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Transcript of interview with Julie Derrett: Radio 2CN (ABC): July 11, 1991: week in politics



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PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA · T H E S E N A T E

SENATOR ROBERT HILL

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

PARLIAMENT HOUSE

CANBERRA A C T . 2600 PHONE (06) 1Γ1 3170 FACSIMILE (06; 277 3177

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW BETWEEN JULIE DERRETT AND THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, SENATOR ROBERT HILL, ON 2CN (ABC) AT 8.45AM ON FRIDAY, JULY 11, 1991

JULIE DERRETTi

... week in Federal politics, through our regular guest, Senator Robert Hill, the Opposition Leader in the Senate and Senator Chris Schacht, the Government Senator from South Australia. Today, Senator Hill, who is also the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, is just back from Europe and Japan and he's on the line

from Adelaide. Good morning, Senator.

ROBERT HILL:

Good morning, Julie.

JULIE DERRETT:

Now, the big news of the week is the move to dismantle sanctions against South Africa. Should we end our bans as well?

ROBERT HILL:

I don't think there's any doubt that we should. We, and the

Commonwealth as a whole, are being left behind. The United

States has now moved, Japan's moved, Europe has moved and the Commonwealth is not with it. And it's largely not with it

because of the close relationship between the ANC and the front­ line states in Africa - (who are) important members of the

Commonwealth - and the Caribbean states. And to some extent, therefore, Australia's been locked in.

JULIE DERRETT:

So, we should be taking less notice of these people who we've traditionally listened to for the last thirty years?

ROBERT HILL:

Well, to some extent because there is no doubt now that the

process of change in South Africa is irreversible, and the

important question is what we can do to help that process.

There's also an international consensus now that the best way in which the world community can help is to re-engage South Africa within the world economy and start getting some wealth flowing into the country - get rid of that awful poverty, the terrible

living conditions in the townships - and start, in effect, changing the spirit within the country that'll enable the growth of a reasonable economy with benefits to a ll. ______ ,

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

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JULIE DERRETT:

Is it fair to say now that, as South Africa does, that those

pillars of apartheid which were enshrined in legislation in the constitution have gone? Have they gone, do you think? Really gone?

ROBERT HILL!

Well, the four principal pillars that were always spoken of have now gone. It is fair to say that the process of apartheid will remain for some time. Host talk about the need for a multi­

racial election but that's on track. The thing about President De Klerk's reforms is that at every stage he has basically kept his promise and there's no doubt that the next election in South Africa will be a multi-racial election under a new constitution

and that negotiations and consultations will continue towards the drawing of that constitution. Now, rather than provide obstacles to that process, what Australia should be doing is encouraging

and supporting it and that's why I'm concerned that we're out of step now with what is necessary to help the process. And what I'd like Australia to be doing, and Senator Evans to be doing, rather than simply falling in line, is to get out there and

encourage the Commonwealth to have the confidence to be part of this process and, therefore, to be more helpful than we are at the moment.

JULIE DERRETT!

We spoke to the South African Ambassador yesterday and he

effectively said that Australia's sanctions for the last 30 years has been a hollow gesture. Do you think that they ma y have

helped at all in getting South Africa to the negotiating table?

ROBERT HILL!

I think that sanctions have helped, but nobody can accurately apportion the causes of change. We've now got a new generation of politicians in South Africa. You've got a totally different world environment from that which existed in the past. There are

a whole range of reasons that have probably contributed to the spirit of change that we now see within that country. But

whether or not, and to what extent, sanctions helped in the past I think now is really irrelevant. What's now more important is how the international community can help the process continue so that we can in this post-apartheid environment, we can start improving the lot of all South Africans, particularly the blacks who have fared worst.

JULIE DERRETT:

Now, just on another issue. The Schacht Committee tour to China. Should it go ahead, do you think, if they can't get to see

political prisoners in Beijing, for instance?

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ROBERT HILL:

Well, if it can't meet its original mission goals, then it

shouldn't go ahead. In other words, there's no point in it going unless it can make a fair appraisal of the human rights situation in China and we said that from the start. We were concerned that it not simply be a mission that's designed to endorse an

atmosphere of change within China. I have to admit that we were surprised that China offered this mission to Australia and then to Switzerland and to France and there was a suspicion, of

course, that it was simply designed to communicate, particularly to the United States, that the human rights position had been improved and, therefore, issues such as most favoured nation status should take into account that improvement. But if it can't do the job then it shouldn't go ahead.

JULIE DERRETT:

Simple as that. And you were in Moscow this week. How was the Soviet Union viewing events of the week in Yugoslavia? Very dramatic events too.

ROBERT HILL:

Well, the Soviet Union is obviously going through (an) enormous process of stress for individual Soviet citizens. Their prices of their goods have risen enormously in the last year - in some cases up to six and seven times even though those prices are

still well behind world parity - but their incomes haven't

increased anything like that and so the food shortages have increased and their individual losses have been made more difficult. But there is, I think, a general recognition that the Soviet Union can't be isolated even with its enormity from the

international community and, therefore, there is going to be a very difficult period of pain and transition, but out of it

something for the better can come.

JULIE DERRETT:

And what were you actually doing in Moscow?

ROBERT HILL:

I saw a range of Government officials, from the Foreign Ministry office of the Union, from the Russian Republic. I visited a

number of academic institutions to talk to then about the legal transition - the new laws that will enable companies, foreign investment and so forth, business opportunities for Australia that will come out of this process of change. I saw economic

experts who were talking about the process of change itself and what needs to be done. Really, in all of these visits, what I

seek to do is not only to come back better informed but to look for ways in which Australia can either help or benefit from the processes. I guess if I came back with just a couple of

messages, they would be that there is now a need to recognise further the importance of the republics, not just the central government. Under a new union treaty and the new constitutions that are coming about, the republics will be vitally important and, particularly, the Russian republic. And Australia,

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therefore, has to change its approach to politics and business with the Soviet Union. And secondly, I would say that we must be aware that we don't miss the boat again. It was incredible the number of Europeans that are in Moscow at this time.

The largest new hotels . . . were predominantly occupied by Italians -Italian businessmen - who were there seeking out the opportunities that are going to come out of a market economy in that enormous country.

JULIE DERRETTi

Senator Hill, there's definitely a message in that for us, isn't there. Thank you very much for your time today. We've got to leave it there as news is upon us. This is 2CN 666. It's nine

o'clock.