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Tuesday, 6 March 1984
Page: 443

Senator JESSOP —I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether he recalls that, when justifying the Government's decision to allow offices to be established in Australia for the African National Congress and the South West African People's Organisation, two organisations committed to violent change in South Africa, Mr Hayden said that their activities were 'legitimate and accorded with the operation of a free democratic society'. In addition, the Government has allowed individual ANC representatives to come to Australia for a month, as I understand it, to present their point of view with respect to current affairs in South Africa to the public of Australia. How was the proposed week-long visit to Australia by two moderate elected representatives, Messrs Durr and Rajab, different in principle? In what way does their visit not accord with the operation of a free and democratic society? Does the Minister further recall that a gallup poll conducted last year indicated that 62 per cent of the people said that trade between Australia and South Africa should be encouraged, 72 per cent said that official sporting contacts between the two countries should be encouraged, and 75 per cent wanted Qantas Airways Ltd to resume services between Australia and Johannesburg? In view of this significant public demonstration of feeling on this subject and in view of the fact that the Prime Minister is the champion of consensus and fairness and a person who desires to bring people together, I ask the Government to issue those visas immediately.

Senator Gietzelt —Mr President, I take a point of order. It is clear that the honourable senator is giving information to the Senate. He is not asking a question, and as such he ought to be called to order and asked to question the Minister in the appropriate way.

The PRESIDENT —Order! A lot of information was given in the honourable senator's question, which has now been asked. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to respond to the question.

Senator BUTTON —I have been a member of the Senate for only 10 years now, but in the whole of my time here that is the most confused question I have heard. The first thing it confuses is Senator Jessop's alleged commitment to high principle . He supports his commitment to high principle by citing gallup polls as if the two questions were intimately connected. I am not the least surprised that the majority of Australians expressed the views which they expressed in those gallup polls, but to confuse those answers in the gallup poll with the sorts of arguments of high principle which the honourable senator began with seems to me to be bordering on the bizarre.

The second bizarre thing about the question, of course, is that it really should have been directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. If the honourable senator is asking me whether I recall what the Prime Minister recalled-and that is what he did ask-about what Mr Hayden said last year about these matters, I only have to answer no, I do not recall what the Prime Minister recalls about what Mr Hayden said last year. I am sorry, I have no recollection of that at all . A further part of the question asked whether the Prime Minister, being a popular figure, the champion of civil liberties, the most successful Prime Minister in the history of this country, and all those things which Senator Jessop--

Senator Gareth Evans —If not the world.

Senator BUTTON —If not the world. With the Prime Minister being all those things to which Senator Jessop refers, I am asked whether the Prime Minister will intervene in this matter to give a visa to these couple of people who are coming here for some conference, the added motive being to teach the left wing a lesson , for goodness sake. Will the Prime Minister do all these things? I will ask him . I am sure that, in answer to that ludicrous question, Senator Jessop will get an answer which he deserves.