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Monday, 20 May 1985
Page: 2192


Senator JESSOP(9.08) —I have heard a number of interesting speeches from my colleagues who have taken advantage of the motion for the second reading of the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) to make a contribution to this debate. I commend them, particularly Senator Baume who drew attention to some of the broken promises of the Hawke Government. I listened to Senator Peter Rae who made a significant contribution on the question of financing local government. I also heard Senator Chipp earlier in the debate raise some good points, particularly with respect to local government financing, and I support what he said. I certainly support what Senator Peter Rae said about the reduction in funds available to local government to a degree where local government authorities will be forced either to raise rates or reduce services and possibly to consider the retrenchment of employees. The decision by the Government to reduce funds is unfair to local government and could result in another tax being levied on the taxpayers of Australia, already overtaxed, with local government being forced to take the blame.

I have made representations to the Minister responsible suggesting that this decision on financing of local government should have been left until the Self Committee reported. I understand that that report if due towards the end of September. At that time that Committee will bring forward recommendations concerning the funding of local government authorities. It is quite irresponsible and negligent of the Government to make any decision at this stage. I hope that when the Self Committee reports and presents the Government with an assessment of the problems of financing local government, this decision will be reviewed. I support what Senator Chipp said in that regard.

I was concerned when Senator Chipp suggested that he would put the Liberal Party and National Party senators to the test in asking us to support the rejection of a money Bill. Senator Chipp came into this Senate with his Party and said that the Australian Democrats would keep the Government honest. He used slightly more unparliamentary words at that time. Anyone would think that the Democrats were the only honest politicians in Australia. I suggest that he should remember that he also said, when he entered the Senate, that the Democrats would not reject Supply. No matter what he says to justify his Party rejecting a money Bill, this would be, in effect, the rejection of Supply, or part of the Government's Budget, and that is not the prerogative of this Senate, unless reprehensible circumstances arise. However much I deplore some of the things the Government has done and is doing, I do not think we have arrived at that point.

I now refer to the Gleneagles Agreement. This seems to be a very popular matter to which the Government has devoted its attention in recent times. The parties to the Gleneagles Agreement suggested that sporting contacts with South Africa should be discouraged. I think that is a fairly reasonable suggestion, as we all have some objection to apartheid, but discouragement does not mean that sporting contacts with that country should be banned by the Australian Government. What has happened with respect to Mr Hughes, a loyal cricketer to Australia, in recent times--


Senator Townley —A very good cricketer.


Senator JESSOP —He is an exceptionally good cricketer. What has happened to him and his 13 colleagues seems to me to be quite unfair and quite incredible. Today I read in the Australian that Mr Hughes said:

It seems my loyalty to cricket meant nothing.

Tonight I defend those cricketers, because they are professional cricketers who want to ply their trade in a free way, which happens to be the spirit of Australian democracy, or so I thought until I heard what the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) said condemning these people for daring to ply their trade in South Africa.


Senator Peter Baume —It was his attack upon them that was reprehensible, wasn't it?


Senator JESSOP —I believe that is right. I ask: Where has the free spirit of Australia gone? Where is the right of the individual to exercise his freedom? The Minister for Community Services (Senator Grimes) is frowning at me, wondering why--


Senator Grimes —You paid people not to go to Moscow. You paid sportsmen not to go to Moscow.


Senator JESSOP —Do not interrupt me. Listen to what I have to say. Where is the freedom of Australians to go--


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Elstob) —Order! Senator Jessop, I call you to order and ask you to come back to the Appropriation Bills.


Senator JESSOP —I beg your pardon, Mr Acting Deputy President, but I am provoked by the Minister. I am not saying anything about Russia. I do not mind sending sportsmen to Russia, but I believe we ought to be evenhanded and send them to South Africa as well, and pay them to go there, too, if we need to. What is wrong with that? I am asking the question: What about the freedom of individuals to pursue their particular occupation in the spirit of true Australian democracy?


Senator Grimes —What about the freedom of the blacks in South Africa?


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order, Senator Grimes. Senator Jessop, I ask you to address your remarks through the Chair.


Senator JESSOP —I am addressing them to you, but I am afraid I am aggravated by the interjections from your right. I do not think that that is quite the right area that they should be coming from in the political spectrum. I ask the question again: What about the freedom of speech and the dissemination of information to the people of the world, including the people of Australia? This fiasco has got to a stage where it is almost laughable. Eighty per cent of the people of Australia surveyed in a recent gallup poll agreed with Australia having sporting contacts with South Africa.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Jessop, I have asked you to address your remarks to the Appropriation Bills.


Senator JESSOP —I am talking about the Appropriation Bills, and I think this gives me a fair amount of licence. I am talking about foreign affairs and the question of appropriations to foreign affairs, which I believe is important.


Senator Sibraa —That is dead right. You are not talking about sport, you are talking about foreign affairs, and it is a very good point.


Senator JESSOP —Foreign affairs has connotations about it--


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I suggest you get back to the expenditure part of the Bill.


Senator JESSOP —I suggest we spend more money on foreign affairs to promote contacts with other countries. One way in which we can do this is to appropriate funds to form a bridge of understanding with other countries through the playing of sport and diplomatic exchanges. I sometimes have grave suspicions about the efficacy of our diplomatic conversations with South Africa. Many of the people whom I know who have gone to South Africa have preconceived ideas and are unwilling to accept the evidence of change that is going on in that country. I get back to the point that I believe this is a bridge of understanding that ought to be encouraged by the Department of Foreign Affairs, rather than our denigrating the attempts of South Africa to come to grips with the problem of apartheid, with which we all disagree-


Senator Sibraa —What changes have been made?


