31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 14 citizens of Australia:
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:
Whereas before Europeans settled in Australia, the Aboriginal peoples of Australia had lived on their traditional lands from time immemorial and had in Aboriginal law and customs a clear title to those lands; and whereas Europeans and other non-Aboriginal people have occupied and used most of the traditional lands of the Aboriginal peoples against their will and without negotiation, compensation or treaty; and whereas it has been the practice of nations established in territories previously occupied by indigenous inhabitants to reach a negotiated settlement with those inhabitants; and whereas that occupation has seriously damaged the traditional way of life of Aboriginal Australians and has caused poverty and hardship to be the fate of the great majority of their surviving descendants: and whereas the surviving descendants of the Aboriginal peoples have expressed a wish to have their rights to land acknowledged, to preserve their link with their Aboriginal ancestors and to maintain their distinctive identity with its own cultural heritage; and whereas the people of Australia in 1967 voted overwhelmingly that the Commonwealth Parliament should have responsibility for laws relating to Aboriginal Australians; and whereas it is accepted internationally by the United Nations organisation, that each country should work to establish the rights of indigenous peoples to selfdetermination, non-discrimination and the enjoyment of their own culture; and whereas the Woodward Commission in 1974 established principles by which Aboriginal rights to land should be acknowledged and realised; and whereas the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament in February 1975 resolved that Aboriginal Australians should be compensated for the loss of their traditional lands and for the damage to their way of life; and whereas the National Aboriginal Conference unanimously resolved in April 1 979 in Canberra to ask the Commonwealth Government to negotiate a Treaty with Aboriginal Australians.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government should invite the Aboriginal people of Australia to negotiate a Treaty with the Commonwealth of Australia, and any Treaty should contain provisions relating to the following matters: (i) The protection of Aboriginal identity, languages, law and culture, (ii) The recognition and restoration of rights to land by applying, throughout
Australia, the recommendations of the Woodward Commission, (iii) The conditions governing mining and exploitation of other natural resources on Aboriginal land, (iv) Compensation to Aboriginal Australians for the loss of traditional lands and for damage to those lands and to their traditional way of life, (v) The right of Aboriginal Australians to control their own affairs and to establish their own associations for this purpose.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
-On behalf of Senator Sibraa I present the following petition from 19 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate of the Australian Parliament assembled:
The petition of certain citizens respectfully showeth: their support for and endorsement of the National Women ‘s Advisory Council
We call on the government to: continue to maintain the National Advisory Council and increase Federal Government support for its activities.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the National Women’s Advisory Council has not been democratically elected by the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is not representative of the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is a discriminatory and sexist imposition on Australian women as Australian men do not have a National Men’s Advisory Council imposed on them.
Your petitioners therefore 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. by Senators Button, Dame Margaret Guilfoyle, MacGibbon, Missen and Primmer.
-I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders, General Business, Notice of Motion No. 1 8, standing in the name of Senator Rae, relating to the proposed appointment of a Select Committee to report on passenger fares to and from Tasmania, be listed as General Business, Notice of Motion No. 3.
-I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate, whether, in response to a question from Senator Chipp yesterday concerning advice given to the Government by the Office of National Assessments in respect of the Afghanistan situation, he recalls saying:
All documents from intelligence sources come before Cabinet.
If that was a correct statement, will the Minister confirm that the report from the Office of National Assessments referred to by Senator Chipp was in fact before Cabinet at the time Cabinet discussed the Afghanistan situation?
– There is a disability in that I do not think that it is a sound practice for governments or cabinets to disclose what intelligence documents come before them. I think that has been the protocol in the past and should be so now. I think that the appropriate answer is that the Government has received advice from its intelligence sources and has considered that advice. I have nothing further to add to the answer that I gave previously.
- Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I remind the Minister again that he said quite clearly that all documents from intelligence sources come before Cabinet. I now ask him: Is he retracting the answer he gave yesterday?
– I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence to the recent finding of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission that the Australian Army could be discriminating against women in its reserve forces. Is the Minister aware of the claims by three women musicians in the Army Reserve that they have been denied promotion and status beyond the level of private and that they have been barred from promotion courses and from joining the Regular Army as musicians? Will the Minister comment on these claims and in doing so assure the Senate that a full investigation will be made into the complaints? Does the Minister agree that Commonwealth authorities should cooperate with State government agencies in ensuring equal opportunity and the removal of sex discrimination? If so, will he inform the Senate whether action will be taken to remedy the present situation so as to ensure equal rights and opportunity for all Army employees?
-I am informed that the Minister for Defence is aware of the claims that have been made by the three women referred to by Senator Missen. The Minister is overseas at the moment and has not had an opportunity of examining them in detail. The general position is that, following a comprehensive review of employment of women in the Defence Force in 1 976, a new policy was developed allowing servicewomen to be employed in active service areas both in Australia and overseas, although not on combat duties. The principle of equality in opportunity for advancement and conditions of service is applied wherever possible having regard to the maintenance of the operational effectiveness of the Services. That is the policy and the general approach to the problem. The Minister obviously will consider the particular complaint made by these women against the background of that policy.
As far as the part of Senator Missen ‘s question relating to co-operation with State discrimination bodies is concerned, I take note of that and will refer it to the Minister as well. However, I point out that we already have employment discrimination committees in which the Commonwealth, the States, unions and employers are all involved. These bodies deal with complaints of discrimination in Commonwealth employment. I shall say no more about that in relation to this case. I do not know whether any question has arisen about reference to the appropriate committee in this case. I think the question of cooperation with State bodies has to be looked at in the light of the existence of those committees. However, as I said, the Minister will be looking at the question in detail and I will further advise the Senate after he has had an opportunity of doing so.
-I ask the Minister for Social Security whether she is aware that when a subpoena on the files of the Director-General of Social Services was answered in the social security fraud case in Sydney’s Central Court on 12 December last it was found that a document had been removed from one of the files. Has the Minister ordered an investigation as to the whereabouts of the missing document and as to how it came to be missing? Will the Minister be able to make the document available to the court in due course?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEI will treat the question as being on notice and give consideration to it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs. What action has been taken either by the Government or by the Australian Film Commission in regard to the recommendations made in the report entitled ‘Towards a More Effective Commission- the AFC in the 1980s’ which was presented to the Minister by the management consultants, Peat, Marwick and Mitchell Services, in October 1979? Specifically, does the Government intend to restructure the Commission along the lines suggested to improve its management efficiency? Are the financial proposals of the report including those relating to tax deductions, being considered in the context of this year’s Budget? What decisions have been made about the transfer of all AFC activities to Lindfield? Finally, does the Minister intend to make a statement to Parliament detailing the Government’s response to this significant report?
– The report referred to by Senator Puplick was tabled in the Parliament on 13 November last. It is not possible for me to give a detailed answer to the pertinent questions that the honourable senator asks, but I can say that the report is being examined over the whole of its wide range by the Australian Film Commission and by the Minister for Home Affairs. Their recommendations and observations will be finally brought to account and the Government will take a view and take action referable to that consideration.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister and Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is it a fact that the Office of National Assessments, which agreed last week to give the Middle East sub-committee of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence at a meeting this Thursday evidence on the situation in Afghanistan, has now cancelled that meeting? Is it a fact that this cancellation has been made at the direction of the Government?
-I do not know. I will find out and let the honourable senator know.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that Australia’s inflation rate is significantly below the average of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries? What are the latest comparable inflation statistics for OECD countries? If Australia’s rate is significantly below the average, what effect has this had on Australia’s recent overseas trade performance?
– I raise a point of order.
– You are showing your sensitivity.
– I am not sensitive about anything in this place. From time to time I like to point out the correct form. The information that the honourable senator seeks is statistical and is available elsewhere. I think he knows it already. He ought not to be giving the Leader of the Government an opportunity to read from a prepared text.
– I ask the Minister to reply in the way in which he wishes to reply.
-The temptation to use Senator Georges’ considerations in reply to Opposition senators’ questions will be resisted by me. It is a fact that the level of inflation in Australia is well below that of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. When the Whitlam Government terminated its office- happily for the Australian people- in 1975, the Australian inflation rate was in the upper quarter of the OECD countries. I am happy to say that it is now in the lowest quarter and that Australia’s trading and competitive capacity in world markets is the best it has been for at least six or seven years. In the interests of brevity I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard two tables which give the information sought.
The tables read as follows-
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, in his capacity as Leader of the Government and as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It refers to the Australian contingent in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Although some public statements have been made in the Press about what Mr Peacock has said, can the Minister tell the Senate what is to be the position of the Australian contingent following the election? Are its members to remain in their present role, or are they to be used in the capacity of a training unit as is proposed for some other service groups that have been sent to that country?
– I understand that no decision has been made as to precisely when the Australian forces are to be withdrawn. There is no intention that they should be in any way a defence unit or a protective unit in that situation. They are in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia in an international role to do their job of supervising fair elections. When it is considered that they have completed that role they will be withdrawn. But, in case Mr Peacock has any specifics in mind, I will draw the question to his attention and seek an answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Following the shift in interest rates in many areas- the long term bond rate and banking rates, et cetera- there is considerable speculation within the national share markets and the community as to the immediate and middle range future for interest rates in Australia. Is the Minister in a position to advise the Senate on the matter?
- Mr President -
– He told us last time that they were going down.
– One thing is certain: During the Whitlam Government’s time interest rates went up to a record level. I would not want to comment in any way about interest rates and their trends. It is the standard practice that governments do not do so. Happily this Government has been able to contain interest rates at a very substantially lower level than its main competitive partners, namely, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and others, even though the pressure of the international money market is heavy upon us. We have had very considerable success. The Government in its time has been able to lower interest rates, and that has had a beneficial effect. It is our aim to contain interest rates to the best extent possible.
– Why are you always apologising for your policies?
– The interjection suggests that I am apologising. The only apologia comes from Senator Wriedt for the policies of the previous Labor Government of which he was a member.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister and it concerns civil defence. By way of preface I say that we appear to have been committed publicly to co-operating with the United States in greater surveillance over naval movements in the Indian Ocean. The threat to Australian cities from Soviet nuclear submarines in case of war has obviously increased. I am prompted to ask this question today because the Prime Minister himself in his statement of 19 February conceded this and said:
But as the risk increases, it is prudent to increase insurance.
However, in the three ensuing closely typed pages on defence the Prime Minister did not mention civil defence once. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that such a submarine attack could lead to the deaths of as many as seven million Australians in our cities? Is it a fact that an attack capable of such casualties could be made with independently targetable one or two megaton weapons by a single submarine? Is it a fact that adequate civil defence mechanisms, especially the building of public nuclear attack shelters, could save the lives of perhaps three million of those seven million people? How many such shelters exist in our cities and how many citizens have been told how to find them? Has Australia any defences that would prevent the explosion of submarine based nuclear missiles on our cities? In the event of attack, what plans exist for evacuating fringe areas and for urgent decontamination and clothing replacement for hundreds of thousands of people?
– The Commonwealth Government, through the Prime Minister, has been attempting to restore conditions in this world to a balance of nuclear power so that we have peace, however unhappily, on the basis of mutual terror; that is, no one would attempt to use an atomic weapon for fear of retaliation. The only total safeguard available for the protection of any city or any person in this world is if there is between the two major powers either a sensible understanding, which is impossible at the moment, or such a balance of power that no first strike could happen.
It is a fact, therefore, that any city could be wiped out by these multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles of long range submarines. That, I think, is the tragedy of this world. I am unable to produce statistical information on the likely casualties. Even if some protection were afforded, they would be immense. I am not aware of the precise progress that has been made in the area of civil defence around Australia. I will refer that pan of the question to the Minister for Defence and seek an answer.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs by saying that no doubt the Minister is aware that the repatriation legislation was amended last year on the premise that a more equitable deal, more assistance and more efficiency could be applied on behalf of veterans. I think it was stated in the second reading speech that the amendment was ‘so that it accords with modern principles of law’. Is the Minister aware of the undue delays that are being encountered by persons who are having their cases examined by the Repatriation Review Tribunal? These delays frequently are much longer than they were previously. I think that Senator Wriedt brought this matter up towards the end of last year. Will the Minister examine the situation to see whether it can be speeded up?
I am not personally aware of the delays in the hearings before the Repatriation Review Tribunal. I am aware of the amendments that were introduced last year and the additional benefits that were introduced in the Budget session of last year. I will need to refer this matter to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs to seek information for Senator Townley.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs whether it is a fact that the Commonwealth Employment Service is now referring applicants for jobs to recruiting offices of the armed forces. If such people fail to go to the recruiting office or if they are not accepted in the services, are they considered to have failed the work test? Is this move by the Commonwealth Employment Service at the direction of the
Government in an attempt to increase recruitment into the armed forces?
-I will have to refer that question to the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs and ask him to provide an early answer for Senator Grimes.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is there any basis for the concern being expressed currently in some States over the likely supply of winter milk this year? Can the Minister provide the latest information that will assist in clarifying the position for those concerned and indicate which States, if any, are currently below or are likely to get below their projected production and anticipated requirements for the period?
– At this point there does not appear to be any indication of milk shortage in the coming winter months. In Western Australia over the last few years the margin between production and consumption in the autumn months has been pretty small. In any area the relevancy of the season is extremely important. Market milk availability and the dairy industry are in very large measure the responsibility of the States. I understand that some changes in milk quota systems in some States may relate to a change in the calving pattern which, of course, could be reflected in milk supplies. But I am sure that the States involved are aware of the problems that may confront them and will meet them as, or hopefully before, they arise.
– I remind the Minister representing the Minister for Health that I have had a delay in receiving answers to three questions that I placed on the Notice Paper on 9 October last year. These questions requested information as to which Australian hospitals are now owned by profit seeking multinational companies and whether any applications had been rejected by the Foreign Investment Review Board, as well as more specific questions about Commonwealth Industrial Gases Ltd and its pan-ownership of an Australian hospital. I ask the Minister: Will she try to have the answers provided before the Jamison Commission completes its inquiry into the hospital system? If not, can I be assured that the Commission itself will be fully informed of such details? Finally, will the Minister request the new Minister for Health to speed up his Department in supplying replies to questions to the Senate?
I recall the several questions asked last year by Senator O ‘Byrne. I will refer them to the Minister for Health. I will see that the attention of those working with the Jamison Commission is drawn to the questions that have been raised by Senator 0 ‘Byrne. I apologise for his not having an answer and I will see whether it can be expedited.
-The Minister representing the Minister for Transport will be aware that the Australian National Railways controls the operations of the Tasmanian railways, an important sector of which is the Mole Creek line carrying up to 1 ,000 tonnes of logs a day. Is the Minister aware that, because of the lack of maintenance on the line particularly in respect of the sleepers, the local people and railway workmen believe that the ANR proposes to wind down operations with a view to closure of the line? Can the Minister assure the Senate that no consideration is being given by the ANR to the closure of the Mole Creek line, in view of the importance of the line to the Chudleigh and Mole Creek districts?
– My advice on this matter is that no consideration is currently being given to closure of the Mole Creek line referred to by the honourable senator in his question.
– What does that mean?
– And what that means, in response to Senator Grimes, I will go on to explain at slightly greater length if he will allow me to do so. My further advice is that the only traffic on this line is generated by two companies that are currently using it to shift logs and limestone and that both companies intend to move their operations to a new location. So the prospect is that the existing usage of the line will come to an end. If that occurs, that is, if both companies carry out their intention to move to a new location, the services on the line will, of course, be reviewed by the ANR. My further advice is that on this line maintenance is not a particular problem which would lead to its closure.
-Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence been drawn to a statement by the Premier of New South Wales that the Federal Government was allowing the defence dollar to be spent overseas rather than being used productively in Australia? Is the Minister aware that manufacturers in New South Wales have been complaining that the Department of Defence, in letting contracts that do not include Australian suppliers, is acting in breach of the Federal Government’s own guidelines on the matter, namely, that in placing orders priority should be given to Australian businesses? Will the Minister check the matter with the Minister for Defence and see that New South Wales businesses get a fair share of the defence dollar?
– My attention has been drawn, but only recently and quite briefly, to the statements that have been made by the Premier of New South Wales in relation to the matter about which Senator McClelland asks. I really am not in a position to give any detailed answer to the question at this stage. I certainly will refer the matter to the Minister for Defence, who I think has probably had his attention drawn to it already. It hope to be in a position to give a more detailed answer, not later today but shortly.
-My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence and it relates to the disastrous bushfires of last December in Sydney. Did Army personnel who played such a meritorious role in fighting those bushfires in and around Sydney wear jungle green camouflage clothes during at least some of the night fire-fighting operations? Is the Minister aware that camouflage clothes are designed to make people less visible and that they could endanger the lives of fire-fighters when maximum visibility is required? Is the Minister aware also that standard fire-fighting clothing is white overalls which ensure maximum visibility of personnel and therefore maximum safety? Would the Government consider providing standard fire-fighting clothing, in this case white overalls, for all its personnel who might play a significant role in protecting the lives and property of citizens of New South Wales?
– Army clothing and equipment are issued to Army personnel for them to fulfil their primary defence role. It is a fact that recently when they were engaged in fighting bushfires they wore the ordinary, standard Army field uniform of jungle green. It would be normal for them to do so. The Minister for Defence has had his attention drawn to the matter. He believes that the subject matter of the question raised by Senator Baume certainly merits further consideration and he is giving it further consideration.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy, who will be aware of President Carter’s request to Congress on 12 February for the establishment of a program to create permanent underground storage sites for highly radioactive nuclear wastes by the mid-1990s. In the course of President Carter’s speech he stated that, after grappling with the problem for 35 years’ ‘past governmental efforts to manage radioactive wastes have not been technically adequate’. Does the Australian Government agree with this official presidential assessment of the current state of geological and engineering solutions to the nuclear waste disposal problem? What arrangements exist between the Minister’s Department and the United States Department of Energy to enable the Australian people to be informed of the successful operation of geological repositories should such be developed in the 1990s?
– I think there is a misunderstanding on Senator Tate’s part- I do not suggest that it is a deliberate one- of what in fact President Carter was saying. He may have referred to the past in terms of action. As I understand it, what he was saying was that it is necessary now to make a decision as to the method of storage which shall be used. As I understand it, he in no way said that it was impossible to make that decision. That is my genuine understanding of this. I will check that and if in fact my understanding is not correct I will come back to the Senate on it. It is my understanding that President Carter in fact is saying that we now have to decide which of the various methods we shall choose. As I understand it, he did not express a lack of confidence in the ability of the American Government to choose a perfectly safe storage method. On that basis, I think the rest of the question requires no answer.
- Mr President, I ask a supplementary question because I think the Minister for National Development and Energy may not have realised that I was quoting directly from the President’s speech to Congress when he said that past governmental efforts to manage radioactive wastes have not been technically adequate’. There is no implication there that engineering and geological expertise might not come up with a solution. My question is: Does the Australian Government agree with the current presidential assessment of geological and engineering solutions to the problem of waste disposal?
- Mr President, I accepted that Senator Tate was quoting a sentence or two from President Carter’s speech. What I was suggesting was that if one were to read the whole of the speech one would come to the conclusion I outlined. I suggest a full reading of the speech.
– Are you saying that he is being selective to his own advantage?
-If Senator Wriedt wants to drive a wedge between himself and Senator Tate he can do that spontaneously without needing to contrive it here. It is not for me to come into the many civil wars of the Australian Labor Party. The Commonwealth Government believes that with the existing storehouse of technical knowledge it is possible to achieve effective safeguards. We are setting the highest standards in the world.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. The microprocessor application under development in Canada will help both children and adults who cannot speak to communicate in other ways. The unit uses the Bliss symbols, an Australian invention, as part of its application. As communication is the main avenue through which children develop both mentally and socially, will the Minister investigate this new development with the intention of introducing the microprocessor to this country if it is found to be suitable.
-If I recall correctly, this process was outlined to me some time last year, or even earlier than that. I will check with my Department to see whether there is any further information on the processor and the operation into which it could be put in the assistance of children and others. I would need to take that question on notice in order to give more information, if it is available.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs. The Government is sponsoring a national conference to mark the mid-point of the United Nations decade for women which is to be held in Canberra on 6 and 7 March. Delegates from all States have been selected or elected. The Minister has now decided that 70 extra delegates at large will be appointed, but he refuses to make public the names of the delegates he has appointed to attend this conference. Can the Minister give the Senate the Government’s reason for keeping secret the names of the 70 extra delegates it has appointed to go to the conference?
– I have noted the matter referred to by the honourable senator. I do not have the reason why the Government has not made available the names of the 70 extra delegates attending the conference. I shall attempt to get a reply to that part of the honourable senator’s question.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development and Energy. I refer to the Prime Minister’s statement of 27 June 1 979 on energy policy in which he stated:
The Government has initiated a study of the scope for saving liquid fuels within Government departments and agencies.
What stage has this study reached? What have been the findings so far? When is the study expected to be completed? Will the results be made public?
-In 1979 the then Minister for National Development sought information from all Commonwealth Ministers on liquid fuel consumption, conservation measures already implemented, the scope for further conservation measures and the implications for their portfolios of arbitrary conservation goals. This was a preliminary survey to provide a picture of current fuel consumption patterns and conservation efforts and to help to identify areas where there is scope for additional action. The results of this survey have been presented to the Australian Minerals and Energy Council for further consideration in concert with similar contributions from State governments. The initial responses indicate that Commonwealth departments and agencies have already introduced some important conservation measures in their transport operations, buildings, factories and other plants. The most notable are: Replacing large engined cars with smaller, more efficient ones, commencement of a program to convert 500 vehicles in Melbourne and Canberra to liquefied petroleum gas, controlling air conditioning more closely, converting boilers from oil to natural gas, and widespread staff education. Other details could be given but I will give those to Senator Knight.
– I ask a supplementary question. I draw the Minister’s attention to the final part of my question. Can he indicate when the study will be completed? Will its findings be made public?
– I am sorry. It is proposed this year to follow up the initial responses in order to attempt to quantify the results and to establish a program for action and monitoring. The results of these investigations will be announced as appropriate and as quickly as this can be done.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. In a classroom, a teacher is free to use educational materials orally without breaking copyright laws. Such freedom is not available to State correspondence schools which teach through printed lessons. I ask the Minister how correspondence schools are affected by present and proposed amended copyright laws when they incorporate in their printed lessons sections of works under copyright. Will the Minister consider intervening for these educational institutions to exempt them from copyright prosecutions provided that the author, title and publisher are acknowledged in the printed lessons?
– We have under consideration the question of photo-copying for educational purposes. Indeed, I have introduced a Bill dealing with it. I think that Senator Elstob ‘s question relates fairly closely to some of the provisions of that Bill. I would like to give the matter further consideration. I will take notice of the question and provide a more detailed and considered answer at a later date.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is he aware that the Government of the Seychelles, headed by President France Albert Rene, has closed down the only independent newspaper in the country, Weekend Life”! Is the Government also aware that that newspaper’s editor, Mr Bernard Verlaque, has been detained without trial and is presently in gaol? Given the large number of Seychellois presently settled in Australia as well as current Australian aid programs to the Seychelles, will the Minister make representations directly to President Rene requesting the immediate release of Mr Verlaque? Will the Minister also request that President Rene provide Mr Verlaq ue and his family with permission and visas to leave the Seychelles?
– My advice is that the Government is aware that following reports of an alleged coup in the Seychelles in December last year large numbers of people were detained. Amongst these people was a Mr Bernard
Verlaque, the editor of Weekend Life, which was closed down on 3 1 October 1 979. The Government does not consider that the presence of citizens of another country in Australia or the maintenance of an aid program to another country gives it a particular right to seek to intervene in the affairs of another country, whilst being very concerned about any denial of freedom. Any decision to make representations to the government of another country on its internal matters, which may nevertheless have international interests, is based on different grounds. I have taken note of Senator Rocher ‘s question and his interest in Mr Verlaque. I will certainly ask the Acting Foreign Minister to see that steps are taken to have the matter conveyed in an appropriate way to the Seychellois authorities.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Is it the case that Cabinet has recently approved a further cost increase for the High Court building, so far unannounced, of more than $7m, so that the total cost of the building is now $49. lm as against the $ 18.5m of the original estimate and the $42m that was last year’s announced figure? If so, what are the reasons for this latest increase? How does the Government justify it? Why has it been hiding it?
– Questions relating to the contract for the construction of the High Court building should be addressed to the Minister for the Capital Territory, who is responsible for the National Capital Development Commission. I am not aware of any approval for additional items. There may well be new calculations as to what the total cost is going to be. I think that is done from time to time. I do not have any details in relation to the matter, although the question has been addressed to me. I shall refer the matter to the Minister for the Capital Territory although I do not represent him, to ascertain whether there is any increase and, if so, the amount of it in relation to the contract.
– Is the Minister for Social Security aware of a letter appearing in the Canberra Times today headed: ‘ “Neat Tricks” and anomalies in pension entitlements’? Can the Minister give us any information on this matter?
-I am aware of the letter, which I believe is in today’s issue of the Canberra Times. Most of the matters referred to in the letter deal with items of Commonwealth superannuation pensions, defence forces retirement benefits and taxation, which are outside my responsibility. The matters raised involve the interaction of the pension income test and income tax. It would be difficult for me to go into the detail of that here. I could undertake to provide further information on request to the Senate, in response to the letter or in some other way.
In the latter part of the letter the writer says that a widow has not received recent increases in the social services pension. I should explain that the reason for that is that prior to 25 November 1976 age pensions payable to persons under 70 years of age who were not permanently blind were calculated under an income and property test, which we used to call the means test. This gave people in receipt of superannuation a special concession to capitalise their superannuation pensions. This enabled them to obtain a higher rate of pension than would have been payable if the superannuation had been treated as income.
Since November 1976 age pensions have been calculated under an income test which ignores the value of property but which requires all income, including superannuation, to be taken into account. Some social security pensioners received the concessional treatment in their superannuation pensions. They could have been disadvantaged with the abolition of the property test. To prevent any disadvantage to such pensioners a saving provision was inserted in the legislation, enabling the continuation of pensions at the current rates. In such cases no increase in a social security pension is payable until the rate payable under the income test is higher than the current rate. That is the explanation for the matter raised in the latter part of the letter. I will check the other items and give details to Senator Bonner.
– The Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry will recall that on 1 9 February he told the Senate that the matter of further grain sales to the Soviet Union would be reviewed in May of this year. In view of the fact that the Soviet Union for a long time has been a valuable wheat customer of Australia and this year will purchase approximately $3 50m worth of wheat from us, what assurances can he give Australian wheat growers, who are now at the point of having to make a decision on huge financial outlays for the purchase of superphosphate, seed wheat and fuel and the preparation of land for the sowing of the 1980-81 crop, that there will be an adequate market for the disposal of crops of next year and the following years if the Soviet Union ceases to be an Australian customer?
– As I understand it, there is no reason to assume that the Soviet Union will cease to be an Australian customer for wheat. As I said, the position is that the wheat exporters will be reviewing wheat contracts in May of this year. Contracts will be such that they will not be seen to replace wheat that has been withdrawn by the United States of America, but they will be relevant to the sorts of contracts that have been written over a number of years. That is the basis on which trading is taking place at this time.
– My question, addressed to the Minister for National Development and Energy, follows a question asked by Senator McClelland regarding the awarding of contracts by the Federal Government. Has the Minister seen a report in yesterday’s Australian Financial Review headed ‘Big Power Station Contracts go to Japanese ‘? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the Japanese company, IHI, has won new contracts for boilers at the Baywater and Mount Piper power stations in New South Wales valued at an estimated $400m? If so, can the Minister investigate the reasons why the Wran Government has awarded such an important contract to a company reportedly employing only 1 8 people in Australia when an Australianbased company, International Combustion Australia Ltd, which bid competitively for the contract, employs some 3,000 Australians? Further, is the Minister in a position to advise whether the awarding of this contract overseas is yet another example of the Wran Government’s bypassing of Australian firms, as occurred with the proposed new aluminium smelters in New South Wales, at a time when Mr Wran is calling on the Federal Government to award defence contracts to New South Wales firms?
-I did see in the Australian Financial Review yesterday an article headed ‘Big Power Station Contracts go to the Japanese’. I am unable to confirm whether the information published in the Australian Financial Review is correct because, of course, the letting of contracts for power station construction within a State is the responsibility of the State government and its electricity authority- in this instance the New South Wales Government and the Electricity Commission of New South Wales. I think that we should support the principle that a contract should not be let outside
Australia when the work reasonably could be performed by Australian labour.
– I call Senator Colston.
– What did you do when you were the New South Wales secretary? You used to accept money for it when you were the secretary.
- Mr President, Senator Grimes made an entirely objectionable remark.
– I am sorry; I did not hear it. What were the words?
– I ask you to call upon Senator Grimes to repeat it. It was a personal insinuation.
– What were the words? I did not hear them. I was calling Senator Colston.
- Senator Grimes, in effect, said: ‘What did you do in New South Wales when you were secretary? You used to get money for it ‘. That of course is a serious allegation and is utterly untrue. He repeated it. Of course it is completely outside the forms of this House.
