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Thursday, 12 September 1985
Page: 506


Senator JONES —Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs been drawn to the action of the South African President, Mr Botha, in announcing to a meeting of his own Party his so-called liberalisation of that country's racial laws to grant dual citizenship to black South Africans previously banished to the four so-called `homelands'? What will be the Australian Government's response to what appears to be a cosmetic political exercise forced on the Botha Government by mounting international pressure? Will the Minister assure the Senate that the economic sanctions recently announced by the Australian Government against the white minority Government to continue until all South Africans, whatever racial label is pinned on them, are given equal voting and citizenship rights?


Senator GARETH EVANS —It is the case, according to reports to hand, that the South African President has announced, first, that blacks who lost their citizenship because of the independence of Bophuthatswana, Transkei, Venda and Ciskei and who are resident in South Africa will have their South African citizenship restored as soon as necessary legislative steps have been completed and, secondly, that the South African Government is prepared to negotiate with the four so-called independent homelands about the restoration of citizenship of people living within their borders with some form of dual citizenship being expected to be negotiated. According to the announcement South Africa is prepared to offer South African citizenship as a second citizenship to those homeland residents who wish to take it. The third element of the announcement is that citizenship, as well as ethnic identification, would in future be expressly stated on uniform identity documents to be issued to all races.

The Government's initial reaction to all this is that the South African Government has taken a significant step towards providing common citizenship to all South Africans, and this is to be welcomed. We do note, however, that citizenship will not in the case of blacks carry any political rights whatsoever. That means, of course, that when measured against what really is necessary to confer full civil and political rights upon black South Africans, Senator Jones's description of this measure as being cosmetic may well have some appropriate application. The economic sanctions announced by the Government on 19 August are designed to underscore our position that the South African Government ought to introduce universal adult suffrage. We hope that fundamental reform towards this objective could be made in negotiations with representatives of the black community and lead to peaceful change in that country. We also continue to hope, as Mr Hayden said yesterday, that bipartisan support will be maintained for the very strong position that Australia has adopted over the last decade in relation to South Africa. We continue to wait with bated breath for that simple and forthright declaration from Mr Howard to that effect which Mr Hayden asked for in the House of Representatives yesterday.