INTERJECTION: Mr Lange Sir, if I may address you as 'mate', perhaps. You talk about the quality of rationality. Now I've heard many reasons advanced for keeping American sailors out of ports - it usually has something to do with the honour of the women involved, or the property value of the ports. What I should like to know, sir, is why you don't do the honourable and the consistent thing, and pull out of the ANZUS alliance. For whether you are snuggling up to the bomb, or living in the peaceful shadow of the bomb, New Zealand benefits, sir. And that's the question with which we charge you. And that's the question with which we would like an answer, sir.
And I'm going to give it to you if you hold your breath just for a moment … I can smell the uranium on it as you lean forward!
I want to pass over here the preparations which are constantly being made for the winnable or even survivable nuclear war. I would ignore those and wholeheartedly embrace the logic of the unthinkable war if it could be established that the damage which could result from the collapse of that logic could be confined to nuclear weapon states. Unfortunately and demonstrably, it would not. We in New Zealand, you know, used to be able to relax a bit, to be able to think that we would sit comfortably while the rest of the world seared, singed, withered. We were enraptured!
And the fact is that we used to have the reputation of being some kind of an antipodean Noah's Ark, which would from within its quite isolated, preserve, spawn a whole new world of realistic human kind. Now, the fact is that we know that that is not achievable. We know that if the nuclear winter comes, we freeze, we join the rest of you. And that means that there is now a total denouement as far as any argument in favour of moral purpose goes. It is a strange, dubious and totally unaccepted moral purpose which holds the whole of the world to ransom.
There is another assertion of the good moral character of nuclear weapons which holds that they are the armour of good against evil. The argument of the Crusaders; the people who took to arms. The evil which cannot be defeated by persuasion or example must needs be suppressed by annihilation. The obvious difficulty here is that evil has declined to be subdued; evil has not accepted annihilation.
The church and its representatives have been going at it now for 2000 years - and it persists. Every attempt to subdue it strengthens its resolve to arm itself further. And the will of the good in weaponry's terms is corrupted by the terrible force of the weapon, into the will of the evil.
And all of us, wherever we are, whatever we believe, live in fear of nuclear weapons. There is a community of interest which binds us all to common ground, which is there so that we all wish to see the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The President of the United States speaks in terms of the elimination of nuclear weapons. Yet nuclear weapons proliferate. The budgets for their creation expand. They in fact govern us. Their existence diverts attention from the fact that there are other ways of resolving the difficulties and tensions which will always abound in the world. Nuclear weapons are not needed.
All the arguments which can be brought forward in support of this evil come to nothing in the fact of its ultimate irrelevance. I don't make that assertion because I have some simple South Pacific - as you put it, grand gesture - answer to the question of the existence of nuclear weapons: all of you in Europe know that negotiating an end to nuclear weapons could hardly be more difficult. And then you have the hide to come here and say that New Zealand's stance is somehow threatening the strength of the West in Geneva. And then others criticise us because they say our position has not reduced by one the number of nuclear weapons in the world. You can't have it both ways!
Either the West goes to Geneva girt about with the hardware it had a month ago, or it doesn't. And it does - and in that nuclear stare-out, there will be a blink - I pray - and there can be a climb-back. But you know you can't wholeheartedly support the argument in favour of the superpowers negotiating control of them while nuclear powers embrace the logic of escalation.
INTERJECTION: Sir, there are many of us here tonight who are very impressed by your courage and idealism. But on the other side of the house, from which I come, there are many of us indeed who cannot but remember that this debate is only taking place because hundreds of thousands of your fellow countrymen were prepared to give their lives so that we might live in freedom. And the accusation which those of us who would be your friends and supporters still must make against you is to express our scepticism that you are substituting idealism - a very fragile idealism - for the very secure reality that we have gained through long years of struggle. And I put that to you that that is the real subject we are debating tonight. And I would ask you to answer it.