– I did not hear the interjection, but if that is so; it is a grave reflection on a member of this place. I must ask you, Senator Grimes, to withdraw it.
– I withdraw, in view of the sensitivity of the Minister. lean understand it.
- Mr President, I do not accept that withdrawal. The honourable senator either withdraws totally or he is in contempt of this House. It is not anything to do with my sensitivity at all; it is to do with the procedures of this Parliament.
– On the remark of the Ministeras no one heard it except him, and he is the only one who is sensitive, I withdraw because of his sensitivity, but for no other reason. I lived in New South Wales, I worked in New South Wales, and I know what he was about.
– But you do withdraw unconditionally, Senator?
– Unconditionally, or whatever you like. I withdraw. But that does not take away from the truth.
- Mr President, I cannot accept -
– Order! That, Senator Grimes, is just making a farce of a very serious situation. You will withdraw unconditionally and make no comment beyond that.
- Mr President, I rise on a point of order. I understood that it was the President ‘s prerogative to rule on whether a remark he heard was offensive, and thereupon to call upon a senator to withdraw. With respect, Mr President, I understood you to say that you did not hear the remark, and in the absence of your hearing the remark, with respect, it is not competent for you to make the order which you did against Senator Grimes. Senator Carrick and Senator Grimes can carry on this debate in a telephone booth or in the Senate and so on for the rest of their lives if they want to. But, with respect, it is not a matter which is relevant to the proceedings of the Senate in the absence of your hearing the allegedly offensive remark.
– It is so that I did not hear the alleged words. But at the time when they were referred to by the Minister who had heard them, and not denied by Senator Grimes, I proceeded in the way that I did. Senator Grimes, kindly withdraw the remarks.
– I question that the remarks were exactly the same as stated, but I withdraw whatever offended the honourable gentleman.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister by referring to an answer which he gave to a question asked by Senator Button on 24 August 1978 in relation to Casey University. The Minister replied:
The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government intends to proceed with the establishment of Casey University … as soon as practicable, subject to a favourable resolution by the House of Representatives following the presentation of the report of the Standing Committee on Public Works . . .
Has such a favourable resolution been passed by the House of Representatives? If not, is it proposed that such a motion will be presented to the House of Representatives? Why was no mention made of a motion being put to the Senate? Will such a motion be listed for debate in this chamber?
-Subject to checking, I do not think the motion has been put to the House of Representatives. I think it will be. Although it may sound a strange procedure, I believe it is not necessary to put it to both Houses; but I will check on that point.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. I refer to the proposed construction of an eight-storey building at a cost of approximately $1 1.9m for Telecom Australia in Penh. It is stated to have the advantage of concentrating Telecom facilities. Did Telecom, the authority, discuss this proposal with the Minister before a decision was made to erect the building? Is the Minister aware whether any consideration was given to the defence implications of concentrating all the eggs in one basket in Perth? Is he aware whether any consideration was given to the problems arising from the concentration of all facilities at the Redfern Mail Exchange? Finally, would the Minister recommend to the Government that consideration be given to limiting the powers of statutory authorities to erect memorials to themselves?
– I was not aware of the proposed building referred to in the honourable senator’s question. Needless to say, I am not aware whether discussions with the Minister- of the son that the question related to- took place. The honourable senator has raised matters of the defence implications. They are matters which may go beyond the responsibility of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. Therefore, I will see that the question is also drawn to the attention of my colleague the Minister for Defence. I have always thought of the Redfern Mail Exchange as having implications of a nature somewhat different from those indicated in the earlier part of the question. Those implications relate to the industrial relations aspect of such large concentrations of employees. They are matters which are of concern to the Government. I will refer this detailed question to the responsible Ministers and seek replies from them.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I refer to the fatal crash of a Beechcraft King Air aircraft at Sydney Airport on Thursday, 21 February 1980. Will the inquiry into this accident provide for a comprehensive examination of the regulations governing crew complement of all third level airline and commuter operations; single engine performance of all third level airline and commuter operations; and the method of approving aircraft operating manuals associated with certification of aircraft engaged in third level airline and commuter operations? Further, will all interested parties be invited to make submissions to the inquiry? Does the Department of Transport approve operating manuals for third level airline operations and commuter operations? Do they include graphs which can be used to establish maximum take-off weights applicable for the prevailing atmospheric conditions? If not, why not? If the answer is yes, how is compliance assured? Finally, has all documentation- that is, load sheets and engine and aircraft records of the crashed aircraft- been impounded? Will it be subject to public scrutiny?
-The Government and the Department are following the normal practice when tragedies of this sort occur. The Air Safety Investigation Branch of the Department is conducting a full investigation into all the circumstances of the accident to which the honourable senator referred. The Branch is being supported in this task by technical experts from the aircraft and engine manufacturers, the operating company and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots. This will be a most painstaking investigation which will cover all possible aspects with a view to determining the causes of the accident. The ultimate objective is to determine those actions, if any, which should be taken to obviate the possibility of similar accidents occurring in the future. No doubt, if the investigation were to show that crewing aspects were of relevance, appropriate action would be taken. A great number of detailed inquiries were raised by the honourable senator in his question. I will refer them to the Minister for Transport for his detailed consideration. I think that all honourable senators would be aware that these matters are treated as being of the utmost seriousness. I can assure the honourable senator that the matter is receiving the closest and most urgent attention.
– My question is directed to Senator Chaney in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications or Minister representing the Minister for Productivity. Now that the Government has determined that by 1985 Australian telecommunications will incorporate a satellite system for telephone, television and radio communication, especially to remote areas, what steps has the Government taken to maximise the involvement of Australian industry rather than overseas companies in developing and manufacturing the necessary equipment? Has the Government identified the segments of electronic research necessary to develop the equipment for the satellite system; for example, the ground receivers? Has the Government identified prospective Australian companies, such as Codan Pty Ltd in South Australia, which have the capacity to do the necessary development work? What assistance has the Government made available to encourage the segments of necessary research to be developed within Australia?
– This is again a request for a great deal of detail which is available to me as Minister representing those Ministers but which is not currently with me. I will refer the question to both Mr Staley and Mr Newman for detailed reply.
– I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the James Bond episode that occurred in the capital of Colombia within the last 72 hours when a female operative of that country’s social security apparatus defected to the British Embassy and told a story that implied that an Australian girl tourist had been liquidated. I wonder whether the Minister has any information on that incident.
-Senator Mulvihill was good enough to indicate to me his interest in this matter. I am advised that, in relation to the disappearance of Miss Elizabeth Hilda Lane, on 17 December 1976 the Department of Foreign Affairs was approached by Mr Lane to inquire about the whereabouts of his daughter, Elizabeth. Details were then passed to the British Embassy in Bogota and to Australian missions in Brazil, London, Germany, Brussels, Kingston, Chicago, Trinidad, Tobago and Lima. Australian consular officers have travelled to Colombia in an attempt to trace Miss Lane. Their inquiries seemed to indicate that Miss Lane may have been the victim of foul play and there have been unconfirmed reports in the Press that Miss Lane has been murdered.
Interpol has advised that the authorities in Colombia conducted investigations without positive results and no evidence was found to the effect that Miss Lane had been murdered. However, it now appears that Miss De La Hoz has information regarding Miss Lane’s disappearance and I have been advised that Miss De La Hoz recently sought and is being given protection by the British Embassy in Bogota. I understand that the Colombian Government may be initiating court proceedings in the near future and I am awaiting confirmation of this from the Australian Embassy in Lima. An officer from Lima was to have travelled to Bogota this month and had been instructed to interview Miss De La Hoz. We are awaiting his report.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the Tasmanian Premier and the Minister for Education have both supported the suggestion that the now non-utilised $40m Mount Nelson campus of the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education be made available for consideration by this Government as the home for the proposed defence services academy? Will the Leader of the Government draw to the attention of the Prime Minister and the other Ministers involved the excellence of the location in relation to existing land, sea and air training facilities, the extent of the facilities in general and of the campus itself, and the way in which such utilisation would fit the Callaghan recommendations for assistance to Tasmania, if the concept of such an academy is to be proceeded with?
– I have seen reports in the Press concerning the possible use of the Mount Nelson campus of the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education as the site of the proposed Australian Defence Force Academy. The proposal is supported by the Tasmanian Premier and the Minister for Education and was raised, I understand, by the Liberal education spokesman, Mr Cornish. I am unable to say whether the Mount Nelson campus offers facilities which would be regarded as fully suitable for the purpose of the proposed Defence Force Academy. This would be a matter for decision by my colleague, the Minister for Defence. I should point out that the Government’s present intention is that the Academy should be appropriately located in Canberra.
I am aware that several alternative suggestions for the future use of the Mount Nelson campus have been made. A final decision will need to be taken by the Tasmanian and Commonwealth governments. The Tasmanian Government has so far made no formal approach to the Commonwealth on the question of the Defence Force Academy. If this were forthcoming there would need to be detailed discussion between the two governments to examine the feasibility of the proposal. My colleague, the Minister for Defence, would need to be closely involved. The advice of the Tertiary Education Commission would need to be sought.
-Senator Tate referred to a statement by President Carter. The essence of the statement to which I was referring and to which I now draw Senator Tate ‘s attention is that part of President Carter’s speech in which he said:
I am persuaded that the capability now exists to characterise and evaluate a number of geologic environments for use as repositories built with conventional mining technology.
- Senator Sim asked me yesterday a question on chemical agents used by Vietnamese and Soviet forces. He asked whether any evidence existed to support a Press report that Vietnamese forces were using chemical warfare in Kampuchea and that Russian manufactured toxic chemicals and poisons had been used in North Yemen and Afghanistan. I replied that the Government was aware that Soviet forces in Afghanistan had the capacity to wage chemical warfare and that I would seek further information. I can now state that it has not so far been possible to ascertain the accuracy of the report in question and of other reports that chemical agents have been employed by Vietnamese and Soviet forces. Whether or not these reports are substantiated they underline the urgency of the need for a complete ban on chemical weapons. Australia is playing an active role in this regard in the Committee on Disarmament which is expected to give priority to this issue in 1980. One proposal already submitted formally by Australia to the Committee on Disarmament in February, and which has received much support, calls for a chemical weapons workshop to involve experts in the subject and those negotiating a chemical weapons convention.
-On 19 February, Senator Townley asked a question concerning the number of Soviet personnel assigned to Soviet missions in Australia. He also asked about the activities of those people. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following information:
The size of the Soviet establishment in Australia is determined by agreement between the Australian and Soviet governments. The current agreed ceiling on Soviet staff is 46 in Canberra ( 18 diplomatic and 28 administrative) and Min Sydney (3 consular and 1 1 administrative).
At present the numbers of Soviet staff are within the agreed total.
In response to Senator Townley ‘s other question, I confirm that the Government keeps itself informed of the activities of Soviet personnel in Australia.
– I have received a letter from Senator Walsh proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the Senate for discussion, namely:
The economic consequences of the Government’s oil pricing policies. ‘
I call upon those senators who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.
More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
– Four years ago, Malcolm Fraser became Prime Minister. Petrol at the bowser was 1 2c to 13c a litre. It is now 31c to 35c a litre. Most of that increase- nearly 70 per cent- is due to higher taxes on oil. Increased tax on petrol alone is equal to a 28 per cent rise in personal income tax for an average weekly earner using one tankful of petrol a week in a Holden or a comparable car. The Malcolm Fraser who promised to end the great tax rip-off presides over the highest level of taxation ever imposed in Australia in peacetime. Government oil pricing policy is directly responsible for the return of double figure inflation and for the rising trend of inflation. That is a situation which this Government used to insist would inevitably deepen the economic recession. The Government used to insist that lower and falling inflation was a prerequisite- an essential requirement- to economic recovery. That always suspect hypothesis is, of course, in the process of being jettisoned. Indeed, the new gospel according to Howard and Fraser appears to be: ‘It does not matter how high inflation is as long as it is higher somewhere else’. That is the new doctrine on inflation according to Fraser and Howard.
– And Carrick.
-And Senator Carrick. It does not matter how high inflation is in Australia or whether it is rising as long as one can find other countries where it is even higher. Such countries do exist, and I will be citing some of them later. The theory that falling inflation is a prerequisite to economic recovery is, of course, in the process of being jettisoned or has been jettisoned. But there is no doubt whatsoever that the additional nearly $500m or nearly $ 1 billion in a full year tax rip-off pursuant to the Government’s latest oil price hike will deepen the recession initially caused by the contractionary 1979 Federal Budget.
Leaving aside all this macro-economic vandalism, the Government’s feul taxing policies are grossly inequitable. They are highly regressive. The two identifiable groups most affected are, firstly, Western Australians, who are dependent upon oil for 65 per cent of their primary energy consumption as against a national average of about 50 per cent, and the second group is the rural poor, people who spend 10 per cent of their incomes on petrol and associated products as against a national average of three per cent. Given those facts, it is supremely ironic though tragic that the most garrulous supporter of the Fraser Government ‘s oil taxing policies, with the possible exception of Senator Carrick, is the Premier of Western Australia, Sir Charles Court, whose State is most punished by such policies, and that the architect of the policy was none other than the National Country Party Leader, J. D. Anthony, who with an audacity which is probably unique to the Country Party claims to represent rural people and the country poor.
Given the task of defending error of this magnitude, or perhaps one should say error even compounded by sin, Senator Carrick responds by misrepresenting the facts. In a Press release dated 18 February he claimed that the Labor Party spokesman in this area, Mr Keating, had stated he would not reduce the price of petrol as Mr Keating had previously promised to do. Mr Keating has never made any promise to reduce the price of petrol. Mr Keating has spelt out quite explicitly for anyone who wants to understand it what the Labor Party’s policy on oil pricing will be. Senator Carrick said that on attaining office the Labor Party would retain the pre-existing price and adjust it upwards according to variation in either the consumer price index or import parity pricing whichever was the lesser. If Senator Carrick had been interested in accurately determining the facts he would have known that accompanying that is an undertaking, as stated by Mr Keating, not to increase the price of oil for a 12-month period- a 12-month freeze on oil prices- in order to enable the economy to absorb the shocks imposed on it by this Government and to recover from them. Senator Carrick said:
Since the Resources Tax would be imposed upon the oil producer, it must have the effect of stopping exploration.
In that instance he demonstrated either a continuing desire to misrepresent the facts or a failure to understand the technical implications of a resources tax. I will be returning to that later if I have time. It is worth noting that Senator Carrick ‘s Press statements of that type are increasingly the work of one Laurie Power, whose name appeared at the bottom of that Press statement. I understand that he is an employee of the so-called Government Information Unit. He is described as a State co-ordination officer. The Government Information Unit purports to be a non-political body set up by the
Government to provide non-political, impartial and factual information about what the Government is doing in the outlying States. It is not supposed to be a propaganda machine of any kind or any kind of adjunct to the Government’s legitimate political and acknowledged public relations machinery.
– You can’t distinguish between the two, that’s the problem.
-No. It is like getting one’s money mixed up with the Government’s money. In view of the purported conditions governing Mr Power’s employment, it is hard to understand how one member of the Government Information Unit staff, who is on a salary of $30,000 a year, can be said to be performing a non-political role as the author of some of those wild statements- some of the wildest statements ever to have been made, even by Senator Carrick ‘s standards, and even at the full moon. That sort of misrepresentation earned from the Sydney Morning Herald this editorial rebuke:
Senator Carrick seems to have concentrated on muddying the water. His descriptions of the Opposition ‘s policies arc, to put it mildly, unreliable.
That is what the Sydney Morning Herald had to say about Senator Carrick. It went on:
He has failed to answer the Opposition ‘s charge that, since both sides agree that world parity should be paid on new oil discoveries, the policy of pricing “old oil” at world parity cannot be defended by the need to encourage exploration. Admittedly, it would be hard to find a credible answer to that charge.
Briefly and simply, the FraserAnthonyCarrickCourtBjelkePetersen oil tax rip-ofT operates this way. Thirty per cent of the crude oil used in Australia is imported. The price for that is set either by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries or by some of the other states. Since OPEC has broken down, the price has been set mostly by Saudi Arabia, but also some other states have set higher prices. The 70 per cent which is produced from Australian wells costs to produce on average just over $ 1 a barrel. The Esso-BHP consortium and the other producers receive on average just over $6 a barrel. The refineries pay over $24 a barrel. The $18 difference between what the producers receive and the refineries pay is a government tax. Three-quarters of the price of oil, of the feed stock for Australian refineries, is a government tax. To translate that into its effect on the consumer price index, in round figures, for every dollar that this Government increases the price of Australian-produced oil almost one-quarter of one per cent is added to the CPI the first time round, and it compounds. Probably by the time it ultimately is worked out its effect has doubled.
Therefore, tax increases in the last eight months alone- that is, a total tax increase of above $ 1 1 a barrel on Australian oil- have added about 2lh per cent to the CPI. I stress, those are the first round effects only.
The Industries Assistance Commission impact team did a study which was published in February 1 979 on the macro-economic effects of the Government’s oil pricing policy, assessing the price increases that occurred with the 1978 Budget. The study team assessed what the effects on employment, gross domestic product and the CPI would be within one to two years, which it defined as the short term. If we adjust those figures for the further increases in oil prices since the time that that impact study was carried out we find that in the last two years- in fact in about 19 months- the Government’s oil pricing policy has added 5 per cent to the consumer price index. lt has reduced gross domestic product by 1 ‘A per cent. It has increased unemployment by about 2 per cent. It has also indirectly pushed interest rates to the record level of an 1 1.2 per cent yield on long term bonds this week. That is the highest interest yield ever obtained for long term bonds on the Australian market.
Interest rates of that magnitude might not worry the Prime Minister’s relatives who always seem to be able to arrange a loan from some source or other at about 4 per cent if they are short of a little ready cash. It may not worry the Prime Minister because his relatives are insulated from market forces which affect nearly everyone else in the community. But when those interest rates feed into the housing sector, overdrafts, personal finance and, ultimately, hire purchase finance and everything else, they will certainly affect everybody else in the community. The Government will cop the electoral backlash of that before the year is out. All those effects are due to the Government’s misconceived oil pricing policy. It has aborted the economic recovery which probably was in the pipeline about 12 months ago.
It would be wrong to claim that the Government’s policy is entirely without benefit. It would be wrong to claim that price has absolutely no effect on consumption. But a point is reached where the miniscule gains from lower consumption accruing to further price increases are cancelled many times over by the macro-economic damage done in other areas. This Government passed that point a very long time ago, as members of its own backbench well know. The Government’s 1 977 gradualism policy was probably about as good a policy as could have been devised. It involved a gradual movement towards import parity pricing over a period of more than five years accompanied by a resources tax on the windfall gains accruing to the Australian producers. That policy was probably about as good as we could have had but it lasted only one year. We then moved immediately to import parity pricing, although we have moved away from it again in the last couple of months. I will deal with that aspect later.
– But the policy on tax cuts lasted for three months only.
-The tax cuts lasted for three months. One of the car policies lasted about five weeks, I think. Such is the fashion in which this country is governed. In relation to the 1 977 policy- that is not the present policy- in November 1977, in the House of Representatives, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) said:
There is no need, nor would it be desirable, for prices to move to world parity levels overnight.
The Deputy Prime Minister is not often correct, but he was correct then. It is a pity that the Government saw fit nine months later to repudiate what he had said. The second point I want to make about the Government’s oil taxing policy, apart from the one concerning the macroeconomic damage which I have now quantified, as far as time permits me to do, is that it is regressive in nature. The group of people who are hardest hit are the rural poor. The rural poor, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics survey of household expenditure, spent nearly 10 per cent of their incomes on petrol, oils and lubricants. The average for all Australians is 3 per cent. For the highest income groups it is around 2 per cent. A regressive policy, by definition, is any policy which takes by way of tax a higher proportion of income from the lower income groups than it takes from the highest. The consumption pattern which has been revealed in the ABS survey is quite different in rural areas compared with urban areas, particularly among the lower income groups.
We find that the lower income groups in capital cities spend only about as much of their income on petrol as the average household does. The reason for that presumably is that the urban poor are able to manage without a motor vehicle. They do not have motor cars so they do not use much petrol. The country poor as almost an essential tool of physical survival must have motor transport. They are the people who have been most savegely hit by this policy. I stress that, even if the Government does reduce personal income tax, across the board cuts in personal tax will not redress the regressivity of the Government’s present policies, nor will it compensate those lowest income groups, because, as they are such, they pay little if any taxation.
Senator Carrick will in his customary style try to bluff and bluster his way through this debate when he follows me. Let him explain a few things. Insofar as one can make sense out of Senator Carrick ‘s garrulous and/or evasive replies in the Senate yesterday, what was clearly shown, and the point that comes through after sustained Opposition attempts to pin him down on the question of import parity pricing and whether the Government is still committed to that policy, which he and his predecessor had asserted ad nauseum it was committed to that, yes, he does assert that the Government is committed to import parity pricing but not necessarily at this time. The Government is committed to import parity pricing, so Senator Carrick says, but it might be either last year’s or the previous year’s import parity pricing which, of course, makes a farce of the entire policy.
Let Senator Carrick explain, if import parity pricing is such a magnificent idea, as his previous assertions would have us believe, why is the Government not charging import parity now? Why will Senator Carrick not give an undertaking that on 1 July the ruling Saudi price will be the price for Australian produced oil? Let him explain why, if market pricing is the essential criterion upon which energy policy must be based, does market pricing not apply to liquified petroleum gas for certain consumers in certain areas? Why does not the market price apply for any petroleum product outside certain areas in Australia? Let Senator Carrick explain those things. Let him tell us whether the Government is still committed to import parity pricing. Perhaps yesterday he was in no position to do that because it was well known that a back bench revolt was brewing and that the back bench recognises, even if the Ministry does not, the enormous economic damage and the political threat to the survival of this Government which flows from its import parity pricing policy.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I had wondered what was the validity of the Descartes theory that the mind occupies no space. I wonder no longer after listening to the speech of Senator Walsh during the last 20 minutes. Let me refer the Senate to what was supposed to have been the matter of public importance to be discussed. It is:
The economic consequences of the Government’s oil pricing policies.
The economic consequences of this Government’s oil pricing policies will be that the people of Australia can be assured that they will have all energy possibilities for both their present and expanding needs, industrially and domestically, including petroleum for the long range future. If people were to get to their feet and say that they would, in 20 minutes discuss the economic consequences, they must direct themselves to whether or not the policy is going to provide oil and oil substitutes in Australia because the challenge to the people of the world is that the world is running out of oil. Australia will run out of oil, and the only test is whether or not the policies will provide oil, as well as alternatives. The descartian enthusiast has been able to speak for 20 minutes and not mention the problem at all. That is a physical definition of a vacuum.
There has been a tendency to introduce a lot of irrelevancies. After reading the Sydney Morning Herald one would have thought that it was opposed to this Government’s import parity policies. It is implacably in support of those policies, as are all those who apply their minds to the validity of the policies. Let us make no mistake because of selectivity. I wish also to talk about the Australian Labor Party and whether or not it is pledged to import parity pricing. That is the test. The fact of the matter is that this Government says it will fix petroleum prices at the petrol pump at the rate of Saudi Arabian light crude. The interesting situation is that time after time, in speech after speech, Mr Hayden and Mr Keating have expressed their support for the principle of import parity pricing. In fact, they go further. They advocate export parity pricing, which of course would make petroleum much dearer. The Government sets import parity prices at the lowest price it can get. For Senator Walsh to deny his SUPport for import parity pricing, against the words of his leader and his energy spokesman, must be the quintessence of nonsense. Where can we get clearer words than in the advocacy by Mr Hayden of the pricing of liquefied petroleum gas, which is a petroleum product. Only in the space of the last 12 months, he said:
If we want to ensure maximum domestic consumption of LPG, then we must ensure that producers obtain a domesticprice reasonably related to the export price-
Of course, the export price is much higher than the import parity price which the Government is using. Mr Hayden is saying that we should charge more. He goes on and on in his speeches. The people of Victoria would not have cheered when in regard to gas, he said to the Australian Gas Association:
The movement towards opportunity cost pricing will help stimulate exploration.
The opportunity cost price, which is the market price, is the key thing. Let us hear from Mr Keating, because I have been told that I am selective or muddying the waters. In his Green Paper on energy, Mr Keating stated:
Raising the price of indigenous oil to world parity while maintaining government enforced prices for natural gas will only work to reinforce the present distortions in production, consumption and investment in the energy market. Although the pricing of energy resources at well below opportunity cost will yield short-term benefits, it will also give rise to long-term costs.
If ever there has been an advocacy for import parity, there it lies. Now there is an alleged attack on the Government for this, whilst Mr Hayden says that we should charge more, and charge export parity prices. Mr Keating went on to say:
The ideal yardstick for the determination of gas prices is found in oil prices.
It is clearly stated by Mr Hayden that gas prices must have export parity, and Mr Keating says that there must be a link between the two products; therefore, there must be export parity in gas prices. The whole basis of this fallacious contribution by Senator Walsh today is that he and his party are opposed to it. We heard the lovely, choice suggestion that the people will be charged so much more and taxed so much more by the Government. Such is the concern for the poor people, the poor rural producers, about whom the Labor Party did nothing and for whom the Government has brought in freight equalisation for petrol amounting to $ 1 20m a year and excisefree diesel for farms. The Labor Party did nothing at all. One would think from what has been said that Senator Walsh and his party are saying that they will not tax so much as the wicked Government and they will not tax so much at the bowser. A very respected economics writer, Ross Gittins, posed the question:
Would the resources tax raise more or less than the oil production levy?
Mr Keating answered:
I think it would probably raise more.
One must not forget also that some weeks before Mr Keating was reported in a major article in the Age as saying that he thought that perhaps 75 per cent would be the percentage of a resources tax. There is now this idea that it will not be passed on to the people; that somehow it will be imposed on the producer but not on the people. Let us consider another happy exchange. Mr Gittins stated:
That sounds to me as if a resources tax is just a different version of -
To use Mr Keating ‘s phrase- a branch of the tax office at every petrol pump. ‘
Honourable senators will remember that that is how Mr Keating accused the Government. Mr Keating replied:
Well it is to some extent.
Where is the argument of the Labor Party? It now confesses that it would tax more and that the principle of giving an opportunity cost or a world scarcity price to petroleum products is right, and then it pretends to the public that it can do something. It has the nerve to say that the Government’s policies are more punitive. Clearly, on its admission, its policies would cost more in dearer petrol. There would be a branch of the Taxation Office at the pump for a resources tax, which would yield more. How much more? We need more to run the Australia Hydrocarbon Corporation, this socialist show that will do the exploration instead of private enterprise, and we need more, says Mr Hayden, to run Medibank. It is all to come out of this resources tax, and still the Opposition would provide cheaper petrol. What absolute nonsense and hypocrisy.
Let us put aside the Labor Party, whose petrol pricing policies are in ruins, and get down to the nub of this situation. The Government’s pricing policies for oil are producing today the third cheapest petrol in the whole of the Western world. Petrol in Australia is about half the price of that obtainable elsewhere. Only two countries have cheaper petrol- America and Canada. America is within 3c a litre of us- 30c a litre compared to our 33c a litre- and Canada is waiting to put up its prices. So in the first place we are providing the third cheapest in the world at about half the price of other countries, including those countries which produce their own oil and those such as the United Kingdom and Scandinavian countries who also use import parity pricing.
This Government also has a reputation that must be the envy of other governments. It is able to say that after four years in office there are more known reserves in Bass Strait than when it came to office. There is the equivalent of an extra three years precious supply, so in the Government’s time more oil has been found, stored and reserved than in any previous government’s time- an amount which would last for three precious years in this time of international crisis.
I was able to point out that the Government has a policy of conserving petrol and that, in fact, whereas the normal increment year by year was 3.9 per cent, it has fallen to 1.8 per cent and is still falling. There is clear proof that conservation is occurring and that industry is moving from fuel oil to alternatives. In 1979 in Sydney alone, two million barrels of fuel oil were saved. That is clear proof that we are moving towards the reticulation of more natural gas and the use of alternative energy sources. Two things are vital: We have to find more natural oil and we have to find more synthetic oil. Because we have bought the extension of the Bass Strait supplies for three more years we are able to say that not until the mid-80s will the Bass Strait supplies fall. Failing the discovery of other Australian supplies, we will have to shop around the world to try to buy more. But we have some four or five precious years so to do. I was able to announce in December that the Bass Strait consortium, EssoBHP, had allocated a unique amountSi, 200m- over four years for further development in Bass Strait in order to get every drop of oil that we can from there.
