly vital to Soviet war efforts.
We remember that about that time there was an article in the Sydney Sun Herald concerning the proposed export of rutile to Russia. The Prime Minister willy nilly hopped in and stopped the export of rutile to the Soviet Union. The Australian Deputy Prime Minister at Warren said that we have moved for sanctions with grains and with strategic materials where we are dealing with materials directly vital to Soviet war efforts. Three days later, he issued a media release. He said:
After considering the review, the Government has decided that exports of these raw materials to the USSR should continue normally. While some materials exported to the USSR could be said to have strategic significance they are used predominantly for industrial purposes.
What hypocrisy that statement shows! On the one hand he is talking to the graziers in the west of New South Wales- in an area where a State by-election is taking place- telling them that the Australian Government has acted to stop the export of minerals which are directly vital to the Soviet war involvement. On the other hand three days later, from his office in Canberra, he says that the Government is continuing to allow the export of minerals because they are predominantly for industrial purposes. So the sorry story continues.
The Australian Government talks about stopping the grant of money that it had so generously made seven or eight months ago of $700,000 to the Australian Olympic Federation to assist our team to go to the Moscow Olympics. Now the Government talks about banning Qantas from flying the team to Moscow. Because of the Prime Minister’s overriding obsession to be a troublemaker, a disturber and a divider, after his trip to the United States and Europe and after our Foreign Minister’s visits to Asia, we know of the governments of three countries that are prepared to impose a boycott: They are the governments of the United States of America, Australia and Papua New Guinea. It is a boycott that the International Olympic Committee unanimously rejects. As a result of the Prime Minister’s excursion overseas we now have delivered in this Parliament a ministerial statement claiming we must be prepared to defend ourselves against the military might of the Soviet Union.
Sixteen years ago in this Parliament the reference was to Indonesian expansion. I remember when the Indonesian Government moved into the then Dutch New Guinea and a ministerial statement was made at that time. Great concern and consternation were felt. Indeed that was the reason why Australia purchased the Fill from the United States. It was the reason why we sent Australian troops to Malaysia to be involved in the Malaysian confrontation. As my colleague Senator Wheeldon said last night, 10 years ago the reference was to the downward thrust of communist China- the yellow peril as the then government so readily dubbed it. On election posters, red arrows were used to depict the route of the great hordes marching on this nation and the arrows had them taking over Freshwater Bay, as my colleague Senator Wheeldon said. That was the reason the then government decided to introduce the conscription of Australian kids and to send them to Vietnam.
– Who was the Minister for Defence then?
-My colleague Senator Tate asks: Who was the Minister for Defence? The then Minister for Defence, who brought down the Gorton Government, is now the Prime Minister of Australia. Now the reference is to the Indian Ocean invasion so we take our 40 year old aircraft carrier, as it were, on loan from the Australian War Museum, and say that it will not be retired in the immediate future. Perhaps it will be moored at Fremantle or elsewhere on the Western Australian coast. We get one or two Oberon submarines on short time training cruises for one or two days. We provide so-called increased naval surveillance of the Indian Ocean. The Government is deluding itself. The Australian public no longer believes it or especially the Prime Minister because he has said so many things on so many different occasions which are at variance one with the other. The Australian people no longer believe his Ministers. As we today condemn the members of this Government for their double talk and double standards, tomorrow, the next day, the next week or the next month- whenever it be the Government decides to choose to hold an election- the Australian electorate will resoundly reject them through the ballot box and elect a Labor government to see that the interests of Australia are protected and secure in future years.
- Senator Douglas McClelland has in rather intemperate fashion dragged this debate into the political mire with many comments that were scarcely relevant. I suggest that it is good to know that he has gone through the remarkable experience of discovering that things do change in the world and that, when they change, often attitudes must change with them. But it seems both in tenor and in content that his statement was somewhat at variance- I think regrettably so- with statements made by previous speakers on the other side.
It was appropriately suggested by Senator Wriedt when he opened the debate for the Labor Party that it should not be seen as a debate, I quote from Senator Wriedt ‘in which either side should consider itself to be the winner or consider the other side to be the loser’. It is a debate which Senator Wheeldon suggested ought be conducted in a bipartisan fashion although he conceded I think that that really was not possible. (Quorum formed) It is worth noting that Senator McLaren of the Australian Labor Party called the quorum and gained the support of one additional colleague, I think, so that there are now four members of the Labor Party in the chamber while the Government benches are crowded.
– There were none of yours in here.
-Understandably crowded, I might say. It is noticeable also that
Senator McLaren is stung by my drawing attention to the fact that he has such little support from his colleagues. I was about to say before Senator McLaren called the quorum, apparently in an effort to get a few Labor Party senators into the chamber -
– I wanted to get some Government senators in here to give you support.
– I suggest that the honourable senator can see that the Government benches are crowded with people listening carefully while he is shouting across the chamber, unsupported by his colleagues. Before the honourable senator interrupted earlier I was about to say that Senator Wheeldon had tried to keep the debate at a relatively bipartisan level, something which was noticeably lacking from Senator McClelland ‘s more recent effort. I also suggest that Senator McClelland was markedly at variance with his leader, Senator Wriedt, who suggested that in this debate we should not be looking for winners and losers but rather look for common ground as a nation. In this place today we heard a motion debated which criticised the Soviet Union for its oppression of civil rights, and particularly for its actions in relation to one of its most eminent scientists, Dr Sakharov.
– You have never said anything about Indonesian civil rights.
-Does the honourable senator disagree with that? I need to know because I was about to say that that motion was passed unanimously by this Senate and showed, I believe, a very healthy sign of bipartisanship in this chamber and in this Parliament in relation to our taking a stand against the behaviour of the Soviet Union on that matter. It is a pity that there has not been a good deal more of that in this debate. Senator Wheeldon referred to the need for a bipartisan approach. He made some play of the suggestion that the Government had not approached the Opposition to discuss these issues before making decisions and therefore there could be no bipartisan approach and that this was all the Government’s fault. I have not heard any offer forthcoming from the Opposition suggesting that there might be consultations, that we might form a national bipartisan approach to these matters, except for the suggestion by Senator Wheeldon. But even in his speech last night I really did not hear him suggest that we might attempt that now. He went on very clearly to take a partisan approach to many of the issues involved.
I should like to take a little time to deal with just one or two of the points made by speakers in this debate which warrant some comment. Senator Wriedt, in his statement last night referred to the imposition of economic sanctions against governments or countries. Referring to other statements in this respect he said that it was really nonsensical to be suggesting that any real hurt could be done by economic sanctions to a country the size of the Soviet Union. That seems to me to state quite clearly that economic sanctions or a trade embargo against the Soviet Union would not work and that therefore there should not be such an embargo because it would be pointless and that Australia should not suggest or certainly should not participate in such a thing. I had understood that the Opposition was very critical of the Government not imposing more severe sanctions on the Soviet Union. Yet Senator Wriedt seemed to be suggesting that to do so would be, to use his word nonsensical’. (Quorum formed). I felt compelled to congratulate Senator McLaren but I am sorry that I cannot. I thought that he had obtained the support of one additional Labor senator, but he has not. In fact there is not one additional Labor senator present in this chamber but once again the Government benches are crowded.
- Mr President, I rise to a point of order. The honourable senator is not relating his remarks to the matter before the House. They are completely irrelevant. For him to assert that it is the Opposition ‘s role to keep up the numbers in this House is quite wrong. In any case, he ought not to be making those remarks since they are quite irrelevant. His remarks should be brought back to the matter before the House.
– There is no point of order.
– I notice that Senator Chaney is trying to help Opposition senators add to their numbers. They certainly need the help, I must say. I was referring to the suggestions that this really ought to be a bipartisan matter and I was commenting on some of the statements which have been made in the course of the debate.
There was one other matter to which I wanted to refer in that context; that is, Senator Tate’s contribution. He referred to problems that might face his electorate of Tasmania if particular measures were taken against the Soviet Union. I sympathise with him in drawing the attention of the Parliament and the people to the problems of his electorate. But as I recall, Senator Tate was also suggesting that this matter ought to be dealt with in a bipartisan fashion, that we ought to unite as a nation to face up to this problem, to show the Soviet Union how strongly we feel by whatever measures we might take. But he then very quickly moved to a position in which he was defending his electorate against some measures that might be taken. I sympathise with the honourable senator in the interest that he is taking in his electorate and in putting that point of view to the Senate. But I would suggest that if each of us took that compartmentalised view of things then we would simply never get measures that might be effective in a situation such as this. If there is to be a national, united, bipartisan approach then we really do need to push those sorts of parochial interests aside. I would also like to refer in particular to some comment made by Senator Wheeldon in this debate during which he and I had an exchange relating to East Timor.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional orders relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 2 1 November 1 979:
We will seek improved operation of research programs.
We will implement the Industries Assistance Commission ‘s recommendations on the eradication of diseases.
We will maintain the bounty on nitrogenous fertilisers.
We will pursue the establishment of a Maximum Security Laboratory and Quarantine Station to guard the nation ‘s livestock.