The simple fact is that I make no pretence that the problem which confronted New Zealand is that same as that which confronts Western Europe. And you point out - and you have the right to point out, and I am glad that you did, notwithstanding that you allege that you oppose me - that people from New Zealand, a country which has never been attacked, have willingly taken up arms in Europe. They have died in African campaigns, they have their bones bleaching in deserts, they are buried in Italy. They have fought in Vietnam. We have forces right now in Sinai. We have a battalion in Singapore where the British used to be!
And the fact is we do not shrink from that responsibility. We never have, and we are not going to. The fact is that we do not choose, we do not choose to be unilateral armers. It makes no sense for a country to surround its waters or to invite into its ports or country nuclear weapons, when there is no balance to be achieved. The balances there now, there are none. And we don't propose to deter enemies which do not yet exist.
And I ask you to consider that as a fundamental reality of the New Zealand position. And the people of New Zealand reached a very straightforward conclusion: that nuclear weapons which would defend them; they believed, caused them more alarm than any which threatened them, and accordingly, they deem it pointless to be defended by them. And the speakers for the negative who asked the question, are we prepared to have a nuclear umbrella from the United States in terms of an ANZUS arrangement … the answer to that is very simply, very definitely, is not only are we [not] prepared to accept it, we deny it, we refuse it and we specifically say - we do not want to be defended by nuclear weapons!
Because we by that avoid the risk of escalating our area into a nuclear zone. You see, in the South Pacific, it's not difficult to achieve the balance of force which allows you with that cheerfulness to dispense with nuclear weapons.
INTERJECTION: Sir, I would just like to say, don't you feel that you should weigh your moral stance with the pernicious effects it will have not only on Asian security, but western security as a whole? Particularly in light of the fact that there are movements in Japan, Australia and NATO itself, that would like to pull out, and use your precedent as an example, and pull out of their responsibilities to the alliance. And I for one as an American do not feel that we should shoulder the defence of the western world. And I think it's something that everybody should contribute to and you, sir, are not doing your part
This country New Zealand is not going to contribute to a nuclear alliance. This country New Zealand never has. New Zealand was declared by the former government to be no part of a nuclear alliance - and we will pick up the tab by conventional defence. And one of the immoralities of nuclear weaponry, surely, is that it creates such a level of depersonalisation that the infinite capacity of destruction is unleashed by a few. Much more is there a moral posture in the conventional event where the humanity of a situation has to be constantly assessed, and where there is always a possibility of restraint, because individual people say, dammit, I'm not going to go ahead and do that, because it is absolutely immoral, contrary to the whole ethos of humankind, to do that. You don't get the checks and balances along the nuclear trail.
And in my country, we pay our tab. We are not creating a policy for imitation or export. We can't even deport it to Australia! It's 1200 miles away! And if you think that Belgium and Holland and Greece developed a certain posture, an undercurrent, a surge because of the New Zealand position, you do us a considerable flattery about our omnipotence, because, you, know, we didn't even know they were even thinking about it! And we are no threat to that.
I say to you we are prepared to pay that price. We have a long history of being anti-nuclear. One of my predecessors in office sent those ships to Mururoa. We've had the fight in the legal areas. We are constantly at issue with France. We proposed in '75 a South Pacific Zone. We are going to work to protect that this year. We have honoured our long-standing commitments. We've not welshed on any deals for defence. We are in Singapore with a battalion where Britain was, and we going to see that we contribute to regional security and stability.
And what has happened to New Zealand since the Labour government was elected last year and began to implement its long-established policy - you know, one of the most amazing things about expectations of world governments, is that first they assume that the opposition's policy is infinitely flexible, and then they immediately assume that when you get into government you'll do a u-turn. Well, we are not infinitely flexible, and we've done no u-turn, and we've done exactly what we've said we'd do. And that of course is terribly destabilising …
Because it makes it so difficult to read all the signs. But what essentially has happened is a demonstration of how nuclear weapons have assumed a moral life of their own.
We have never been part of strategic defence. The only nuclear weapons which presumably were brought by our allies to New Zealand in the past have been tactical weapons. We decided we didn't want to be part of someone's tactical nuclear battle. It's just about as bad as being part of somebody else’s strategic nuclear battle. But that has not in any way diminished the deterrent power of the Western alliance. We have not given comfort to the Soviet bloc. We have not undermined the West.