There was some dispute yesterday as to the relative performance of governments in relation to oil exploration and development. I will seek leave in a moment to indicate what had happened. But lest we talk, as Senator Walsh has done, as though Labor could provide an alternative government with performance, let me say simply that if we take the three years 1970 to 1972, before the Whitlam Government, and then the three years of the Whitlam Government, we find a very interesting situation. In the three years of the Liberal Government, 291 exploration wells were developed. Under the Whitlam Government there were 136- less than half. Under the Liberal Government there were 66 development wells and under the Whitlam Government, six. And these are the people who get up here and lecture to us! I commend the Government’s policy. In the current period again development has picked up and is now on its way. I seek leave to incorporate two tables in Hansard
The tables read as follows-
-I thank the Senate. The fundamental to be understood about the whole of the petroleum energy situation is that we can make savings; we can conserve and we can convert to alternative methods. But in the end wheels will turn on oil for decades ahead, and we have to find oil. That is the Government’s fundamental responsibility. That oil will be found in small ways through using some extenders, by producing ethanol from biomass- from sugar cane or sugar beet- and perhaps also by using methanol. But the oil will be produced fundamentally from oil shale and coal liquefaction. What we have to do today is to get going those great enterprises which will produce synthetic oil in six, seven or eight years’ time in such amounts that they will offset the decline in production in Bass Strait and the rest of Australia and prevent dependence on overseas sources. The size of the undertaking of the production of synthetics is vast- a massive size indeed. The Rundle project, which is getting off the ground, is of such a magnitude that the mining operation there would be as large as the aggregate of all our iron ore mining in Australia. The capital needed is immense, probably double that of all the North West Shelf. Here we are seeing our policies working.
Fundamentally, the problem with Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries prices will be overcome only when alternative fuels have competitive prices. That is the one thing that will overcome the problem. Does the Labor Party think that by its policies it will do that? By putting the true scarcity price on and indicating the competitive price we are now attracting in Australia massive undertakings of a size never dreamed of, making the Snowy Mountains scheme look small by comparison. We are guaranteeing that we will have alternative oil sources in 1988, the 1990s and beyond, not simply to supplement today’s needs but to undertake the huge development of tomorrow. The test is: Will the price induce the production of alternatives?
Does anyone believe that the Labor Party’s policies can work? It is clear that if a resources tax of the magnitude of 75 per cent or more is imposed on the secondary profits of the oil companies they will stop oil exploration in Australia altogether. Does anyone believe that under a Labor government a Rundle or a coal liquefaction project would be set up, with the threat of a resources tax sitting over it? Of course it is the essence of nonsense to believe that. So we have to offer a price that will attract. We make ethanol in Australia, but we have not been able to make ethanol in recent years at a price that would be competitive with fuel prices. Today the gap is narrowing more and more between the cost of ethanol and the cost of petrol. As that narrows so we are assured more and more. The Labor Party is playing a confidence trick on the people of Australia. It is pretending that it can give cheap petrol to the people of Australia. By inference, it is also suggested that there would be a supply of petrol.
Mr Keating ‘s expose in the Sydney Morning Herald shows that it would not be cheap petrol; it would be dear petrol. It is quite clear that the imposition of the resources tax on the explorer would destroy exploration. That is the whole thrust of this situation. Both Mr Hayden and Mr Keating have said in definitive statements that they believe that the opportunity cost, the world market cost, ought to be the cost for all oil products- for LPG and natural gas. I repeat that Mr Hamer would not like that at all. They also said that these commodities ought to be related to the price of oil. In their definitive statements they have said that we should fix the price of petrol products at export parity. We at least have chosen the cheapest import parity market price in the world.
The debate is in relation to the economic consequences of our pricing policies. I repeat that our economic policies mean that the people of Australia will be assured of some of the cheapest petrol in the world in continuity, not only for existing needs but also for the huge development that Australia is about to face. The proof of that is now before us as the great development schemes come forward. The Labor alternative is a rag-bag of policies, an apologia of policies. Labor admits that import parity is right, but it wants to get at the soft underbelly of the producer because, as a socialist body, it hates free enterprise and it wants to put the resources tax on, to destroy the oil companies and to set up its own great socialist Australian hydrocarbon corporation. If ever there was a party with an absence of policy it is the Labor Party. Once again on a Wednesday it has brought forward a series of arguments that on exposure have nothing in them. What we are doing through our energy policies in this country is attracting the world to our doorstep because we are energy rich and the world is energy poor, and we have a job to help.
- Senator Carrick has attempted to regale the Senate for 20 minutes with his interpretation of the economic consequences of the Government’s oil pricing policies, and has failed dismally to do so. All he did was to speak to the 20 conscripted senators who sat on the other side of the Senate with the usual rhetoric that has become so synonymous with the answers and speeches of Senator Carrick. He did not tell us why, if the Government’s policies in respect to energy and petroleum products is such a success, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) saw fit in November, during the Christmas recess, to change the ministerial arrangements of his Government, to remove Mr Newman from the position of Minister for National Development and appoint Senator Carrick as Minister for National Development and Energy. He did so because the Government realised how vulnerable it was, how much a failure the Government’s policies had been over the three or four years that it had been in office. Therefore it needed to gear up for and give some extra emphasis to the problems associated with petroleum in Australia. Of course the senator, as is usual, sought to misrepresent completely the Australian Labor Party’s point of view, ignoring the very basic fact that the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) only two years ago talked about a super-profit tax in respect of resources in this country. He later backed off from that proposition, but it does not in any way take away the validity of the Labor Party’s proposals that there ought to be such a profits tax in Australia that would enable the public sector to carry out its diverse areas of responsibility.
Shortly the current Government will be in the history books, along with dinosaurs and other extinct species. It will be seen for what it is. An animal that came to power, in a conspiratorial way, that staggered into an era that it did not understand and an environment of which it knows nothing and cannot comprehend. Already we see evidence of this Government seeking to prolong its life by utilising phrases- that is all they are, phrases; Fraser ‘s phrases- to try to justify the failures of its policies. Where are we in 1 980? We are in a period of higher taxes, higher unemployment, higher inflation, higher interest rates and higher prices. What does the Government do in respect of the deficit which it is unable to control? It is using the petrol tax- that is what it is; a tax on the ordinary people in this country- to try to reduce that strange animal, the deficit.
Look at the so-called policy and what it means economically to Australia, which Senator Carrick failed dismally to discuss. What is this policy doing to the consuming public? The aims of this money grabbing exercise of this Government- panic stricken measures- are supposedly two-fold. What Senator Carrick sought to emphasise was that the first aim was to encourage oil exploration in new fields and technologies by oil companies. I will examine what has happened in recent times with regard to some of the principal oil companies in our country. The Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd has spent $350m, not in oil exploration, but in acquiring the Clutha enterprises. Shell Co. of Australia Ltd has spent $30m acquiring the Bellambi coal mines in New South Wales. Esso has spent $25m acquiring Queensland coal mines at a place called Hail Creek. I could go on and list the amount of money which the oil companies are investing by diversifying into different areas. It is hypocrisy on the part of Senator Carrick to suggest that unless we do not give them unlimited funds- which is what he is saying- they will not carry out a policy of oil exploration.
I refer to one of the international oil companies, Exxon, a United States company. Its profits increased by 55 per cent in one year to a $4 billion profit. Is Senator Carrick suggesting that that sort of company needs more incentives to carry out oil exploration, or that the various oil importing and producing companies should be encouraged to invest the profits that are made in Australia to carry out exploration work for more oil? Let us look at Esso-BHP. According to an article in the *Australian Financial Review- * understand it is an authoritative journal- the Government has recognised that $3.5 billion will be given to that company as a result of declaring the Fortescue oil field in Bass Strait new oil. How much more money does this Government believe it has to give to the oil companies to carry out their policies of oil exploration? Senator Carrick is notorious for his capacity to use figures to justify his arguments. I submit that the Australian Bureau of Statistics Exploration Catalogue No. 8409 shows a somewhat different picture to the figures that Senator Carrick spoke of. It showed that in 1974 under Labor $50.4m was spent; $69.9m in 1975; and it dropped to $63.4m in 1976; true, it was to rise to $92.3 m in 1977. If we look at the inflation rate for the period 1 974-75 we see that in real terms there has been basically no increase at all. This was in a period in which the Government collected thousands of millions of dollars in extra revenue from the motorist and in which the oil companies collected hundreds of millions of dollars extra as a result of this Government’s oil parity pricing policies. Yet the Minister, in his usual glib way, seeks to pour oil on troubled waters with a view to trying to fool the Senate, his own party and the Australian people. He ignores the fact that of the four oil rigs that were previously operating in Australia, two have left Australia. Despite these windfall profits, despite all the incentives that this Government has given, the facts are that 50 per cent of the capacity to explore for oil has already left this country.
The second aim of the policy is to encourage energy conservation. What was the Government’s adviser, Mr Stuart Harris, of the National Energy Advisory Committee reported to have said in the National Times only a few weeks ago? He said:
We still do not know precisely what are the effects in the short run of petrol price increases or what their long term effects are.
Has Senator Carrick produced any evidence to show that there are benefits? In the never never, yes. In a pie in the sky situation there are the benefits that Senator Carrick talks about. But where are they in real terms? This justifies the Opposition’s attempt to have this matter debated publicly. In its pontificating, patronising pompous parity piffle the Government claims the oil price will force us to live within our means. That is what Senator Carrick has said. Presumably it will point to a reduction in consumption to prove this. What the Government and its advisers fail to realise is that the only reason consumption goes down is because its policy is putting people out of work. If we look at the experience in the United States that does not have world parity pricing policies, we see that consumption falls because people become energy conscious, not because the price of energy increases. The facts are that in terms of taxation, as a result of this Government’s petrol taxing policies, we are paying out more taxes per head of population than ever before in Australian history.
The Australian Journal of Agricultural Economics has produced a table showing how many people would lose their jobs as a result of a 40 per cent rise in the price of oil. It has gone through surveys and statistics and found that there was a loss of employment as a result of a 40 per cent increase in petrol prices in this country. We have had an increase of more than 100 per cent in petrol prices since 1 978. There would be a potential employment drop of 0.8 per cent. That survey shows that the economic consequences are disastrous from the Australian people ‘s point of view. This is not the most brutal effect of the policy. It hits other groups in most subtle ways. As the table shows, people on lower incomes spend a higher proportion of their income on petrol than those on higher incomes. Though there is no evidence in an Australian survey to prove this, a survey carried out in the United States of America shows that the lowest grouping- the lowest fifth- in the community spends 13.7 per cent of its income on petrol. Those in the second lowest fifth spend 7.8 per cent of their income to make up average annual gasoline expenditures. This trend continues up to those in the highest fifth of the community who spend only 3.3 per cent of their income on petrol. This indicates that the lower groupings in the Australian community- the lower income earners, the disadvantaged persons, the pensioners and so on- are most affected.
So the consequences of the oil pricing policies for economic recovery are quite disastrous. After all this Government came to power with the objective of having, firstly, a consumer-led recovery; then it was to have an investment-led recovery; and now in its fourth year in office it has substituted an export-led recovery. Yet the price rise from $7 a barrel to $ 10 a barrel increased the consumer price index in this country by up to 1 .2 per cent. The current price is $24 a barrel. What does this do to our exports? If Senator Carrick ‘s rhetoric has any relevance at all and if he suggests that import parity is such a wonderful thing, perhaps he or subsequent Government speakers could explain why in the last month or so the Government has decided to suspend import parity pricing. Obviously the Government cannot have its cake and eat it too. A table produced by the Bulletin, even though it is somewhat dated because it deals with the price of oil only up to the time it was $ 10 a barrel- the price has since gone up to almost Vh times that amount- shows that the price of petrol per litre has increased from 2.5c to 6.3c. It shows that the Treasury’s income from this tax has risen from $520m to $ 1,300m and that the oil producers profits have risen from $52m to $130m. I would like to examine just one instance of what import parity pricing is doing to the Australian economy. Therefore, I will refer to a body known as the Australian Industries Development Association which is generally regarded as being friendly to this Government. It stated:
Oil receipts escalated after the 1978-79 Budget in which all oil discovered after September 1975 was priced at world parity and unforeseen increases in parity prices took place. Statistics of Government receipts per barrel of oil produced in Australia illustrate this point vividly. Of the average world parity price of S 1 3.23 per barrel paid by consumers for Bass Strait oil production during August 1978 to June 1979, the Government crude oil levy accounted for S9.30 per barrel and the producer return was $3.93. By January 1980, the crude oil levy accounted for SI 8.66 from the world parity price of S24.77 per barrel. Producer return from Bass Strait was about S6.I I per barrel. The virtual doubling of the oil levy receipts over this 17 month period has had a major impact -
AIDA has said this and it is an important employer organisation- on household disposable income. The resulting increase in petrol prices has had a substantial impact on the cost structure of industry and on the Australian rate of inflation.
Yet this Government said when it came to office in 1975 that its basic philosophy was to reduce the rate of inflation. Whilst that has happened, everybody recognises that the rate of inflation is now increasing again and that it will get out of control. Overseas events are proving that governments cannot maintain the rate of inflation that we had in 1978. In 1979 inflation increased to double figures. It will increase appreciably again this year. This Government’s oil parity pricing policy is contributing greatly to that problem of inflation, proving that the economic consequences of this Government’s policies are disastrous from the point of view of economic recovery, that they are disastrous from the point of view of the living standards of the Australian people, and that they will prove to be disastrous from the point of view of the Government’s reelection prospects in 1 980.
– If one were to listen to the speakers for the Opposition on this subject one would think that cheap fuel was just around the corner. But it is a little like fairy floss- a little sweet talk is poured into the machine and out comes a large illusory mass of material that will be an answer to all our needs. Of course, cheap petrol is just as illusory as fairy floss. In the hard world of reality it dissipates rather quickly. We are dealing with a finite resource. One would hardly recognise that if one were to listen to the honourable senators opposite. We are dealing with a finite resource that one day, sometime in the future- it might not be in our lifetime- will come to an end. Of course, that puts certain very heavy responsibilities on us as a people living in the twentieth century in relation to our use of these finite resources, the petroleum products.
We owe a debt of gratitude indeed to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries for doing what it did in 1 973. It woke up the world to the fact that petroleum products could not last forever and that there was a value placed on them. The world at last grasped the significance of that fact because OPEC turned down the supplies and turned up the price. The world at long last took cognisance of the fact that petrol is indeed a finite resource. Australia started to follow the example of other countries in 1 978 but we did have a lead time in which to take into account the effects of increased prices. Up to 1978, when we started to go to world parity, Australia had lived very happily using fuel as though there would be no tomorrow, in splendid isolation from the real world around about us. It is only the fact that the Government has seen fit to put up the price of our oil to world parity that we have taken cognisance of the world market value of this scarce finite petroleum product.
Australia currently produces approximately two-thirds of its requirements. Of course we want to get into a situation where we can produce all of our requirements. We certainly will not be able to do that while our products are priced unrealistically low. That certainly produces no incentive for conservation, for exploration and for research into alternatives. But we are already seeing that the Government’s policy is starting to work. We certainly do not want to be importing so much oil that we are in the hands of overseas suppliers. Once we are in that situation we are at the mercy of any political machination that takes place in any country, as regards both price and supply. So the more that we are self-supporting the better off we will be in the long term. We certainly could not reach that situation if we were to continue to sell our fuel at cheap prices.
Previous speakers on the Opposition side have mentioned the fact that rural producers have been hard hit. I put it to the Senate that rural producers ultimately are the people who have the most to gain from our policies because they more than anybody else are reliant on portable fuels. They have no other course to follow. They are the people who have the most to gain, although, of course, we all admit that they do not see it in that light at this moment. Governments are here to govern not just for today or tomorrow but for the future. Senator Carrick mentioned the increase in exploration and development and the fact that our known accessible reserves have increased even though we have used considerable amounts of fuel. Our reserves have increased rather dramatically because of our policy. Much of the oil in the ground that was not economical to recover is now recoverable. (Quorum formed).
When I started my speech I alluded to the fact that cheap fuel was as illusory as fairy floss and dissipates just as easily. It is noticeable that support from colleagues of the honourable senator who proposed discussion on this matter of public importance is as illusory as fairy floss. The honourable senator’s colleagues have also dissipated. For those people who are listening to the broadcast of these proceedings, let me point out that a Labor senator called a quorum on a matter of public importance which had been put forward for discussion by one of his own colleagues. At the time when the quorum was called three Labor senators were in the chamber; now there are still only three. So much for the Opposition ‘s concern about this matter of public importance!
Another significant point, when looking at the Government’s policy, is that concerning conservation. Australia and most other Western countries have a fair bit of fat that they can trim in their usage of fuel and energy without at all affecting their way of life. I cannot accept the fact that people are driving their motor vehicles in the most fuel efficient manner, that they are buying the most fuel efficient vehicles for their needs and that they are making the best use of available public transport. I cannot accept the fact that public transport is being used to the ultimate to save our dwindling fuel supplies or that farmers have reached the ultimate in perfection in tilling their land in the most fuel efficient manner.
Conservation is one of the main reasons for the Government’s adopting this policy. It was hoped that people would appreciate the full value of fuel. This realisation is occurring. Figures show that the increase in the use of petrol is about half of what it was in the previous five years. The use of heating oil has gone down substantiallyabout 22 per cent. The use of bunker oil and lighting kerosene has gone down. The lower use of jet fuel indicates that our airlines are now operating more efficiently than they were before. The airlines are getting better utilisation from their aircraft, are virtually operating with higher load factors and are flying different flight profiles. From the conservation point of view, the policy is working.
We hear bleats from the motor vehicle manufacturers that the six-cylinder and V8-cylinder motor vehicles are not selling as well as they were. Well, so be it. People are at last getting the message and buying vehicles that better suit their needs. The motor vehicle manufacturers of Australia have not done a good job in supplying us with the most fuel efficient vehicles. They have handed out to us relatively inefficient, gasguzzling and uninspiring vehicles for many a long year. At long last they are starting to get the message. They used to turn out vehicles which used a lot of fuel and then, through the use of advertising, sought to sell them, and at one stage, to sell them in a dangerous way. Heavy V8 vehicles were being sold with drum brakes and cross-ply tyres. At long last the message is getting across. So it should. The Government’s policy is working.
In recognition of the difficulties faced by the rural sector, the Government is providing assistance. Diesel fuel for use on the farm is exempted from excise. We have re-introduced the freight subsidy scheme. It was introduced by our parties previously and was disbanded by the Whitlam Government. From 1 April, the price of petroleum products in country areas should not exceed a differential of 0.44c a litre. This subsidy will cost us $80m in 1979-80 and is expected to cost $120m in 1980-8 1. The Government is committed by its policy to reducing the country’s overall long term dependence on petroleum products from overseas. In case we get to the stage where petrol might have to be rationed- we want to prevent that at all coststhe Government has established the National Petroleum Advisory Committee. Indeed, Mr Don Eckersley, the President of the National Farmers Federation, represents the rural sector on that body.
The realistic pricing of fuel can encourage the search for alternatives, and that is happening now. Senator Carrick mentioned the Rundle oil shale deposit in Queensland. It is a massive deposit. But a massive infrastructure is needed before something like oil shale can be of use to the country. I think that it is estimated that we would get half a barrel of oil per tonne of Rundle oil shale. Imagine the sort of infrastructure that is needed to go anywhere towards meeting Australia’s needs. It is estimated that to obtain 200,000 barrels a day, which is about 30 per cent of Australia’s needs, 400,000 tonnes of shale would be need to be handled. That is an operation on no small scale.
We are also looking at producing oil from coal. This can be looked at only when a realistic price is placed on our products and when those who are prepared to invest money can be guaranteed a return on their investment. This year the Government has provided $6m towards this end. It is not an easy task. Not only have we to get the oil from the coal but also we have to put it through a hydrogenation process. Oil produced from coal has less hydrogen atoms as compared with the ordinary petroleum product. It is a very expensive operation and can be done only when our products are realistically priced.
Much has been said, of course, of the on-farm production of ethanol. That is not as easy as it seems. We can grow the products and make the ethanol, but we must then develop the engines that can use it most efficiently. When an engine is designed to use one particular product another product cannot be poured in and expected to be used efficiently. Unfortunately, it just does not work that way. Much work is being done on the development of engines whether they be spark ignition or high compression ignition. Much work must be done in order to be able to use alcohol in various blends. A minimum structural and technical changeover is needed for alternative types of engines not to be prohibitively expensive. Alcohol has oxygen atoms in it. When it is added to a fuel, the fuel mixture, for all intents and purposes, is made leaner and a different carburettor calibration is required. That is just one of the problems that we face when we are trying to use a different engine.
Work is being done on trying to use ethanol in diesel engines. People are looking at three different methods. But it is just not a matter of growing products to make ethanol, pouring ethanol into a diesel tractor and expecting it to work. Work is also being done on using oil from crops such as sunflower. I heard one comment that it works pretty well provided a person is used to working in a fish and chip shop all day, such is the smell of the exhaust.
The economic consequences for not going ahead with our oil parity pricing would be ultimately disastrous. The Government has taken the right step. Although many complaints are made about the immediate problem, serious thinking people who are looking further ahead know that our policy is correct and working, that conservation is working and that work is being done on the alternatives. That is to our ultimate benefit.
– I remind Senator Collard that this is a debate not about conservation but about taxation. The Minister for National Development and Energy (Senator Carrick) attempted at the beginning of his speech to persuade the Senate that one of the main factors that we are concerned about under this Government’s policy is the conservation of fuel. But as I will indicate in a few moments, we are concerned about the measure to which tax collection in the form of the petrol tax has been a boost to Government tax revenue.
I take this opportunity to correct the figures which were read out by Senator Carrick. He said that the number of development wells which were drilled during the term of the previous Government was six. According to the figures which have been supplied by the Bureau of Mineral Resources the number of development wells drilled in those three years was 24. The Minister might take the trouble at some future time to illustrate the source of his information. I take this opportunity also to point out to him and to the Senate that during the years of the previous Government a total of 136 exploration wells were drilled as against 92 in the first three years of the present Government. I will say more about that in a moment.
There is no question that we are talking about taxation under this Government’s policy- and regressive taxation at that. I think it was Senator Gietzelt who gave some figures about the percentage of income spent on petrol by people in the United States of America to keep themselves mobile. Those figures showed beyond any doubt that the poorer a person is the higher the proportion of his income going to petrol. This affects not only the low income people. There are a million adult males in Australia whose gross income is less than $165 a week. There are two million pensioners in the same category. We know that a quarter of a million young unemployed people are in the same position. Senator Walsh made reference to the rural people of this country, who also are caught up in this Fraser Government’s fuel policy. Yet this Government goes on with this mad obsession that it must get more revenue no matter what the cost. It does not matter if it sends up inflation. It does not matter if it makes it more difficult to export our goods or that it pushes up the cost of living. All of those things can be suddenly brushed aside. The regressive nature of it and the manner in which it discriminates against people on low incomes and the people in rural areas can be brushed aside as long as Mr Fraser can get a few more million dollars out of the motorist. That is what this debate is about- taxation, not conservation.
This Government came to office in 1975 and was re-elected in 1977. On both occasions it promised tax reductions. Mr Fraser said: ‘We will reduce taxation in this country’. He did not say anything, of course, about putting this petrol tax slug on, but after a while he realised this would be a good way of increasing tax revenue through the back door. Let me briefly deal with the taxation record of the Fraser Government. This is the party that came into office saying: ‘We will reduce taxation in Australia’. In its very first Budget it increased total taxation revenue by no less than $2, 800m. In its second Budget it increased taxation by $ 1,700m. In its third Budget it increased taxation by $ 1,900m. In its fourth Budget it increased taxation again by $3, 800m. This Government has imposed on the Australian people a total tax increase of $ 10,200m despite its claims that it was coming into office for the purpose of reducing taxation. Those figures are in the Budget Papers, so they cannot be disputed. A $ 10,000m increase in taxation since Mr Fraser came to office!
No one would deny that this issue is of great national concern. It would be foolish to suggest that we should spend our time in a simple debate and argument about our national energy policy. It was for this reason that last year the Opposition spokesman on energy, Mr Keating, made an offer to the then Minister for National Development, Mr Newman, and said: ‘We as an Opposition are prepared to sit down with you and see whether it is possible to work out a common policy on energy for this country because so many factors that we have to deal with go beyond the scope of what one party can do in government or what the other party can do’. Yet that offer was rejected out of hand by the Minister. Mr Newman said: ‘We would not even be prepared to sit down and talk to you unless you are prepared to accept our petrol taxing policy’. What sort of a chance does the Australian motorist have? What sort of a chance does the ordinary Australian have on a great national issue like this when a Minister in the Fraser Government is saying: ‘We are not even prepared to talk to you about the common factors that we could possibly arrive at’? Had that offer been accepted at that time maybe this debate would not have been necessary today. But in view of the fact that the Government wants to go its own way, it is legitimate for us to be critical and certainly to consider the effects of its policy on the Australian people.
Despite the massive increases in taxation I have just referred to, we believe the Government is determined that its taxing policy will go on. I will come to that in a moment. At present petrol tax is going up and up and up. It is like inflation, unemployment, interest rates and expenditure on VIP aircraft. They are all going up. This seems to be the web in which this Government has now caught itself. In other words, the Government’s policy is essentially one of taxation.
While it is in my mind let me come back to the comment made by Senator Carrick. The Minister said that Mr Keating, the Opposition spokesman on energy matters, had claimed that the Labor Party would reduce the price of petrol. At no stage did Mr Keating suggest that a Labor Government would reduce the price of petrol. We said in our October 1 975 policy decision that oil discovered and developed prior to that date would be marketed in Australia at the market rate. We never said we would reduce that price. We did believe there was a need to increase exploration and the incentive was given to oil companies to increase exploration and development work. So it is quite erroneous and misleading for Senator Carrick to distort what Mr Keating has said. Mr Keating ‘s policy has been consistent, and we have been consistent on this issue. In fact, if there has been any inconsistency it has been on the part of the Fraser Government because it said it would stage the increases in the price of petrol in accordance with the specific plan that was outlined in 1976. That plan, of course, was thrown overboard when it became apparent that Mr Fraser was desperate for revenue in order to get his own Budget position straight. Even after all this gigantic rip-off that has gone on, we have seen very little improvement in the deficit position of this Government.
I now turn quickly to the position which the Government finds itself in. In the last few days we have been endeavouring to get from the Government an understanding on where it stands in relation to its import parity policy. Several Ministers have said in the plainest terms that this is the only sensible policy which we could possibly adopt. In a statement on 27 June last year the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser)and we understand from Senator Carrick that this is the definitive Government position- said:
In the 1978 Budget the Government decided that all Australian produced crude oil would henceforth be priced to refineries on import parity levels and that consumers of petroleum products would from that time pay prices based on world oil prices.
In the same speech he said:
The choice is between paying realistic prices for petroleum products or not having access to adequate supplies. There are no other options . . . Either way, we pay world parity prices.
On 1 7 November last year the Minister for Trade and Resources, Mr Anthony, said: lt needs to be understood that without proper and realistic pricing policies future security of supply becomes much less certain, and is placed at much greater risk. The Government has adopted import parity pricing for fuel because that is the only reasonable policy Australia can follow.
But what do we find happening at the present time? Yesterday Senator Carrick, in answering questions directed to him would only say: ‘That is our policy in principle ‘. We do not really believe it. The reason we do not believe it is that we are now finding that there is a revolt among the back benchers on the Government side, who are in touch with the electorate, who are talking to people and who know what the Australian public thinks about this world parity pricing policy of Mr Fraser. They are getting cold feet. Only six months ago the Prime Minister said: ‘This is the only policy for Australia’. It was reiterated by his Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) in
November and was restated by his Minister for National Development and Energy in this chamber in the past couple of days. The real issue is that they are looking for a way out. In the speech the Prime Minister made in June he said: We are going to adopt a more flexible policy’. That is the excuse the Minister used yesterday and in a Press statement of 5 February. He said: We are not going to pass on the $2 increase in the price of imported oil which recently was introduced by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries; we are going to defer that’.
Despite the so-called deferrals, it is quite obvious that the various Ministers are not sure exactly what their policy is. On the one hand, Senator Carrick says: ‘The policy is now more flexible. When there is a price increase by OPEC we may defer it, depending on the circumstances’. The Government will defer it because, frankly, it is frightened. It is running away from its policy. It knows that its policy is in ruins. Senator Carrick realises that now. An interesting statement was made on 29 January by the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Nixon. It illustrates the contradictory nature of what is happening in the Government. He said:
By allowing prices to come through as they occur -
I stress the words ‘as they occur’there is far less dislocation caused in the community.
I put it to Senator Carrick that he ought to explain to us which policy is the policy of the Government. Is it the policy enunciated by Mr Nixon in that statement of last month, or is it the policy which he has been outlining to us in this chamber today? Is it true that, as so many of the back benchers on the Government side are saying privately to us now, import parity pricing is finished because, despite all the support which the Government has given to it in the past, the Government finds now that that policy is no longer tenable, either politically or economically?
I close on the comment with which I began my speech. This policy is designed to tax the Australian people through a back door method simply because this is a government which cannot manage the economy, as it said it could do from 1975 onwards. The Government needed the extra revenue. The only way to get it was by imposing a regressive form of taxation. It does not matter to the Government what people’s income level is, as long as it can rip the tax off them- the $ 10,000m of additional tax which Mr Fraser has taken from the Australian people since he has been in office. What has happened is all part of that plan.
