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Tuesday, 2 December 1986
Page: 3151

Senator SIBRAA —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that the captain of the Australian rugby team is currently in South Africa apparently trying to arrange either an official or a rebel tour of South Africa? Does the Minister agree that any Australian tour would weaken international sporting boycotts against South Africa and therefore encourage the policy of apartheid?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am, of course, aware that the captain of the Australian rugby team, Andrew Slack, is presently visiting South Africa. I understand, however, that it is a private visit and in these circumstances it is not really appropriate for the Australian Government to comment on it as such. However, on the broader question of the invitation to the Australian Rugby Football Union to tour South Africa, the Government's views are really very well known. Such a visit would, in our view, be clearly inconsistent with the Gleneagles declaration and the Brisbane code of conduct. The Government is bound by the terms of the declaration and is completely opposed to either a Wallabies or a rebel rugby tour of South Africa and will discourage strongly the Australian Rugby Football Union accepting such invitations.

An Australian tour would, as Senator Sibraa indicated, weaken international efforts to bring pressure on South Africa to abandon apartheid through the mechanism of the sporting boycott. The boycott has achieved considerable success in the past and the continuing unrest should serve to convince Australian sportsmen of the need for that pressure to be maintained to assist the process of change in South Africa, not only in sport but also in the political arena generally. The experiences of the rebel Australian cricketers should also serve as a warning to Australian sportsmen that the South African Government will use any sporting visit to that country for its own political ends. I understand that the ARFU executive has not yet taken a definite decision on the invitation. We hope that when that decision is taken it will be resoundingly in the negative.