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Wednesday, 21 September 1983
Page: 1076


Mr CHARLES —I draw the attention of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to a situation that is occurring in Zimbabwe. Recently, six white Air Force officers in that country were detained and tried for treason. However, they were acquitted of all charges. Later they were redetained without the due processes of law taking effect. I am also informed that, since then, three officers have been released. What is--


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member is starting to give too much information. He should get to the point of his question.


Mr CHARLES —I am about to do that, Mr Speaker. I ask: What is the position of the other three white Air Force officers? What action is the Australian Government taking in this case?


Mr HAYDEN —This is a matter of very great concern to the Government. The previous Government was associated very closely with developments which led to Zimbabwe's independence. The initiatives of the leader of that Government, Mr Fraser, and the respective Foreign Ministers were applauded by the Australian Labor Party, then in opposition, and generally by the community. Therefore we have more than a passing interest in developments within Zimbabwe. Quite clearly, in the commitments then made and the general support given by all parties in this Parliament and by the community generally, is the expression, implicitly at least, of some sort of endorsement or commitment to the future of that country.

Some few weeks ago, when this matter was first publicised-that is, after the six Air Force officers were charged and acquitted but then re-detained without the due processes of law being applied-this Government's concern was expressed to government authorities in Zimbabwe. Since then three of the officers have been released. Three have remained in detention without any indication that the due processes of law that should be properly applied would be pursued. Of course , we maintain a consistent monitoring of developments on this matter. But I put it on record that it is an issue that causes us very great concern indeed. I have discussed it with the Prime Minister. He shares my concern and has asked me to make it clear that this clearly is a concern of the Government.


Mr Peacock —It is.


Mr HAYDEN —I am sure, from the comment of the Leader of the Opposition, that it is a concern which is endorsed by the Opposition. The record would be unbalanced if I did not add that we are equally concerned about a reasonably large number of black Zimbabwean people who have been detained in similar circumstances-that is, political detention-in their case without the due processes of law being followed. As the occasion proves appropriate we will be expressing further concern on this matter. We should not be under any illusion that these comments will be missed in appropriate quarters.