The US Almost Fired Missiles At Australia - With Our PM's Approval

The 1980s weren't just about Walkmans and Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet album - the early 80s was also the climax of the Cold War between Russia and the USA. And now, 30 years later, the national archives has released classified documents that shows then Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser signed off on a proposal to let the US fire MX missiles from California into the Tasman Sea.

The documents - as reported by News - show that in 1981 the Federal Australian government agreed to let the US fire two missiles at us in 1984. The documents even outline how the tests would be announced to parliament:

"I wish to inform the House that the Government has agreed to the US request and that two test launches will occur in January/February 1984. I would emphasise that the tests do not involve warheads as such and the missiles will not contain any nuclear material.

"The missile launch point is to be Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The flight path does not pass over the Australian mainland or Tasmania. The nearest point to the Australian mainland will be some 220 kilometres east of Cape Pillar in Tasmania.

"In the very unlikely event that the missile moved off the pre-computed safety corridor of the flight path the missile would be destroyed.

"Assuming that we would not want a vessel fairly readily identified as a range instrumentation shop scheduled to call at an Australian port in the period October/November 1983, we could nominate July/August 1983 as the time for the ship visit and January/February 1984 as the time for the missile tests."

The News article states that the idea was nixed in 1985 after Bob Hawke became PM, although that doesn't quite explain why it didn't happen in 1984.

Malcolm Fraser told News that he wouldn't make the same decision today. Good to know.

[News]

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