– I am sure the people of Australia will be just as disappointed as I was in the recently concluded speech of Senator Wriedt because they and I do enjoy him when his heart is in what he is saying and when he really understands his subject. In this instance I am, and the people of Australia will be, extremely disappointed. Not only has Senator Wriedt failed to demonstrate any significant difference between the Australian Labor Party policy and our policy- there are some very real and very alarming differences, which I will demonstrate later- but also he has not proved or disproved the point that my leader, Senator Carrick, made, namely, that the policies of the Labor Party will result in higher, not lower, oil prices. He has not challenged that point which was made by Senator Carrick.
I not only challenge the Labor Party to demonstrate that through its policies oil prices will be lower but also congratulate the Government for its courageous actions. I do not deny, and I do not think any honourable senator on this side of the House will deny, that our decisions with regard to world parity pricing for oil will result in a higher inflation rate, a higher interest rate and an increase in the consumer price index. Nobody denys that. It is a direct result of our policies. I regard our decisions as courageous decisions, inevitable decisions, the right decisions. Let us remember that they were made and enacted in an election year. They were a great display of courage. How easy it would have been to have taken the easy way out, the easy way which the American Government and, indeed, the Canadian Government opted for until very recently.
The difference which I alluded to between Labor Party policy and our policy on oil pricing is that- I certainly realise and agree that this is one of the major reasons our Government would not agree to have a unified policy with the Labor Party- the Labor Party wants to set up an Oilybank. We saw what a disaster Medibank was. The Labor Party wants to set up an Oilybank. What an absolute disaster. They want to socialise the exploration, development and retailing of oil. In 1975 the people of Australia demonstrated what they thought of Medibank. This year they will demonstrate what they think of the Labor Party’s proposed Oilybank. I do not deny that the policy of world parity pricing is creating difficulties for export industries, particularly the farming industry. But I remind the Senate of the Government’s actions which are mitigating against that. I remind it first of all of our actions in reducing the rate of inflation, particularly in relation to countries which buy products from us. That is causing our products to be much more competitive overseas. Any figures which can be extracted prove that that is so. Exporters are enjoying one of the most lucrative times they have ever enjoyed.
As I said, the Government recognises that rural producers are in a particularly difficult position. I remind the Senate that the Government has continued the excise on diesel fuel, which means that diesel fuel costs about 5c a litre less than it otherwise would have cost. I remind the Senate also that the fuel freight subsidy scheme was reintroduced after Labor chopped it off in 1973. The fuel freight subsidy means that the wholesale price of fuel will not vary by more than 0.44c a litre anywhere in Australia. That policy will cost the Government $120m in 1980-81. I remind the Senate also that recently the Government reintroduced a $80 a tonne subsidy for liquefied petroleum gas for household use. That is of direct advantage to the rural producers. The Government in consultation with the rural industry is looking at other measures. The Government is very conscious of the fact that rural producers have large distances to travel. They have limited alternatives in the mode of transport they can use. In most cases they have no viable fuel alternatives, although it looks as if reasonably soon vegetable oil will be a practical alternative to dieselene.
I remind the Senate also that, as far as policy is concerned, Mr Don Eckersley, the President of the Australian Farmers Federation and a very good Western Australian- most Western Australians are very good, but he is a particularly good Western Australian- has been appointed by the Government as a member of the National Energy Advisory Committee. That organisation is the main independent policy adviser to the Government. I point out also that Mr Eckersley is a member of the National Petroleum Advisory Committee, which determines priorities if and when shortages of petroleum occur. Of course, it is pretty obvious that unless we adopt the policies we are adopting shortages will be more likely to occur than is likely now. As I said before, exporters are becoming more competitive. That is a direct result of our policies. I suggest that if the Government wants to take further action to offset the effect of world parity pricing on people who are particularly hard hit- I mean the farming community- it should look at the Crawford report, the White Paper on manufacturing industries and the Industries Assistance Commission reports, which are in profusion, and it should reduce tariffs wherever it can. At least it should provide a tariff compensation for farmers.
I also remind the Senate that unless we adopt a world parity pricing policy, the alternatives to liquid petroleum will be uneconomical to produce. Who will get the most benefit in the shortterm from the production of alternatives other than the farming community? Already the establishment of an organisation has been proposed, funded by other fairly large organisations in Australia, to produce ethanol from rural production. It will be produced from wheat in the first instance and, ultimately, from other products. Methane can be produced from farm products. Oil produced from oil seeds is now almost a viable alternative. Perhaps even hydrocarbons can be produced from plants. If we artificially create a lower, subsidised price for oil, the alternatives which can be produced on the farm and which will be a profitable source of production for farmers will not get off the ground.
I am the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources. The Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the replacement of petroleum based fuels by alternative sources of energy. It has received over 80 submissions so far. Not one of those submissions, to my knowledge, disagrees with the Government’s policy on world parity pricing. In spite of the fact that Senator McLaren, in his inimitable way, did his very best to get many of the witnesses to disagree with our policy, he was unable to extract the son of information he wanted. Representatives from two of the major oil companies of Australia appeared before the Committee to give evidence. As a result of questions I put to them they admitted- I say ‘admitted ‘ because the inquiry would have been a perfect vehicle for them to criticise Government policy if they had wished- that no country gives greater incentive for oil exploration than does Australia.
– That would have been sworn evidence, wouldn’t it?
– That was sworn evidence. It is available for inspection by any honourable senator. When Senator Gietzelt was speaking prior to Senator Collard, he used a strange phrase. He referred to that strange animal the deficit. I suggest that although the Labor Party may not have caused the conception of that strange animal, the gestation was a very rapid one. It has now turned out to be an animal totally different from that which was intended when it was first conceived. Is it any wonder that Senator
Gietzelt should have used the term ‘that strange animal, the deficit’ as though he dismisses it because it means nothing? He further suggested that the only reason why people reduce their consumption of liquid petroleum is that they are energy conscious. He suggested that the price mechanism makes no difference to the amount of fuel used. That suggestion is absolute poppycock. Together with Senator McLaren I represented the Senate at an Inter-Parliamentary Union conference held in Venezuela early last year. In Venezuela the going price for petrol is 1 7c a gallon. If honourable senators want a classic example of the extravagant wastage of liquid petroleum it can be seen in that country. I saw the largest number of cars that I have ever seen in my life. They were being driven at the fastest speeds I have ever seen in a major city of the world. Venezuela is one of the largest oil producing nations in the world. It, above all countries, should be conscious of the limited resources that it possesses.
I conclude by saying that the world parity pricing policy in effect will be very little different from that of the Labor Party. It is the matter of achieving the result that counts. As I pointed out at the commencement of my address, the Labor Party, instead of adopting a sensible policy which is accepted by the whole community, would set up an ‘Oilybank’- not a Medibank- a socialised, controlled, exploration, development and retailing system in Australia. I suggest that whenever the next Federal election takes place the people of Australia will tell us what they think of that policy. Other than that, the only possible difference in the policy of a future Labor Government would be the setting of higher petrol prices. Our policy is achieving conservation of a finite resource. It is achieving an increase in exploration activity. It is creating an increase in the economical use of oil reserves. It is causing encouragement for the development of alternatives. Not only is it doing that but it is also providing the Australian motorist with some of the cheapest fuel in the world. I move:
– According to the Notice Paper, two hours are allowed for this debate. We have had only one hour and 40 minutes of debate.
– There can be no discussion on this motion. I put the question:
That the business of the day be called on.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
-by leave-This notice of motion is for the disallowance of one provision in the Australian Federal Police (Discipline) Regulations. The notice of motion was given on behalf of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee when the time for giving notice in respect of the regulations was about to expire and the Committee had not concluded its correspondence with the responsible Minister on the regulations. The Committee has now concluded that correspondence, and has received undertakings from the Minister for Administrative Services (Mr John McLeay) in relation to the regulations.
The Committee was concerned with Regulation 20 which provides that the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police may direct that a member of the force who is suspended pending investigation of an alleged offence shall not be paid salary during the period of suspension. It is to be noted that the Public Service Board is given the same power in relation to public servants. The Minister has given an undertaking that this power will be exercised only where a member is in gaol or has been absent without leave for a period of more than 48 hours and his whereabouts are unknown.
The other matter of concern to the Committee was the absence from the ordinance of a provision, such as was included in the old Australian Capital Territory Police (Disciplinary Provisions) Ordinance, to the effect that where a member is dismissed from the force following a conviction, and that conviction is reversed by the courts on appeal or otherwise quashed, the member is to be reinstated. The Minister has pointed out that whereas the old ordinance provided for summary dismissal of a member convicted of an offence, the regulations provide for proceedings to be taken against such a member and for a right of appeal in respect of such proceedings. The Minister has also given an assurance that these proceedings would not be concluded until any appeal lodged by a member against a conviction in a court was completely finalised.
The Committee has accepted these undertakings given by the Minister, and has resolved not to take any further action in relation to the regulations. Pursuant to notice of intention given yesterday, I therefore withdraw business of the Senate Notice of Motion No. 1 standing in my name. A member of the House of Representatives has given notice of a motion to disallow the whole of the regulations, but I am advised that he has done this on other grounds which are not the sort of matters which would concern the Committee.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle) read a first time.
(5. 12)- I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend section 4 1 of the Atomic Energy Act 1953 which concerns mining for prescribed substances on behalf of or in association with the Commonwealth, and to amend a number of the security provisions of the Act. Honourable senators will recall that a package of legislation was introduced in the autumn sittings 1978 to give effect to the Government’s decision on the further development of Australia’s uranium resources. The amendments introduced in the Atomic Energy Amendment Bill (No. 1 ) 1978 had the incidental effect of enabling commercial mining for prescribed substances in the States to be authorised by the Commonwealth. The amendments also attracted attention to the penal provisions of the Act. Since the passage of the Act in 1953 there has been a growing emphasis on the utilisation of uranium resources for non-defence purposes which has broadened the potential application of the security provisions of the Act beyond their original defence related purposes.
Clause 3 of the Bill addresses the first of these matters and confines the Commonwealth’s power in relation to the authorisation of mining for prescribed substances. The provision amends section 41 of the Act so that, other than with the consent of a State, the power conferred by that section to authorise mining in a State can only be exercised for defence purposes. Having regard to the particular position of the Northern Territory arising out of the Commonwealth ‘s ownership of uranium in the Territory, this amendment will not extend to the Northern Territory. There is, however, no change in the Government’s policy that uranium mining in the Northern Territory, other than the Ranger Project, should be authorised under Northern Territory legislation.
In relation to the security provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, the Government’s policy that penal provisions which were largely enacted for defence purposes would not be applied to ordinary commercial undertakings, was made clear in the debate on the Atomic Energy Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1978. In line with that policy the Government has decided to examine further the penal provisions of Part IV of the Act, having regard to their potential application to ordinary commercial undertakings, to restrict their operation in accordance with Government policy. The review of the penal provisions is currently underway. In the meantime, however, it has been decided that several amendments could be made to the penal provisions.
Clauses 4 and 5 of the Bill repeal sections 54 and 58 of the principal Act which provide respectively that no action can be taken against the
Commonwealth in the event of unlawful arrest, detention, search or seizure and that the doing of an act preparatory to the commission of an offence is itself an offence. Clause 6 of the Bill repeals section 60 of the principal Act which applies the stringent provisions of the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act 1947 to all works of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission including commercial undertakings. The clause substitutes a provision which requires that a notice be published in the Gazette, by the Minister, if the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act is to apply to a work of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission.
The amendments provided for in the Bill were formulated following receipt of a number of representations from State governments and other parties. I emphasise that the present amendments do not affect in any way the powers provided by the Atomic Energy Amendment Act 1 978 to enable the Commonwealth to implement nuclear non-proliferation safeguards in Australia pursuant to the Government’s international obligations. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Grimes) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 26 February, on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Upon which Senator Durack had moved by way of amendment:
At the end of motion add- and the Senate-
condemns the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union as a gross violation of the United Nations Charter and of Afghanistan’s non-aligned status; as involving acts of aggression and tyranny; as having a critically destabilising effect on the region; and as potentially the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1945;
notes that a significant majority of world opinion, including Islamic opinion, has viewed the invasion with grave concern- as expressed in resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly on 14 January 1980 and at the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers on 29 January 1980;
calls for the immediate unconditional and total withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in order to enable that country to regain its sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and nonaligned status; and to permit its people to determine their own form of government free from external intervention, oppression, coercion or other constraint;
with a view to the furtherance of the aforementioned objectives, urges all independent-minded nations to take action separately or in concert to register with the Government and people of the Soviet Union, their abhorrence of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan: and
urges the provision of humanitarian relief assistance to alleviate the hardships of the Afghanistan refugees in co-ordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and calls for the attainment of conditions necessary to permit the voluntary return to their homes of the Afghan refugees-
And upon which Senator Button had moved by way of amendment to the proposed amendment:
2 ) At end of the proposed amendment, add:
– I am staggered at the need for debate on the Opposition amendments in relation to the statement which the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) made on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on Australia’s assessment of and response to the situation in Afghanistan. I am staggered that the Parliament is not unanimous in its decision to boycott the Olympic Games. It has been noted that every Opposition member of both Houses when debating this matter has been very careful to condemn the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ invasion, or intervention, depending on which honourable senator or member is speaking. They are all very careful to condemn the USSR. If members of the Australian public had been present during Question Time on the first two sitting days of last week and had listened to the debate which has been going on here, they would have known that by the tone of Opposition members, by their actions and by the way the matter is being debated, the Opposition is completely sympathetic to the USSR.
– That is an outrageous lie.
– I will point out the excuses that Senator Grimes has made.
– We do not have to put up with that garbage in this place, surely.
– Order! Senator Grimes has used an expression that is not parliamentary. He knows that. He has accused Senator Walters of being a liar. That is the import of his statement.
– If we are to have people like Senator Walters rising in this place and persistently and deliberately misstating what has been said by members of this side of the House, it is not a Sunday school and I will not feel constrained to say anything other than that she is uttering untruths, lies or whatever one wishes to call them. If we are to turn this place into a Sunday school debating chamber by protecting members on the Government side who make remarks like that about decent people on this side, I am certainly not constrained to remain silent no matter what Senator Walters, Senator Baume or anybody else on the other side says.
– It is purely a matter of using language that we all know is acceptable. Senator Grimes will have the opportunity at the end of the honourable senator’s speech to claim misrepresentation of opinion expressed by him and his colleagues. I would be glad if he would withdraw the imputation of lies.
– So that I will have the opportunity to explain later, I will withdraw. I do it only for that reason.
– I wish to raise a point of order. I understand that withdrawal has to be unconditional. Senator Grimes has qualified his withdrawal in two ways.
– I wish also to raise a point of order. Senator Baume misunderstands the situation. The withdrawal of Senator Grimes was conditional; it was conditional on his being able to reply to what Senator Walters has had to say, because he was misrepresented.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. Mr President, you quite correctly pointed out that I would have the opportunity at the end of Senator Walters’ speech to make a personal explanation in regard to the sorts of things that she has said. It is within the spirit of that that I withdraw my interjection.
– I accept the withdrawal. I call Senator Walters.
– The Opposition has been making excuses for the intervention or invasion by the USSR. The Young Labor Movement has said that it would not pass a resolution condemning the USSR. None of the Labor leaders have disagreed with that in any way. By their silence, they have condoned it. Senator
Grimes said that all Australia should do is back the United Nations resolution that condemns the USSR intervention in Afghanistan. (Quorum formed). I do not think any Labor senators came into the chamber to answer the call for a quorum, even though Labor senators draw the same salary as Liberal senators. I was about to quote a statement by Senator Grimes. He stated:
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 has done.
At that time I asked how the Soviet Union had reacted. I will tell honourable senators how it has reacted, because Senator Grimes did not answer that question. The Soviet Union has reacted by sending in more tanks, poison gas and helicopters to reach the highest points in the mountains where the tribes of Afghanistan are hiding. It has reacted by dropping bombs and by causing bloodshed in the streets of Kabul. There has been an uprising in Kabul. The way the Soviet Union has reacted to the suggestion of Senator Grimes is by shooting people in Kabul and, according to the news today, making hundreds of arrests. That is the way it has reacted.
Perhaps we could look at the history of the USSR and its aggression. In the middle and late 1940s the world became used to the Soviet Union being, so it said, invited in to deal with dissent in the Communist bloc. So Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Rumania were all dealt with. And what did the Western free world do? It sat back and did a Senator Grimes.
– It was not an election year when they did it.
-The Western world sat back and tut-tutted and did not do anything. In 1956 there was not just an uprising; there was a full-blooded revolution in Hungary. Senator Cavanagh and Senator Grimes would remember the Hungarian people pleading with the West to help. We bear the guilt of not doing anything. The West sat back and listened to those pleas as the Hungarians were slaughtered and said: Hungary is too inaccessible. We cannot get there. We will shut our eyes and we will forget that the Hungarians are human beings pleading for our help. We will forget all about it’. So we did another Senator Grimes. We tut-tutted (Quorum formed). Mr President, the calling of quorums has taken five minutes of time. Obviously the Opposition does not like what I am saying. As I said, the world did another Senator Grimes, and just sat back and tut-tutted and did not do a thing for the Hungarians being slaughtered.
The young athletes who are objecting to the boycott do not remember. They have no idea of the Russian invasion of Hungary. They cannot remember the horrific slaughter of those people, so they are prepared to go to the Games. They have spent a lot of time in preparation, and I do feel very sorry for them. But they are prepared to go to the USSR, and salute the flag and go ahead with the Olympic Games. They do not remember the guilt.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. Is it in order for Senator Walters to claim that our athletes will go to the USSR in order to salute the Soviet Government and its foreign policies?
– There is no point of order,
-Mr President, for heaven’s sake, what the Opposition will resort to! I did not in any way imply that that is why they would be going. I said they would be saluting. I did not in any way imply that that was why they were going. We have to take stronger action on this occasion than we took in relation to Hungary. We cannot afford to behave in exactly the same way as we did then. If we have any doubt in our minds about whether banning the Olympic Games in the USSR will affect it, we only have to read from its own handbook which was handed out to party activists. I shall read just a few of the passages from that handbook. It reads:
The decision to give the honored right to hold the Olympic Games in the capital of the world ‘s first socialist state has become a convincing testimony to the general recognition of the historical importance and the correctness of the foreign political course of our country, of the enormous services of the Soviet Union in the struggle for peace, its contribution to the international Olympic movement, and to the development of physical culture and sports.
The handbook continues:
The Muscovites’ desire to take upon themselves the organization of the Olympics was a manifestation of the high ideals of the Peace Program, consistently carried out by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
The next extract reads:
To be awarded the right to hold the Olympic Games is a great honor, for it is an acknowledgment of the country’s merit.
The handbook also states:
Approximately 5 per cent of the equipment and materials for the games are being supplied by capitalist firms. Their interest in the Olympic Games is one concrete manifestation of international relaxation.
Five years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Afghanistan. I went from Kabul, travelled through to the Bamian Valley and up to MazariSharif which is on the border of Afghanistan and Russia. It was not until I travelled through that country that I became aware of how the Afghans over the centuries had withstood the onslaught of the various wars that had gone through their country. People there are of necessity rugged. Their country has extremes of climate, from the permanent snow in the Hindu Kush to the Khandahar Desert. They live on small plots of land that they farm intensively. They have nothing apart from their small blocks of land. They put up with this situation. Every day is a struggle for survival, and that struggle has stood them in good stead. When Genghis Khan came in and slaughtered every resident of the Bamian Valley they withstood that. Genghis Khan moved through their country. But he was unable to go into the high mountains to seek out all their tribes to kill. He did not have the technology of modern warfare. Of courses the USSR has. It has the helicopters, the bombs and the poisonous gas. So these simple people are being slaughtered by the USSR.
Senator Martin quoted from a propaganda document on events in Afghanistan which was put out by the Soviet Union. I wish to quote the section that Senator Martin quoted previously. (Quorum formed). Senator Martin quoted these words:
She pointed out that that was the excuse used by the USSR- it had to respond to friendly Afghanistan. I assure honourable senators that when I was in Afghanistan the people did not consider the USSR as friendly. They did not consider that the USSR was in any way assisting them by intervening in their affairs. They did not think that the United States or Britain was friendly. All that they wanted was to accept the assistance that was being given to them. It was pointed out to me, by many people to whom I spoke, that they were willing to accept help from the USSR in the form of roads and schools. They were also willing to accept similar help given by the United States.
Senator Grimes attempted to excuse the USSR by assuring us. He said: 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.
Senator Grimes continued:
Although Afghanistan remained a member of the nonaligned group of nations the Soviets obviously considered it very much in their sphere of influence and heavily subsidised the country . . .
That was their excuse, Senator Grimes said, for -
– Kissinger said that, not Grimes.
-No, the honourable senator is not quoting from Kissinger; he is putting his own view. I am quoting from Hansard. The excuse that Senator Grimes gives for the USSR’s invasion of that country is that it has always considered Afghanistan as in its sphere of influence. That was the reason for the invasion. (Quorum formed). Senator Grimes did not mention the assistance that the United States is giving. He assured us that the West had no interest in Afghanistan. He failed to say that United States aid over the past 30 years has been $500m in the form of agricultural improvements. The United States built the Kandahar airport, roads and schools.
Senator Chipp has also given excuses for USSR intervention. He said:
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.
So once again Senator Chipp joins the Labor Party in making excuses so that we do not have to take any action- only sit back, go tut, tut and hope that the USSR will take some action because Senator Grimes said that it was such a set back. If we, as a country, want the USSR to take notice of world opinion- the only way world opinion can reach the people of the USSR, because it has no free Press, is for the Olympic boycott to succeed- we must boycott the games. This is the only way that the Russians will know that countries disapprove of what they are doing. They will not know by a United Nations resolution; they will not know by any other means. They will not hear our tut, tuts, but they will know if the Olymplic Games are boycotted. This is the way that we can really do some damage in this field.
We heard from Senator Chipp a very emotional speech on the fact that politicians are destroying the Olympic Games. He said:
We, the politicians of the world, have destroyed everything good in international exchange and understanding. There is nothing left that is decent . . . 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 . . . looks as if it will not last even 100 years.
Senator Chipp used all the emotion he could muster when he referred to this most brilliant beautiful sport. I wonder whether the Israelis really felt that it was so brilliant, so beautiful, when Israeli team members were massacred in
Munich. Australian politicians have not upset the Olympic Games. As Senator Peter Baume pointed out last night, boycotts have occurred from the beginning of the Games. He went through the list of Olympic Games boycotts through the years. It is childish and stupid to say that the Olympic Games are brilliant, beautiful and unsullied. They are far from that. They have been sullied right from the beginning. In Munich they were sullied by the slaughter of the Israelies.
Senator Gietzelt said that while many Russians complain, by and large they are a very patriotic people; we must protect this; we must be careful that what we are doing does not stir up their patriotism. I gather that Senator Gietzelt is referring only to the USSR, not to satellite countries- certainly not to East Berlin. He is not talking about all those people who tried desperately and gave their lives to cross the Berlin Wall that went up overnight. He is not talking of the hundreds of refugees in East Berlin. If we as a Government, or as a generation, do not take strong actions- stronger than we took when Hungary was invaded- then we will have to explain our actions to the generations coming after us which will have to deal with further USSR aggression. While I am very sorry for the young athletes who will have to give up their chance to go to the Olympic Games in Moscow, I believe that alternative sites could be found. I believe that Melbourne could cater for a certain number of sporting events and I am looking forward to this being done.
-by leave-Mr President, I claim to have been misrepresented. I normally do not take this action but several times during the speech made by Senator Walters she claimed that I had, in fact, made excuses for the Soviet Union ‘s action in Afghanistan. I did not. I condemn it. I have condemned the Soviet system on many occasions in the past and I certainly condemn its action now. Senator Walters also alleged that I had said that all that Australia should do is support the United Nations’ motion. In fact, what I said was that if we were going to take action the effect of that action should be spread across the community and not be confined just to the Olympic athletes. I said that it should be action which would be considered by our people and by our neighbours to be consistent and that we should take such action against all nations who were aggressors against others. I am used to the sort of utterances made by Senator Walters. But on this occasion, as it is a very serious matter, I felt obliged to take up the matter and to reply in this way.
-by leave- Mr President, I also claim to have been misrepresented. Senator Walters made a similar accusation against me by saying that in my speech I made excuses for Russia ‘s intervention into Afghanistan. I think that if she reads my speech again she will find six occasions on which I condemned the Russians for their action. The whole thrust of my speech was to look for the reasons for the intervention, not to make excuses for it. I made the point of asking whether the reasons were defensive or offensive. In the event, the reasons that I advanced were almost identical to those in the report of the Office of National Assessments, which the Government discarded. At no stage did I make any excuses for the monstrous action of the Russians.
– We have just heard a speech from one of the coldest of the Cold War warriors on this subject of Afghanistan. I ask Senator Walters why she thinks the Soviets and the Hungarians went to the Olympic Games in Melbourne and competed against each other? Why does she think that the Soviet Union has just gone to Lake Placid and competed against the United States of America and all the other countries that went to the Winter Olympics? The Soviet Union went to Melbourne because it was not an Australian sporting event when the Games were held there. The Winter Olympics did not constitute an American sporting event because they were held in Lake Placid. The Olympic Games at Moscow will not be a Soviet sporting event. The Olympics are a world sporting event. But I do not want to spend any more time at the moment talking about the Olympic Games. Everybody on this side of the chamber condemns the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the strongest possible terms. Members of the Opposition deplore the attacks that have been made on us on this issue by people such as Senator Carrick and Senator Walters. In recent days Senator Carrick has made crude attempts at Question Time to try to ally us with the Soviet Union and to try to link us with the 18 nations rather than the 104 nations that supported the United Nations resolution on Afghanistan. In a speech made during the debate at the United Nations a speaker said:
It is the inalienable right of every country and people to freely choose the way and forms of its socio-political development. There is no reason whatsoever for justifying intervention by any one and jeopardising the independence of any people and ils sovereign right to decide its own destiny and wayoflife.
It is our firm conviction that this must be the paramount law of international relations and it must be respected without any exception. This must be the obligation of all the members of the international community and. would specially emphasise, the particular duty of the permanent members of the Security Council, because their privileges under the Charter must be interpreted exclusively as their greater responsibility and obligation in maintaining- and not in jeopardising- peace, security and stability in the world.
Later that ambassador went on to use these words:
The people of Afghanistan, as well as all other peoples, has the inalienable right to decide on its way of life and its destiny without interference from outside and without the presence of foreign troops on its soil.
As we have done in all similar situations, we support and join the request made by the non-aligned country members of the Security Council in their draft Resolution, contained in Document S/ 13729 of 6 January, 1980, calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan. All states should refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of this non-aligned country.
Senator Walters may like to know who that speaker was. It was Mr Komatina the Yugoslav Ambassador to the United Nations, and Yugoslavia is a communist country. Of course, at that debate another communist country, Rumania, abstained from voting. Yet people such as Senator Walters and Senator Carrick try to ally us with the 1 8 nations when they can see the contributions that are made by other nations, including communist nations, that finished up, if not voting with the 104, abstaining from the vote.
I am the Chairman of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee. I am also a member of the Labor Party’s National Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee. In New South Wales we have passed a resolution, which will go to our State Council, strongly deploring the actions of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, as has the New South Wales Labor Council.
– What about the Young Labor movement?
– I do not know what the resolution of the Young Labor movement was. The supreme governing body of our party in New South Wales is our State Conference. The next governing body is our State Council. The resolution passed by our Committee, I am sure, will be carried overwhelmingly, if not unanimously, by both of those bodies. Of course, the Labor Council of New South Wales, practically overwhelmingly, has carried a similar resolution, as has the Australian Council of Trade Unions. All sections of the Labor movement have been strong in their condemnation of what the Soviet Union has done. On an international level, the Labor Party is a member of the Socialist International. The Socialist International party leaders met in Vienna on 5 and 6 February. They put out a Press release. I do not intend to quote all of it. A small section of it stated:
The Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan has violated international law. as well as the sovereignty and right of self-determination of that country.
The Socialist International condemns the intervention of the Soviet Armed Forces in Afghanistan and calls upon the Soviet Union to withdraw all of its troops from that country.
In dealing with human rights, which has been talked about in this Parliament recently, the Press release stated:
The struggle for human rights is waged with great courage and sacrifice in all continents.
In Latin America many Democratic Socialists have lost their lives in the struggle. In the USSR, the harassment of Andrei Sakharov is a clear example of the constant persecution of those expressing dissenting opinions in communist countries.
The Socialist International is deeply concerned by the dangerous escalation of tension, the intensification of the arms race and of great power rivalries and the growing recourse to force in international relations.
Recent developments have only strengthened the conviction of democratic socialists that there is no rational alternative to detente.
The Australian Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said while in the United States that detente is dead. The Press release continued:
Relaxation of tensions, exchanges of information and views, the peaceful settlement of international disputes and active co-operation are needed so as to prevent the speeding up of the arms race and to guarantee social and economic development worldwide.
I suppose that could be said to be a statement from the international governing body of socialist parties with which the Australian Labor Party is affiliated. For that reason we reject the views of Senator Walters and Senator Carrick and the types of tactics that they have used to smear members of the Labor Party in this debate over the last two or three days that the Parliament has been sitting.