We will maintain adequate support for the Wool Corporation and have early discussions on the marketing report.’
– The Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As well as providing financial assistance without recoupment for compensation, it was also agreed to: make available finance for the operation of the national brucellosis eradication campaign until the end of the agreed eight year program, recoup these Commonwealth contributions to the national cost of the Campaign from industry through the Livestock Slaughter Levy, make available loan finance (under terms and conditions determined by the Treasurer after consultation with the Minister for Primary Industry) in those years when the Commonwealth’s share of the approved expenditure on eradication exceeded that collected from the Livestock Slaughter Levy.
As regards the establishment of a Maximum Security Laboratory and Quarantine Station to guard the nation’s livestock, construction of the Australian National Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong is proceeding. It was expected that the building would be completed and commissioned by
March 1984. However, on 19 December 1979 the Government announced that it would speed up construction of the laboratory. An additional $7 million has been allocated to the project and the laboratory should now be completed by early 1983. There will then be a period of 15 months during which development of work within the laboratory goes on progressively and the microbiological security is proved by extensive testing. The laboratory should therefore be fully functional by mid 1 984.
The Government has stood firmly in support of the Australian Wool Corporation, ensuring it has had adequate resources to pursue its responsibilities.
Not only has the Government authorised the Corporation to maintain the floor price scheme at wool auctions, but the Government has raised the level of the floor price from the equivalent of 206 cents kg clean, whole clip average in 1 975-76 to 3 1 8 cents kg at present.
Concerning the marketing proposals contained in the report by the Australian Wool Corporation they have in fact received very substantial discussion and debate, with woolgrower attitudes remaining very divided on the question of their implementation. The proposals are far reaching in their nature and the Government has no wish to force a particular decision on the industry.
The honourable senator should refer to answer to Question No. 2303 for information on the remaining portions of his question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 21 November 1979:
We will facilitate the purchase of more modern fishing vessels through the provision of long term finance.
We will ask the Industries Assistance Commission to consider extension of the ship building subsidy.
We will establish a Fisheries Reconstruction Scheme similar to those in agriculture ‘.
– The Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Industries Assistance Commission has concluded its report on assistance to the small ship building industry (including fishing boats). The Commission recommended against any change in the existing size of boats eligible for subsidy but recommended that controls on the importation of new boats be removed. The Government has accepted this recommendation which should be of considerable benefit to the fishing industry.
Good market conditions for the fishing industry have lessened the immediate need for reconstruction assistance for the fishing industry. Investigations as to the most appropriate form of this assistance are, however, proceeding.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 20 November 1 979:
What steps were taken to prevent a recurrence of the Minister’s Department’s recording error, mentioned in the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Second Annual Report 1979, page 85.
– The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Following the incident reported by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, a revised system has been introduced to ensure that all work commenced in the Repatriation Artificial Limb and Appliance Centre is processed to completion. Any work not completed within a reasonable time is investigated by the Manager who receives regular reports on progress through a formal recording system.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 20 November 1979:
Do applicants for service pensions now receive all necessary papers at the time of first inquiry, as stated in the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Second Annual Report, 1979, page 86.
– The Minister for Veterans ‘ Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In the great majority of cases this is so but, occasionally, additional forms have to be issued where unforseen circumstances or additional evidence require the production of further information.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 20 November 1979:
Do all officers of the Department now accept passports as proof of residence, as outlined in the Commonwealth Ombudsman ‘s Second Annual Report 1979, page 86.
– The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The production of a passport by an applicant is taken as sufficient proof of continuous residence in Australia unless there is evidence of residence in New Zealand. The reason for this is that passports are not required for travel between Australia and New Zealand and, therefore, more detailed information is required about the periods of residence in that country or in Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 20 November 1 979:
What was the amendment to the Postal By-laws which was mentioned in the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Second Annual Report 1979, page 87.
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
On 11 June 1 979, the Australian Postal Commission approved amendments to the Postal By-laws the effect of which was, with one exception; to give legal recognition to delivery procedures for Acknowledgement of Delivery (AR) registered articles observed, in practice, for many years.
The exception relates to the approval of an application, from the addressee of an AR registered or cash-on-delivery article, requesting delivery of such articles to a person nominated by the addressee. In the past, approvals were limited to applications from or on behalf of persons such as Ministers of the Crown, Heads of Government Departments and other persons, who, because of the position they occupied, could not always conveniently acknowledge receipt of such articles. The new conditions remove this restriction.
The amendments came into effect on 1 August 1979.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 20 November 1979:
Has the Health Insurance Commission revised the standard letter mentioned in the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Second Annual Report 1979, page 88; if so, what was the nature of the alterations.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Medibank Private has advised me that the letter in question is no longer in use. I am also advised that the General Manager of Medibank has written to you on the matter.
Register of the National Estate: Mount Etna (Question No. 2295)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science and the Environment the following question, upon notice, on 21 November 1 979:
– The Minister for Science and the Environment has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
On behalf of Mr G. Pure: Senator A. R. Lewis- 13 November 1979, Mr B. Simon, M.P.-14 November 1979, Senator P. E. Baume- 15 November 1979, Senator the Hon. J. L. Carrick- 16 November 1979, Senator the Hon. P. D. Durack- 16 November 1979, Senator C. J. Puplick- 19 November 1979, Mr D. Jull, M.P.-19 November 1979, Mr P. S. Fisher, M.P.-20 November 1979, Senator J. A. Mulvihill- 27 November 1979, Senator A. Missen- 27 November 1979, Rt. Hon. J. M. Fraser, C.H., M.P.-28 November 1979, Mr G. Westcott Conservation Council of Victoria- 19 November 1979, The Hon. A. A. Street, M.P. on behalf of Mr G. C. Cowey, Geelong Environment Council- 8 January 1980.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 2 1 November 1979:
– The Minister for Science and the Environment has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The decision has not yet been made on when Stage 2 will be declared a national park. However under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act an area may only cease to be a Conservation Zone when it is declared a national park or when it is set aside for mining purposes.
Defence: New Procedures and Follow-up Systems (Question No. 2299)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 21 November 1979:
What are the details of the new procedures and follow-up systems mentioned in the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Second Annual Report 1979, page 87.
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The delays referred to by the Commonwealth Ombudsman related to a case being administered at HMAS Naval Dockyard, Williamstown.
A review was initiated. As a result the administrative systems in use were revised significantly and tailored to meet the specific needs of the Dockyard. Improvements included:
a ) a new filing system;
elimination of unnecessary records;
full use of delegations held at lower levels;
efficient review of outstanding claims.
Since the commencement of these measures, over eighteen months ago there has not been a recurrence of the original complaint.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 22 November 1979:
– The Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Meat Exports to the United States of America (Question No. 2304)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 22 November 1979:
– The Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
Foreign Investment in Australia (Question No. 2305)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 2 1 November 1979:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The expenditure expected to be undertaken by these investors was: United Kingdom, $458.2m;’ United States, $73.7m; Federal Republic of Germany, $73.2m; other EEC countries, $220. lm; Switzerland, $ 13.1m; Malaysia, $9.7m and Japan, $7.4m. Investors from other countries ($27.7m) and the Australian participants in foreign investment proposals ($180.3m) accounted for the remaining $208.0m of total expected expenditure.
Uranium: Westinghouse Anti-trust Case (Question No. 2306)
asked the Attorney-General the following question, on notice, on 22 November 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 27 February 1979:
Has any attempt been made to develop a plan that would ensure that misuse and wastage of oil and its products are cut to a minimum, in view of the former Minister’s statement of 13 February 1979; if so, what are the details; if not, what does the Government intend to do in regard to the problem of ensuring that the electorate adapts to conditions that will prevail when the full force of the oil shortage becomes apparent.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Yes. The Government has developed and implemented a policy aimed at improving the efficiency of liquid fuel use in Australia, and at reducing our dependence upon imported oil supplies. The cornerstone of that policy is the realistic pricing of crude oil.
The pricing of indigenous crude oil at its true value encourages conservation, substitution of more abundant fuels such as natural gas and coal for oil, research and development of alternative energy sources, and further exploration and development of oil resources.
Already there is evidence of reductions in liquid fuels demand. In 1979, demand for the nine major petroleum product categories was only 1.4% above demand in 1978. This compares with an average annual growth in demand of more than 3% over the past three years.
The Government has also introduced a wide range of additional measures to supplement the influence of realistic pricing on oil supply and consumption patterns. These include a variety of taxation and excise benefits to encourage switching away from oil in the transport, industrial and household sectors; a voluntary program of fuel economy goals for passenger vehicles; and additional funding for energy research and development.
In addition, the Commonwealth, the States (except Queensland) and the Northern Territory have jointly embarked on a national Energy Conservation Program which is directed primarily at the conservation of liquid fuels, particularly by private motorists.
