PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 - 11/03/1983
Release Date:
Release Type:
Statement in Parliament
Transcript ID:
00005534.pdf 5 Page(s)
Released by:
  • Fraser, John Malcolm

* 7 / t4 I^.
4, jAUSTitALIA l-
I 3,-I
Honourable Members will recall that negotiations on the staging
of B-52s through Australia were temporarily suspended to allow
tchne newe Administration of President Reagan time to examine and
consider the matter.
I am pleased to inform the House that in the course of his
recent talks in Washington with Secretary of State, Alexander Haig,
the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tony Street, took this matter
further and was able to bring it to a successful conclusion.
I should lik: e to pay tribute to the Minister for his handling
of this iƱ p: rtant issue.
Agreeme--. s now been reached between our two Governments on
the terr.-= n conditions which will govern. US Air Force B-52
staging-: 7lign-s through Darwin.
I am t-hing the texts of the Notes exchanged between the
Depart-e.-of Foreign Affairs and the United States Embassy on
11 March 13.1, which constitute this agreement. As Honourable
Members wili note, the agreement provides that:
the B-52 flights shall be for sea surveillance in
Sthe Indian-Ocean area and for navigation training
the agreement of the Australian Government would need
to be obtained before the facilities at RAAF Base,
Darwin could be used in support of any other category
of operations
the B-52 aircraft on surveillance flights will be
supported by KC-135 tanker aircraft for aerial
refuelling and the operations shall consist of periodic
deployments of up to three B-52 and six KC-135 aircraft
Sabout 100 US Air Force personnel and associated
equipment will support the staging operations and some
ofthese may be stationed at RAAF base Darwin
there will be-no change in the status of RAAF base
Darwin as an Australian facility under Australian control.
As the terms of the agreement make abundantly clear,
nothing in the arrangements governing these flights -could
be'regarded as in any way infringing Australian sovereignty
/ 2

the US will provide the Australian Government with
full and timely information about strategic and
operational developments relevatht to the B-52 staging
operations through Darwin.
The House will be aware that US Air Force B-52 airbraft are
currently conducting low-level navigation training over Australia.
As the Minister for Defence stated on 3 February 1980 these
flights originate at Guam, the aircraft carry out navigational.
training over Queensland, and then return to their base-at Guam.
The operations will be an extension of these current operations.
After completing the low-level training exercises, the aircraf& f'
will land at Darwin and refuel. After appropriate crew rest the
aircraft will undertake sea surveillance and navigation training
operations over the Indian Ocean an area of great security
interest to both Australia and the United States. The flights
will then return via Darwin to Guam. As is the case with the
current navigational missions, the flights landing at Darwin
will be unarmed and will carry no bombs.
As there has been much speculation in the media and elsewhere
about this matter, I should like to emphasise that it has been
agreed between the Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State
that the aircraft staging through Darwin under the arrangements
now agreed for surveillance flights and navigation training
will be unarmed and carry no bombs.
As I ha--also told the House the exchange of notes provides
that the tralian Z:; nment's agreement would need to be
obtaia. =; efore the . rAFE facilities could. be used in support of
any other zategory cf operations by the United States. In that
regard e: me state, so that there can be no grounds for au-_ stion
or doub't the basis on which the agreement of the Australi n
governrnent would be given to such other operations. Austcxlia
would need to know, firstly, what the strategic and tactical
objectives are and Australia would need to be in agreement
with these; and second, what weapons are being carried and i~ n
particular whether nuclear weapons are being carried.
The Australian Government has a firm policy that aircraft carrying
nuclear weaponswill not be allowed to fly over or stage through
Australia without its prior knowledge and agreement. Nothing less
than this is consistent with the maintenance of our national
sovereignty. I am particularly pleased that it has been possible to reach
finality on this question so soon in the term of the new
Administration. Australia shares the US determination to take
all steps within its power to deter further Soviet expansionism.
We stand ready to lend our ANZUS partner what assistance we can
in pursuit of our common aims. The provision of staging facilities
at Darwin for these US aircraft will facilitate the surveillance
and'training operations they are carrying out in an area of prime
security concern to Australia. It also affords a further example
of the close practical-co-operation which has been developed
over many years between our two nations.

604/ 1/ 2 The Department of Forcign Affairs piresents its
compliments to the Embassy of the United States of America
and has the honour to refer to recent discussions betweenrepresentatives
of the two Governments concerning the
proposal by the United States for the staging of United
States Air Force B-52 aircraft and associated KC-135 tanker
aircraft through Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, and
the terms under which the proposed operations might proceed.
Subject to the terms and conditions specified
below, the Government of Australia agrees to USAF use of
RAAF Basec Darwin for these staging operations:
The B-52 staging opc) r: ll ions shall be for sea
survci. llance in the Indian Ocean area and for navigation
training purposes. The agreement of the Government of
Australia shall be obtained-before the facilities are used
i support of any other category of operations.
( II) The operations shall consist of periodic
*-.: deployments through Darwin of up to three B-52 and six
KC-135 aircraft, supported by about 100 USAF personnel and
associated 6quipment. En route to or from Darwin the B-52s
. may conduct.. low-le. vel., invi. gajti. on training over Austr; ilia on
the basis of the arrangements announced by the Australian
Minister for Defence on 3 February 1980.
( III) Staging may. include.. the stationing at RAAF Base
Darwin of some US support personnel and equipment if
requested. The support personnel would remain under US
command and the RAAF would provide mutually agreed levels
of logistic and administrative support. / 2.

22 r
( IV) The Status of lForccs Agrc_. crment of 9 May 19G3
would apply. Irrespective of financial arrangements agreed
between the two Governments, RAAF Base Darwin'shall
remain an Australian facility under Australian control.
( VI) No circumstances arising from this Agreement -sHal].,
affect the title of the Government of Australia to the
relevant land, or the pre-existing authority of the
Government of Australia in the use of RAAF Base Darwin.
( V 1) Arrangements shall be made for consul t. ations
to ensure Lhat the Government of Australia has 1ull and
timely information about strategic and operational
developments relevant to B-52 staging operations through
Australia. ( VIII) In considering whether to agree to any request for
alter:. 2. on of the errns of this Agreement the Government
of A's-. r-lia shall give weight to its international
commit-. nts and policies relating inter alia to the Treaty
o( the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to Australia's
conunitients under the Security Treaty between Australia,
New Zealand and the United States of America signed at
San Francisco on 1 September. .1951,.. to the common objective
of deterrence of Soviet military expansion and to its
understanding of US strategic and operational policies
and activities as derived from the consultations under
sub-paragraph VII above.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has the honour to
propose that, if these terms and conditions are acceptable to
the Governmibnt of the United States of America, this Note,
together with the Emba-ssy's reply, shall constitute an agreement / 3.
e~ o

I) C twcefl the two Cove rnnic-Its. The. DepVi tment filio r propww. eS
LiI~ L L hv ig recIiell L SK-i111. en i nto fo rc Ol Lh i ( L of 1. h (
Lrn:~~ sre. ply* and that i t shall coi~ tinu' in ior cc until,
terminated on one year's notice iA writing by either GOVQI-OW~ l~ nL.
' The Department of Foteign Affairs takes this
opportunity to renew to the Embassy of the United States " of
Americ-a the assurances of its highest consideration.*~
1~ ./ 2