I believe that the Soviets miscalculated very badly world opinion on this issue. They have been condemned by the Islamic Conference which has now expelled Afghanistan. The Soviet Union has certainly suffered a serious set-back and a loss of face in the Third World and in the non-aligned movement. If one wanted to look for an example of that one would have to look only at the situation that occurred when Cuba was lobbying for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. It seemed quite assured of getting it before these events occurred. Cuba finished up having to withdraw from that race. It was the Cubans at the Havana nonaligned conference who were putting forward the proposal that the Soviet Union was the natural ally of the non-aligned movement. It is very interesting to note that there has been no Cuban editorial comment at all over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But I believe that we have to ask ourselves the question: Why did the Soviet Union invade Afghanistan? It is when we get the answer to this sort of question that we are accused by people on the other side of the chamber of supporting the Soviet Union or of being pro-communist. Was the invasion a surprise? I do not think that it should have been.
– Of course it was a surprise.
– The honourable senator should just listen and he might find out something. In 1968 the Brezhnev doctrine came out. He said that the Soviet Union has a right and a duty to engage in military measures where a socialist country was threatened even from internal dissent. I am not saying that I agree with that doctrine but in 1968 Brezhnev said it. Afghanistan had rapid changes of government and three leaders in quick succession. The country was in turmoil. Of course the Soviets regarded Afghanistan as a satellite.
– They had been there for two years.
– The Soviets had been there a lot longer than two years. Henry Kissinger, three or four years ago in a foreign policy statement, said that he regarded Afghanistan at that time as being 80 per cent Soviet. I think we have to ask ourselves another question. Were the Soviets concerned about an Islamic revolution similar to the one that had occurred in Iran? Did the Soviets see that there were dangers in their own country because they have 50 million Moslems in an area which is roughly adjacent to Afghanistan? Of course the Soviets saw it that way. We might not see it that way, but they did.
Senator Walters was talking about aid. Is the West really to blame for some of the events that have occurred in Afghanistan? In 1978, Western aid to Tanzania, which is a socialist state, was $522m. Western aid to Afghanistan in 1978 was $45m. We all have to ask ourselves this question: Do we accept, when hearing those figures, that Afghanistan had become a Soviet satellite?
– The Afghans didn’t.
– Obviously they did not, and they still have not. I reject the theory that the Soviet Union is searching for a warm water port. I believe that it has such a port in Aden at the moment. The Soviets certainly have facilities for refuelling and carrying out repairs. I went through the airport in Aden in July last year. A number of Soviet transport planes, large numbers of MiG 23s and a number of Aeroflot commercial flights were on the ground. I do not think that anybody would doubt that the Soviet presence in Aden shows that the Soviets have overwhelming use of port and airstrip facilities.
I reject the theory that the Soviet Union was trying to put pressure on Iran. The Soviet Union already has a large border with that country. I do not think that it is about to launch any invasion into Iran. The Soviets certainly have miscalculated. There is evidence that they have made military mistakes already. They carried out this attack in winter weather. Their campaign has been severely restricted because of this. They have been unable- this applies especially to aircraft- to get to some of the outlying areas in the country. Anybody knows by looking at the reports in the last two or three days that guerrilla fighting in Kabul is taking place after dark every night and that the Soviet forces are not even in charge of the capital. I believe that there is danger and that it will come when the thaw occurs- in the springtime. Then, Soviet troops, in trying to apprehend these guerrilla bands, certainly would run the risk of crossing over the border into Iran and crossing the border into Pakistan. This would not be in the form of conventional military attack. The danger is that that situation could occur in the near future. The image of the Soviet Union as a homeland for the Moslem people, something that the Soviets have been carefully supporting since 1922, has certainly been tarnished.
When dealing with this subject of armed aggression, it is very interesting to find that Government members are not heard talking about Chinese aggression. Nobody ever talks about Chinese aggression in Tibet or the other countries that China moved into. Of course, that is because this Government has a strong tilt towards China at the present stage. I believe that that could prove to be a mistake.
– A bit different from a few years ago.
– That is quite different from a few years ago when we were getting ready for the invasion that was to come from the yellow hordes to our north.
I deal now with some aspects of the Prime Minister’s speech. We on this side of the chamber reject his statement that this situation is potentially the gravest threat to international peace and stability since 1945. What about the Cuban missile crisis? The United States was only a matter of hours away from forcibly boarding Soviet ships; the United States strategic air command was in the air on full alert; nuclear weapons from both sides were armed. What about the 1973 Middle East war? What about the situation in the third and fourth days when, for a while, it looked as if Israel would be defeated in that war? Both of these instances were potentially greater threats than the situation in Afghanistan at the moment. That is not to say that there are not dangers in the area. But I believe that a lot of those dangers are internal.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was saying that we in the Labor Party rejected the Prime Minister’s statement that the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan is potentially the greatest threat to international peace and stability since 1945. I had given two examples- the Cuban missile crisis and the 1973 Middle East war. I was about to say that there are dangers in the area, of course, but I believe most of them are internal and they will not be solved by external pressure. The situation in Iran is worrying. The country is in decline. The armed forces are in chaos. The moderates that seem to be in government at the moment certainly would have only a shaky hold on that country and the Government could collapse at any time. In Saudi Arabia I believe the regime is in danger of collapsing. I believe this would be a greater threat to world peace than the situation in Afghanistan at the moment. What would happen if Western oil supplies were in jeopardy? Would Western countries intervene in Saudi Arabia? Would they be justified in propping up an unpopular regime in Saudi Arabia? What would be the consequences of such intervention?
We have heard of calls for the rearming of General Zia, in Pakistan, who runs a monstrous regime, a regime that killed President Bhutto, a regime that gaols journalists and critics. It is not that long ago that we had a debate in the Senate and unanimously deplored what was being done to democracy in Pakistan.
– Now he is the leader of the free world.
– Now he is the leader of the free world, as Senator Gietzelt says. This is General Zia, who said that $400m in United States military aid would be peanuts. He talks about one of the poorest countries in the world acquiring nuclear weapons. Of course India has the right to reject the rearming of Pakistan. It does not matter what one thinks of Mrs Gandhi. It is not a matter of what one thinks about Indian foreign policy. At least Mrs Gandhi won an election. At least she came to power through the ballot box in the world’s largest democracy, not the way General Zia came to power in Pakistan.
I am concerned to read into President Carter’s State of the Nation address, suggestions that limited nuclear warfare might be used in this area. This was summed up in one newspaper by saying the policy was ‘nuke the Ayatollah’. I am concerned when President Carter supports the deeply religious and fiercely independent people of Afghanistan. There is nothing wrong with that, but what about supporting the deeply religious and fiercely independent people of Iran? I believe it would be a disaster if the United States made in this region the same mistakes that it had made in Iran. We have seen the consequences of what happened when the United States toppled Mossadegh and installed the Shah? The United States finished up going back to the socialist Bakhtiar, trying to prop him up in the Government of Iran. Bakhtiar was one of the right hand supporters of Mossadegh and was removed from power years before.
I now want to deal with some of the other aspects of the Prime Minister’s speech. He said the Indian Ocean was an area of potential conflict. I think all honourable senators should look at the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on Australia and the Indian Ocean region. It was put down in 1977, and a section of that report reads:
The Committee has received a great deal of material, heard evidence and read official and news media pronouncements referring to the need for, or conjecture about, whether there is a “balance of power” between the two superpowers in the Indian Ocean. From the outset the Committee decided that the pursuit of an assessment of whether a “balance of power” exists or how it can be measured would be a futile and hypothetical exercise in the Indian Ocean context and to use the size of the existing United States, Soviet Union, French and littoral states’ navies, ship days, weighted ship days, port calls or respective fire power, present in the Indian Ocean at any given time, would not be a worthwhile undertaking. In a crisis situation or general war conditions these fleet sizes would not remain static and so many other factors vital to such events would come into consideration. The Committee has therefore not undertaken any such assessment and has not concentrated on measuring whether a “balance of power” exists or does not. Instead there is a general consensus among the members of the Committee that if a description of the superpowers naval and military deployments is necessary, the term a ‘matching presence” most benefits the current situation. The sophistication of modern weaponry together with the relative strategic unimportance of the Indian Ocean to the superpowers would inhibit them turning the area into a focal point of major naval deployment in the event of a generalised global conflict. The restrictive points of quick access to the Ocean, the lack and vulnerability of supporting facilities further detract from the viability of the region as a theatre of war.
Of course this talk about fire power, ship days and ship numbers is absolute nonsense. It is no use saying the Soviet Union had 3 1 ships in the Indian Ocean recently when the United States had only 21 there. A task force of the United States Seventh Fleet recently went to the Indian Ocean. When it left Pearl Harbour it had three super carriers- the Kittyhawk, the Midway and the Nimitz. When it sailed into the Indian Ocean two of the three super carriers remained as part of the task force. Any one of those carriers could inflict military defeat on any of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean. Any one of those vessels could defeat all of the combined military might of any one of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean.
It is interesting to compare the Prime Minister’s views on the Indian Ocean with those of his own colleagues. A few years ago he rejected the ideas of Mr Freeth. He rejected the ideas of the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, Senator Sim. It is interesting to note that they are both Western Australians and that they both put forward a view that the Soviets had a low priority in the Indian Ocean.
The Prime Minister talked about aid in the South Pacific. He talked about naval assistance also. At the moment part of our naval assistance is a trombone player in one country bringing the military band up to scratch and a carpenter doing maintenance in another country. This is the level of assistance that we are giving at the moment. Seriously, I believe we could do a lot with patrol boats and we could do a lot with surveillance in the South Pacific.
I wonder whether when the Prime Minister went to Paris he spoke to the French President about threats to peace in the South Pacific or about the recent election result in the New Hebrides, where the Vanuaaku. the English speaking party, had an overwhelming victory. I wonder whether he spoke to him about the lack of democracy in New Caledonia. If the Prime Minister is concerned about a threat to peace in the South Pacific the best advice he could have given the French President would have been to tell him to get out of the South Pacific as quickly as he could.
On the subject of an Olympic Games boycott and trade embargoes, I am one who believes they will not be successful. One has only to look at the solidarity that occurred over the situation in Iran when Japan bought all the Iranian oil that it could, and as quickly as it could. Let us look at the measures that the Prime Minister has said we will impose against the Soviet Union. As from 3 1 May Soviet cruise ship operations from Australian pons are to be suspended. That happens to coincide with the end of the cruising season. What will be the result of that? It means Australians will be unable to take cheap holidays. But Soviet freighters will still be calling into all Australian ports. For these freighters it will be business as usual. Another measure is the indefinite suspension of action on the two fishing feasibility projects involving Soviet participation and the withdrawal of previous approvals given in connection with these projects. The only people that will be hurt will be the Tasmanians.
Let us look at some of the other measures. One is the indefinite suspension of all visits by Ministers and senior officials between Australia and the Soviet Union. Another is the indefinite suspension of the periodic consultations conducted by senior representatives of the Australian and Soviet foreign ministries. I bet that when the people in the Kremlin read that they will be shaking. Another measure is nonacceptance of Soviet approaches to establish direct air services between Australia and the Soviet Union. It was the Labor Government- and Charlie Jones was the Minister- that refused Aeroflot the right to fly into Australia. In this list of measures there is no mention of rutile exports. There is no talk about a boycott or an embargo on rutile, a substance that can be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
– Nothing about Nareen wool going there either.
– There is nothing about the Prime Minister’s wool going to the Soviet Union. This really brings out the hypocrisy of the Government’s stand on this matter.
I now refer to the Olympic Games. Why should our athletes be the front line troops in this exercise? I want to quote from two articles about the sacrifice being made by our athletes: the sacrifice that is not being made by other sections of the community. An editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald entitled ‘Sacrificial star’ states:
From the time he was a schoolboy training for sports days, Peter Hadfield has dreamed of competing in an Olympic Games. This year the dream has come close to becoming a reality. Peter Hadfield, at 25, is a superb athlete. His event is the decathlon- the supreme test of athletic ability, lt demands strength, skill and endurance in 10 separate events from the high jump to the discus throw. In Australia, there is only one name linked with the decathlon and that is Peter Hadfield. He is the current Australian champion, the best this country has ever produced.
Achievement such as Peter Hadfield ‘s does not come cheap. It has cost him, personally and financially. Every spare moment is spent on training. In the morning before work, he runs. In his lunch hour he lifts weights. In the evenings he practices discus and plays team sport. In between, he teaches school full time and tries to have some home life with his wife and baby son. If he wants special coaching or overseas competition, he has to finance it himself. Before the Commonwealth Games, at which he won a silver medal, he took six month’s leave from his job and paid his fare to Paris for the training not available for him here.
Peter Hadfield has never taken much interest in politics or foreign policy. Now sport has become a potent political weapon and his Olympic dream is fading. If Australia boycotts the Moscow Olympics, it is unlikely that he will be able to afford to stay in training for the next ones. He will be bitterly disappointed if he has to sacrifice his dream, but if it is essential, then he will make the sacrifice.
If athletes such as Peter Hadfield are called on to give up four years of intensive preparation on behalf of Australia ‘s foreign policy, the Australian people and the Government will be in their debt. The Government may well feel it necessary to repay that debt with some form of compensation and recognition. Otherwise, the long pursuit of excellence in sport by Peter Hadfield and the other young men and women like him will have been empty and meaningless.
Another article, entitled ‘The cost of a boycott’, appeared in the Australian newspaper. It is a long article, but I want to quote only some small sections of it. It states:
And if Mr Fraser wins, he may face a bigger headache on the home front- hundreds of claims for compensation from angry, bitter champions.
As athlete Rick Mitchell, 24, of Melbourne, said yesterday: “The wheat farmers have a crop every year but an athlete has only one crop- the Olympic Games ‘ ‘.
Further on the article reports Rick Mitchell to have said: “These Games are my big chance- by 1984 I’ll be 29. The political argument just doesn’t turn me on . . . especially in the light of all the Australian Government has ignored.”
Another athlete is reported to have said: “If the wheat farmers receive compensation it is only fair we should expect substantial compensation” . . .
The article closes by stating:
What, for instance, could Rick Mitchell expect to get for those 3,000 lost hours? The national average wage being $237.70 a week, or about $6 an hour, could he look forward to a Reserve Bank cheque for$ 18,000?
Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to have the full article incorporated in Hansard.
Leave granted. 77ie? document read as follows-
If the Federal Government has its way and slops Australian athletes competing at the Moscow Olympics, an excellent case can be made for compensation. Just as farmers may suffer financially by any government-imposed trade boycott so will athletes by a Games ban. But in total, those athletes stand to lose far more than money, reports Lyndall Crisp
The Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, and the Australian Olympic Federation appear to be on a collision course over whether Australia sends a team to the Moscow Olympics.
At stake is more than the issue of demonstrating the country’s abhorrence of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
As the AOF and athletes see it, a boycott would destroy the incentive and commitment of a whole generation of sportsmen as well as the financial credibility of the AOF.
They reason that if a boycott takes place, today’s schoolage athletes will not be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to train for future Olympics.
On top of that there is a heavy financial input every Olympian hopeful has wasted in trying to reach his and her goal.
Financially, their cause is not so different from the wheat farmers.
The embargo on grain sales to the Soviet Union has wheat farmers screaming for compensation- but what about the hundreds of sportsmen who have spent years training for the Olympic Games only to be faced with a government order, if it comes, to stay home?
As things stand, Mr Fraser is determined Australia ‘s team will not go. The AOF taking its lead from the International Olympic Committee, appears equally determined it will go.
And if Mr Fraser wins, he may face a bigger headache, on the home front- hundreds of claims for compensation from angry, bitter champions.
As athlete Rick Mitchell, 24, of Melbourne, said yesterday: “The wheat farmers have a crop every year but an athlete has only one crop- the Olympic Games”.
Mitchell, a track and field athlete, began running seriously at the age of 17. He competed in the Montreal Games in 1976, coming sixth in the 400 metres. Eighteen months ago he married Chris. “During the past four years I would have spent at least 3000 hours training,” he said, “lt has cost about $6000- in lost wages, medical and gym expenses and special vitaminsthis past year to keep in training. “I gave up work as a laboratory technician six months ago and my wife works at a recreation centre to support us. I’m working three hours a day in a supermarket so 1 can spend the rest of the day training. “The best way for the Government to keep us all happy is to let us go- if we don ‘t go for sure, we ‘II be looking for some kind of reimbursement. But it wouldn’t matter what deal they came up with, no amount of finance can heal the mind. “I know many athletes who feel the same way and I assure the Government well all be knocking at their door if there’s a boycott. “These Games are my big chance-by 1 984 I’ll be 29. The political argument just doesn’t turn me on . . . especially in the light of all the Australian Government has ignored.”
If there is no boycott, Australia will send about 2S0 sportsmen to Moscow to compete in some 26 categories. If the boycott stands, says the executive member of the Australian Olympic Federation, NSW, Phil Coles, $10 million already spent on preparations will have been wasted. “There would definitely be a case for across-the-board compensation.” he said. “Individuals, associations and the AOF would have to be reimbursed for the money they’ve already paid out of their own funds for training camps and equipment- “I’ve really had it at this point; 29 countries withdrew from the Montreal Olympics and no one noticed. What on earth do we do with all the donations we Ve received, there ‘s no way we can return them. “Although we received the ($700,000) ever, we had to make up $2.5 million. In 1977 we launched our first national marketing program and as a result a number of companies donated $50,000. Our credibility will be shot to pieces if there’s a boycott- no company will commit themselves next time if they know a government can step in at the last minute and stop everything. “And what about our future champions? They are going to look at the situation now and say “no way”. They are not going to chance making all the necessary sacrifices only to end up in a mess like this.
Decathlon champion Peter Hatfield, 25, of Sydney, has strong feelings on the subject. “If the wheat farmers receive compensation it is only fair we should expect substantial compensation, “ he said. “I missed qualifying for the last Olympics by a few seconds. This is my big chance. For the past four years I ‘ve been training five hours a day, seven days a week. It’s cost me about $3000 in 12 months. “lt is terribly disappointing but we’re all hanging in there until the decision is made.
– I do not believe that the athletes can expect compensation. This Government has a lousy record on sport. The Labor Government established the first national sporting ministry that Australia has had and this Government certainly has not done very much in that direction since then. If this Government had spent $ 15m or $20m over a period of four years in preparing the Olympic Games team perhaps it would have a case for turning around and saying to the athletes: ‘We have subsidised you. We have paid for the team; therefore, we have a right to tell you that you can’t go to the Olympic Games’. But what has the Government given the athletes? Recently it gave them a paltry half a million dollars and I think the total amount it has given for the Games is now $800,000.
We have to look at the question of whether a boycott can be effective. I do not believe that it can be effective. I believe that the Canadians will attend the Olympics. On looking at Margaret Thatcher’s latest statement, it seems that the British Olympic Federation is going to make the decision in Britain. I certainly believe that the New Zealand team will go. After all, who remembers what happened in Montreal? The Olympic Games in Montreal were boycotted by 29 nations, mostly African nations. People say: ‘The Games were boycotted by mainly African nations’. But let us look at the countries they included: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, just to mention three of them. All of them were certain gold medal winners at the Montreal Olympics.
Why does the Government not put its views to the athletes, ask the Australian Olympic Federation for its view and see what decision the athletes come up with? Surely Australian athletes, if they are properly briefed, will not go off to the Moscow Olympics and be duped by Soviet foreign policy propaganda. The Prime Minister has said that if the Australian team goes to Moscow it will mean that it supports the Soviet action in Afghanistan. I believe that that statement is nonsense. If the Soviets go to the Los Angeles Games, will that mean that they support United States foreign policy? Does that mean that all the countries which recently were represented at Lake Placid support the foreign policy of the United States of America? It is a statement reeking of hypocrisy from a Prime Minister who continues to sell his wool to the Soviet Union.
Recently many members of the media in this country have stated that in fact the Prime Minister is looking for a khaki election. We in the Australian Labor Party might finish up giving him a green and gold election. We reject the suggestion that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is the greatest threat to world peace since 1945. We deplore what the Soviet Union has done in Afghanistan and we deplore the efforts of honourable senators on the other side of the chamber to link members of the Labor Party and ally them with the Soviet Union.
– The Senate is continuing the debate on Australia’s assessment in response to the issues in Afghanistan. The issue before us is the security of Australia. I believe there are two fundamental planks to that issue of security. The first is the need for Australia to develop a response so that it can in the best way possible, it being a small nation, develop its own defence capability. The second and most important plank is the development and continuance of Australia’s alliance and its strong alliances with those nations with which it has established firm links over recent years. When we talk of recently, we are talking literally in terms of 30 or 40 years. Of course, as we heard from Senator Melzer last night, Opposition senators do not like to be reminded that it is Australia which owes so much to its alliance with the United States of America over a long period. Consequently, our relationship with that country is fundamental to Australia’s defence. We notice that consequently, at the present time the Government is continuing its discussions with the United States toward the development of a stronger ANZUS alliance. (Quorum formed).
I was making the point that Australia’s defence effort relies on the two fundamental planks of developing our own defence capability within Australia and particularly of ensuring that our alliance with the United States and other countries with whom we have been traditionally aligned are in fact developed and maintained. It seems to me quite clear that that is the fundamental issue which is before us tonight. It certainly is the issue to which the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) addressed himself in his statement which was read out in the House of Representatives last week. But in no way has the Labor Opposition in any part of this debate addressed itself to that question. From the Opposition ‘s point of view it is not so much a question of the security of Australia, but rather how it can best excuse the Soviet Union for its actions in Afghanistan. Those actions are the fundamental drive behind the Opposition’s maintenance of this debate at the present time.
In no way has the Opposition sought to develop the principles by which Australia should remain secure and develop its relationships with the liberal democracies of the world. In no way have we seen that linkage established. In fact, Senator Melzer in her speech last night, spent most of the mercifully short half hour in which she spoke decrying the United States of America. She said that we cannot go all the way with LBJ, and used all those outmoded, outdated, irrelevant comments which have no concern whatsoever with the present circumstance in this nation and the problem that we face around the world at the present time. The fundamental problem that we are facing today is that the threat of the Soviet invasion- not incursion or invitation but invasion- into Afghanistan represents a determined effort to expand Soviet influence throughout South- West Asia. That area is a critical strategic area in today’s world. We have noted the events over the last 12 months in Iran. I can recall debating those events with opposition senators and with my colleagues 12 months ago. We were talking about developments which have, in fact, blown into the confused situation that we find today.
The development of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ attack into Afghanistan represents a fundamental threat in strategic terms to the liberal democracies of the world. It is those liberal democracies which are our relations, our allies, and upon which we need to rely in order to defend this country against Soviet aggression in the future. Normally, the Soviets have acted in a more incipient manner than they have in this latest instance. We have seen incipient and third party opportunities being developed in Africa. We have noted the use of Cuban surrogates in Angola. We have seen the same sorts of troops appearing in various places around the world, particularly Ethiopia and Somalia. Of course, there have been earlier attempts to undermine the governments of countries such as Egypt and other places. Over the last 30 years we have seen the use of brute force by the Soviet forces in Czechoslovakia in 1 968 and in Hungary in 1 956.
Even now the USSR, a nation of around 260 million people which claims to love the world and love peace, is spending 13 per cent of its gross domestic product on so-called defence. No one today can believe that those moneys are to be spent on defence; rather they are to be spent on offence. When we compare the USSR’s defence spending with that of the other great nations of the world we see that the USA, for instance, is spending only around 6 per cent of its gross national product on defence. Australia is spending about 3 per cent. Other nations are spending significantly less. Can we really believe that the Soviet Union feels so threatened by countries such as the United States of America and Australia which spend significantly less on their defence than it does, that it needs to spend at least $ 1 in every $7 on defence? I believe that the logic of that argument falls apart. The Soviet Union is not interested in defence. If it were it would spend significantly less. Clearly it has an advantage over the rest of the world in terms of defence expenditure.
It is interesting to read statements by some of the apologists in Australia for the actions that have been undertaken by the Soviet Union. I will quote from a pamphlet named ‘Survey’ which came to me today in the mail. I noticed that the chief of the editorial panel of this magazine is none other than Mr Pat Clancy, Federal Secretary of the Building Workers Industrial Union of Australia. I also noted that that union was particularly active in trying to influence the Australian Council of Trade Unions to take a hard line opposing the Government’s position with regard to Afghanistan. Of course we know that he is a leading member of the Communist Party in Australia.
– So what!
-Senator Mcintosh says: So what! ‘. I believe that this matter is of importance. It should be known by people who may not understand the connection. Let me quote from the magazine. It contains the sort of explanation that is put forward by the apologists in Australia for the Soviet action in Afghanistan. (Quorum formed). Before the quorum was formed, I was about to quote from a magazine known as ‘Survey’ produced by an editorial panel which includes Mr Pat Clancy from the Building Workers Industrial Union.
– The Soviet splinter group of the Communist Party.
-The address given in the magazine is Box 9, Trades Hall, Goulburn Street, Sydney 2000. Senator Sibraa may know of the address.
– None of those people is a member of the Labor Party.
– I am not saying that they are. I am telling the honourable senator who they are. Apparently they are supporters of the -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bonner)- Please address your remarks through the Chair and ignore the interjections from the other side of the chamber.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I will proceed to quote from the magazine ‘Survey’ which describes the position of the apologists for the Soviet action in Afghanistan. It states:
The Government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan firmly maintains that this request was a consequence of the steadily growing military incursions and provocations of the Afghan people’s foreign enemies and of world imperialism. The gains of our revolution -
That is the revolution of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan- were in danger from these forces, which clearly wanted to restore the old order and bring their supporters to power in our country. If the enemies of the Afghan people had received an opportunity to act freely, massive repressions, outrages upon the sacred Islamic religion and our national traditions would have continued in Afghanistan.
That article highlights clearly the apparent concern of the so-called democratic republic of Afghanistan- that is, the puppet regime that was set up by the Soviet Union there- for the sacred Islamic religion and national traditions of Afghanistan. Yet we find that the Islamic world has voted quite clearly and unanimously against the incursion of the Soviet Union into Afghanistan. It is clear that there is no connection between the Afghan request and the future of Islamic and national society in Afghanistan. For the apologists, the members of the socialist and communist parties in Australia, to apologise for Soviet activity in that way is merely to mislead the Australian people if they can get enough coverage from their point of view.
Let us look again at the geo-political situation in the Middle Eastern region. It is interesting to look at some of the Australian Labor Party’s points of view in this regard. As I mentioned earlier, about a year ago the Senate debated a statement of the Foreign Minister, Mr Andrew Peacock, in relation to the geo-political situation which highlighted particularly the Middle East. That was a matter which was of great concern at the time because there had been an overturn of the Government in Afghanistan and there had recently been a revolution in Iran with the replacement of the Shah by another form of government.
I came across a statement by the Australian Labour Party spokesman for foreign affairsnone other than the Leader of the Opposition in this place, Senator Ken Wriedt- in the December issue of the Australian Outlook which is produced by the Australian Institute of International Affairs. One would have expected that this would be a most authoritative statement of the foreign affairs position of the Australian Labour Party. I read this article with a great deal of interest believing that I was about to learn in detail the real concerns of the ALP. I went through it carefully and found that not in any part of this article was there any mention of either the Middle East or South West Asia. The article was dated and written apparently on 27 June 1979. Clearly this followed the debate in this place where the geo-political statement was laid down last year. Clearly it followed the events in Indo-China which we knew of about a year ago. We also knew of the great changes taking place in the Middle East but nowhere had the foreign affairs spokesman for the Opposition said anything whatsoever about the Middle East or South West Asia in his statement to the people of Australia on what he believes is the future direction of foreign policy. ( Quorum formed).
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bonner)- Order! I will not tolerate the unruly interjections that have occurred in this chamber tonight. I expect honourable senators to behave with decorum.
– I was about to quote from this article by Senator Ken Wriedt which was reported in the December 1979 issue of the Australian Outlook magazine of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, wherein Senator Wriedt made the only reference which I could get close to on a view about what the ALP thought of Soviet activity in South West Asia, which was under the heading ‘Southeast Asia and the South Pacific’. The article states:
Our longer term interests -
I presume he means Australia-
Are that the Americans maintain their presence in the region, and they are more likely to do so if that presence does not involve them in large commitments.
A reduced involvement by the Americans carries some benefits. It is certainly not in our interests to see a large Soviet involvement in the region, and a reduced American involvement may encourage the Soviet Union not to compete there.
Now the logic of that statement is that the less the Americans are involved in the Indian Ocean, the South East Asian region or the Pacific region, the less will be the Soviet involvement.
– I raise a point of order. It is not in order for the honourable senator to pound the desk while he is speaking. It does interrupt the sound system in this place. Could I suggest that when a quorum is called and being formed the honourable senator ought not to mutter into the microphone, especially if he is the person speaking, because he, Senator Messner, made the comment: ‘I have not much to say anyhow’.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTThere is no point of order. Carry on, Senator Messner.