To prepare for the possibility of oil supply disruptions the Government also established the National Petroleum Advisory Council (NPAC) to advise the government on appropriate arrangements and priorities for the allocation of liquid fuels during any period of supply shortage
asked the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 28 August 1979:
Will the Minister provide statistics detailing, on the basis of past experience, the percentage chances of a productive oil well being involved in a mishap which results in oil spillage to any significant degree, specifying the way in which oil spillage to any significant degree is defined.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
There is no generally accepted definition of ‘significance’ in this context. In relation to the possible impact on the environment, ‘significance’ would vary from case to case depending on the nature of the environment involved.
Experience shows the risk of oil spillage from a production well is very small. In the Australian offshore area, as at the end of 1979 some 402 wells had been drilled, 1 19 of which were production wells. There have been no oil blowouts from any of these wells.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 7 November 1979:
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Salary- $44,000 per annum
Allowance- $2,700 per annum
Travelling Allowance- $60 per overnight stay.
In addition, in line with accepted practice, the Commissioner has available to him an Australian Federal Police vehicle and driver for travel on official police duty. He is presently renting a government house pending his purchase of a home in Canberra.
asked the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 8 No /ember 1979:
What was the date on which each such piece of research or documentary evidence was:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 8 November 1979:
Has Telecom alternative plans for upgrading communication services in the Northern Territory in the near future other than through satellite communication, in view of the pressure on existing radio telephone networks; if so, what projects are envisaged, and in what time period.
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Telecom expects to provide automatic telephone service within the next twelve months at Bathurst and Melville Islands, Nabarlek, Oenpelli, Jabiru and Milingimbi.
Subject to satisfactory radio path tests and funds availability it is also planned to provide automatic service-
within a corridor approximately 100 km wide centred on the microwave radio link between Mt Isa, Tennant Creek and Darwin; and
within an approximate 50 km range of the Stuart Highway between Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.
On present indications, this work can be completed within a time scale of three years.
Negotiations are also in hand with Australian National Railways to lease circuits on their microwave radio route extending from Alice Springs to Tarcoola along the new railway. This would enable improved service to be offered to residents within a distance of approximately 50 km from the route.
Telecom recognises that there is a continuing need for high frequency radio networks to serve the more remote applicants. It is planned to increase the eight networks now based on Katherine and Alice Springs to a total often in the 1980-81 financial year.
A comprehensive study of telecommunications needs in the remoter areas of the Territory is in hand. It will be the basis for developing plans to meet the requirements disclosed.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 1 3 November 1979:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (l)Annual percentage increases from 1972 to 1979 in the Consumer Price Index and, from 1 972 to 1 978 in the implicit private consumption deflator (information is not yet available for 1 979) are shown in the following table:
There is no simple statistical relationship between the rates of increase in real wages and the consumption deflator. In comparing the two periods, it should be borne in mind that the rapid increase in real wages in the period1 973-75 compressed a number of years’ normal increase in real earnings into a short space of time. That contributed heavily both to the sharp acceleration in the rate of inflation in the first period and, reflecting institutional constraints on rapid redress of the situation, to the continuing relatively high (albeit declining) rate of inflation in the second period. The slow growth in real earnings in the period 1976 to 1978 can be seen as a natural consequence of the earlier excessive growth; likewise, the much slower growth in employment in this period, which contributed to the slower growth in aggregate wage and salary payments, can also be linked to the effects of continuing excessive real wage levels on employer demand for labour.
asked the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 15 November 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 20 November 1 979:
Did the Minister write a letter to the member for New England on 27 September 1979 to inform him of arrangements for vacating his Ministerial office and the ‘winding down’ of other privileges; if not, by what means did he inform the member for New England, and if he wrote a letter, will he table the letter.
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: 1 refer you to the answer given to Question No. 2218 (Senate Hansard, 23 November 1979, page 3009).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 1 9 November 1 979:
Has the Postal and Telecommunications Department set examinations for the Novice Amateur Operators Certificate of Proficiency since the incident referred to in the Commonwealth Ombudsman ‘s Second Annual Report 1 979, page 84; if so: (a) how many examinations have been set; and (b) were the morse-code transmissions which were to be transcribed chosen from non-technical texts.
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A number of unscheduled special examinations for small candidate groups in remote areas or for candidates suffering some disability have also been conducted. In all, a total of 24 individual Novice telegraphy examinations have been produced and used at various centres.
Attorney-General’s Department Directive on Legal Aid (Question No. 2313)
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice, on 2 1 November 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s questions are:
asked the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 23 November 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 23 November 1979:
Did some local car manufacturers fail to meet local content percentage rules during 1978 as claimed by the Director of the Federation of Australian Automotive Products Manufacturers (see the Launceston Examiner, 16 October 1979); if so, what amount of penalties has been, or will be, imposed on each of those manufacturers in respect of that year.
– The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Plan requires companies to meet specified local content commitments in accordance with the Plan’s provisions. The penalty provisions, set out in paragraph A5.5 of the Plan, require the imposition of by-law penalties on Plan participants not complying with the Plan’s requirements. These provisions have been strictly applied. In 1978 only Chrysler failed to meet its content commitment, and consequently was penalized under the terms of the Plan, with a reduction of its by-law entitlement in proportion to the shortfall in content. Details of individual Plan participant’s by-law entitlements and duty payments are commercially confidential.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notices, on 22 November 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Hotel/Casino Licence in Canberra (Question No. 2312)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice, on 19 November 1979:
Will any hotel/casino licence granted in Canberra be granted to an Australian company and not to a foreign company, noting that applications closed for construction of such a hotel/casino on 1 6 November 1 979.
– The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Development proposals for the construction in Canberra of a convention centre and hotel complex which may also incorporate an entertainment centre and casino are being considered.
The question of Australian ownership of the complex will be taken into account.
Coastal Surveillance by Private Contractors (Question No. 2314)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 21 November 1979:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
Beechcraft Baron (various models)
Rockwell AC500 S and AC690 A
Piper Aerostar, Navajo and Aztec
Because of the nature of the task a high turnover of staff occurs; several hundred people are employed at any one time. Because of the time and resources required to investigate Company and other records, and since the information could well be out of date within days of its collation, it is not proposed to provide names and addresses of crew members or details of ownership of the individual aircraft used. The names and addresses of the members of the Boards of Directors of the four firms engaged in flying coastal surveillance flights as at 15 December 1979 are as follows:
Mr Walter Sulki, Hong Kong.
Mr Vernon Hubbard, Johnson Parade, Mosman Park, Western Australia.
Mr Richard Reynolds, Melvista Avenue, Nedlands, Western Australia.
Mr Ernest Welch, Gil Street, Mundaring, Western Australia.
Arnhem Air Charter Pty Ltd
H. C. Sleigh Aviation Ltd (formerly Executive Airlines)
Peter Harold Sleigh, 117 Walsh Street, South Yarra, Victoria.
Michael Henry Searby, 56 Kensington Road, South Yarra, Victoria.
Albert Gregory Jacobsen, 54 Reserve Road, Beaumaris, Victoria.
Executive Air Charter (North Queensland)
Queensland Transport: Tax on Diesel Fuel (Question No. 2319)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 22 November 1979:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Moreover, the absence of a diesel fuel tax provided a competitive edge to diesel-powered vehicles within the market for road vehicles. It was, therefore, considered necessary on grounds of equity and efficiency to redress this imbalance by introducing the diesel fuel tax.
The Brisbane City Council, in the operation of its Metropolitan Bus Service, is, therefore, liable to pay the tax. The legislation does not apply to diesel fuel used in rail systems as the factors underlying its introduction, outlined above, are not relevant.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Finance, upon notice, on 23 November 1979:
How much commission has been foregone by the Commonwealth because of the decision to cease deducting union dues from the salaries of members of the Australian Public Service Association.
– The Minister for Finance has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Commission charged on the aggregate of amounts deducted for union dues of members of the Australian Public Service (Fourth Division Officers) Association who are employed in Commonwealth departments under the Public Service Act, prior to the cessation of deductions, approximated $800 per fortnight.
Australian Trade Office in Taiwan (Question No. 2326)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 23 November 1979:
The Australian Government is precluded by the terms of Australia’s recognition of the Peoples’ Republic of China from establishing any official presence in the province of Taiwan or having any contact with the authorities in that province. Hence there can be no question of establishing an Australian Government Trade office in the province of Taiwan.
By way of supplementary information, there is no barrier in the way of private commercial transactions between Australian enterprises and enterprises in the province of Taiwan. The Department of Trade and Resourcesrecently consulted a number of Australian enterprises that have an interest in trade with the province to ascertain the views of the commercial sector in Australia on the extent to which the absence of any form of trade representation there has adversely affected the commercial sector’s ability to take advantage of opportunities for increasing trade between Australia and the province of Taiwan.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 22 November 1979:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The reasons for the approval were:
Gill Netting in Tasmanian Waters (Question No. 2336)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 23 November 1979:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (l)Yes.
asked the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 23 November 1 979:
Is the Minister satisfied, in view of the very substantial Federal funding of raw development land in various States, and the fact that New South Wales has written down its land values by some millions of dollars, and that otherStates may do likewise, that the current value of land purchased with Commonwealth funds could meet the indebtedness, particularly when interest and other holding charges are taken into account.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
It is not pertinent to relate the value of raw land purchased with Commonwealth funds to the repayment arrangements entered into by the Commonwealth and the States under the Urban and Regional Development (Financial Assistance) Act 1974, for the purposes of urban expansion and redevelopment. There is no connection in the financial agreements dealing with the arrangements for repayments which ties them to the value of lands purchased.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 23 November 1979:
– The Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Both travel and accommodation for National Youth Conference participants were handled in bulk- no individual accounts were issued. Therefore it has only been possible to provide average costs in respect of these two items.
