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Tuesday, 26 March 1985
Page: 812


Senator PETER BAUME(5.34) —I want to pick up a point made by Senator Mason. I do not believe it is proper or appropriate to try to attribute degrees of morality to nations depending upon their cultural heritage. I agree with Senator Cooney that the denial of civil liberties and the murder of people, wherever it occurs around the world, is of equal gravity. Senator Mason should read his own speech in Hansard tomorrow. He will find that his moral outrage fell unduly upon one country. Like him, I am a member of Amnesty International; like him, I feel that what happened in South Africa was outrageous. I have refused ever to accept an invitation to the South African Embassy; I will not visit the country or have anything to do with it. Many members of my congregation have fled from South Africa. What has happened there is outrageous, but it is no more outrageous than what is going on in other countries.

We have just had the report of the Australia-China Council, and I agree with Senator Cooney that we need to say a lot more about what is going on in China, about arbitrary executions and the denial of human rights. We have to talk about the one-party states in Africa and about the dictatorships in South America. The Amnesty International group tries to play it fair right around the world. Sure, what is going on in South Africa is outrageous, but it is only one of the outrageous things occurring in many countries around the world. I just wish some of these people who are properly outraged about South Africa would be equally outraged about other countries where equally bad things occur.