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Tuesday, 24 March 1987
Page: 1200

Senator GARETH EVANS —Senator Jessop asked me a question yesterday concerning the possibility of Chief Buthelezi visiting Australia under the Government's special visits program. My response on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs is as follows: The Department of Foreign Affairs has administered for over 30 years a special visits program which brings to Australia people selected on the basis of their eminence and capacity to contribute to the development of a better understanding in other countries of Australia's policies and institutions or to heighten awareness in Australia of key foreign policy issues and matters of international concern. There is a lot of detail about that program and its application to the possible visit to which Senator Jessop referred. I seek leave to have that incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

In 1986-87 funding amounts to some $A674,000 and some 35 people (and in some instances their accom- panying parties) are expected to visit Australia under the Program.

Among those visitors are politicians, academics and representatives of human rights, anti-apartheid and international economic institutions.

In October 1983 the Minister for Foreign Affairs announced the establishment of a scheme (within the Special Visits Program) to bring prominent opponents of apartheid to Australia.

The purpose of the scheme is to enable those opposed to apartheid to put their views to the Australian public on a major international issue;

The scheme is part of the Government's existing Special Visits Program;

There is no separate program specifically for the purpose of sponsoring visits of anti-apartheid advocates;

Of the visitors to Australia in 1986-87 under the scheme two are prominent opponents of apartheid; Mr John Kane-Berman, Director of the South African Institute of Race Relations and Mr Tambo whose visit to Australia begins on 27 March.

People invited to Australia under the Program are selected after careful consideration of the Government's broad foreign policy interests and priorities, competing nominations and the availability of funds. The question of an invitation being extended to Chief Buthelezi is under consideration in the context of nominations for the Special Visits Program for the 1987-88 financial year.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I also have some further information in response to that part of Senator Jessop's question which referred to the visit of Mr Tambo. I seek leave to have that incorporated also.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

He will be visiting Australia from 27 March to 11 April, as part of a wider tour to countries in Pacific and Asia regions.

From Australia Mr Tambo will go to New Zealand, Japan and Canada.

The right of freedom of expression is in keeping with the operations of our democratic society.

Mr Tambo's visit will enable the views of the disenfranchised black majority in South Africa to be put to the Australian public.

The ANC has made known its views in a number of Western countries and to major Western Governments.

The ANC leader has recently met with the US Secretary of State.

He has also met with the Foreign Ministers of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany.

Australia is amongst a number of Western countries which is interested to learn the views of the ANC leader.