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Federal Opposition delegation visits Boipatong site and inquiry



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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR ROBERT HILL LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Monday, August 10 71/92

FEDERALĀ· OPPOSITION DELEGATION VISITS BOIPATONG SITE AND INQUIRY

The horror of the Boipatong massacre in South Africa has been brought home to a Federal Opposition delegation which has visited Boipatong and spoken to survivors.

The delegation - comprising the Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Robert Hill, Mr Jim Carlton MP and Senators Bronwyn Bishop and Rod Kemp - met Judge Goldstone and other members of the Commission of Inquiry into the June massacre and

attended the first day of its inquiry.

The hearing is examining the alleged involvement of elements of the South African police or defence forces in the killings.

"Our delegation was particularly interested in ways in which the international community can help in the process of the

development of a new South Africa," Senator Hill said.

"The process is being hampered by the horrific cycle of violence occurring in South Africa, of which the Boipatong massacre is an example.

"The delegation discussed the violence with South African President de Klerk and other national leaders.

"There is no doubt that the presence of United Nations observers during last week's mass action helped to limit the incidence of violence.

"The presence of an international assessor on the Boipatong inquiry - a former Chief Justice of India - is enhancing the confidence of the wider community in the inquiry process.

"The role played by British police officers in giving advice on suggested reforms of the South African police force is also widely appreciated within South Africa.

"It is pleasing that the South African Government has been prepared to accept outside support.

"The Australian Government should support these international initiatives and the UN in its desire to provide further help.

"The Labor Government should also immediately abandon its economic sanctions on South Africa because they are simply

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contributing to ongoing poverty, which in turn helps create an atmosphere of hopelessness within which violence flourishes.

"The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Evans, should also abandon his policy of picking winners and supporting favourites between the various contenders for power in the new South Africa.

"His approach has engendered deep suspicion and resentment in South Africa and limits the extent to which Australia can play a useful role in the process.

"The Opposition delegation believes that with correct policy Australia can make a modest but useful contribution to a process of change which will be painful but which offers great hope to the vast majority of South Africans."

(ends)

Enquiries: Senator Hill on (08) 237 7920