The Commonwealth, as sponsor of the National Youth Conference, met the cost of travel to and from the Conference and of college-style accommodation at the Australian National University for Conference participants.
-On 12 September 1979 Senator Bishop asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs the following question without notice:
Has the Minister representing the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs seen a document which was put out by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and which, based on the statistics prepared in January by the Commonwealth Employment Service, shows the unemployment rate per job vacancy in various regions of Australia?
Is he aware that the figures in the document which I understand has been shown to the Government, demonstrate that in Hornsby in Sydney, for example, the unemployment rate per job vacancy is 1 .69 per cent, and in Mount Druitt the figure is 13.46 per cent; in Melbourne in the suburb of Waverley the figure is 2.45 per cent and in Sunshine is 9.37 per cent; in two Brisbane suburbs the figures are 12.63 per cent and 4.64 per cent; in Adelaide suburbs the figure for Elizabeth is 13.7 per cent and 5.3 per cent for Unley; and in Perth suburbs at Girrawheen the figure is 13.3 per cent and in Claremont the figure is 6.6 per cent? From those figures does the Minister agree that unemployment is distributed in various ways throughout the whole of Australia? Have these figures been considered along with the representation by the
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace that some increase in the unemployment benefit should be given?
The Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs has provided the following answer:
I have studied the document in question and I am aware of the figures you quote. There are a number of matters relating to these data to which I would like to draw your attention:
The data presented in the document represent the number of persons registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) as unemployed seeking fulltime work as a percentage of the 1976 Census total, i.e. full-time plus part-time, labour force estimates for CES office areas (1976 being the latest date for which Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) labour force estimates for CES office areas are available). As such they are, at best, most indefinite approximations and are not unemployment rates per job vacancy as you suggest.
The areas referred to in your question do not relate to individual suburbs but are in fact CES office areas which can contain a number of suburbs and take the name of the suburb in which the local CES office is located.
Any comparison of CES registered unemployed as a percentage of ABS labour force for CES office areas within capital cities should be approached with extreme caution. Due to the considerable mobility of labour within metropolitan areas, capital cities should, in most cases, be treated as single labour markets.
Regarding your question on the distribution of unemployment throughout Australia I can only agree that unemployment does vary widely by area, age, occupation, industry, etc. This situation is not a recent phenomenon.
The final matter you raised concerned Unemployment Benefit. The question of what is an appropriate level of income support for the unemployed is a complex matter. For example and to raise but 2 issues, the level of benefit paid should be adequate to provide a proper level of support for those who have lost income through unemployment. At the same time, it should not be so high as to undermine the incentive to actively seek employment.
I can assure you that the question of adequacy of Unemployment Benefit is one which is kept under continuing review in the application of our social security system.
Carcinogenic Effects of Chemicals
– On 12 September 1979 (Hansard, page 580), Senator Elstob asked the Minister for Science and the Environment a question without notice concerning research into the carcinogenic effects of chemicals in industry. The Minister for Science and the Environment undertook to refer the question to the Minister for Health who has provided the following information:
The School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, a part of the Commonwealth Department of Health and located within the University of Sydney, has an existing facility for screening chemicals for their ability to produce changes in the structure of bacterial genes, a method which is commonly used as a preliminary test of carcinogenicity. Australia does not have the facilities to undertake long-term animal feeding studies with selected chemicals. This is a very expensive operation and facilities exist in relatively few overseas countries. For this reason a continual scanning of world-wide literature is undertaken in my Department so that we can be informed of the latest developments.
Information relating to the carcinogenic effects of chemicals is continually assessed at a national level by expert committees of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH & MRC) such as the Poisons Schedule Committee, the Pesticides and Agricultural Chemicals Committee, the Carcinogenic Substances Committee and the Occupational Health Committee. The terms of reference for these committees are such as to embrace all toxicological aspects of chemicals that may come under scrutiny. The Social Health Branch of the Central Office of my Department is active in giving advice on matters related to the occupational health of workers in the community and the Section on Environmental and Occupational Health in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine will soon be formally establishing a sub-section on environmental toxicology.
The 85th Session of the NH & MRC adopted the Model Carcinogenic Substances Regulations’ prepared by the Carcinogenic Substances Committee. These regulations specify codes of practice for the use of potentially carcinogenic substances by employers and employees.
All compounds considered carcinogenic by the Carcinogenic Substances Committee are placed in the Schedule of the Model Carcinogenic Substances Regulations which are published in the Council reports. The reports are public documents.
– On 13 September 1979 Senator Baume asked me a question without notice concerning the theft of coin dies from the public collection of the New South Wales Government.
The Minister for Administrative Services has advised that in September 1979 the Commissioner of the then Commonwealth Police advised that the answer given by the AttorneyGeneral accorded with police knowledge at that time. He is advised that despite recent inquiries, the police have not been able to obtain any further information in relation to Senator Baume ‘s question. The Commonwealth has not been informed of arrangements made to protect coin collections under the control of the States.
The Minister therefore advises that he is unable to add to my answer.
Petroleum Products: Freight Subsidy Payments
– On 19 September 1979 Senator Walsh asked the following question without notice:
Are petroleum products freight subsidy payments in the Australian Capital Territory made under the States Grants (Petroleum Products) Act or, as in the case in the Northern Territory, under a specific ordinance? If not, what is the legal basis for these payments?
The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs has provided the following information:
The subsidy situation in the Australian Capital Territory is as follows:
Petroleum freight subsidy payments in the Australian Capital Territory are not made under a specific ordinance as in the Northern Territory. Sales of eligible petroleum products in the Australian Capital Territory are included in New South Wales subsidy claims and paid by the New South Wales Government from funds made available by the Commonwealth under the States Grants (Petroleum Products) Act.
There is a long history of this arrangement which commenced under the former scheme in 1965. With the reintroduction of the subsidy scheme in 1978, the New South Wales Government again agreed for the funding arrangement to continue until such time as the Australian Capital Territory introduced a separate subsidy ordinance. Such an ordinance is presently being drafted.
The Australian Capital Territory has traditionally been regarded by the oil industry as forming part of the New South Wales marketing area and the amalgamation of Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales subsidy sales means a significant administrative saving for both the Commonwealth and the industry. On the other hand, there has been no additional cost to the New South Wales Treasury in processing combined Australian Capital Territory-New South Wales claims lodged by the various oil companies.
The drafting of a separate Australian Capital Territory subsidy ordinance, while satisfying a legal situation, when completed, will achieve no other advantage. Accordingly it is hoped that the legislation will be framed to ensure that the present satisfactory administrative arrangements for payments to claimants will not be disturbed.
Australian Public Service Association: Deduction of Dues
-On 20 September 1979 Senator Colston asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations without notice:
Is the Government still not deducting union dues from the salaries of members of the Australian Public Service Association, having ceased that practice earlier this year. If that is the case, what is the reason for the policy and will it be reversed in the near future.
The Minister for Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I confirm that the Government is not providing an automatic payroll deduction facility in respect of the union dues of Commonwealth Public Service Act employees who are members of the Association to which you referred.
As you are aware, an industrial campaign had been waged by APSA(FDO) and the Administrative and Clerical Officers ‘ Association which frustrated the process of Government and severly disrupted some departmental operations. A direction by the Deputy Public Service Arbitrator to lift bans was not complied with and the unions did not heed a Government warning that deductions would cease where unions engaged in disruptive industrial action of the type then being pursued by the two associations. In such circumstances the Government was left with no choice but to take firm action.
Approaches have since been made to Government by the Council of Australian Government Employee Organisations and the ACOA seeking restoration of the deduction facility.
Following consideration of those approaches, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters wrote to CAGEO and ACOA on 18 October 1979 and informed those organisations that the Government had decided not to accede to those requests.
Finally, I have written to the ACTU, CAGEO and CPA informing them of the Government’s preparedness to take similar action in response to future strikes or disruptive industrial action in Commonwealth Government employment.
Avgas and Distillate Supplies in Western
-On 26 September 1979 Senator McAuliffe asked the following question without notice of the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs:
I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs whether he is aware of the grave situation that has arisen in the western areas of Queensland as a result of a sweetheart agreement between oil companies to market to the west at their convenience only. Is he also aware that the sinister plan is that where a town has three outlets, the idea is to starve out two and flood the third? Is the Minister aware that responsible and experienced commercial people in the west are claiming that shortages of supplies of distillate and avgas are also being artificially induced? Finally, will the Minister use his good offices to have the matter urgently and thoroughly investigated so as to inform the people in the west of Queensland just what is going on and put a stop to the near panic situation that exists in the area at the moment?
