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Monday, 1 December 1986
Page: 3046


Senator HAINES —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I remind the Minister that earlier this year the Government decided to support economic sanctions against South Africa as a way of pressuring the South African Government to dismantle its apartheid system and adopt policies more consistent with respect for the social and political rights of the entire population of South Africa. My question is: Why, given that action, has the Australian Government voted recently to support an International Monetary Fund loan to Chile, a country now infamous for its violations of human rights? Is the Government taking any action to help to prevent or to censure the violations of human rights under the Chilean Government of General Pinochet?


Senator GARETH EVANS —The position on this matter was very clearly and forcefully explained over the weekend by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Hayden. But I will reiterate, for the benefit of Senator Haines and other honourable senators, the basic position. It is the case that the Executive Board of the World Bank approved a $250m structural adjustment loan to Chile at its meeting in Washington on 20 November. Australia votes in the World Bank as part of a constituency, so called, holding 3.36 per cent of the Bank's voting rights. Other members of our constituency are New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Korea and a number of Pacific countries-the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Western Samoa and Kiribati. We consulted with other members of the constituency before the vote was made. The constituency's Executive Director supported the approval of the loan on the basis that Chile met World Bank economic and development criteria for the granting of loans. Our vote reflected, above all else, the Bank's articles of association, section 10 of Article IV of which states:

The Bank and its officers shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member; nor shall they be influenced in their decisions by the political character of the member or members concerned. Only economic considerations shall be relevant to their decisions, and these considerations shall be weighed impartially . . .

In the past it has been regarded by Australia as quite crucial, in multilateral bodies of this kind, that we not, as Mr Hayden said over the weekend, encourage a kind of competitive expulsion environment in reacting to regimes which we manifestly, and for very good reason, dislike for their political and military behaviour. What matters is the economic criteria; they are the ones that are supposed to be applied by virtue of the Bank's articles of association, and that is what was applied in this instance.

However, acknowledging the sensitivity of this vote, we did, through the Executive Director, make a strong statement-it was made on behalf of Australia and New Zealand-recording that support for the loan did not imply any lessening in concern about the human rights situation in Chile. Australian repugnance at the continuing denial of human rights in Chile has been expressed in the Parliament, in international forums and directly to the Chilean Government. A very strong expression of our distaste was made on 9 September by Mr Hayden on the occasion of the imposition of the new state of siege in that country. The memory of the Pinochet regime's overturning of the democratically elected Salvador Allende Government in September 1973 burns very strongly indeed in the memories of all people around the world who have some affectionate regard for democratic principles. Sharing that memory as we do, particularly on this side of the chamber, it is inconceivable that we would have been party to anything that would give aid and comfort to that regime were there not overriding principles that we regarded as appropriate and relevant operating in the contrary direction. We shall continue to urge the Pinochet regime to put an end to repression and to hasten an early return to democracy in that country.


Senator HAINES —I wish to ask a supplementary question, Mr President. Apart from expressions of distaste which the Minister has indicated have been made, is the Government taking or preparing to take any action at all to prevent the violations or encourage the Chilean Government to end the violations of human rights?


Senator GARETH EVANS —We are always open to suggestion. With all the sophistication, resources, flair and experience of government that the Australian Democrats have in these matters, I am sure we will get some constructive suggestions coming from Senator Haines along this line in the future.