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Thursday, 7 May 1987
Page: 2801

Mr JACOBI —My question is directed to the Prime Minister. What is the Government's attitude to yesterday's actions of the South African authorities against Mr Richard Carleton of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and his team? What do these actions tell us about the nature of the apartheid regime?

Mr HAWKE —I thank the honourable member for Hawker for his important question. I hope that all honourable members will join me in condemning the actions of the South African authorities in censoring Richard Carleton's broadcast from South Africa for last night's Carleton-Walsh Report, in searching him and his team and in confiscating their material and expelling them from the country. Until recently the South African Government's long protracted maintenance of a state of emergency had enabled it to use stringent censorship laws to ban any kind of protest against the Government or any reporting of such protest. In the weeks immediately prior to the election some of the scenes of township protest and some reporting of massive black strike action have again been getting through to the world media.

The South African Government's response has been to expel a number of journalists who have not followed official dictates on new presentation. In Mr Carleton's case, over recent months he has-as we all know-provided a number of high quality, well researched programs on South Africa which have enabled many points of view, including those of the Pretorian authorities, to reach audiences in this country. The disgraceful behaviour of the South African Government towards Mr Carleton underlines the very point he was making in the report which led to his expulsion and that is that South Africa is increasingly being run like a totalitarian state rather than a democracy. It also puts into stark relief the true value of the election, so-called, which Mr Carleton was covering in which the vast majority of South African citizens were banned from voting. That election will do nothing to halt the slide of South Africa into totalitarianism and violence.

In the light of these events, I believe honourable members will be particularly disgusted to learn that today the South African Ambassador is being feted in Wagga Wagga at the instigation of individuals associated with the so-called Grass Roots 2000, the same organisation which is concerned to bring Pretoria's friend-the apostle of apartheid, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen-to Canberra. I am very pleased to note that the honourable member for Goldstein, Senator Robert Hill, Senator Haines and former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser have joined members on this side of the House, including me, in sending messages of support to an anti-apartheid group in Wagga Wagga protesting against this event. I conclude by saying that when the South African Ambassador returns from Wagga Wagga he will be called to the Department of Foreign Affairs to receive an official protest over the disgraceful and unjustified treatment meted out to Richard Carleton.

Mr HOWARD —Madam Speaker, on indulgence, could I say on behalf of the Liberal Party of Australia that I have already publicly indicated that the Liberal Party shares the Prime Minister's--

Mr Hand —What about the National Party?

Madam SPEAKER —Order!

Mr HOWARD —I have already publicly indicated outside this place and I take the opportunity under indulgence of repeating here that we regard with complete contempt the expulsion of Mr Carleton from South Africa. We believe that it violates an elementary principle of fair reporting and freedom of the Press and does nothing to encourage those who hope for a more rational peaceful solution in South Africa through a coalition of liberal whites and moderate blacks.