The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs has provided the following answer:
I have caused inquiries to be made and, on the information provided to me I advise that:
I am not aware of an agreement between oil companies to market in Western Queensland at their convenience only or of a plan to starve out certain petroleum outlets.
I understand that a number of smaller petroleum agencies in Queensland (and elsewhere in Australia) which have not proven to be commercially viable have closed down.
I am not aware of supply shortages of distillate and avgas being artificially contrived. I understand that there has been an unprecedented demand during the period
January-August 1979 in Queensland for distillate and avgas.
If Senator McAuliffe can provide me with any evidence indicating that outlets have closed as a result of agreements between supplying oil companies or that supply shortages have been artificially contrived I would be pleased to have the matter fully investigated.
Monitoring of Dangerous Chemicals
– On 26 September 1979 (Hansard, pages 950-1), Senator Elstob asked the Attorney-General a question without notice concerning Federal legislation governing health standards in industry and in particular the training of workers in safe handling of dangerous materials. In his reply, Senator Durack indicated that he would direct the question to the appropriate Minister for further details. The question was subsequently referred to the Minister for Health for reply and he has provided the following information:
The responsibility for maintaining occupational health safeguards in Australia rests primarily with the individual State governments through the relevant health and labour authorities. Nevertheless, certain deficiencies, particularly with respect to uniformity, have been recognised and, by agreement between Federal and State Ministers concerned, a Review Body on Occupational Safety and Health has been established. The Review Body is to advise on the foundation of a National Consultative Committee on Occupational Safety and Health to link, at the national level, the interests of both Commonwealth and State health and labour authorities with those of employers and trade unions, in order to minimise wasteful duplication in the development of standards and services.
The suggested terms of reference of the National Consultative Committee, to be considered by the Review Body are:
to enable more consultation on principles and standards to take place at a national level;
to promote research (particularly in respect of industrial safety and health problems likely to arise with new equipment, materials and technology) and rationalise the production of safety promotional material; and
to improve the training of technical inspectors and safety training generally.
However, the National Health and Medical Research Council, which is serviced by my Department, is active in the field of occupational health as an authoritative source of information making recommendations to the community generally and to the States in particular, and this will continue. Documents relating to occupational health matters already published by the Council include occupational health guides, such as Hygienic Standards for Atmospheric Contaminants, codes of practice, such as the Code of Practice for the Fumigation of Ships with Hydrogen Cyanide, and other documents such as the Statement to Employees in the Vinyl Chloride Industry. Furthermore, Council has issued certain model regulations which are considered suitable for adoption by the States, e.g. the Model Asbestos Regulations.
In addition officers from my Department represent the National Health and Medical Research Council on the National Advisory Committee on Chemicals of the Australian Environment Council and on a number of Standards
Association of Australia committees responsible for the preparation of standards for the safe handling, transport and storage of chemicals.
-On 16 October 1979 Senator MacGibbon asked me a question without notice concerning the accuracy of a report in the Australian of 15 October 1979 that 300 people were registered as unemployed in the Bowen area and that tomatoes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars were left rotting because local labour was unobtainable. Senator MacGibbon further asked whether in the event of the report being correct, what action could be taken to induce the unemployed to accept employment.
The Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: lam advised that earlier in the picking season poor market prices for tomatoes had caused recruitment of harvest labour to cease for about a month, with the result that experienced pickers who are usually available for the Bowen harvest left the district for southern fruit harvests. Subsequent improvements in the market resulted in a renewed demand for experienced pickers but for the above reason few were available. This gave rise to the problem to which you refer.
I am also advised, however, that the most recent statistics available in respect of the Bowen area show that at the end of October 1979 a total of 203 persons, comprising 86 adult males, 24 adult females, 35 males under 2 1 years of age and 58 females under 2 1 years of age were registered as unemployed. Although the vast majority of these people were totally inexperienced in tomato picking to relieve the problem, the Commonwealth Employment Service has been offering this employment to them. Some have accepted and have only worked for relatively short periods because of the harsh climatic conditions. Others were unable to be referred because of the absence of public transport. I might mention that most of the farms are 16-25 kilometres from town and few, if any, offer accommodation other than camping facilities for people who own their own caravan or tent.
I am informed that in cases involving failure of the Unemployment Benefit work test a report of the circumstances was referred to the Department of Social Security, and that in each instance termination of Unemployment Benefit followed. I understand that a total of 86 cases were involved in administrative action of this nature.
In taking this action, the CES is giving effect to the Government ‘s policy that Unemployment Benefit should not be paid to people who are not making reasonable efforts to obtain work, or who refuse suitable available work.
Conciliation and Arbitration Legislation
-On 16 October 1979 (Hansard, p. 1314) Senator Cavanagh asked me, as the Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations, a question without notice seeking the tabling of a letter from Mr Justice Staples, and the telexes from the 25 Arbitration Commissioners. My answer is as follows:
I am prepared to make available from my office, copies of Mr Justice Staples’ letter, which is now a public document, although the letter is also available from the Parliamentary Library.
I am not prepared to table or make available the details of the Commissioners’ telexes as they are private documents.
– On 17 October 1979 (Hansard, page 1393) Senator Gietzelt asked the Attorney-General a question without notice concerning the Government’s policy on the advertising of cigarettes and, specifically, the screening in cinemas of cigarette advertisements with children’s movies. The question was subsequently referred to the Minister for Health who has provided the following information:
The Government recognises the harmful effects which smoking has on health and has legislated to prohibit the advertising of cigarettes and cigarette tobacco on television and radio. In regard to cigarette advertising in cinemas, the Government is particularly concerned that such advertising may at certain times involve the more impressionable sections of the community, especially children.
In view of the shared concerns of the Commonwealth and the States regarding cigarette advertising generally, a Working Party was set up by the 1977 Health Ministers’ Conference to meet with representatives of tobacco manufacturers and the Media Council of Australia to negotiate a voluntary code for the advertising of cigarettes outside the broadcast media. Following these negotiations, an agreed Voluntary Advertising Code for Cigarettes in Australia was authorised by the Trade Practices Commission in December 1 977.
The Media Council, which is a non-government organisation, has responsibility for administering voluntary selfregulatory codes within the advertising industry, including the Voluntary Advertising Code for Cigarettes. The Health Ministers’ Conference Working Party and the Media Council are continuing to review the operation of the Voluntary Advertising Code for Cigarettes and to examine changes that may be necessary to that Code.
The Media Council is conscious of the need to develop a uniform policy of cigarette advertising in cinemas and has had discussions with cinema proprietors on this matter, and will continue to do so. However, the question of regulation and controls relating to cinema advertising of cigarettes is primarily one that falls within the jurisdiction of the individual State Governments. Nevertheless, for its part, the Commonwealth will continue to liaise closely with the State authorities on these matters, for example, through the avenue of the Health Ministers ‘ Conference Working Party.
Light Commercial Aircraft
-On 17 October 1979 (Hansard, page 1394), Senator Elstob asked me, as Minister representing the Treasurer, a question without notice concerning light commercial aircraft. The Treasurer has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government is aware of the tight supply situation facing aviation gasoline users and, in conjunction with the oil industry, has sought to alleviate it. Of particular interest in this connection is the decision by the Shell company to change the capacity of its refinery to produce avgas; this should mean a substantial increment to domestic supplies when production commences in March or April 1 980.
In the Government’s view it would not be an appropriate response to the current avgas situation to provide financial backing or loan guarantees to small airline operators to purchase turbo-prop or jet aircraft. If they can demonstrate financial viability, small airline operators could expect to obtain funds from private lending institutions to purchase turbo-prop or jet aircraft.
-On 17 October 1979 Senator Bonner asked the Attorney-General without notice:
My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I refer to a question asked yesterday by Mr Tom McVeigh in another place and alleging discrimination against Vietnamese workers by the Federated Storemen and Packers Union of Australia in Brisbane. Can the Minister inform the Senate of what steps he can take under the Racial Discrimination Act to protect these workers against such discrimination?
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I have brought the matter referred to me by the honourable senator to the attention of the Commissioner for Community Relations who has made inquiries into it.
The Commissioner has informed me that a response has been received from Mr Nicol, the State Secretary of the Queensland Branch of the Federated Storemen and Packers Union. The Union has said that it acted to prevent the passing around amongst Vietnamese of Union Wallets of membership; that it had received complaints from persons that some of the Vietnamese who had applied for and become members of the Union were not the same people as those seeking employment notwithstanding that the latter were in possession of a Union Wallet; that difficulty in communication hindered the Union in bringing its inquiries to a satisfactory conclusion; that an interpreter is now available to facilitate communication between the Vietnamese members and the Union; and that all restrictions against Vietnamese joining the Union at the factory concerned have been removed.
The Commissioner has stated that he is satisfied that unlawful racial discrimination was not a factor in the incidents involving Vietnamese and the Union, and that the Union acted to protect its membership from trafficking in its Union membership Wallets.
