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Monday, 20 May 1985
Page: 2198


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(9.47) —in reply-I do not want to keep the Senate long. People will be amazed to know that we have been debating the Appropriation Bills tonight. We can always guarantee that at any opportunity Senator Townley and Senator Jessop will defend their friends in South Africa. I suppose they feel that this is one way of repaying trips they have had to that country and the hospitality and the air fares that they have had travelling to and from South Africa. It is unfortunate that they abuse the privileges of the Senate tonight.


Senator Crichton-Browne —Have you had any free trips to east European bloc countries?


Senator GRIMES —No, none at all.


Senator Crichton-Browne —What about your colleagues?


Senator GRIMES —Neither have my colleagues. I point out to honourable senators and to anyone else who is interested that the issue that Senator Townley and Senator Jessop raised with such passion tonight and over which they attacked the Australian Labor Party with such passion is not a party political issue in the Senate. An article in this morning's Canberra Times contains the following statement:

I wouldn't support the rebel cricketers in a million years. I believe it's blood money. They're giving assistance to the South African Government and complicating an already difficult situation.

Those words were spoken by Mr Robert Nestdale, well known to all of us as an ex-President of the Young Liberals and a well known ex-staffer of a Liberal senator. In the view of Senator Crichton-Browne he is a galah. The former Prime Minister-it is on very rare occasions that I agree with that former Prime Minister-actually stopped the South African rugby union team from transiting through Australia to play in New Zealand. Also, Senator Townley tonight accused the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) of threatening to refuse passports to the Australian cricketers going to South Africa-which is a lie, and he can produce no evidence for that at all-and also threatening to refuse passports for the Australian rugby union team. The Australian Rugby Union, unlike the New Zealand Rugby Union, respects the fact that Australian governments, both Labor and Liberal, have signed and agreed to the Gleneagles Agreement. It does not tour South Africa and has no intention of touring South Africa. For Opposition senators tonight, in their usual manner, to try to apologise for what is happening in South Africa and for them to do as Senator Jessop did on the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre recently when, with absolute insensitivity, he asked questions about violence in South Africa when people had just been killed and shot in the back as a result of riots in South Africa, is outrageous.


Senator Giles —Children too.


Senator GRIMES —It was children. Mr Robert Nestdale happened to bring that up today also in his statement when he said:

I sometimes wonder how they'd feel if they looked over the fence and saw their own kids being shot in the back for wanting to play cricket with other kids.

That is what it is about in South Africa. That is why the whole of the Western world and the countries with which we are associated have signed the Gleneagles Agreement. That is why we do not want any association with that regime, no matter how many honourable senators opposite are willing to take free trips and be swanned around that country in the way in which those opposite are.


Senator Crichton-Browne —What about the Russians in Afghanistan?


Senator GRIMES —The honourable senator mentions the Russians in Afghanistan. His Government did even worse than that. It paid so-called amateur athletes not to go to the Olympic Games. That was even more disgraceful. All we ask is that people respect the fact that this Government and previous governments signed the Gleneagles Agreement and respect the Gleneagles Agreement. We ask that sportsmen respect the views of the government of the day, whether it be Labor or Liberal. The previous Government had the same policy as this Government, the previous Prime Minister had the same policy as this Prime Minister on sporting ties with South Africa. Only people such as Senator Townley and Senator Jessop put on a performance in this place and attack this Government as though this Government is acting any differently from the way in which the previous Government acted. I had plenty of differences with Malcolm Fraser, but one difference I did not have with him was on his views on apartheid. I do not have any differences with Ian Macphee, the shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, on this issue. The problem in this Parliament is that there are people on that side of the House who have differences with their own Party policy, with their own foreign affairs spokesman and with their own ex-Prime Minister. I just want to point out to everybody that when Senator Jessop, Senator Townley and a few others speak in this place they do not represent their Party, they do not represent the Opposition, they do not represent the Government and they do not represent this Parliament. In fact, they do not represent the views of any decent people in this community.


Senator Sibraa —Senator Baume walked out.


Senator GRIMES —Senator Baume would not stay here and listen to that nonsense. To return to the Appropriation Bills, many questions were raised by many people during this long and fairly tedious debate on what are in fact the Additional Estimates. Senator Peter Rae, as the first speaker for the Opposition, raised an issue which is worth mentioning. He was concerned about the increases in Government expenditure and the percentage increases in departmental additional estimates requirements compared with the inflation rate. I point out to Senator Rae that the Additional Estimates comprise only approximately 0.8 per cent of the total estimated outlays for 1984-85. The net administrative expenses were $4.3m over budget, which is an increase of about one per cent. The initial May revised figures show that perhaps net administrative expenditure requirements are down $2.5m, down 0.2 of one per cent. We believe this reflects the success of the Government's initiative in introducing a more efficient method of budgeting for departmental administrative expenses.

I do not think anyone can argue that my colleague the Minister for Finance, Senator Walsh, who unfortunately cannot be here at the moment, has not a very keen eye on and great interest in administrative expenses. As a Minister in this Government, I can assure honourable senators that I know all about that, every day of the week, every hour of the day. He will continue in that vein and we will continue in that vein because we believe that good economic management and increased economic efficiency are essential if this Government is to continue to improve the economy of this country in the way it has done.

All the general issues that have been raised by honourable senators are typical issues that are raised in debate on appropriation Bills. It would be impossible for me to go through them all. It would be impossible even for my colleague Senator Walsh to go through them all, were he here. The best we can do is to settle down to the Committee stage of the legislation, which is always more interesting. I therefore urge honourable senators to support the second reading of these Bills.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.