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Monday, 22 April 1985
Page: 1277


Senator CHIPP —I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs a question concerning the glaring inconsistencies of the anti-apartheid actions of the Fraser Government and also the Hawke Government. Given the gravity of the disclosure that 17 people were shot in the back by police while trying to escape in the recent massacre, why will the Government not undertake to cut all possible links with South Africa? In view of the fact that the Government still has not been able to justify or at least deny giving an $11 million tender to South Africa, will the Minister please enlighten me on the logical difference between an Australian company with Government consent, say, manufacturing $200,000 worth of cricket balls and selling them to South Africa, and not allowing Graeme Wood and others to receive identical sums of money to go to South Africa to hit them?


Senator Aulich —Wood would run them out anyway.


Senator CHIPP —Let you pro-apartheid people stand up and be identified.


The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Chipp, will you ask your question.


Senator CHIPP —If there is no money in it you object to it.


The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Chipp, please ask your question.


Senator CHIPP —I am getting sick and tired, Mr President, of--


The PRESIDENT —Senator Chipp, if you do not ask your question I shall have to ask you to resume your seat.


Senator CHIPP —Is the Government aware that it is guilty of the same hypocrisy as Mr Fraser and his Government, who allowed Nareen wool to be sold to Russia while suggesting all kinds of boycotts against the Soviet Union at the time of the invasion of Afghanistan?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I do not think Senator Chipp can claim the right to make allegations of hypocrisy or less than total opposition by this Government and every member of it to the apartheid regime in South Africa. We have made our opposition clear, as clear as it possibly could be, by all our actions over the years and we will continue to do so. There is, of course, a continuing debate on the whole question of economic boycotts, as well as boycotts of sporting contact with South Africa. The reason that sporting boycotts have assumed such a prominent place in the whole world's armoury of responses to the apartheid regime in South Africa is clearly the enormous significance attached to sporting contacts with the outside world by South Africans, by the South African Government and by, it appears, the whole South African culture. As such, a sporting boycott has a graphic demonstration effect as to the rest of the world's repugnance. The difficulty about unilaterally imposing economic sanctions or trade boycotts, which has been felt by successive governments, even ones as firmly com- mitted-at least as far as the leadership was concerned-to an anti-apartheid position as the Fraser Government, is in making any such boycott have any impact at all on the target country, South Africa, rather than simply on the boycotting country, in a situation where that boycott strategy is not adopted and shared by other major trading nations.

Mr Hayden's statement in the Parliament on 18 April last on the whole question of a code of conduct for commercial dealings with South African companies and interests makes clear the nature of that dilemma. It also makes clear what we are doing about it, both in the sense of supporting quite specifically and overtly economic boycott strategies in the United Nations and in terms of implementing a code of conduct relating to arrangements entered into by present Australian businesses and South Africa. It is a matter, as so often in government and in the real world, of producing policy responses which not only are emotionally satisfying, but are likely to have some impact. That has been the strategy that we have adopted in the past and the Government remains open to constructive suggestions from all sides of the political spectrum as to how best we can translate our repugnance of what is going on in South Africa into effective moves to change the system there.


Senator CHIPP —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the Minister for his reply. Can he now confirm or deny that a Commonwealth Government department, the Department of Housing and Construction, let a contract of about $11m last week to a company essentially owned totally by South Africans?


Senator GARETH EVANS —Everybody else seems to have been asked that question in the last couple of days, but I have not and I do not have a specific brief on it. I shall seek an answer as soon as I can and hopefully give Senator Chipp an appropriate response.