Senator JESSOP —If I may, through you, Mr Acting Deputy President, I will answer my colleague Senator Sibraa, whom I regard as one of the more responsible members of the Government. He will not recognise that substantial changes have been made. He has probably never been there.


Senator Sibraa —Cosmetic.


Senator JESSOP —That is a typical, bureaucratic, foreign affairs statement: 'Cosmetic'. What a lot of nonsense. Recently the South African Government agreed to abandon the abhorrent interracial marriage law. Now, that is cosmetic! What will that lead to? The South African Government will have to accommodate the black people. It is already allowing black people to buy homes and properties in suburban parts of South Africa.


Senator Sibraa —They are burning a few down, too.


Senator JESSOP —I am disappointed at Senator Sibraa's reaction to this, because I thought he was one of the more reasonable members of the Government. He does not mind what goes on in Libya or Sri Lanka, where people are killed.


Senator Sibraa —That is nonsense.


Senator JESSOP —It is the point. The way that people in other parts of the world want to effect change, as far as Australia is concerned, is not to kick us for what we have done to the Aborigines, not to kick us for our land rights policy, but to communicate with us and say that we are not doing the right thing by the Aborigines in Australia and we are not doing the right thing by the rest of the community with respect to the development of the Aboriginal lands of Australia. Come on, let us be fair about this. One does not get the best out of people by kicking them all the time; one gets the best out of people by suggesting that the Department of Foreign Affairs-


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT — Order!


Senator JESSOP —I am doing this in the context of the Appropriation Bills, because, after all, I suggest that is the way we ought to go. We ought to be encouraging, not discouraging, through the Appropriation Bills, Australian businesses to establish in South Africa and to trade with that country. Chief Buthelezi, who is the black chief of the majority tribe in that country, has said:

No big business today can secure future plans without challenging apartheid.

That is right. So Australian companies ought to go over there and challenge apartheid. Chief Buthelezi, the Zulu chief of the black majority tribe, continued:

It was the large corporations that broke the apartheid barrier that led to real advancements for black workers.

They probably helped to establish black unions in that country. Senator Sibraa looks up to the ceiling and wonders. I suggest that he go to South Africa and find things out for himself. Perhaps he should lead a delegation and come back and report to the Senate. He should find out from the black people themselves what they think of the situation. This Government encouraged the presence of members of the African National Congress and the South West African People's Organisation in this country. Members of these groups are self-professed terrorists who would pursue change with South Africa by bloody revolution. Senator Sibraa and the rest of the Government have encouraged them. I was appalled when a few weeks ago in this Parliament-illegally, I would suggest, or against parliamentary privilege-a SWAPO Press conference was held. It was organised by members of the Australian Labor Party so that they could talk against the South African Government without it having any recourse to reply.

What happened last year in this democratic country that we are proud to live in or were proud to live in? Many of us are worrying about that now. I am referring to the Appropriations for the Department of Foreign Affairs. Last year the Prime Minister, Mr Hawke, decided to reject visas that an elected member of the South African Parliament and an elected member of the Indian Members Presidential Council applied for to come to Australia to talk in closed seminars about the problems within their country. The seminars were open to the Press but the discussions were not for publication. Those two people wanted to come here to make an attempt to inform interested people in Australia of the facts and to answer questions with respect to what was going on in their country. What happened? The dictator of Australia, Mr Hawke-


Senator Richardson —Come on.


Senator JESSOP —I suggest that that is the case.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Elstob) —Order! The honourable senator must withdraw that remark.


Senator JESSOP —I withdraw that. I refer instead to the man who wishes to suppress freedom in Australia.


Senator Grimes —How do his views differ from Fraser's on this issue?


Senator JESSOP —I suggest, Mr Acting Deputy President, that the Minister is out of order in his interjection because he is out of his seat and he ought to be thrown out of the House.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Jessop, both remarks were unparliamentary and I ask you to withdraw both references to the Prime Minister.


Senator JESSOP —I could call him Prime Minister Gillies, but that remark might be even as offensive. That is what he has become known as. Anyway, I withdraw those remarks if they have offended you, Mr Acting Deputy President.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —You have offended the Chair.


Senator JESSOP —I do not think my remarks were unparliamentary, but I accept your advice.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Jessop, it would be wise not to canvass my rulings.


Senator JESSOP —I accept your ruling and I defer to it.


Senator Kilgariff —Mr Acting Deputy President, I take a point of order. Obviously, some of the interjections being answered are coming from the Minister for Community Services. I suggest that they are out of order because he is out of his place.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! There is no point of order. I acknowledge that the Minister is out of his place.


Senator JESSOP —I am talking about the Department of Foreign Affairs in the context of the debate on the Appropriation Bills and I am trying to suggest to the Senate that the way to go as far as understanding other countries is concerned is through inter-parliamentary exchange, cultural exchange, trading and other means whereby we can begin to understand problems of other countries. I suggest that the action taken by the Government last year had even Senator Sibraa and others concerned because they had a special meeting about it. The rejection of visas for an elected member of the South African Parliament and an elected member of the Indian Members Presidential Council who applied to come here was wrong, unfair and undemocratic.

I suggest that we ought to change our attitudes if we are truly interested in change. Senator Sibraa shakes his head. For heaven's sake, why do we not realise that we can accelerate change much more readily by communication rather than by isolation, which leads to bloody revolution? That is all I want to say to this Government. I would have said the same thing to the previous Government too because it adopted a similar attitude, with which I disagreed. I believe that if we are a country of fair go-I think Senator Baume said that-what is wrong with changing our attitude in the interests of breaking down the domestic policy of another country with which we disagree?