-On 18 October 1979 (Hansard, pages 1475-76) Senator Tate asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question without notice, concerning press reports stating that the United States Government is refusing to allow shipments of aviation gasoline from Texas to Australia. The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
An application has been made by Mobil Oil Australia Ltd to the United States Government for an export permit for a cargo of avgas. I am unable to advise the honourable senator of the final outcome at this stage.
The Government has continued to do everything possible to secure avgas supplies for Australian consumers and in this connection, the senator should refer to the statement made by the Minister for National Development on 15 November ( House of Representatives Hansard, page 306 1 ).
Special Youth Employment Training Program
-On 24 October 1979 Senator Bishop asked a question without notice in which he expressed concern at the possibility of an abuse of the Special Youth Employment Training Program (SYETP) by Myer (S.A.) Stores Ltd, which was directed to me as Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs.
The Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs has provided the following information:
As you will be aware the aim of SYETP is to assist unemployed young people who are unable to compete on the open labour market because they lack required experience and employment qualifications and /or personal qualities. The program is therefore directed only at those who are unable to meet an employer’s normal requirements for recruitment to a position. The overall purpose of the program is to remedy these disadvantages by providing the trainees with the basis for entry into continued employment or to equip them with basic skills and experience which are readily transferable and acceptable to other employers. It is not the intention of the program to establish a job creation scheme or to provide employers with a permanent supply of subsidised labour. Similarly it has never been the intention to allow employers to retrench staff in order to take on subsidised trainees under the program.
I have been advised that Departmental records indicate that 13 young people have commenced training under SYETP with Myer (S.A.) Stores since 1 August 1979. The Director of Personnel at Myer was contacted in regard to the allegation referred to in your note of 24 October 1979. He advised that 9 employees have been retrenched since 1 August 1979 and of these 3 were senior full-time staff and 3 were senior part-time staff. None of those retrenched were SYETP or former SYETP trainees. The staff turnover indicated by these figures appears normal for an organisation the size of Myer Stores. My Department has also been advised by the Director of Personnel that there is no intention to retrench 50 senior staff as was apparently alleged.
On the basis of the above information I do not consider that Myer Stores has abused the program as it does not appear that staff have been retrenched or dismissed in order to create vacancies for SYETP trainees. Consequently no action can be taken by my Department at this stage.
Availability of Government Regulations
-On 25 October 1979 (Hansard, page 1761) Senator Douglas McClelland asked me a question without notice regarding the availability of government regulations. When answering, I undertook to provide Senator Douglas McClelland with a reference to the Report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Publications on its inquiry into the publication of Commonwealth Acts, Statutory Rules and Legislation of the Territories. That Report- the Committee’s Fifth Special Reportwas dated 8 June 1978 and is printed as Parliamentary Paper No. 25/1978. 1 responded in detail to the Report in a ministerial statement made to the Senate on 22 February 1979 (Hansard, page 180). In my answer to Senator Douglas McClelland on 25 October 1979,I said I would have the matter of under-expenditure on the publication of Acts and other legislation checked further and would ascertain whether there were any other factors of which I was not aware or which I had overlooked. I am satisfied that the factors leading to the under-expenditure have been covered adequately in the ministerial statement mentioned above.
Federal Narcotics Bureau: Use of Listening Devices
k- On 6 November 1979 Senator Wriedt asked the following question without notice and supplementary question of the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs:
My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Prior to the passing of the Customs Amendment Bill this year did the Attorney-General receive from officers of the Federal Narcotics Bureau requests for permission to use listening devices in premises.
I ask a brief supplementary question. Is the Minister aware whether any of his predecessors received such a request and whether they granted permission for use of those listening devices? If he is not able to give the information now, which would be understandable, perhaps he could give us a written answer in due course.
The former Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, Mr Fife, has provided the following information:
The question raises sensitive issues and it is the long established practice not to disclose details of such matters. However, I am able to say that during my period as Minister I have authorised the use of listening devices on several occasions pursuant to the provisions contained in the relevant State Acts.
I am informed that similar action was taken by my predecessors on other occasions.
My predecessor, Mr Ellicott, has informed me that he never received any such requests.
Health Insurance Costs
Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle- On 6
November 1979 (Hansard, page 1871) Senator Townley asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Health, a question without notice concerning the cost of health insurance.
The Minister for Health has provided the following information:
The total administrative costs incurred by registered medical benefits organisations in 1977-78 was $83m. This covered the cost of salaries and wages of staff, assessment and processing of claims, agents ‘ commission, and all other administrative and managerial costs (including the cost of providing statistical information and other details to the
Commonwealth). The figure of $83m included costs consequent on the assessment and processing of claims for Medical Benefits Schedule services, and for ancillary and other services outside the Medical Benefits Schedule.
The total number of ancillary and other services outside the Medical Benefits Schedule on which these organisations paid benefits is not available, but they would have been of some magnitude. There were 47.7 million services that attracted benefits under the Medical Benefits Schedule. If the costs of $83m related only to the 47.7 million services that attracted benefits under the Medical Benefits Schedule, an all-inclusive average cost per service would have been $ 1.74. However as mentioned above, the costs of processing and paying a considerable number of benefits under ancillary tables are also included in those costs, and therefore, the average cost per service must be considerably lower.
The costs of providing statistical information to the Commonwealth are not available separately. However, these costs form only a small part of the total administrative costs related to assessment of claims, collection of contributions and maintenance of the organisations’ own records. It is relevant to point out that much of the information supplied to the Commonwealth would in any event be needed and used by any well-managed organisation for its own purposes in its management, actuarial, financial, planning, monitoring etc. and related activities.
The comprehensive information supplied by organisations is of considerable importance in the costing of health insurance changes, and the continuing monitoring of the health insurance arrangements. The requirements for statistical information and other details are also constantly kept under review with a view to whether these needs can be simplified or reduced. In this connection, the Government in 1978 brought in outside consultants to review the needs for statistical information on health services and costs, including information supplied by health insurance organisations.
The recommendations of these consultants were taken into account in revising the statistical requirements associated with the 1 November 1978 and 1 September 1979 changes to the health insurance arrangements.
Quarantine: Inspection of Taiwanese Fishing Boats
Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle- On 7
November 1979 (Hansard, page 1965) Senator Robertson asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Health, a question without notice concerning the quarantine inspections of Taiwanese fishing boats.
The Minister for Health has provided the following information:
Taiwanese fishing vessels licensed to operate within the Australian Fishing Zone are required to visit Darwin for prefishing inspection. Quarantine processing of these vessels and their surveillance in port is undertaken as a co-ordinated operation by personnel of the Commonwealth Department of Health, the Northern Territory Agricultural Quarantine Service and the Northern Territory Department of Health.
Two additional staff were engaged on a temporary basis by the Commonwealth Department of Health in Darwin to allow the Department to meet the initial additional workload at that port. Staffing needs will be kept under review in the light of operational experience.
– On 13 November 1979 Senator Messner asked me, as the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the following question without notice:
Is the Minister aware that statistics of experience in the United States indicate that six million jobs created in the non-government sector over the last 10 years have been in the small business sector while none of these has been created by the top 1,000 companies? Is he further aware that in Canada the number of jobs in the big company area has actually declined in recent years while small business has created all non-government jobs over that period? Does this support the contention that in times of widespread structural change the acknowledged flexibility of small business is a most significant factor in rapidly generating new jobs when unemployment is high? Will the Government consider improving facilities for delivering finance, whether by loan or equity, to small business to encourage this important trend further?
The Minister for Industry and Commerce has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
Yes, I am aware of overseas studies on the role of small business in job creation.
The Government, recognising the importance of small businesses to the Australian economy has taken various initiatives to enhance their ability to grow in a competitive environment.
Specifically in the area of finance, the Government’s policy is that adequate finance should be made available to small business and that no arbitrary limits should be placed on such finance. This policy has been conveyed to all banks and major financial institutions.
Subsequently reviewed arrangements for term lending by the trading banks emphasize the availability of such loans to the small business sector. In addition such loans are now made for terms generally from between three to ten years (previously three to eight years).
There has also been a significant increase in lending by the Commonwealth Development Bank since the Government took action to extend its charter in June 1 978 to allow it to lend to all kinds of business. As the Bank provides establishment and development finance that is not otherwise available on suitable terms and conditions from other institutions, it is an important source of growth finance for small business.
The availability of adequate finance to small business continues to be an issue in which the Government has considerable interest.
In this context it is worth noting that:
The Bureau of Industry Economics is at present preparing a report on the findings of its survey of over 10,000 small businesses. One of the main objectives of this study is to obtain factual information on the relationship between financing and growth of small firms and to identify whether such firms face difficulties raising finance for growth and development purposes.
The Small Business Advisory Council which advises me on small business issues is currently finalising a report on small business finance.
The Australian Financial System Inquiry (Campbell Committee) has provided an opportunity to all interested parties to provide submissions on small business financial requirements.
All these reports will be given full consideration by the Government when they become available.
