Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 12 November 1974
Page: 2245


Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - I look with interest upon the report which has come from Estimates Committee B. I am intrigued at the forthrightness with which the Committee has expressed its opinion. It has stated, in terms which are unusual for Estimates Committees:

The Committee had difficulty in obtaining all the information required in relation to its investigation of the estimates of the Department of Foreign Affairs. This was for 2 reasons. Firstly, there were no officers present from the International Organisations Division of the Department and therefore the Committee was unable to obtain satisfactory replies to questions relating, in particular, to Australia's activities at the United Nations and its participation in the various agencies of the United Nations. Secondly, the Committee was disappointed that more senior advisers on departmental policy were not present to be examined.

I think it is fair to say that the Senate has been treated with contumely and with contempt by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) in the time that he has held that portfolio. The Senate has passed a resolution expressing its lack of confidence in him, but it seems to have invited no change in his attitude. The way he treated a Senate Committee, as reported by that Senate Committee, is a fair judgement of the man himself and it is also a reflection on the way in which he is administering the foreign affairs of this country.

It is not altogether surprising that we should not be able 'to obtain satisfactory replies to questions relating, in particular, to Australia's activities at the United Nations'. We know, because it has drifted out, that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is a candidate for the presidency of the

United Nations. The way in which Australia's national interests have been subordinated to his personal advancement is a matter for national shame. We have seen Australia cavorting in a way in which Australia has never been acknowledged or recognised as behaving in the United Nations in the past. We have seen what I believe is the disgraceful conduct of abstaining on the question of whether the Palestine Liberation Organisation should be represented at the United Nations. If there was any sense of consistency or belief on the part of the Government, having regard to its protestations against terrorism, it would not have had a bar of that organisation's being allowed to go into the United Nations, and the more should that attitude have been adopted because of what has been acknowledged by that organisation as its so-called achievements in the field of terrorism throughout the world.

Other activities include most recently Australia's decision to support the expulsion of South Africa, which astounded observers at the United Nations. We have 2 representatives from the Senate present as part of the Australian delegation to the United Nations. I was pleased to see that one of those members- Senator Wright -was prepared publicly to condemn the Government's stand in relation to South Africa. It was very interesting that he said that the vote lamentably betrayed Australia's interests, so admirably defended by the representatives of Great Britain, the United States and France. Senator Wright said that, by its vote, Australia regrettably sought the applause of the African nations and the communists. What we are seeing at the present time is Australia departing from the traditional alliances and allegiances which have always characterised it and which I believe represent the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the Australian people. Instead we are becoming or seeking to become a member, or an honorary member, of the Third World. If this is what the Australian Government is calculatedly deciding to make Australia's course, let the members of that Government who believe that that is the right course for Australia come out and openly justify why they are doing that. Let them reveal their communist alliances and affiliations. Let them reveal to the people of Australia how much they are under the thumb of the communist-led unions in this country and how they are unable to resist the pressure which is put upon them. If that not be their attitude, let them explain how and why it is that, in support of the present Minister's candidature as President of the United Nations, they are not prepared to remain in the area in which Australia has traditionally moved.

Why is it that we had the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in China stating that in Communist China he sees all that he would have as Australia's aspirations? Why do we have the Deputy Prime Minister (Dr J. F. Cairns) linking himself in such fulsome words with the countries of the Third World? In short, why are we moving away from those countries which are the only countries able to give us protection in the event that we might need it at some time in the future? I find the decision which was made by Australia with regard to South Africa quite inexplicable. The views which the Opposition parties have expressed with regard to South Africa's policies are well-known, even though we recognise that there is a lack of understanding of what the word apartheid' actually conveys. But whatever be the attitude taken by the Australian people and by the Australian Government with regard to South Africa's policy, the double standards of this Government require some exposition by the Government. Of course, we are not receiving it.

If the objections to South Africa's policies are objections to what are called racist policies it ought not to be ignored that the same types of policies are pursued throughout black Africa without one word of condemnation by this Government. We ought to recognise that in the eyes of other countries the policies which are adopted by the Australian Government have the same racist tinge which we ascribe to South Africa's policies. If there is objection to the apartheid policies of South Africa it ought to be recognised that this Government is pursuing the same sort of Bantustan policies with regard to the Aborigines in this country. Its unwillingness to recognise the double standards which characterise this Government's approach is remarkable. One has only to look at the policies of black Africa over the past 10 to 15 years to see that in some of those countries which are the most outspoken critics of South Africa there are policies which are far worse than anything in South Africa itself. In Kenya on independence some 15 or 16 years ago there were 180,000 Asians. That number has been reduced so that at the present time there are only 86,000 Asians. That has been a deliberate policy of exclusion and discrimination which has passed unmentioned and uncriticised generally by the nations of the world. If one looks at Tanzania one finds that on independence there was an Asian community of 100,000 people. Now it is less than 40,000. In Uganda, whether under President Obote or President Amin, one finds the same general pattern. There are an estimated 500 Asians in Uganda now when on independence there were some 80,000 Asians. .


Senator Wriedt - From what are you quoting?


Senator GREENWOOD - I am quoting from facts which can be obtained from any record which you care to look at if you are interested. If you are wanting to have the information at some stage after I have finished speaking it will be provided for you.


Senator Wriedt - Will you table it?


Senator GREENWOOD - I am providing it from my notes. I understand that Senator Wriedt is questioning the figures which I am giving. They come from the advisers of the Department of Foreign Affairs. If there is any error in the figures which I am revealing, let it be stated. I believe that they are correct figures because I have extracted them from various documents which I have read on this subject. I am sure that we will all be gratified to know what is the accurate position. But even before President Amin came to power in early 1971 there had been campaigns by the black majority of Uganda of violence and intimidation of Asian businesses. President Obote nationalised businesses affecting Asians. President Amin required Asians to register and in August 1972 Asians were required to leave the country and they left the country in great numbers. Now we find within the last week or fortnight a similar discriminatory policy being adopted with regard to British nationals. The pattern can be reproduced in detail with regard to the other countries- Zambia, Kenya and Uganda.

I mention these things only because it appears to me that in the field of international affairs Australia should adopt a standard which it can uphold with regard to all countries. Let us adopt a policy with regard to freedoms of individuals as we apply it in condemnation of Russia. Let us apply it, if it be applicable, in the case of South Africa. Let us apply it, if it be applicable, in the case of the countries of black Africa. But let us not follow a policy which is indicative of this Government's attitude that it will support terrorism in some places and condemn it in others. That will make Australia an object of contempt and ridicule throughout the world. One of the tragedies of this Government is that it has reduced Australia's standing in a short period of 2 years in a manner which I think has astounded our allies and friends.







Suggest corrections