– I was really wanting to make the point earlier that -
– He should not pound the desk.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! Senator Georges, there is no point of order. You have had your say. I ask you to be silent while the honourable senator is on his feet and addressing this chamber.
– I will not repeat that passage from that important article written by Senator Wriedt other than to make the point -
– Because it is right.
-Of course. What he said was that the less the United States of America has power in this region, the lesser will be the Soviet power. If honourable senators can demonstrate to me that that is true, I will be very surprised and so will the rest of the Senate and the people of Australia. Soviet activity has increased in South West Asia.
Let us turn to some of the actions taken by this Government. We know that various sanctions such as the embargo on grain supplies and other matters have been outlined. The key note in this area obviously has to be the effectiveness of particular issues taken. Even Senator Wriedt acknowledges that in this same article, which, unfortunately, I will not have time to quote. However, there is one area in which there is a very significant chance of effectively getting a sanction against the Soviet Union and that is in the area of the Olympic Games, with a boycott of those Games. I know that Senator McLaren will not believe my argument about this so I seek to incorporate an article from the Australian dated Monday, 25 February 1980 which is headed: There are no medals for the dead ‘.
Leave not granted.
– I would like it noted that Senator Sibraa incorporated in Hansard a huge article from another newspaper. It seems that the Australian Labor Party will not play fair. Since I do not have time to read all of the article, I will quote only a part of it. It states:
But political ineptness . . . should not be allowed to conceal the fact that a ban on all Australian exports to the USSR would go unnoticed by the Russian people. Indeed, a world ban on trade with Russia would have no immediate impact. But a boycott of the Games will have an immediate, sledgehammer propaganda effect.
That is what we, in this liberal democracy, seek. The article continues:
It will strike a powerful blow for peace. A trade boycott, history has shown, is more likely to cause war than to prevent it.
The Moscow Olympic boycott is not about winning gold, silver or bronze medals. It is about winning peace and freedom- for Afghanistan and for the world.
Those are ringing words, which I wish I were capable of spelling out in more detail. I refer to one or two other matters in relation to the Olympic Games issue. You, Mr Acting Deputy President, and I know but apparently the Opposition will not acknowledge that the actions being taken by the Soviet Union in relation to the Olympic Games are designed for political purposes. The Soviet Union knows that it stands to gain great propaganda effect for its actions in conducting the Olympic Games in Moscow. It knows that the rest of the world will read that as some endorsement of its foreign policy. I wish to quote from a Backgrounder article produced by the Department of Foreign Affairs, which refers to a passage from the Handbook for Party Activists given to party cadres in the Soviet Union. It states:
More than ever in the 80-year history of the Olympic Games, they have been made into an event of great social and political significance, actively influencing all aspects of communal life.
It is understood that in the Olympic Games, as in all major social events, international relations makes their imprint, demonstrating the arrangement of political and class forces in the world arena, the presence in the world of two opposed systems- capitalism, living out its last years, and socialism, growing and strengthening with every day.
It also states that the history of the Olympic movement is characterised by the constant struggle between progressive forces and reaction. The point is that the Soviet Union sees the Olympic Games as a political event, not a sports event. It sees the Games the way that Adolf Hitler saw them in 1936. Exactly the same parallels exist today as existed then. This is clear evidence of it. If we are so silly as to not recognise that fact, we deserve all that we will get. I wish to state again the point that Australia’s security relies on two fundamental things: Firstly, the build-up of our own defence forces, which the statement by the Prime Minister says we seek to achieve, and secondly, the maintenance of a strong, reliable relationship with our allies, especially those of the liberal democracies with whom we have so much in common.
Senator SIBRAA (New South Wales)-I wish to make a personal explanation.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bonner)- Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I did have newspaper articles incorporated in Hansard. There were two articles which I showed to the Minister for Social Security (Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle) when I began speaking at about 5.45 p.m. I want to make the point that I did not refuse leave to Senator Messner to have an article incorporated in Hansard, as was suggested by at least one honourable senator opposite who was trying to interject.
-Last Tuesday the Parliament had read to it a paper by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on the international situation, including the situation which has developed in Afghanistan. The Senate is debating an amendment moved by the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) to the motion that the paper be noted. That amendment states:
At 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 destabilizing effect on the region; and as potentially the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1 945;
notes that a significant majority of world opinion, including Islamic opinion, has viewed the invasion with grave concern- as expressed in resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly on 14 January 1980 and at the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers on 29 January 1980;
calls for the immediate unconditional and total withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in order to enable that country to regain its sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and 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 obhorrence of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; and
urges the provision of humanitarian relief assistance to alleviate the hardships of the Afghan refugees in co-ordination with the United Nations High Commissioner Tor Refugees, and calls for the attainment of conditions necessary to permit the voluntary return to their homes of the Afghan refugees”-
I thought it important to read that amendment to the Senate so that the people of Australia can hear what this debate is about. With the Press publicity and the performances in both Houses of Parliament over the last couple of days, they could be forgiven for thinking that the debate had nothing to do with Afghanistan; that it was only about political point scoring and politicians having a go at each other. I believe that we should come back to the subject. Is it too much to expect a united approach by this Parliament in the face of the Soviet imperialist invasion by 100,000 troops of an independent country? Is it too much to expect that we, the representatives of the people, in this free, democratic country, might unite in support of a resolution condemning that invasion and all that it implies?
I support the amendment moved by the Attorney-General. At a more appropriate stage I will seek to move an amendment which also will give a clear indication on behalf of the Parliament that we in this Parliament will not accept any formal invitation from the bogus Parliament of the Soviet Union- which has recently had its elections- as we did last year and the year before. When I say that I support the amendment of the Attorney-General it infers that on this occasion I am not inclined to vote for the Opposition ‘s amendment moved by Senator Button. Senator Button himself said that the AttorneyGeneral’s amendment was completely acceptable except for the words at the end of paragraph (a), which read:
Senator Button’s amendment also contains some provisions which I believe are not relevant to the situation in Afghanistan about which we are speaking. It is pinpricking in the extreme to suggest that we should not have a unanimous vote because of the inclusion of the word ‘potentially’. We can all have differences of opinion as to what has been the gravest threat to world peace since 1945. Who is to say that this invasion will not be the gravest threat to world peace since then? We do not have the hindsight of history available to us at this time. The use in the motion of the word potentially’ suggests that it may be the gravest threat. It may not be, but it may be. Why quibble over that particular word? I believe that it is a reflection on this Parliament that we could not have a unanimous vote which could then have been put forward to the Soviet Union and to world opinion.
The paper of the Prime Minister dealt with the nature of the crisis, the motives of the Soviet Union, world reaction and immediate policy decisions and the implications for Australia of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and it outlined what Australia has done. It also indicated that Australia, not before time, will have a greater commitment to its own defence. It dealt with the question of the South Pacific and South East Asia and with trade. (Quorum formed). The Prime Minister’s paper- and I agree- indicates that the Soviet Union does have the aim of world domination for its particular system of communist imperialism. But I believe that it has no plan to implement that aim. All it does is seize the opportunities as they arise, and these opportunities are provided by the weakness and vacillation of the free world. I ask: When are we to make a stand? How many Baltic nations, how many Polands, how many Hungarys, how many Czechoslovaks do we have to have before we take a stand? Do we not owe it to these people who seek to have their just human rights to take a stand now? After the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Brezhnev doctrine was launched as an excuse for that invasion. That doctrine stated that ‘a socialist state that is in a system of other states constituting a socialist commonwealth cannot be free of the common interest of that commonwealth’- obviously as determined by the Kremlin. But now we have gone a step further and we have what was termed by the Press in the Soviet Union in January of this year as ‘internationalist duty’. It is this extension of the Brezhnev doctrine which has enabled retrospectively the military action, by proxy or direct, by the Soviet Union in Angola, Eritrea and now Afghanistan- and tomorrow possibly in Mauritius.
Was it not Tolstoy who said that the course of history is the story of challenge and response? But for an adequate response to be mounted to a challenge values and organisation are needed. I am afraid that the free world, the Western world, lacks both. It is too concerned with its selfish pursuit of materialism to be able to rely on its values. Have we reached that stage? I hope that this country has not. It is of no use to respond with a volley of words. Some sort of effective action is needed. The volley of words, the tap on the wrist, mean nothing to the Kremlin. However, as soon as some effective action is sought, the cry goes up Detente, detente- relax, relax’ and no effective action is mounted. Never let us forget who popularised the use of that word ‘detente’. It was the now ousted President of the United States of America, Richard Milhous Nixon who, as the lawyer for the Pepsi-Cola company, himself used detente to establish ‘vodka cola’ buy-back operations with the USSR. He signed that agreement when President of the United States in 1972.
The situation in Afghanistan- so far as the free world is concerned- should be regarded as a try-on. That is why we should be worried about the invasion of Afghanistan. The basic reason for the blatant invasion by the Soviet imperialists of that country is to test the nerve, the will and the determination of Western countries, principally the United States, in the face of continuing Soviet expansion. In a sense the Soviet Union does this because it perceives that the West may not be capable now of responding. I am sad to see the divisions in this country and indeed amongst nations of the free world over the responses to that challenge. I do not always agree with the Prime Minister, particularly about a number of key domestic issues, but I do support his action in attempting to achieve some organised response amongst nations of the free world. I am very sorry that he was not successful in this mission.
I refer to another aspect of the Prime Minister’s paper, which we are debating- the question of defence. There will be a marked increase in defence procurement, recruitment and deployment. This is not before time. I have stood in this place- honourable senators on both sides of the chamber have stood in their places- and pleaded with the Government to do something about the rundown defences of this country. If nothing else the Afghanistan situation has ensured that there will be an increase in our defence preparedness. As a Tasmanian senator might I demand of the Government a response to the questions that I asked last week and this week, to which I have not had a reply. It has been said in this chamber that the Premier of Tasmania, Mr Lowe, agreed with the Prime Minister that the potential fishing venture between the Soviet Union and Tasmania should be put off. I agree with that. I think that it was based on very unsound grounds in the first place. I firmly believe that if we have the money we ought to be pouring it into the development of our own fishing industry.
Nevertheless let us look at the question that I asked the Government this week and last week. I asked for a simple assurance that Tasmania would be able to involve itself significantly in the economic and employment activities which would be generated by increased defence procurement, recruitment and deployment. I have not been given that assurance. It is a simple assurance that I seek and it must be given without delay. We are entitled to that assurance. The
Government has agreed to the policies enunciated in the Callaghan report. Sir Bede Callaghan said that Tasmania should receive a greater share of the spin-off of defence expenditure. On behalf of the people of Tasmania I make that request- in fact I make that demand.
Another aspect of the Prime Minister’s paper dealt with South East Asia and the Pacific. That is not before time. I feel that we should be moving towards a South East Asia-Pacific community with common trade, economic and security policies. I hope that what the Prime Minister has said in his paper will be the first stage towards achieving that objective. I believe that part of the Prime Minister’s statement which dealt with the reactions on trade to be inadequate. Again in Question Time I have raised the need for a co-operative and organised effort to deny to the Soviet Union the very technology which it requires and which it is using to subjugate its people and to engage in imperialistic expansion. At Question Time I pointed out to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) that he ought to look at the very authoritative and wide-ranging work by Mr Charles Levinson which is a study on ‘vodka cola’ operations. Charles Levinson is the Secretary of the International Federation of Chemical Energy and General Workers Union. He has detailed the activities of a large number of multinational companies which are engaged in buyback arrangements with the USSR. Let us take the example of Mr Nixon, who was the lawyer for the Pepsi Cola company. The Kremlin agreed to have its cheap and docile labour exploited by the Pepsi Cola company- the multinational company. It provided the technology, established the factory and the buy-back arrangement was not in hard cash but in vodka. The Pepsi Cola company set up a company which had a very interesting name- Henri Wines- which had the franchise for the sale of Soviet made vodka in the United States. That is only one example.
In the synthetic textile area many, many thousands of jobs in this country and in other countries of the free world are being lost. Those jobs are being taken by sweated labour in the Soviet Union and in the Eastern bloc countries. The Minister, in his reply said that a committee called the Co-ordinating Committee on Exports of Technology to Communist Countries had been established. That Committee comprises representatives of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries, the United States and Japan. All I say to the Minister is that I would have a very good look at what that Committee is doing- or not doing- because clearly there is a massive transfer of technology which must be stopped. I am not going to name the companies tonight because I do not have time- I have only another six minutes at my disposal- but I will at a later time name the companies, the financial organisations and their operations in this country, to enable the Government to look at their operations in Australia.
Very briefly I turn to the question of the boycott of the Olympic Games. This is not a particularly contemporary idea. In fact, it is an idea that was very strongly proposed at the time of the Olympic Games to be held in 1936. The Games were held in Berlin and three years later World War II started. Of course, a boycott of the Games may not have had a dramatic effect on the march of nazism. But we should not, even at that stage, have provided the nazis with an ounce of respectability.
Honest people have differing opinions about the question of the boycott of the Moscow Olympics. I gain the impression that these opinions cross party lines. Many people say not to boycott the Games but to boycott the venue. In this way those athletes who have been training so hard can have the opportunity of proving themselves. The opposite argument to that view which has been advanced is that such an action is pointless because the true reason for the boycott will never reach the Russian people. If one takes that argument to its logical conclusion one must say that one can fool all the people all the time. That would be damning forever the people of the Soviet Union and the peoples of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic states and so on. I do not think we ought to be doing that.
The argument is that a peaceful boycott of the Moscow venue is a very non-military way of reacting to military aggression and is situated a respectable distance from both appeasement and military action. The onus is surely on those who oppose a boycott to suggest an alternative course of action which neither leads to World War III nor capitulates ignominiously in the face of a blatant external Soviet aggression compounded by increased internal suppression such as the banishment of Andrei Sakharov.
In the couple of minutes left to me I turn to what I intend to propose at an appropriate time; that is, that this Parliament should express the view that it should not accept any formal invitation, to the Parliament of the Soviet Union which is a bogus parliament. In the Soviet voting system the name of only one candidate is shown on the ballot paper. If a citizen does not want to vote for him he has to cross out that name and write in his own handwriting the name of the person who he wants to vote for. The citizen has to go to a separate polling booth to do that. It ‘s no wonder that in the Soviet Union the people nominated receive 99 per cent of the vote. It is a farce. Mr President, I believe that you and Mr Speaker should not, without the authority of the Parliament, engage in reciprocal invitations.
My position on this matter is square with the position that I have always taken in the trade union movement. I was a member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Executive for 12 years. During that time an invitation came from the bogus Soviet Union trade union movement. I pointed out that the head of that body at that time was the previous head of the KGB, Alexander Shelepin. I was accused then by Pat Clancy, who was mentioned by Senator Messner, of doing a disservice to the people of Russia. It was soon found that I had stated the truth. That proved that the Soviet trade union movement is just an arm of the Kremlin bosses, as is the Soviet Parliament. We should not give credence to it in its present shape and form.
– The Senate has in front of it a 21-page document which outlines the Government’s views on the dispute that we have been debating. As a result, most speakers appear to have wandered over quite wide terrain. Whilst I wish to deal mainly with some of the paragraphs in that document, I point out that there has been a tendency for a number of honourable senators opposite to sort of wrap themselves around the concept of who is more concerned with national preparedness. I thought that last night Senator Melzer and one or two other senators raised with devastating effect the question of who would have stood up against the march of world fascism in the late 1930s. Senator Baume particularly hammered this theme. The fact of the matter is that when the trade union movement manifested opposition to such fascism it was faced with punitive legislation. That has never been denied.
But if one accepts the fact- and I do- that parliaments and governments have prime responsibility in these matters, one realises that the matter that was not raised last night was that there was a national election in 1938. The leader of the Labor Party at that time was a great man from Western Australia who became an outstanding war leader. I refer to John Curtin. He suggested in his policy at that time that Australia ought to have an adequate bomber force. Whilst it is possible to say these things with hindsight, I think that had the Labor Party won the election we would have had more than Wirraways to defend Australia. However, the Australian Labor Party did not win the election; it was won by the United Australia Party which was always claiming that it was in the forefront on the matter of adequate defence. One might argue- Senator Baume referred to this- about deterrents and counter-deterrents. The fact of the matter is that this Government’s predecessors were so much under the thumb of Whitehall that they never on any occasion questioned it.
If the Government were to be looking for war criminals tomorrow, let it look at this situation: If a British air marshal were to tell us that Singapore was impregnable and suggested that it was unnecessary to have an adequate bombing force, as Curtin suggested, what would have happened? I do not know how that man would have lived with his conscience. But Government senators should never question the responsibility of the Labor Party in relation to defence.
I want to get on to the matter of swaps. I have never been one of those who felt that we have to follow slavishly our allies of today. The amendment moved by Senator Button has regard to situations nearer home. Arthur Calwell had an extreme nationalist concept of Australian responsibility; sometimes one could probably have called it a socialist concept. It is very hard to balance internationalism and nationalism. I think we can generally get a fair mix. But it is to the eternal credit of Arthur Calwell that he spoke up on one occasion. It was on the occasion of one of those sudden shifts in United States of America foreign policy when an elder statesman named Ellsworth Bunker was sent to placate Sukarno and he decided that there would be the famous West Irian swap.
Consider that in terms of territorial expansion. That was done by a country that in many ways has been an ally- I suppose it is an ANZUS partner. But one can see from history that the Prime Minister of the day was not consulted. It suited American global strategy to carry out that swap and it was done. I do not say that it was the end of the world. But we have been talking about the worst threat to Australia since 1945. If one gives one’s potential enemies a region close to one’s country to use more or less as a land-based aircraft carrier, that is the sort of thing that happens. I am not one of those who gets into a knot about the actions of the United States and sees them as being wrong. On the other hand, I think I am sensible enough to know that every statement that is made by an American President is not necessarily right for Australia. Our Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has got into the dilemma of the ‘All the way with LBJ’ syndrome that proved so fateful in the past.
It is necessary sometimes to deal with various eras and times and I will be doing that in this speech. When one talks about the morality of politics one can get oneself into some very difficult situations. I am not the sort of person who likes to become caustic in my comments. That is not in my makeup, as the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack) would know. But the fact of the matter is that the Government could never explain the strategy that caused it to go into Vietnam. What I mean by that is that at the moment we are saying- and I say- that the nonaligned countries are virtually the stabilisers. We can argue how often they will back the Western democracies, but they do not go all the way with the Soviet bloc. We have to live with them. We do not have to be imperialistic to win their hearts and minds.
I come back to the great lesson which the Government never learnt about Vietnam. If at the time when France called it a day and got out the Government had accepted a plebiscite of North Vietnam and South Vietnam, there would not have been a right wing government. We would not have had the Government which South Vietnam had for a couple of years. We would have had a government which would probably have represented Titoism in Asia. This Government and the United States Government would not have been happy. I venture to suggest that the Vietnamese Government over a period would not necessarily have been treated as a shuttlecock by the super-powers, be they Russia or China. But the Government never learnt that lesson. The French, whatever else we can say about them, are pretty hard traders. They knew when they had had enough of Vietnam. They then avoided it. The United States went in and was no better off when it left. I raise this issue because it shows where the Government has made the same mistake. I ask: Should our athletes be used as the main thrust to teach the Soviet Union a lesson?
The reason the war in Vietnam was so unpopular with Australians was that we had selective conscription. The same applies here. We have selective storm troopers to lodge our protest against the Soviet Union. We hear much about the propaganda weapon. There is no doubt that the next issues of Time and Newsweek will use the American victory in ice hockey to maximum psychological gain. The Americans are entitled to do so. Senator Sibraa made the point of the United States putting the shutters up in relation to the events at Lake Placid. I have said before and I repeat: We have to win the hearts and minds of the Third World countries. This applies to debates at the United Nations. It is well and good if we can beat people in sporting contests.
I turn now to the invasion of another country and to the hegemonism concerning Cuba. The Labor Party and the socialists of the world have repeatedly condemned the invasion. Where we part company with a lot of the super capitalist countries is that we have never been unaware of the economic justice that is lacking in many countries. We see some very strange alliances when we look at these moral crusades. At the moment the United States is trying to do an arms deal with Pakistan. It is not a Marxism country. It is rather peculiar that one of its leaders, Bhutto, was suddenly executed. I wonder whether we are fighting for democracy in Pakistan. Snide remarks have been made about Mrs Ghandi. One fact emerges when we compare India with Pakistan. At least India has been able to take its political differences to the ballot box and settle them. That is more than can be said for Pakistan. When we refer to these moral crusades -
– They beat Pakistan at cricket too.
– That is a good point, senator, but I had better not chase balls outside the off stump or I will get caught. So I will let that go. We get into difficult areas when we talk about moral crusades. I think that we can take the matter a bit further than the 2 1-page speech made by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). We could say: ‘All right. The situation is as serious as the Prime Minister suggests. ‘ The Prime Minister is sounding the Toskin bell.
At least at the start of World War II, we had an advisory war council. Perhaps we could have a modern version with Bill Hayden, Lionel Bowen, Senator Wriedt and Senator Button being brought in and briefed adequately. The Prime Minister wanted to keep those aces close to his chest so that he could trap us. That is what he has been trying to do for the last fortnight. I exclude some senior Ministers in this place from my remarks, but some back benchers have talked about who is a potential traitor. I know Senator Chipp has had a lifetime of experience in this area. I am pretty certain that he knows the top brass in the athletic world from his own experiences in the 1956 Olympic Games. But would he call Syd Grange, Judy Patching and all these people lackeys of the Communist Party or lackeys of the Soviet Union? He has gone perilously close to saying that. Perhaps the Prime Minister has not thought about this, but I think that it was on the tip of the tongue of the Leader of the National Country Party (Mr Anthony) in one interview, to suggest that those people ought to be proscribed under the Crimes Act. I do not know what will happen if this attitude is persisted with. This is the way that we are going.
Let me refer now to preparedness. Post-war Australia has its basis in people from many lands. I have in front of me a document from the Co-ordinating Committee- Justice for Cyprus. I suppose it would be called an aide memoir from the convenor. He rightly asks- and some other speakers have raised this matter- whether our hands were clean in regard to the miniaggression by Turkey on Cyprus. One of the proudest moments that I had was when, under a very illustrious Minister for Labour and Immigration, the Honourable Clyde Cameron, we were able to airlift political refugees from Cyprus. Many of those people are success stories in this country. Do we think that our moral crusade applied when we abstained on that issue of Cyprus? I remember taking a delegation two years ago to see our Foreign Minister, Andrew Peacock, whom I regard as a man of a higher standard of fair play than the Prime Minister. Andrew Peacock assured these people that we would stay with them to the limit. Our performance at the United Nations in the case of Cyprus was not very good. Of course, if we are looking for people who are not pulling their weight, it is always very nice to talk about people who are to the left of the Labor Party. They are asked where their patriotism lies and whether it can be checked.
I assure the Victorian senators on both sides that I am not bringing in any Sydney-Melbourne rivalries. A few Sundays ago I was driving down Elizabeth Street, Sydney. I went past the United States Embassy. There was a demonstration outside it. I wondered who the people were. They were very helpful. It was a Croation group. I was in casual clothes so the people did not recognise me despite earlier differences of opinion. They were handing out copies of a pamphlet. This pamphlet is issued by the Croatian Information Service of Commercial Road, Footscray, a suburb of Melbourne. Is that right, Senator Chipp?
– These people have gone on record. I will ask later that the pamphlet distributed by them be incorporated in Hansard. We are looking at trouble spots. I agree that the Red Army’s territorial appetite can be considerable. I think President Carter has already said that if the Red Army tried to enter Yugoslaviaand this would be wrong for world peace- there would certainly be at least indirect aid from the Western powers to stop the advance. Having been to Yugoslavia many times since the 1 950s and knowing some Yugoslavs personally I know that the Yugoslavs would fight to the end. As they were able to keep 19 Nazi divisions occupied in World War II, I think that the Russians would suffer considerable indigestion. This Croatian group is very right wing. It has released a pamphlet in which it argues about and gloats over certain facts. If an invasion occurred the hearts and minds of these people would be with the Red Army. They say that anybody who is against Yugoslavia is a friend of theirs. People talk about freedom of speech. If people are tolerant with this ultra minority group in the Croatian community, they should try to take the same attitude if some person who does not agree with them argues about misunderstanding the Soviet Union. When we try to chart a modern foreign policy for Australia we should think of the people of the Greek and Cypriot communities who feel that they were let down in the United Nations when Australia chickened out in the face of some shabby deal with Turkey in relation to commitments of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
The minority people in the Yugoslav situation have always been treated well by incumbents of the portfolios of Immigration, Attorney-General or even Foreign Affairs. These people have got away with murder. I do not believe in leaving this matter at just what I say. I ask the Senate for leave to incorporate a pamphlet headed ‘Stop Terror- Abort Yugoslavia’. It is from the group that I mentioned. I suggest to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack) that he read this tomorrow to see whether these people are getting close to threatening what I would call the miniwar effort which the Prime Minister is asking us to support. I ask that that document be incorporated in. Hansard.
The document read as follows-
STOP TERROR- ABORT YUGOSLAVIA
What is Yugoslavia?
Yugoslavia is a murderer of innocent people Yugoslavia is on the road to commit genocide Yugoslavia will jeopardise stability of Europe, it must be stopped before it is too late! ! !
This demonstration has been called by the Croatian National Congress, a democratically elected body representing all Croats in exile and in Croatia. This is a protest against the prolonging of Yugoslav imprisonment of the Croatian people. The demonstration has been organised in front of the Consulate of the United States of America to let the world leaders know that the Croats condemn any attempts to preserve Yugoslavia and thus prolong Croatia’s imprisonment. We particularly stress that any attempt to preserve Yugoslavia, made by any power of the world, will be met by total resistance from Croats throughout the world.
The imminent political crisis in Yugoslavia is an opportunity for Croats to break off, once and for all, from every form of imperialism, dictatorship and exploitation; it is our golden five minutes’ during which Yugoslavia must be crushed by the will of the Croatian people to establish their own free and sovereign state on the entire historic and ethnic territory belonging to the Croatian Nation. This forthcoming period of crisis represents not only an opportunity for Croats, but an obligation to cause irrepairable damage to Yugoslavia to enable that troublesome territory to be stabilised by the establishment of sovereign national states.
The seriousness with which the Croats are looking at the crisis in Yugoslavia can be illustrated by the thoughts and the statements made by various Croatian political leaders and organizations:
During the period of Tito’s political demise and the Yugoslav political crisis, the activity of the Croatian Nation will determine the destiny of its homeland for many centuries to come. If, during that period the Croatian Nation does not exploit that historic moment, it will be guilty of treason of itself and of its homeland’.- Bruno Bui, the most respected Croatian leader assassinated in Paris in 1 978.
Our historic moment will occur during the world political crisis similar to one that existed in 1918, 1941 and 1945, (1980 and author). During such a historic moment the Croats must destroy Yugoslavia and establish their own free and sovereign state. For such an opportunity, every Croat must plan and place himself in a position from which he can contribute towards the demolition of Yugoslavia and the establishment of free Croatia’.- Professor Ivan Orani, Croatian ideologist, revolutionary and widely respected politician.
During the period of political crisis in Yugoslavia following Tito ‘s demise, the Croatian National Congress considers this period as an opportunity to redress injustices against Croatian People which were inflicted upon us in Teheran (1943) and Yalta (1945). We state, that the Croatian people will not fight for the defence of Yugoslavia; Croats will fight on the side of those who recognise Croatia the right to exist as a sovereign and free nation. Croats in Croatia must resist the Yugoslav pressure which wants them to fight for preservation of the present state, on the contrary, they must be prepared for an uprising that will bring freedom to Croatia. . . .’-Statement issued by C.N.C. at the General Meeting in London on 20 January 1 980.
What we are trying to emphasise is that irrespective of American or other interests the crisis in Yugoslavia is the best opportunity for Croatia ‘s revolution, and as such, it will be used to destroy Yugoslavia.
We do not believe that there is a Soviet threat against Croatia. Croats have only one enemy- that is Yugoslavia and Yugoslav imperialism. The policy that Croatia must adopt is the policy of survival and nothing else: ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’, and vice-versa. Croatia is on the market for support for its liberation from oppression irrespective of where the support may come from; it is a basic principle of survival.
We do not want a world confrontation and it can be avoided if world powers only try to understand the position of small nations. The Yugoslav territory can be stabilised by dismemberment of Yugoslavia. The frontiers of newly formed countries can be established under the supervision of the U.N.O. All that is needed is co-operation of world powers. The western Nations must recognise that none of the
Nations forcefully incorporated into Yugoslavia want it to be preserved.
We believe that the statement made by President Carter in support of Yugoslavia is detrimental to world peace. It has openly challenged the nations incorporated into Yugoslavia to seek support for a forceful dismemberment of Yugoslavia from any power that may offer such support.
Our aim is a free and neutral Croatia, but our reasoning goes as far as that a pro-Soviet Croatia is better than no Croatia.
These protests are not only justified, but necessary as a first step towards the international recognition of Croatia as an independent entity.
STOP TERROR- ABORT YUGOSLAVIA
What is Yugoslavia?