Unemployment and Immigration
– On 14 November 1979 Senator Melzer asked the following question without notice of the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs:
Will the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs advise this Senate why, when there is high unemployment all over Australia and especially in the provincial centres, this Government has the Australian Embassy place advertisements such as it did recently with a daily newspaper in Hamburg, Germany, calling for programmers and operators, mechanical fitters, mechanics, turners and fitters, boilermakers, refrigeration mechanics, plumbers, carpenters, butchers, pastrycooks, bakers and ladies hairdressers? Why is it that we say, to quote the advertisements, that we will welcome inquiries from any other tradesmen not mentioned above when there are excellent young people here, especially in our provincial areas, where there is absolutely no job available to them, who are well educated, willing to work and, above all, anxious to learn a trade?
The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has provided the following answer:
The advertisement from which you quoted was one placed earlier this year in the press in West Germany and some other European source-countries. The aim was to test the availability of migrant skilled workers in a number of occupations, mainly in the metal and electrical trades, for which there were then known vacancies that could not be filled from domestic labour-market sources:
The advertisement did not indicate a demand for carpenters in Australia. In general industrial usage in Germany, the word Tischler ‘, which appears among the occupations listed, means ‘cabinet-maker’; ‘carpenter’ translates as Zimmermann A carpenter who responded would have been informed of the over-supply position in his trade in Australia.
The response to the advertisement was encouraging, and it has been decided to follow it up with further publicity. Further advertisements are now being placed. The text will read:
Australia is seeking skilled workers in various trades and professions:
Electrical Engineering Draftsman
Electronic Engineering Draftsman
Computer Programmer/Systems Analysis
Tool and Die Maker
Metal Machinist- skilled
Machine- tool setter- skilled
Motor vehicle mechanic
Motor vehicle painter
Sheet Metal Worker- skilled
We will be pleased to inform you about your employment prospects, even if your occupation is not shown above. If you are interested in obtaining further details about the possibilities in Australia, please write to the:
Hohenzollernring 103 5000 Cologne 1 ‘.
You will note that this version excludes certain of the occupations you quoted. I am of course concerned to ensure that our immigration publicity accurately reflects labour market conditions in Australia, and the occupational content of the copy is based on the latest advice of the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs.
We are required to clear the text of our advertisements with the German authorities before they appear. ‘
Jetset Tours (Aust.) Pty Ltd
– On 14 November 1979 Senator Walters asked the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs the following question without notice:
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and relates to package tours being offered for the 1980 Olympiad to be held in Moscow. Is it a fact that Jetset Tours (Aust.) Pty Ltd is the sole handler of travel to the Olympic Games? Who is Jetset Tours? Is it a fact that travel agents were informed that their clients must send $200 deposit without knowledge of the details ofthe package tour being allocated to them? Is it a fact that that $200 would be refunded only in the unlikely event that Jetset Tours could not offer any ticket selection whatsoever even if it were not in accord with the client’s wishes? In the event that a client may wish to wait until advised of details of the package tour allocated to him, is it a fact that his name would be removed from the registration listing of Jetset Tours? Finally, does this dictatorial attitude of Jetset Tours contravene the Trade Practices Act?
The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs has provided the following answer:
Australian participation in the 1980 Olympiad is a matter which is organised by the Australian National Olympic Committee, an independent body.
I understand that the Committee was required by the Organising Committee of the 1 980 Olympic Games in Moscow, an organisation set up by the Soviet Government, to nominate an organisation as National Sales Agent for Games tickets.
Jetset Tours Pty Ltd of Melbourne, a firm which had previous experience as National Sales Agent for the Montreal Olympiad, was nominated by the Australian National Olympic Committee for this purpose. I understand that appointment of the company and the advertised conditions of ticket sales were stipulated by the Organising Committee in Moscow.
The arrangements under which the tickets are made available to the Australian public are subject to conditions laid down by the host organisation. I am informed that the Trade Practices Commission is of the view that, provided all these conditions are brought to the attention of travellers before they subscribe for tickets, the arrangements are not likely to contravene the Trade Practices Act.
– On 15 November 1979 Senator Chipp asked me a question without notice on several matters relating to the future activities of the former Federal Narcotics Bureau.
As the functions of this agency have been transferred to the Australian Federal Police, the Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer:
While the Bureau ceased to function, as from 8 November, as part of the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs, staff and resources were transferred to the Australian Federal Police and have continued to operate in their normal manner since that date under the control of the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Sir Colin Woods. The continuance of all matters under investigation has therefore been assured and there has been no waste of time spent prior to 8 November in surveillance and developing lines of inquiry into illicit drug traffickers undertaken, as the normal follow-up procedures will maintain.
Such has already been demonstrated in the seizure of 0.14 kg of No. 4 Heroin at Melbourne Airport on 20 November and of 1.3 kg of No. 3 Heroin at Sydney Airport on 5 December. Both incidents, which included the arrest of persons, were the culmination of inquiries commenced prior to 8 November. Additionally, a number of less significant seizures have resulted from similar inquiries.
– On 19 November 1979 Senator Jessop asked me a question about a newspaper article concerning the development of an alternative energy alcohol engine with the capacity for use in light aircraft and remote pilot controlled military aircraft. The Ministers for National Development and Productivity have provided me with the following reply:
The Government, through the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Program is supporting research and development on the use of alcohol fuels in both spark ignition and diesel engines, and the Program would support research and development on worthwhile projects on engine development where this met the main criterion of the Program in conserving petroleum based liquid fuels. However the NERDD Program is intended to support research, development and demonstration. The article in the Australian of 7 November 1979 referred to in the question reports that Mr Alan Heaton ‘s engine has been developed to the stage of marketing. The project therefore appears to have passed the stages where it would be likely to receive support under the NERDD Program.
However, it is possible that Mr Heaton ‘s company could be eligible for assistance under the Australian Industrial Research and Development Incentives Scheme which is the responsibility of the Minister for Productivity. I understand there has been no approach to the Australian Industrial Research and Development Incentives Board by Mr Heaton.
Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle- On 19
November 1979 (Hansard, page 2425), Senator Gietzelt asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Health, a question without notice concerning the funding of medical research.
The Minister for Health has provided the following information:
I should like to make it clear that medical research supported through the National Health & Medical Research Council is not directed, as the honourable senator implies, simply to cost containment in the public sector. In fact, the research is aimed at developing concepts or elucidating facts that will have immediate or longer term effects on the advancement of medical science and thus on the overall health of the nation. It is however true that advances in knowledge achieved through such research do have a spin off in terms of cost savings.
I am aware that the cost benefit ratio of$l:$ 100 quoted by the honourable senator arose from a comparison made in a study by Professor H. H. Fudenberg of the University of South Carolina in regard to the portion of the American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ budget directed to immunology. I have some reservations however about deriving statistics relevant to one field of interest (i.e. immunology) and extrapolating them as being applicable to all medical research.
The level of support for medical research has increased steadily from $6.2m in 1975-76 to the $14m allocated for 1979-80. However, it is important to note that over the past three years numbers of applications for medical research grants have risen by over 73 per cent and in 1 980 alone the increase in applications was just over 1 7 per cent. When this is added to the significant increases in the cost of projects caused by unavoidable wage and equipment costs, it is inevitable that the overall proportion of research workers supported in 1980 is lower than previous years. In total numbers, however, there has been an increase in the number of grants supported, from 498 in 1 979 to 508 in 1 980.
The allocation of funds for medical research in Canada and New Zealand is a matter for the internal administration of those countries and as such I do not feel it proper to comment.
Shorter Working Week
-On 21 November 1979 Senator Hamer asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations without notice:
How does the Minister view the present campaign for a shorter working week as a means of reducing unemployment. Would those people working a shorter week take a pro-rata cut in pay or would they demand the same pay for less work. If this happened, would not the consequent increase in hourly labour costs drive many firms out of business or cut back production, thereby increasing unemployment. In any case; for the firms not driven out of business, would not the likely result be, not the employment of the presently unemployed, but an increase in overtime by the current work force and a further increase in the costs of production, ls this not another cynical attempt by some militant unionsevidenced in other areas by altitudes to such things as crippling penalty rates- to gain maximum benefits for their members in work and to ignore the unemployed.
The Minister for Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government views with concern campaigns, such as those currently being waged in the power and petrochemical industries, which seek a shorter working week without any pro-rata reduction in pay.
This is not to say that the Government would rule out reduction of hours, or other work sharing measures as a means of reducing unemployment, but it believes there are severe constraints on the potential value of such schemes which must be carefully considered.
Firstly, any reduction in standard hours which was not accompanied by a pro-rata cut in pay would be likely to result in increased unemployment. Under such a proposal labour costs per unit of production would rise due to increases in both direct wage costs and on-costs would probably rise even if there was a pro-rata wage cut since a number of such costs relate more closely to the number of individuals employed and are not calculated as a percentage of the wages bill.
This Government has repeatedly argued that an excessive level of real labor costs continues to be a fundamental barrier to economic recovery. In this environment any further increase in unit labour costs can only adversely affect the competitive position of Australian producers in both world and domestic markets, with consequent adverse effects on the level of inflation and the rate of growth of employment.
Similarly the distribution of productivity gains on an industry basis, whether by way of reduced hours or wage increases, is inequitable and could lead to increased industry disharmony. Consequently the Government takes the firm view that it is essential that the distribution of productivity be considered at a national level by the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission so that all wage and salary earners might receive the benefit of productivity increases.
