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Thursday, 2 April 1987
Page: 2049

Dr THEOPHANOUS —Madam Speaker, this evening a large number of members of parliament from all sides were privileged to have dinner with and hear answers from Oliver Tambo, the President of the African National Congress. He directly answered some of the basic issues that have been raised in a scurrilous fashion by a small number of people who have been trying to challenge the visit of Mr Tambo to Australia. It was important that the case of the ANC be presented. It is interesting that those opponents that have tried to attack the ANC during the recent visit of Tambo have resorted to the most scurrilous personal attacks. Unfortunately, two of those opponents have been members of this House. Yesterday they resorted to the most outrageous tactics in attacking the President of the ANC and seeking publicity for themselves.

Mr Tim Fischer —This is a free country.

Dr THEOPHANOUS —It is a free country, all right, but that does not permit members of parliament in this place to spread the most outrageous lies and misrepresentations.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will withdraw that word. He knows he is not allowed to use such language.

Dr THEOPHANOUS —Well, they were the most outrageous misrepresentations in relation to the reputation of Oliver Tambo and the African National Congress.

Mr Tuckey —On a point of order, Madam Speaker--

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Calwell will withdraw the word. The Chair asked for a withdrawal. The honourable member for O'Connor will resume his seat.

Dr THEOPHANOUS —I withdraw the word `lies'. Madam Speaker, they were the most outrageous misrepresentations in relation to this matter. The African National Congress is a multiracial organisation which is committed not to the domination of South Africa by the blacks but to a multiracial society. It is committed to achieving a society in which a number of political parties can, through a democratic system, pursue the contest for power. It is not an organisation which is promoting the abolition of the whites, as was the misrepresentation made yesterday by the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Cobb) and the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Slipper). In their disgraceful performance yesterday they had the impertinence to describe Oliver Tambo as a thug. If certain people want to come into this House and to identify themselves with the racist South African regime and to become apologists for it, they are entitled to do so. But they should be blunt and honest about it rather than pretend on the one hand to oppose apartheid and on the other hand oppose anything which will replace that system.

The position of the Australian Labor Party on South Africa has been clear. For the last two years I have had on the Notice Paper a motion that calls for the release of Nelson Mandela and for serious negotiations to take place between the South African Government and the representatives of the black people-not only the ANC but other groups as well. The resolving of this situation is in the hands of the South African Government. It could resolve the situation tomorrow. It was mentioned by Mr Tambo tonight that all the South African Government has to do is to release Nelson Mandela and the other political prisoners and allow the ANC and other groups to function legitimately and to participate in the political process. They are the only preconditions required for serious negotiations to resolve the South African crisis to take place. The honourable member for Parkes and the honourable member for Fisher ought to be ashamed of themselves for the way in which they attacked Oliver Tambo. Such behaviour is an absolute disgrace and it has no place in a democratic society.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.