Yugoslavia is a murderer of innocent people. Yugoslavia is on the road to commit genocide. Yugoslavia will jeopardise stability of Europe, it must be stopped before it is too late! ! !
Yugoslavia, concieved in Corfu, in London and Paris is the most typical example of imperialism and exploitation in Europe. Croats, Slovens, Macedonians and Montenegrins are imprisoned nations, they are the second class citizens of Yugoslavia. Albanians and other enslaved nations are subjected to total extermination. Only a minority of Serbian hegemonists, with unsatiable desire of power, together with their life president Tito, have created a regime of Secret Police, dungeons and a reign of social and national injustices.
Constant propaganda being dissipated by the Serbian hegemonistic clique, which argues that Serbs, Croats, Macedonians and others are just tribes of the same nation, has an aim of Serbization of nations incorporated into Yugoslavia.
Yugoslavia is a conglomerate of dissimilar and conflicting nations, forcefully incorporated into a union, which threatens their existance. The whole system of government is based on Serbian domination and Stalinist dictatorship. According to official Yugoslav statistics in “Ekonomska Politika” from 27. 1. 1 969 during the so called relaxed period in Yugoslavia, there were 496 Serbs and 32 Croats as top ranking officials of the Yugoslav government. In the lower ranking range, there were 3043 Serbs and 414 Croats. In the department of Justice there were 1 96 Serbs and only 1 7 Croats. Bearing in mind that the Serbs are only slightly more numerous in Yugoslavia, then Croats, these figures are frightening.
The Serbian domination in all police and government institutions has been achieved through a Stalinist type dictatorship.
In the later years, since the proclamation that all nations in Yugoslavia are supposed to be equal, this Serbian domination is propagated in the name of “ Yugoslavism “ or “Yugo-ethnicity”.
Croatia is a nation, situated north of the Adriatic Sea and has a population of around 8 million. This year Croats have celebrated the eleventh centenary of Croatian statehood. It is an old European nation. Since the artificial formation of Yugoslavia the very existence of the Croatian nation has been threatened. During the last 34 years, more than 8 per cent of Croatias National Income has been stripped off, annually and given to Serbia in addition to Croatia’s contributions to the Federal Budget. An illustration of the gravity of such stripping of funds, is the fact that even the more industrialised nations are capable of reinvesting only 7 per cent of their National Income into their economy.
Croatia has been constantly exploited and yet, has never in its 1 1 centuries of statehood exploited anyone.
We Croats are struggling for the freedom of our Croatian ethnic and historic territory and we stand for the freedom of all nations irrespective of their colour or creed.
The United Nations Organisation’s Charter on Human Rights states that national self-determination is a basic human right, universal and fundamental, recognised by all members of the United Nations, right which may not be denied or withheld from any nation, regardless of its territorial size or number of inhabitants. That is all that we want: basic human rights not to be withheld from the Croatian Nation.
Why are we protesting?
If the world has heard of Croatia and the papers reported our struggles, it is only due to the protests staged by our Croatian youth and thanks to their efforts and sacrifices. Without such protests our case would have gone unheeded and unanswered as have gone scores of memoranda that was sent to the United Nations, to the heads of great powers, to politicians, to the news media. This is not a self-pitying remark, but the cold hard fact.
Even at a moment when news media were reporting cases of Croatian protesters indicted, Mr Harvey Schlossberger, a psychiatrist who trains the New York Police Department’s anti-terrorist unit, stated, according to TIME Magazine, “You would have had to have a Master’s Degree to know the Croatians”.
One does not require a Master’s Degree to know that Albanians, Finns, Panamanians or Nicaraguians, because they are independent (these nations are less numerous than the Croatians). However, it is quite true that special knowledge is needed to know Croatians and peoples similar to them, who have been deprived of their independent state.
These protests are not only justified, but necessary as a - first step towards the international recognition of Croatia as an independent entity.
Croatian Information Service, 64 Commercial Rd Footscray 30 1 1 .
– With the indulgence of the Senate I seek to have incorporated in Hansard the aide-memoire from the Coordinating Committee of Justice for Cyprus.
The document read as follows-
CO-ORDINATING COMMITTEE-JUSTICE FOR CYPRUS
Senator J. A. Mulvihill, Commonwealth Parliament Offices, Chifley Square, Sydney, N.SW. 2000.
As the Russian Troops moved into Afghanistan at the beginning of this year, 1980, we witnessed a very strong reaction by our Government and an immediate departure for overseas, of our Prime Minister, The Right Hon. Malcolm Fraser and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Hon. Andrew Peacock.
Also as a result, the Government acted very swiftly in restricting Cultural, Scientific and Trade ties with the Soviet Union.
We are noi writing to you Sir, to express judgment on that particular world event. We are writing to you to make a comparison of a situation which over five years ago has left Cyprus devastated, and what Australia is doing to condemn the agressor
Cyprus with a population of 600 000 people was invaded by Turkish Troops in July 1974, and forcibly evicted 200 000 people, ‘one third of the entire population out of their homes and properties. ‘ Turkey still occupies 40 per cent of Cyprus.
Afghanistan has a population of twenty-two million, and has a refugee problem of 500 000.
During the past five years the U.N.O. has condemned the Turkish Invasion and voted in favour to as many resolutions about Cyprus! Australia abstained in the 1979 General Assembly Resolution.
Please have some understanding of the feelings and the bitter disappointment of half a million Australians of Greek origin.
Your comments of the matter, in Parliament and in the Media, would be greatly appreciated.
Yours faithfully, Co-ordinating Committee- Justice for Cyprus, A. I. Toum Bourou Convenor.
-The statement on Afghanistan implies that we have to get all of our resources geared up for war, but it does not mention all the talk about the fuel crisis. I have never become too involved in a debate on the rights and wrongs of the East Timor takeover. I know the Government’s thinking on Indonesia. I repeat that I was never a fan of Sukarno. Suharto is a military man and his idea of democracy is not mine. Surely there ought to be a pay-off. If the Government went quiet on the East Timor invasion, what is the position in relation to joint oil exploration operations with Indonesia? There is complete silence on that. Nobody tells us what we are doing. The amendment which has been moved by Senator Button refers to some regional activity. I am a quid pro quo man. If Australia went quiet on East Timor and the deprivations that occurred there, what is the pay-off? Are we able to work with the Indonesians in oil exploration? Mexico learned its lesson. The United States and Britain are part of what we call the free world, the Western democracies, but capitalists are always lurking in the background. I will give an example. I think the Socialist Party supported the United States on the Berlin airlift. We know about General Clay. Look at his track record after he left the Army. He was knee deep in all the Wall Street machinations. One of the difficulties is that many people in the United States do not want to see real advancement of free world countries. I think I could go further to substantiate that statement. I refer to the Willy Brandt plan to bridge the gap between developed and undeveloped countries. Although I am a light drinker of coffee, whatever the price of coffee, and we often complain about the price, it is a matter of control of crops. People may have to pay another one or two cents for coffee but better conditions are provided in some of the one-crop countries. That is one way to offset revolution in them. The last issue of Newsweek contains an article on world affairs headed ‘Brandt Unveils His Plan’. I ask that it be incorporated in my speech in Hansard as a practical illustration of how to avoid Soviet subversion creating further revolutions in Africa.
The document read as follows-
THIRD WORLD: BRANDT UNVEILS HIS PLAN
For twenty years or more, the rich and poor nations have bickered over how to redistribute the world’s wealth. Third World countries have demanded massive financial transfusions for their stricken economies. The industrialized democracies have clung tightly to their purse strings. Despite some piecemeal advances, the so-called North-South dialogue seems hopelessly mired in contentious rhetoric- and the gulf between the two sides continues to widen. Now. a blue-ribbon international commission, headed by former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, has issued a warning. If mankind is to survive, say Brandt and his colleagues, the gap between rich and poor must be closed- quickly.
The Brandt Commission, whose number includes three former Prime Ministers and a former President, spent two years studying Third World development problems. Its findings will be published this week in a report entitled “North-South: A Programme for Survival. “ Written by British author Anthony Sampson, the report portrays the developed and developing countries as parts of a delicate, interlocking whole, each dependent on the other for food, raw materials, manufactured goods and markets- and each endangered by hunger, monetary upheaval and a wasteful arms spiral. Its prescription: a comprehensive reordering of international priorities and a massive transfer of wealth to the Third World- not from charity, but from the urgent necessity to head off world economic collapse in the 1 980s or 90s. “It is one of the two crucial issues of this century, the other being the armaments race,” says Brandt. “Since there is now a risk of mankind destroying itself, this risk must be met by new methods.”
Belt of Poverty: The gulf between rich and poor is staggering. The North, the report notes, accounts for only onefourth of the world’s population- and four-fifths of its income. Meantime in the South- an overpopulated belt of poverty comprising most of Africa, Asia and Latin America- 800 million people are destitute, and each year more than 30 million children under 5 die of starvation. As the disparities grow, they constitute an increasing threat to world stability. The oil crisis has compounded the problem, saddling the Third World with immense foreign debts, drying up aid from the recession-ridden North and wreaking havoc with the world monetary system.
Those problems, in the commission’s view, call for a fundamental shift in attitudes toward North-South relations. “The international debate on development,” Brandt writes, “deals not just with ‘assistance’ and ‘aid’ but with new structures . . . the building of a new order and a new kind of comprehensive approach to the problems of development.” For starters, the commission sets out an urgent fiveyear program in four areas:
Resource Transfers. To finance industrial and agricultural development and stave off mass starvation in the neediest countries, the commission urges vastly increased aid and credit. Its goal: S50 billion to S60 billion in annual development funds by 1985 (compared to about S20 billion today).
Energy. Besides price-stabilizing agreements with oil producers, the commission calls for ambitious international energy-conservation targets and increased investment in alternative energy sources.
Food. The report calls for S8 billion a year in new food aid to the Third World to increase local food production and ensure regular supplies to the hungriest regions.
Monetary and Trade Reforms. The world’s present economic system is no longer adequate, the commission believes. Its most urgent priorities include reform of the international monetary system to diminish the role of the dollar and give the Third World a greater voice and improved terms of trade for Third World goods.
Over the longer term, the commission posits a number of even more ambitious goals, ranging from the elimination of hunger to ending the arms race. Perhaps almost as ambitious, the report calls for a shift in traditional public attitudes toward the realization that increased development aid is simply enlightened self-interest- that Third World spending money can buy First World goods. To mobilize that political will, the commission calls for a summit meeting of perhaps 25 international leaders “as rapidly as possible.” Such a meeting, the commission says, could “provide a new focus … a new impetus for future negotiations; it could launch new ideas for a world economic recovery program.”
Given the history of the North-South dialogue- and the current tensions over Afghanistan and the Persian GulfBrandt is careful not to claim too much. “I’m far from being a blue-eyed optimist,” he says, “but I think we have given some food for thought to governments, international organizations and enlightened public opinon.” In an independent world, Brandt hopes, the logic will be too compelling to ignore. As the report points out: “Many individual societies have settled their inner conflicts … to promote principles of justice, becoming stronger as a result. The world, too, can become stronger by becoming a just and humane society. If it fails in this, it will move toward its own destruction.”
– My role tonight has been more or less to mop up some of the furphies that have been advanced. I am taking them on the run as they come. I would not condone utterances about placing the needs of the Red Army ahead of ours. When we talk about who is an Australian nationalist and who believes in patriotism I look back to 1948-49. 1 recall a man who was outstanding in civil liberties. I refer to the late Dr Evatt who for a long time after was terribly maligned. It was remarkable that at the time he was Attorney-General and Lance Sharkey of the Communist Party stepped out of line and virtually said he would welcome the Red Army he got 90 days in gaol under a Labor Government. I do not apologise for that. It was hypocrisy for Government members in subsequent years to persecute Dr Evatt. He was almost crucified by the McCarthyist sentiments; yet as Attorney-General and Minister for Foreign Affairs he was an outstanding man.
There is an idea that everybody has to be completely on one side or on the other. There is no grey area. This is the area of dispute between the Government amendment and the amendment proposed by the Opposition. This is where we part company.
I have referred to the abuses of selectivity and the use of a marble to determine whether a person went to Vietnam. I think it was Senator Harradine who referred to the Service term LMF- lack of moral fibre. If ever people showed a lack of moral fibre I suppose it was the people we were supposed to be helping, the South Vietnamese, when they bought their sons out of their army call-ups. Despite what one might have thought about the Vietcong, they seemed to have a great durability. They had empty bellies and they were fighting to get a feed. Of course Marxism played a role. Those people have to have their own incentives whether mental or physical. When there is talk about an all-in effort in peacetime or in war surely there was a lesson to be learned from our selective call-up for Vietnam. When that was applied Australia was allied to a country where the sons of rich merchants could buy their way out of the army.
Many countries have resisted fascism and Russian imperialism. I suppose among honourable senators I was the first Australian Labor Party member who went into Yugoslavia in 1956. I suppose I can be very frank tonight. People to the left of me had been there a long time before, but when Tito had his schism with Stalin any visitor to Yugoslavia was persona non grata. After my first visit there I am certain people were ready to describe me as somebody who would destroy the Australian way of life. But Yugoslavia would not have remained in its present position if it had gone completely into the arms of the United States. That is a lesson that is not understood on many occasions. United States strategy seems to be that everything has to be a replica of what is called the American way of life. We all have our own differences. We want to retain our own way of life.
No one on the Labor side would welcome any power, large or small, invading another country. A host of examples has been given by earlier speakers of such transgressions. If 1980 was not the year of a national election I wonder whether our Prime Minister would have been so bloodthirsty in his utterances. Of course my own party and the late Dr Evatt were quite vocal on the Hungarian episode. Another man whom some people in this place malign is my colleague the Honourable Tom Uren. I wonder whether honourable senators have read Tom Uren’s utterances at the time of the Dubcek trouble. I know that Tom Uren was and still is highly regarded in many eastern European countries. He did not hesitate to speak out about the situation in Prague because he felt it was one of those things that was unforgiveable. The difference between the Labor Party and many Government supporters is that we on this side try to be consistent by equally exposing all these situations. I do not want to tread on Senator Baume ‘s corns, but it was a Labor Government that supported the creation of the state of Israel with every degree of confidence. We welcomed it and we accepted it unreservedly without any inhibitions. The fact of the matter was that France and Britain reached an agreement with Israel against the anticipated Egyptian aggression. I know the prize could have been the Suez Canal. But it was a conservative United States President Eisenhower and his senior officers who backed off and told them they would have to get out. This is not the sort of debate to argue fully which country is right or wrong but there ought to be a lesson to be learned. Selwyn Lloyd and Anthony Eden, who were members of a British Conservative Government, had their careers shattered, not by the left wing undercurrent in Britain but by a conflict of interest with the United States Republican Administration.
The message I am trying to get through is that if the Australian Prime Minister gives the United States President, whether he be a Democrat or a Republican, a blank cheque we can be in all sorts of difficulties. We, the socialist Opposition, have made abundantly clear what we think of invasion and the sovereign rights of any country. But we are not unaware of the fact that some of the countries with which we might have an alliance, such as Pakistan, are hardly perfect examples of parliamentary democracy.
If we are honest with ourselves we will admit that the gold medals at the Moscow Games will be won by many nations. I do not think that even the best Kremlin propagandist will be able to say: ‘ Unless you are a Marxist you are not a good athlete’. That will not be the case. Medals will be won by many nations. I will say again and again that our athletes deserve our support when they go to Moscow. If the situation in Afghanistan gets worse- I do not think it will- let the Prime Minister make a general sacrifice. Honourable senators have been saying that we should look at what is happening with wool, wheat and rutile, particularly rutile. It was amazing to me that within 24 hours rutile was exempted from its export embargo. After all, an athlete’s life in sport is very short. Earlier speakers in this debate have said: ‘If you leave the rutile in the ground and sell it in four years the mining companies will still get their profits’.
I welcomed, as we all did, the opportunity for us to get our teeth into a general debate on the world situation. I think other speakers in this debate have said already that there was a time when we had to improve our defence plan. It was an Australian Labor Party Minister for Defence, William Morrison, who stopped the exodus of officers from the forces by bringing them more economic justice in terms of salaries and superannuation benefits. Other plans in relation to defence spending were made then. I think that some Government speakers in this debate did not help matters by what was their more or less red baiting. It became par for the course. Beyond that, I think that the socialist countries are equally concerned about world peace and world justice. But we have always equated fascism with communism; that is something which Government senators never seem to face up to.
– The Senate is debating the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on Afghanistan and Australia’s assessment and response, which was read in this chamber by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick). It is a clear, comprehensive and very responsible document which I believe sets out an appropriate response by the Australian Government to the crisis in Afghanistan. The initiative taken by the Prime Minister in his consultations in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Europe and the initiatives of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) with the Association of South East Asian Nations countries, his visits to Pakistan and other places and his present involvement with the United States in discussing our treaty obligations, are all reflected in this statement by the Prime Minister. I believe that all those initiatives are responsible and I very firmly support them. The Attorney-General (Senator Durack), when he spoke in this chamber in support of Senator Carrick ‘s motion that the Senate take note of the paper, moved an amendment to that motion setting out a five-part statement of commitment which I, for one, very much want to identify with and to support. However, I do not support the distractive amendment which subsequently was moved by Senator Button on behalf of the Opposition.
In December last year and January this year the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics invaded Afghanistan. One hundred thousand troops came into that non-aligned country. Subsequently, in mid-January, the United Nations voted to condemn this aggression, with 104 nations supporting the motion of condemnation and only 18 Soviet allies opposing the motion. The whole world stood aghast and stands aghast at this invasion. The Islamic Conference in late January had similar statements to make about the invasion of one of its member countries and it has expelled from the Conference the surrogate Marxist Government put in by the Soviets. The Prime Minister took a very significant world initiative in his consultations in Europe and the United States. Accordingly, when Parliament resumed last Tuesday, he reported to the Parliament in this very full and responsible statement.
I believe it is entirely right that the Parliament should debate the statement. In the House of Representatives 70 honourable members have already spoken on the statement. I believe I am the twenty-fifth senator to speak in this debate in the Senate. It is right that the Parliament should give its assessment of the Prime Minister’s response and, as I said, I as a senator from South Australia seek to identify myself fully with the Prime Minister’s statement and to support its responsible assessment and response. All members of the Parliament, to my knowledge, have condemned the Soviet invasion. However, the Australian Labor Party Opposition has preferred to go on from that statement and to do what I feel are three things: The Labor Party, particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden), has accused the Prime Minister of grandstanding. He has spent the majority of his speech on that distraction instead of concentrating on the responsible assessment that has been made. I believe that it is unworthy of the Opposition. In my remarks I would like to try to gain a more bipartisan approach to the seriousness of the world situation and Australia’s contribution towards solving it.
The second kind of distraction has been that many speakers have not spoken directly to the Afghanistan situation or to Soviet aggression but rather have spoken to peripheral mattershowever important those peripheral matters are- such as Cyprus, Timor, the Pol Pot regime, which many of us in the Parliament feel should no longer be recognised by the Australian Government, and such atrocious activities as the USSR backed Ethiopian attacks upon the people of Eritrea. I call these distractions because they are not central to this debate. The Opposition has chosen to take that path rather than to come squarely to the issues set out in the Prime Minister’s statement. It has come up with a statement of condemnation but then has made very soft distractions away from the central theme. I believe that that is a very disappointing and unworthy response by the Opposition.
These distractions have been described by some members of the Parliament as the Opposition putting forward reasons for the Soviet aggression. They have been described by other members of Parliament as excuses for the Soviet aggression. Other members of the Parliament have seen this attempt by the Opposition to find excuses, distractions and reasons as its identification with or a quasi apologist for the Soviet aggression. To the extent that all those statements are true, they are to be thoroughly deplored. We on the Government side do not seek to find excuses for the blatant aggression, under which this very week 800 Afghan people, rising in support of their freedom, have been shot in Kabul. Is their blood evidence of our wanting to find excuses for Soviet aggression? I believe that the Government’s statement, through the Prime Minister, has been clearly to the issue and has addressed the various aspects of the crisis. I certainly indentify myself with that statement. But the Opposition has gone on from those distractions to seek to undermine the effectiveness of the Government’s action, especially with regard to the boycott proposed by the Australian Government and by 35 other committed nations. I will come back to that aspect later in my remarks.
Not only in the Parliament but also very much in public discussion in Australia a comparison has been made between this pattern of Soviet aggression and the pattern of nazi aggression which led to the second world war. I am not necessarily saying that the present crisis is as critical or as alarming as the period in 1939 which led to the German invasion of Poland, hence the beginning of the second world war. There have been many crises in the intervening period. But because this parallel between the 1930s and Nazi aggression and the 1980s and Soviet aggression in Afghanistan has clearly been drawn, I would like to look at that comparison a little more precisely. Two of the major parallels have been the Olympic Games held in Nazi Germany in 1936 and the so-called Olympic Games to be held this year, 1 980, in the Soviet Union.
A very similar escalation of aggression in the pattern of events can be drawn in Germany in the 1930s and in the Soviet Union during the 1970s. Let us consider Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Following the First World War Germany was reduced in its territorial area, demilitarised and subjected to other constrictions in the Versailles treaty. Amongst other things, this led to what was called the German problem of the 1920s. The appeal that Hitler had in the early 1 930s to solve the German problem was the fact that he espoused the return of militarisation to Germany and the reacquisition of what were marginal German areas. Accordingly, in 1935 Hitler surprised Europe by reintroducing conscription to Germany. However, the world did not respond. In 1936 he militarised the Rhineland, which was specifically forbidden by the Versailles treaty. However, the world did not respond. Hitler continued in that pattern of aggression. In March 1938, at a critical point before the plebiscite to be arranged in Austria, Hitler invaded Austria and compelled that country to be within his control. The temperature of concern rose in Europe but, again, there was not an adequate response. Meanwhile, the Italian Government had carried out a direct invasion of Abyssinia and this pattern of aggression continued. The Munich conference in 1938- ( Quorum formed).
Before the quorum was called I was outlining the pattern of aggression by Nazi Germany in the 1 930s which has been drawn into comparison by many Australians with the pattern of Soviet aggression in the 1 970s. I had referred to the aggression against Austria in 1938. Later in 1938 Hitler had designs upon Czechoslovakia. This led to a conference in Munich of the heads of state of various European countries and to the infamous conclusion by the United Kingdom Prime Minister, Chamberlain. He returned from those negotiations with Hitler in the hope that he had the prize of winning peace in his hand. The whole world has since seen that that Munich settlement, so-called, was a most inadequate response to the pattern of Nazi aggression in the 1930s.
In early 1939 Hitler took over the remaining sections of Czechoslovakia. Later in that year he invaded Poland. Immediately, France, Britain and the Western world generally declared war on Nazi Germany. When that war was declared and when all the suffering and hostility of the war were being borne by Australians and other people they looked back on that pattern of aggression through the 1 930s. They looked back to such events as the Berlin Olympics in 1936 and asked why it was that their leaders did not have an adequate response to the clear pattern of Nazi aggression. The statements and goals of totalitarian government in Germany had been clearly defined and yet there had been a most inadequate response, typified by Chamberlain’s peace in our time ‘ cry.
I believe that a parallel can be drawn with the pattern of Soviet aggression in recent years. To go back to the 1940s, during the war, the Baltic States and eastern Europe were taken by the Soviet Union. In 1956 the Soviet Government directly invaded Hungary and put out the government of that country. Similarly, in 1968 the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, changed the government and put in a puppet government of its own. We are all aware of the writings of Solzhenitsyn and other dissidents in the Soviet Union about the aggression by the Soviet Government against the people of its own country. This has been reiterated this month by the expulsion of Sakharov. The debate we had last week in this chamber showed the unanimous contempt that we have for the way in which the Soviet Government has carried out that kind of aggression against its own citizens. But at the same time there has been aggression by the Soviet Union in Angola, through its surrogate Cuban troops, and in Vietnam, by arming the Vietnamese army which has moved from its war in Indo-China to total aggression against Laos and Kampuchea where it is presently fighting. In October I visited the Kampuchean border and saw Vietnamese soldiers on the border with Thailand, armed with Soviet equipment. The Soviet Union is totally involved in that aggression against Kampuchea and Laos. The pattern of aggression in the Yemenis and Ethopia has already been discussed at some length.
Yugoslavia is being very cautious. It is aware of the difficulties it would be in in the event of a Soviet invasion following the imminent death of President Tito. In New Zealand and Spain there have been incidents which led to the expulsion of Soviet ambassadors. In Moscow last year it was revealed that the Australian Embassy had been bugged by the Soviet Union. Last year there was the exposure of Blunt, a United Kingdom citizen, who had spied for the KGB.
This pattern of events, whether by subversion within countries, by direct invasion as in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, or by troops and arming as in Angola and Vietnam, shows a very clear pattern of events from the 1 940s to the invasion of Afghanistan in 1980. If there is a further pattern of aggression by the Soviet forces will we be saying to the people of Australia that we identified that pattern of aggression but we did not have an adequate response? I believe that it is very responsible for this Parliament to consider the Prime Minister’s statement. I believe that it is right for us to support the Prime Minister’s statement as a most adequate response to the situation.
The Afghanistan invasion has involved 100,000 troops. The invading Soviet soldiers have murdered the President of that country. It has led to 500,000 refugees. There have been incidents such as the massacre in a village at Kerela where 1,000 men and boys were lined up and shot under Soviet supervision. This week 800 libertarian Afghanis were shot by the Soviet Army. How many more deaths in Afghanistan, or in these other countries where Soviet aggression is involved, need to occur before we come to a completely bipartisan response along the lines of the Prime Minister’s statement?
The ingredients of the present crisis in Afghanistan have some aspects of quite new significance. The Soviet imperialist goals are the same as ever. To show that there is some bipartisanship in this Parliament, I wish to quote Senator Wheeldon ‘s remarks in this debate when he referred to Soviet goals. On 19 February, as recorded at page 43 of Hansard he said:
I think that we would be deluding ourselves and being very careless of our own future if we did not recognise the fact that the Government of the Soviet Union is bent upon carrying out those policies which it has clearly expressed on so many occasions; that is, that the only future it can see for the world is one in which the world is dominated by the Government of the Soviet Union. I do not believe that that can be denied.
That pattern of Soviet aggression comes at a period when, for the first time, the Soviet Union is gaining nuclear parity with the United States. In the last couple of decades the arms race that has so much diverted the world’s resources has, despite detente and arms limitation agreements, led to enormous arming by the Soviet Union which for the first time is winning in the arms race. It has greater nuclear capabilities than the free world.
It has been argued by the Prime Minister that this new situation cannot be overlooked as an additional major dimension to the present crisis. In his statement, the Prime Minister said:
The present crisis . . . occurs at a time when the Soviet Union has for the first time achieved nuclear parity, while retaining- indeed increasing- its superiority in conventional arms.
The Australian newspaper recently has given the clearest statement of the situation with regard to the debate in our country about a boycott of the Olympic Games. I will come to that in a moment. In some parts of this debate the boycott of the Olympic Games has been called ‘the most effective way to bring home to the Soviet people our views about this aggression’. I think whether it is the most effective measure is debatable. Our
Prime Minister, the Foreign Ministers and Presidents of certain European countries, and especially President Carter have formed a united and consolidated condemnation of the Soviet Union where clear lines have been drawn about Pakistan, Iran and other areas of oil supply in the world. These united, consolidated statements have been the most effective measure of response, I think, in halting the Soviet aggression and showing the Soviet Government what we think of it.
A second measure of response has been the increased defence preparedness by the Australian Government. (Quorum formed). Before the quorum was called, with only three Austalian Labor Party senators in the chamber, I was referring to the measure of responsibility by the Australian Government to the present situation and the defence preparedness which has been one of the most significant Government decisions. The Australian Financial Review of 19 February headlined the Prime Minister’s statement: Prime Minister boosts Defence Spending’. The Australian of 18 February had as its headline: Cabinet Agrees to B.j Defence Boost’. These are among the measures that I believe are the most effective in response to the crisis. But we should not overlook, along with the other measures in fishing, shipping, air services, or science, cultural or ministerial visits, that a most effective way to demonstrate our response to this aggression is for us not to participate in the Olympic Games in Moscow. It is not a new idea. The Soviet Union boycotted the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1 936. There have been other boycotts since. Already some 36 governments have indicated their firm resolve to seek an effective boycott by their not participating in the OlympicGames in Moscow. That includes the eight foreign Ministers of European countries. I believe that the Australian initiative in this area in seeking an effective boycott has been most constructive. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) said in January: . . the Labor Party believes that a boycott supported by a majority of the countries . . . 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.
When the statements of the Prime Minister and other Opposition members were made in this Parliament the Opposition denied what Mr Hayden had said although they would have agreed with him that it would be an effective way of demonstrating our response, but they want to toss it aside. In the House of Representatives today Mr Hayden said:
If there is an effective boycott we will support it.
He is still proposing that the ALP will support an Olympic boycott but he wants to lead from behind. If the boycott does not come off with the Australian Government’s initiative, he will be following in the line of the Soviet Union and calling nations to participate in the Olympics. However if the Government’s initiative for a boycott is effective, the ALP will want to join in and identify with it. As I said, the Opposition’s stance of wanting to lead from behind in this matter is most ineffective.