Secondly, there is the organisational difficulty of grouping the “spare” hours, which became available as a result of shorter hours, into reasonable job units. In some instances the utilisation of the additional hours may only become possible if costly changes were made to production processes or work procedures. It must also be recognised that some jobs may not be amenable to such reorganisation and therefore any reduction in standard hours would merely lead to increased overtime for current workers rather than the creation of new job opportunities.
Thirdly, there is the additional problem of matching those newly-created job units with the skills, abilities and location of the unemployed. Even in the current unsatisfactory state of the labour market there are jobs which remain unfilled and significant areas experiencing a lack of skilled workers. Any across-the-board reduction in hours would aggravate such labour shortages and thus create’ production bottlenecks in areas which did currently experience an excess demand of labour.
Finally, I reiterate that the Government does not take a negative attitude to proposals for changes in work patterns or other ideas which could help to alleviate unemployment. But we insist that the full implications and consequences of such proposals need to be carefully considered and fully understood. If new employment concepts such as work sharing, part-time employment and flexible retirement are accepted only where there is no loss of income or other inconvenience, they certainly do not provide a satisfactory method of improving the overall employment situation and could be dangerous for the longer-term good of the community.
Trade with Zimbabwe-Rhodesia
– On 23 November 1979, Senator Rocher asked the former Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources the following question without notice:
With the lifting of sanctions against trade with Zimbabwe likely to take place in the near future, what facilities exist in Australia to advise those who may wish to establish trade links? What plans exist for staffing a trade office in Salisbury to enable normal trade relations to be re-established between Zimbabwe and Australia?
The Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Sanctions on trade with Rhodesia were removed on 21 December 1979. With the lifting of sanctions, the full range of services provided by the Department of Trade and Resources are available to facilitate trade with Rhodesia.
Due to the absence of trade contact with Rhodesia since the imposition of sanctions, there is a need for a reassessment of trade opportunities for Australia in Rhodesia. An early visit by an Australian Trade Commissioner is proposed for this purpose. The question of establishing resident Trade Commissioner representation in Salisbury will be considered in the light of this assessment of export opportunities.
In the meantime, arrangements will be made for a Trade Commissioner located in a nearby Post in Africa to visit Rhodesia regularly to assist Australian exporters wishing to explore this market.
– On 6 November 1979 Senator Messner asked me a question without notice concerning an article published in ‘The National Student’ regarding the production process of the hydrogen bomb. The question and my answer were as follows:
– Is the Attorney-General aware of an article published recently in the newspaper ‘The National Student’ produced by the Australian Union of Students outlining the production process of the hydrogen bomb, which raised considerable controversy in the United States when it was first published? Is it a fact that the publication of this sensitive information is contemplated by section 44 of the Atomic Energy Act or sections of the Crimes Act? Will the Attorney-General investigate the matter with a view to ensuring that the national interest is protected?
– I am aware of the publication to which Senator Messner refers. The matter is under consideration at the moment.
I now supply the following information:
I am informed that the information to which the question relates had previously been published on different occasions in the United States. I understand that although the U.S. authorities had by court action restrained its publication by certain patties, they abandoned those controls when publication by others occurred. In view of those occasions of prior publication in the United States it has not been considered that action should be taken in respect of the later publication of the same material in Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 16 October 1979:
– The Foreign Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
By way of background I would note that Namibia is a member of several organisations in the United Nations family including the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The Council for Namibia, established by the United Nations General Assembly to be responsible for Namibia until it attains independence, represents Namibia in these bodies. SWAPO, as the national liberation movement in Namibia recognised by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), receives assistance from various United Nations agencies in accordance with relevant General Assembly resolutions concerning assistance to national liberation movements recognised by the OAU.
Most multilateral aid to Namibia is channelled through the United Nations Fund for Namibia. The Fund ‘s activities are now concentrated in three main programs: the Nationhood Program; the Institute for Namibia; and educational, social and relief assistance.
The Nationhood Program is intended to prepare Namibia for independence and a number of pre-independence projects have been approved for implementation. The executing agencies for these projects include FAO, the International Telecommunications Union ( ITU ), ILO, UNESCO and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The answers to the honourable senator’s specific questions are as follows:
FAO statistics show that, under its regular and emergency programs, nothing was approved for Namibia in 1976-77 while $US90,000 was approved in 1978-79. However, FAO in conjunction with the World Food Program (WFP) has committed since September 1977 a total of $US2,23 1,800 in emergency assistance to SWAPO for Namibian refugees in Angola. Not all this has necessarily been disbursed. In addition, FAO has in recent years committed $US1, 152,650 to the Nationhood Program for Namibia.
In the year 1976-77 the ILO spent $US32,600 mainly on training fellowships for members of liberation movements in southern Africa, including SWAPO. This assistance was continued in subsequent years. In 1 977-78 the ILO negotiated several projects for technical and vocational training for national liberation movements recognised by the OAU, including SWAPO. These projects were formulated to train 220 trainees. These various training programs are estimated to have cost SUS2, 905,638. The major part of the financing is from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) resources with a small amount from multi-bilateral sources. Of the 220 trainees, about one-third will come from SWAPO. These projects became operational during 1978 and 1979.
In 1977 the ITU, using funds provided under a special UNDP program for Namibia, spent $US90,302 for the training of 35 fellows in Zambia at the Zambian National Training School for Telecommunications.
In the period 1978-79, the total of $US357,051 was spent on this program.
In broad terms total funding from UNESCO’s regular program for aid to refugees and national liberation movements has been of the order of $US2.2m per biennium.
Programs funded from this source include (a) cooperation with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the education program for Palestine refugees; (b) collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; (c) education services for liberation movements and organisations recognised by Organisation of African Unity and League of Arab States (including SWAPO); (d) educational and cultural institutions in the occupied territories.
Figures quoted in the question appear to correspond more closely with UNDP-funded projects executed by UNESCO. For example in the current biennium (1979-80) UNDP is providing $US3m for educational support to national liberation movements and organisations. Within this figure, assistance to African liberation movements and organisations will amount to some $US52,000 in 1977 to the Namibian Health Centre in Angola.
The United Nations Council for Namibia’s estimates for the biennium 1978-79 prepared in 1977 show a total of $US1, 722,500 composed of direct and apportioned costs, on maintaining offices in New York, Lusaka and Botswana for the United Nations Commissioners for Namibia in those three places. These offices are not for the use of SWAPO. However, $US167,500 was provided separately for 1978 in order to implement a decision of the United Nations General Assembly, contained in resolutions 32/9 of 1977, to increase the financial provisions in the budget of the United Nations Council for Namibia for financing the SWAPO office in New York
United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 31/146 adopted on 20 December 1976, recognised SWAPO as the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people. This decision binds the United Nations Council for Namibia since the Council is an integral organ of the United Nations.
Australia expressed a firm reservation against the decision of the General Assembly to accord SWAPO this sole and authentic’ recognition. This reservation remains current. Indeed, Australia has not recognised any liberation movement as the ‘sole’ representative of a people awaiting self-determination.
The Council ‘s annual budget is currently approximately $US1.5m.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 13 November 1979:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Australian National Railways estimates that in 1978-79 the average loss per Indian Pacific journey for the section between Port Pirie and Kalgoorlie, excluding contributions from parcels and mail revenue, was $800 on an avoidable cost basis, $4,400 on an unavoidable cost basis and $5,900 on a fully-allocated cost basis. Pending implementation of the uniform costing system, ANR emphasises, however, both the difficulty of accurately allocating costs from general accounts to specific services and the sensitivity of the estimated allocated costs to varying methodologies.
There were 397 journeys of the Indian Pacific (199 westbound and 197 eastbound) during the financial year 1978-79.
Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict: Ratification (Question No. 2233)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 20 November 1979:
Why has Australia signed, but not yet ratified, the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Ratification of the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict imposes certain obligations on the parties to the Convention which would require changes in Australian legislation. The question of the ratification of the Convention is being reviewed.
Australian Vote on East Timor (Question No. 2322)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 23 November 1979:
How did the Australian representatives in the United Nations General Assembly vote on the resolution introduced on 26 October 1979 and which covered seven different points regarding the rights of the people of East Timor, the suffering taking place there, and the necessity to facilitate international relief for the Timorese, particularly for those such as children wishing to leave for another country.
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Australia voted against the draft resolution concerning East Timor which was put forward in the United Nations General Assembly this year.
In Australia ‘s view the draft resolution was unrealistic and impractical. Its main thrust was diverted towards the pursuit of what Australia sees as pointless goals in the area of decolonisation. The paragraphs in the draft relating to humanitarian issues failed to pay due recognition to the Indonesian Government’s decision to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United States
Catholic Relief Service to assist in relief efforts in East Timor. The draft was, in short, incapable of practical implementation for the real benefit of the Timorese people.
The draft resolution was adopted by the General Assembly on 21 November by 62 votes to 31, with 45 abstentions.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 February 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1980/19800220_senate_31_s84/>.