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Wednesday, 11 September 1985
Page: 453


Senator TATE —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware of reported statements of Mr Malcolm Fraser, former leader of the parliamentary Liberal Party of Australia, expressing his long held abhorrence of the racism incorporated in the political and social structures of South Africa-I think he likened it to Nazi Germany in that respect-and his statements supporting the need to apply strong pressure against the minority regime in power there? Is it expected that Mr Fraser will brief the Foreign Minister on his return to Australia? Is it anticipated that the Department of Foreign Affairs will continue, in the non-partisan spirit that should characterise Australia's approach to this issue, to facilitate arrangements for Mr Fraser's visits to southern African countries?


Senator GARETH EVANS —It has to be acknowledged that Mr Fraser's statesmanship has been of a somewhat selective character in the past but in the matter of southern Africa, racism and apartheid-


Senator Chipp —That is not fair.


Senator GARETH EVANS —With the utmost respect, it was not very apparent in 1975 and I think that is something which will long live in the memory of the Australian Labor Party. But willing as we are to be gracious and objective about all things, I make the point that in the matter of southern Africa, apartheid and racism Mr Fraser's record has been wholly consistent and wholly admirable and that is the point I want to place squarely on the record. In that respect his position has been in marked contrast to that of his former acolyte, Mr Howard, now the Leader of the Liberal Party, who has continued to demonstrate a massive insensitivity and a massive indifference to the dimension of the human tragedy in South Africa. That contrast has been made recently by Mr Fraser who, in what has been described as an exclusive interview in the Australian of 9 September, was reported, when dealing with Mr Howard's previous statements about South Africa and the Soviet Union, as follows:

. . . Any such comparison was totally false and misleading.

We might dislike what happens in both countries, but they are different and they require different responses, he said. People should stop making that kind of comparison or using it as an excuse for doing nothing about South Africa.

Mr Fraser said the problem in South Africa was solely one of race.

The whole system is based on race, and on that alone. If you're white you're superior. If you're black, you're inferior.

The article continued:

. . . South Africa was rather like a Greek oligopoly, and there's only one regime in this century that's been so steeped in racism as this regime . . . that's Nazi Germany.

They are very penetrating and effective words and they should be borne very closely in mind by those who are minded to regard Mr Howard as someone who is sensitive and sensible on issues of this kind. The Government shares, unequivocally, Mr Fraser's expressed abhorrence of the apartheid regime in South Africa and his advocacy of economic sanctions to influence change. As is well known, the Australian Government has already taken a number of measures in this direction, including those which were announced on 19 August. We have said on numerous occasions that we stand ready to support and vote in favour of the comprehensive and mandatory economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council and observed by South Africa's major trading partners.

I understand that in a few days' time Mr Fraser is likely to meet Mr Hayden in New York on the occasion of the United Nations General Assembly. No doubt they will then have an opportunity to consider what further contributions Mr Fraser might make, in co-operation with the Australian Government, for the resolution of this unhappy continuing tragedy in South Africa.