Nevertheless, I must recognise that one member of the Opposition, the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman), in the debate on 26 February said:
It is quite clear that the Olympic Games in Moscow should be boycotted, not only because of what has happened in Afghanistan, but also because of the type of country the Soviet Union is.
I think that is a courageous statement. I still seek for members of the Opposition to take a more bipartisan approach to the demonstration of this boycott.
If my time had not been taken up with quorum calls, I would have referred to the International Olympic Committee rules, particularly clause 24C, which forbid any national olympic committee associating itself with affairs of a political or commercial nature. Whilst this is directly contrary to the USSR Handbook for Party Activists which is available for 50c in all bookshops in Soviet cities for the people to read, as the Prime Minister pointed out, it has identified the holding of the Olympic Games in Moscow as the world ‘s support for the socialist policies of that country. It is total nonsense. This kind of political propagandising of the Olympic Games by the Soviet Union is to be thoroughly deplored. I do not know whether the International Olympic Committee has looked at that rule to find out whether or not it should take some disciplinary action. Certainly Lord Killanin has very much regretted such statements.
I have referred also in this Senate to the KGB control of the International Olympic Committee in Moscow and the KGB bugging of the Olympic village, alleged by Europeans. Will Australia participate, given the pattern of aggression that I have outlined and given the politicisation of the Olympic Games, which is very similar to the situation which pertained to Hitler’s Berlin Olympics? I propose that we should make as effective as possible the Australian Government’s call for a boycott of the Olympics and be consistent with our overall responses to this crisis. In conclusion,
I support the amendment moved by Senator Durack.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Colston)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
-It cannot be stressed too much or repeated too often, not least for the benefit of Government members such as Senator Teague, that the Australian Labor Party condemns without qualification the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It was mounted without a shred of legal or moral justification. It constituted a violation of the integrity of that proud and independent nation and it constituted a breach of all those standards of civilised behaviour which the international community has been striving so laboriously to construct since the end of the Second World War. On these matters the Opposition agrees with the Government. It disagrees with the Government in two respects: Firstly, the Opposition’s reading of the nature of the threat represented to the Western world in general, and Australia in particular, by the events in Afghanistan; and, secondly, in its belief as to the nature of the response which it is appropriate for Australia to make as a result of that analysis.
When one looks at the nature of the threat involved in the Afghanistan situation it cannot be denied that it has been a difficult situation to read. Leaving aside for a moment all the huffing and puffing and all the lurid overdramatisation designed in certain quarters to serve a party political advantage, it has to be acknowledged that there have been genuine differences of opinion as to the intentions and motivations of the Soviet in both the shorter and the longer run. On the one hand, it is said that this is all about an exercise in territorial imperialism; that it is a prelude to further thrusts down into Pakistan to secure a warm water port in the Indian Ocean and into Iran to seize the Iranian oil fields and to impose some kind of stranglehold over the Straits of Hormuz. This view has to acknowledge that the cost to the Soviet in terms of its influence and prestige in the non-aligned world, and especially in the Moslem world as a result of this action, has been very great. However, that view goes on to argue that the Soviets must have taken a calculated risk, weighing the geo-political or strategic advantage against the lack of credibility or enthusiasm they would have in the non-aligned world, and came down in that calculation on the side of seizing the strategic advantage.
The other view would have it that, although the Soviet action is equally indefensible, it was essentially an exercise with limited objectives designed to do no more than bring Afghanistan back firmly within the Soviet fold and to crush that Muslim dissent which was proving embarrassing to the maintenance of Soviet hegemony both in Afghanistan and within its own Asian republics. On the other side of this coin is the argument that the scale and intensity of the international reaction to that invasion- the United Nations resolution, the Muslim conference and the disgust that has been expressed by the nonaligned countries- simply was not fully foreseen or accurately calculated by the Soviet. Broadly speaking, they are the two alternative characterisations we have had of these events.
Although it was possible in the first days and even in the first weeks after 27 December for genuinely objective observers without a political axe to grind to be genuinely unsure of which characterisation was the more accurate, for some time it has been abundantly clear that the limited objective reading of the situation is overwhelmingly likely to be the correct one and that, however obnoxious the actions of the Soviet Union may have been, it is simply a wild exaggeration to say- as the Government does in the motion before the Senate and as Mr Fraser has said on so many occasions, echoing the flag waving line taken by President Carter in the United Statesthat this is actually or potentially the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1945. In the United States the whistle was first blown on that exaggerated argument by George Kennan in a very important article first printed in the New York Times on 1 February and reprinted in the Melbourne Age on 14 February. Kennan was a former United States Ambassador to Moscow and the architect in 1947 of the whole United States policy of containment of the Soviet Union which underlay the Cold War period. He was a cold warrior of quite notable dimensions. Kennan argued that the United States had misread the situation in Afghanistan and that it was completely failing to take into account, as he said: . . such specific factors as geographic proximity, ethnic affinity of peoples on both sides of the border, and the political instability in what is, after all, a border country of the Soviet Union.
He went on to argue that the United States reaction, with its military threats, its backtracking on SALT II, its rush to embrace the appalling General Zia of Pakistan and its setting of a 20 February deadline on the Olympic boycott, all amounted to a failure of mature statesmanship. Similarly, in Australia it has now become clear- if it was not clear earlier- that the Government is getting exactly the same advice as that from its own foreign policy and national security professionals in the Office of National Assessments and in the Department of Foreign Affairs. They are people whose patriotism ought to be no more in doubt than that of the Opposition, and people whose expertise and knowledge in military analysis is certainly infinitely greater than that of Mr Fraser and his Cabinet. The position of the Department of Foreign Affairs was put on public record in the statement of the Afghanistan specialist, Dr Merrilees in evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on 14 February, which was reported in the Press the following day. In his description of the situation, Dr Merrilees stated:
The USSR had decided to act when it was faced with a situation in Afghanistan where it felt it had little choice but to take charge.
He said that President Amin appeared to be in danger of losing power and that this posed the prospect of either anarchy on the one hand or an Islamic government in the Iranian style on the other, on the Soviet border, given the tribal factionalism and disunity among the conservative Moslem insurgents. He continued:
The Soviet Union would have been concerned at the possibility of the instability spreading inside the Soviet Union among the estimated SO million Moslems living in Soviet Russia with religious and economic ties with the Afghanis.
There would also have been concern that China, Pakistan or the United States might use the opportunity to extend their influence.
There Dr Merrilees was referring to the extension of influence into this traditionally troubled and contested zone. That is the position of the Department of Foreign Affairs as put by Dr Merrilees. We now know from documents which have been summarised and which appeared in the National Times last weekend that the analysis of the situation by the Office of National Assessments was in almost identical terms.
To summarise a complicated argument very briefly, the assessment was that the Soviet move had to be regarded as essentially defensive in character, designed to shore up a client state which was perceived to be in a condition of likely disintegration; that Afghanistan was not a nonaligned nation in any realistic sense of that word, and certainly not since 1978; that the Soviets were not aiming for the oilfields; that the invasion or occupation of Afghanistan did not in any way enhance the Soviet Union ‘s capacity to interdict the supply of oil from those oilfields to the Western world; nor was it likely to be seeking a warm water port, given that it already had one in Aden. Further, the ONA went on to say that the real danger in the region was not the Soviet Union itself but the internal instability of the countries in question. Finally, it said that the invasion reflected Soviet military arrogance and its defence paranoia rather than an exercise in territorial imperialism, properly so-called.
To acknowledge the force of this kind of analysis, to accept it as essentially accurate as the Opposition does and the Government does not, is not to engage in excuses or apologetics, as Senator Teague and so many of his colleagues would so offensively put it. Rather it is to engage in the kind of cool, rational threat evaluation which is an indispensable pre-condition in formulating any appropriate reaction. The kind of bluff and bluster, the crude exaggeration, the return to the rhetoric of the Cold War, the pathetic attempts to beat warning drums on the international stage- with nobody overseas watching the performance- may be thought to be good domestic politics by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) but it is not mature statesmanship and it is not the kind of thing to which this Parliament should lend any credence.
If this is the proper characteristic of the Afghanistan situation, the question then arises as to what should be the nature of the response of the free world, and Australia in particular. When a country is engaged in the kind of flagrant violation of international law in which the Soviet has been there is.no doubt that some response is appropriate. I am not suggesting, nor does the Labor Opposition suggest, that we should in any way turn a blind eye to this or any other violation of this kind; notwithstanding that we do have a long history of selective indignation in these matters, the most recent and disgraceful example being, of course, the Indonesian occupation of Timor.
– What did you say about Czechoslovakia?
– I acknowledge that the action in Czechoslovakia is exactly the kind of situation which demands an appropriate response to a flagrant violation of international law, justice and morality- as did the Hungarian invasion and innumerable other instances of that kind. I share the honourable senator’s views. But the issue for both sides of this Parliament is to determine what is an appropriate, effective and credible response by a country such as ours, or indeed any country, to that kind of situation.
Whether the appropriate response is of a military, economic or political kind will depend essentially, in the first instances, on in what way we characterise the behaviour of the target country. Certainly a military response should never be contemplated unless the behaviour of the country in question constitutes a threat of a critical kind to the interests that the other country is obliged to protect. The United States, which has characterised- I believe wrongly- the invasion of Afghanistan as posing a critical threat to its perhaps vital interests, and the certainly vital interests of western Europe in the Persian Gulf, has responded on all three levels- political, economic and military. At the political level, the centrepiece of its strategy is the Olympic Games boycott. Economically, it has mounted major trade embargoes. Militarily, it has involved itself in a massive upgrading of defence expenditure. In the language of Clark Clifford, it has actually gone so far as to threaten war- a war which on the United States Defence Department’s own published analysis could be realistically fought by the United States only with nuclear weapons.
I believe with George Kennan whom I quoted before that the reaction of the United States, particularly on the military side, has been an overreaction, of really quite alarming proportions. There is a war-time atmosphere abroad in the United States. I know that because I was there in January and early this month. It is not really an atmosphere that is properly described by the term ‘hysteria’; it is something that in a sense is much worse. It is an atmosphere of an almost casual willingness in the United States to think the unthinkable, to do something, anything, if the occasion seems to present itself, to restore the power and self-image of the United States as the free world’s policeman. The atmosphere in the United States is in marked contrast to that of the western European countries which certainly have as much if not more to lose if the Soviet Union does move into the Gulf area and will of course be the first to be annihilated if World War III breaks out in any form. The atmosphere in the United States is calculated to reinforce all that barely concealed paranoia and hostility which undoubtedly exists in the Soviet Union and it is an atmosphere which may make the possibility of war a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When we turn to the appropriate response for Australia, obviously the kinds of options even beginning to suggest themselves to a country such as ours are much more limited than those available to the United States. Certainly any military posture by Australia, even if it were appropiate in the circumstances- I have argued that it is not- would be an entirely empty gesture. Nothing that we could do would make the slightest difference to the great power balance in the
Indian Ocean let alone the Gulf, and it would be ludicrous for us to pretend otherwise.
The Government has used the occasion of the invasion of Afghanistan to announce a minor upgrading of defence expenditure. But even so, we are limping millions of dollars behind the targets which were set in the 1976 defence review, which the Opposition has continued to support. The Labor Party does not oppose the defences which have been announced in this Prime Ministerial statement, but it regards them as being simply irrelevant to the present debate because anything of this kind that we do simply lacks credibility because it lacks any kind of potential effectiveness. It may be, however, that we could do other things in response to the Afghanistan situation which would be appropriate, credible and effective. This is where we come to the argument about trade sanctions and the Olympic boycott, and this is where the Government’s policy is in a tangled, indefensible mess.
The Government has made it clear that it will not contemplate trade sanctions of any conceivably significant kind. It will not embargo wheat sales or meat sales. It will not stop the supply of wool, which is currently clothing Russian soldiers in the snowfields of Afghanistan. It will not stop the sale of hides, which are currently covering the shoes of those same Russian soldiers. It will not stop the sale of rutile or any other conceivably significant strategic mineral resource. It will not do anything which might conceivably stop the flow of dollars to Australian miners and graziers. Mr Fraser himself is not going to do anything to stop the flow of dollars that he personally will earn from the sale of the wool from his own sheds at Nareen, which is now on its way to Russia. All Mr Fraser and his Government will do is to do everything in its power to stop young Australian athletes from competing in the Olympic Games- not the Russian Olympic Games, it should be said, but the international Olympic Games which just happen this year fortuitously to be being held in Moscow.
Somebody will have to make a sacrifice, but according to this Government it will not be the graziers and miners; it will not be Mr Fraser himself; it will not be those occupying in any way the commanding heights of the economy; it will not even be the Australian taxpayer sharing a common economic burden. The only sacrifice is going to be that of the young athletes to whom the Olympic Games is the pinnacle of their striving and dedication and for whom this Games will, for most of them, be the one opportunity in their lifetime to earn recognition for their skills in an international arena. It is a sacrifice- this is important- which the Government is insisting on without the faintest idea of whether it will be effective.
– Will you support it if it is effective?
– I will come to that, Senator Teague. I think the answer will speak for itself. A boycott can be effective only if the overwhelming majority of the Western and non-aligned countries join in because any boycott which is simply confined to the United States and its most obviously obsequious satellites will be nothing other than a propaganda dream for the Soviets insofar as it will confirm everything they have been saying to their people for God knows how many decades about the paranoid hostility of the United States to everything that the Soviet Union stands for.
So, on the trade side, any action which might conceivably amount to more than a pin prick has been rejected out of hand by the Government. As to the Olympics, a course of action is being demanded in the name of patriotism without the Government having the faintest idea at this stage whether it will have a political effect of a positive kind, which we would all like, or whether it will be simply counter-productive. But the worst thing about the Olympic boycott- this will remain true even if many other Western and nonaligned nations do join in; and the effectiveness in that sense of the boycott is put beyond doubt so that I and other senators on my side of the chamber cannot really dispute that fact any longer- is that even if this happens it will remain a course of action which is being undertaken by this Government, on behalf of this nation, without any underlying moral authority. So long as the Government- I think this is the sort of point that Senator Teague with his Christian goodwill will understand- places the whole burden on athletes, refusing to make any equal sacrifice from its own ranks, refusing to demand any equality of sacrifice from the community as a whole, it stands accused of perpetrating the worst kind of cheap, double standards. That is the essence of the Opposition’s position on the Olympic Games because if there is anything that Australians cannot stand it is hypocrisy.
The attitude of the Prime Minister in particular in sending his wool to Russia while demanding that young athletes stay home is perhaps the clearest example of hypocrisy in modern Australian political history. So long as this Government persists with double standards of this kind Australia will not be a credible, but will be a contemptible figure on the world stage. Australians will judge this Government accordingly at the ballot box. If Australia wants to play a positive role in reacting to the Afghan situation and in doing something which might conceivably improve the position of the Afghans, it should not be making cheap hypocritical gestures, convincing only to itself, and it certainly should not be proclaiming with the gusto that only Mr Fraser can bring to these matters the death of detente. Rather it should be doing everything in its power to encourage the nations whose interests are most at stake and whose prestige and pride is most at stake to get together around the conference table. It should be using such diplomatic goodwill as Australia retains to get behind such initiatives as those which very encouragingly emerged from the European Ministers, proposing a guarantee of Afghanistan’s neutrality on the basis of the withdrawal of Soviet troops.
Australia built up, under the Whitlam Administration, very large reservoirs of goodwill around the world, enabling us to talk on good terms with many countries, especially in the nonaligned area. What concerns me and what concerns the Opposition as a whole is the stance which has been taken by the Fraser Administration. Its slavish and uncritical following of the United States lead on this matter will do nothing to enhance our credibility with those countries which may have been minded in recent years to take us seriously. It will do nothing more than dissipate completely and irrevocably, I fear, the one small chance that we as a government, as a nation, have of doing something which is actually constructive and useful to correct a situation which we all undoubtedly deeply deplore.
-To understand the problems of Afghanistan I think we need to look at some of the history of that country. We all recall that Alexander the Great moved through Afghanistan on his way to the Khyber Pass. The Viceroy of India, John Lawrence, in detailing further British annexations on the north-west frontier of India in 1867, said:
The Afghan will bear poverty, insecurity of life; but he will not tolerate foreign rule.
Later Sir Henry Rawlinson, in England and Russia in the East, in 1 875 said:
The continued advance of Russia in Central Asia is as certain as the movement of the sun in the heavens . . . Russia will continue to push onward towards India until arrested by a barrier which she cannot remove or overstep. If this program be correct, it means of course contact and collision . . .
These words, I believe, are as true today as they were when they were written in the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, there is widespread ignorance about Afghanistan and its people. It is a large nation in geographic terms, bordered by Russia, Iran, Pakistan. It has a short 100- kilometre border with China. However, it is not a small country. It covers 647,497 square kilometres, so it is very much bigger than countries such as Somalia, Thailand, Burma or even France. Approximately 80 per cent of its 21 million people are dependent on agriculture. The harsh mountain terrain divides the country and has led to a diversity of its peoples and cultures and has contributed to many schisms and hereditary views. The population is scattered, in many cases in small localities, and these show great diversity. I think the attemps by some of the rulers of the past in regarding Afghanistan very much as a buffer state led to a situation which has contributed to many of the problems of today.
One thing is certain: The whole area is one of instability. Look at Iran and Pakistan. Both have economic and political difficulties. I mentioned earlier that Afghanistan has traditionally been regarded as a buffer state. It is still very much a buffer state in the world in which we live. In recent years the country has been the recipient of aid from both the Soviet Union and the West. Soviet aid has been principally of a military character. Britain was a contributor, and when it withdrew the United States began to assist that country. A number of people tend to forget that it was from Afghanistan that Garry Powers took off in the U2 during the 1950s on his ill-fated mission into the Soviet Union. Today we find the viability of Pakistan very much at stake. That country needs tremendous economic and political support.
The 1970s saw tremendous changes to Afghanistan. That decade saw the end of overtwo centuries of dynastic rule. The Daoud regime which came to power in 1973 was assisted by the leftists. But Daoud, by his suppression of Marxism, was ultimately overthrown, principally through Soviet subversion of the armed forces. Those who overthrew Daoud promised all things to all men, including political reform, economic improvement and improvement of the traditional patterns of society. However, one thing that many of these reformers overlooked was the strong feeling for the traditional way of life and conservatism within the Afghan society.
The leadership in Afghanistan since 1 973 has turned increasingly to the Soviet Union. But it is hard for the West to appreciate that sort of relationship. It was a strange relationship. When Daoud was overthrown President Taraki came to power. But he did not last long. He came to power in April 1978 and he was dead by October 1979. We are told that on 26 December President Amin invited the Soviet troops into Afghanistan. That invitation brought not only Soviet troops but also within a few days the death of President Amin. On 27 December 1979 Soviet troops led an attack on the palace in Kabul and on the radio station. The President was killed in the fighting that ensued and radio Kabul was actually broadcast from Termez within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. So it was an unusual sort of invitation for a country which led to successive presidents being overthrown and subsequently killed.
The leadership in Afghanistan has not always had the full support of the people of Afghanistan. The Soviet action, I suppose to some extent, must be explained by reference to its actions in other countries. I think of East Berlin and Hungary and of the situation in 1968 in Czechoslovakia when the Government of Alexander Dubcek was overthrown. Twelve years later the Government of President Amin of Afghanistan was overthrown at a time when he was reputedly asking for Soviet assistance. Soviet assistance comes in a peculiar way when it results in rulers of sovereign independent countries being overthrown.
However, the real shock of Afghanistan to the Western world was the speed with which the Soviet troops moved in. Within a short time we heard that there were 85,000 troops in Afghanistan. During the reign of President Taraki there were reputedly something like 350 advisers in Afghanistan. But the speed with which the Soviet troops marched in and used tanks, helicopters and planes meant that there had to be a high degree of reconnaissance and preparation such as selecting the route for the soldiers, the laying of mines and so on. So a high degree of preparation and subversion must have been necessary. I think the real significance of the invasion of Afghanistan to the free world was that it was the first time Soviet troops were used outside the Warsaw Pact. In fact, it was the first time they were used outside Europe- they were used in Asia- to conquer an independent country. I think it is appropriate that I should quote from the speech of Lord Carrington to the House of Lords. Lord Carrington stated:
The Soviet action is a breach of all the conventions which have governed East- West relations Tor the last decade. It is a vivid demonstration of the Soviet drive to gain wider influence wherever possible by propaganda, by subversion, and where necessary by force. Together with the arrest ofthe Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr Sakharov, it reflects cynical disregard for world opinion. It is bound to affect our attitude in current and future negotiations between East and West, though we naturally want these to continue where they clearly serve our own interests as well as those of the Soviet Union.
One Soviet dissident speaking about the Olympic Games was heard to say, referring to those rings which are the symbols of the Olympic Games: Everywhere, every time I see those symbols I think of handcuffs ‘. The importance of the Soviet presence in Afghanistan must not be underrated. The Soviet troops are effectively now 500 miles closer to the Persian Gulf and to the Straits of Hormuz than they were previously. This is particularly significant so far as the West is concerned because Western economies are largely dependent on the free flow of oil. The Minister for Defence, Mr Killen, gave some interesting statistics in the other place recently. He referred to the flow of oil to the Western world which passes through the Straits of Hormuz. He stated that 33 per cent of the oil used in the United States of America flowed through those straits. Fifty per cent of oil used in Canada, 68 per cent of oil used in Britain and 72 per cent of oil used in Japan also flowed through those straits.
By taking over Afghanistan the Soviet Union is in a far greater and better position to invade Iran. We know of the tremendous instability in that country. It is generally conceded that it is difficult to determine where the real power structure lies in Iran. It would not be at all difficult in the turmoil that prevails in that country for a Soviet inspired leader to emerge in some area and to invite the Soviets in. There would probably be little that the West could do under such circumstances because we already know that many of the approximately 90,000 to 100,000 troops that are in Afghanistan are along the Iranian border. So the consequences of further incursions by the Soviets from Afghanistan into Iran cannot be discounted.
Military retaliation in Afghanistan is completely out of the question. It is important therefore that there be a significant world response. But sometimes a significant world response has to be organised. I believe that our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Peacock, and our Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, played a significant part in recent months in bringing about a significant world response. This significant world response will not be achieved by people such as Trudeau sitting on the fence.
There has been a significant response. I recall the 104 members within the United Nations condemning Soviet action. I think of the condemnation that came from the Islamic Conference. I think of the condemnation that even came from the Ayatollah Khomeini. I think of the condemnation that came from the Council of Europe which comprises 2 1 nations. Even Mrs Gandhidespite her previous pro-Soviet feelings- has recognised that the difficulties and problems resulting from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan have undoubtedly heightened tension in that country and brought dangers very much closer to the borders of India.
The invasion of Afghanistan occurred with a disregard of world opinion. The Soviet Union, in this instance, is offering apologies for its actions. We did not see apologies for incursions in East Berlin, Hungary or Czechoslovakia. We are now in a dangerous situation. We are reliably informed that President Brezhnev of the USSR was not all that much in favour of the invasion. But the critical feature is that he did not have sufficient power. Here we see the rise of a more militant element within the Soviet Union. This element, defying world opinion, can create dangers for the free world. I believe that we must have a significant response so that people within the Soviet Union know the attitude of the free world. The question is how that response is best effected.
We all know that trade boycotts are difficult to enforce. One has to look only at the recent attitude of the Argentine in readily moving in to fill the shortages which occurred as a result of American and Australian action. Even our neighbour, New Zealand, has indicated that it is not prepared to take part in a boycott. Recent events in Afghanistan have indicated that the Soviet forces, although reputedly invited into Afghanistan, have very little respect for the Afghan people. We read of 800 people being killed in the vicinity of Kabul. We also hear that these Soviet forces turned their guns on the Afghan soldiers who refused to fire on their own people. Is it any wonder that the former 100,000 strong army is now but 25 per cent of that strength due to desertions and other reasons? The world condemns the action of the Soviet Union.
I mentioned earlier that the rest of the world must make a meaningful response. Detente has been operative for 10 years. It has been largely successful through the actions and co-operation of countries such as Germany and France that have seen the horrors of war. Now we are seeing the possibility of a complete breakdown of detente. But East and West view detente differently. Unfortunately, to the Russians detente means the preservation of their own security but at the same time having free and open access to the technology and foodstuffs of the world. At times both of these commodities have been supplied to the USSR on very liberal credit terms.
I believe that Australia’s response has been significant. My colleagues in this chamber have already outlined in detail the items covered. I do not intend to do that tonight. What I stress is the importance for the free world to tighten up permanently on selling sensitive technology to the Soviet Union. At this time of crisis I believe that we need statesmanship. We need leaders who have brave hearts and cool heads, people who are prepared to look for solutions at a time of grave crisis. For example, a lead has been given not only by our Government but also by Britain and the United States. The Governments of the European Economic Community, as Senator Evans mentioned, have offered Russia an international guarantee of neutrality in regard to Afghanistan in return for the withdrawal of the Russian troops from that country. I believe that we have statesmen in Australia. I think particularly of our Foreign Minister, Mr Peacock, and also the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser. On their world campaigns they have stressed the need for a significant response and have outlined to the peoples of the world the atrocities and the problems that could be encountered by the free world because of the strategic importance of Afghanistan and the importance of protecting Pakistan in a very difficult time. Pakistan and India have problems. So it is necessary to help re-arm Pakistan in some way and at the same time to ensure that India is not fearful of attack from Pakistan.
The problem to the free world is about the precariousness of who controls the oil flow. The Western world would be in a dire position should the Soviet Union be in a position to control the Straits of Hormuz. Defence Minister Killen has stated that the Soviet Union now has over 400,000 mines that can be laid in the sea. If the Soviet Union were therefore in a position to mine this route, the economics of the Western world would be in complete disarray. I think, therefore, that it is important that the free world recognises the difficulties that lie in the aggessive tendencies of the Soviet Union and make a significant response. I believe that Australia has played its part in contributing this response.
– In the 30 seconds I have left to speak, I say that we are now witnessing a long drawn out debate which has taken up all of last week and nearly all of this week. In my view it is just a political ploy on behalf of this Liberal-National
Country Party Government to draw the attention– ( Quorum formed).
– Order! It being after 1 1 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
-I will not keep the Senate any more than about three minutes. I rise only to comment on a statement made by the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) this afternoon in the House of Representatives in which he named me among some of my colleagues as allegedly indicating some support for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This is the only opportunity that I will have to speak to that statement. Specifically the Minister quoted an extract from a television interview with me on Nationwide. The Minister’s quotation is substantially correct, although of course it is only a part of the total interview. The quote reads:
If the Soviet Government is confronted with the same position . . . as it was confronted with in Afghanistan, it will do the same thing.
Certainly in substance that is what I said, and I do not deny it because I believe it is true. I am not here to argue that. Suffice it to say that to claim that that is an excuse by me for the invasion of Afghanistan is the product only of a sick little mind. The Minister in the place is a sick pedlar of hate. These are the people we are unfortunate enough to have in this Parliament with their extremist views.
I only want to add to that an extract from a speech by George Kennan which has been used in this debate because it is relevant to the motion that was moved in the House of Representatives today. I do not think I am out of order in reading that motion. It reads:
That this House is of the opinon that the Australian Labor Party, led by the Leader of the Opposition, is seeking to undermine the efforts of Australia and other like-minded nations to establish an effective response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which would bring home to the Soviet Government and people the grave threat to world peace of the Soviet action.
In all my interviews and the statements which I as spokesman for the Opposition have issued on this matter since 3 January I have not on one occasion, even though I have been invited to do so, accused the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) of trying to use this issue for political gain. In fact I have said on the occasions when I have been asked that question that I believe he has possibly acted with that thought in mind but because he happens to believe the sorts of things he is saying. Maybe one can argue about the sincerity of those remarks. Nevertheless that is his conviction, or we assume it to be.
I now retract. I go back on the view that I have taken because I have been wrong. This motion demonstrates beyond a measure of doubt that Mr Fraser and the Government are using the Afghanistan issue for domestic political purposes. This motion is evidence of it. For the Opposition of this Parliament, which made its position on the Afghanistan issue clear, to be accused by this Government of trying in some way to give support or to give some sort of comfort to the Soviet Union is a rotten, filthy distortion of the facts. I deliberately accuse the Prime Minister and the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs of being in the same category.
I will complete my remarks by quoting from Kennan because what Kennan says sums up the scurrilous nature of the people who originated that motion. Kennan ‘s name will live a lot longer than that of the Frasers and Viners of this world. This is what Kennan said:
If there was ever a time for realism, prudence and restraint in American statesmanship, it is this one. Nothing in the passions of electoral politics could serve as the slightest excuse for ignoring this necessity.
That is enough said about Mr Fraser and Mr Viner.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1 1.6 p.m.
The following papers were presented, pursuant to statute:
Customs Tariff- Orders- Developing Country- 1979- No. 14. 1980- No. 1.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 February 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1980/19800227_senate_31_s84/>.