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Wednesday, 18 September 1985
Page: 694


Senator DURACK(3.44) —Let me say at the outset that the speech we have just heard from Senator Giles in support of her motion does not even address its terms. I say at the very beginning that the Opposition will not dispute the facts the honourable senator has brought forward regarding the nature of the regime in South Africa and the details of the misery, suffering and brutality of so many of its citizens. That is not a subject for debate here. The Opposition is quite aware, and has been for many years, of the grave issues that arise under the apartheid regime of South Africa. We are aware of the police methods and the human degradation which have been apparent in South Africa for so long.

Having said that, let me address the motion and the real issues before the Senate this afternoon. Senator Giles has proposed as a matter of urgency that the Senate agree to two propositions. The first is:

The need for all Party leaders and other parliamentarians in the Australian Parliament to condemn apartheid . . .

The second, and quite separate and distinct proposition, which is tied to the first, is the need `to endorse and support the action taken by the Australian Government against the oppressive South African regime'. I will show in the course of my remarks this afternoon that, as I have already said, the Opposition wholeheartedly supports the first proposition, that is, the need to condemn apartheid and thereby the South African policies which sustain and maintain it, and the methods that are used. The other proposition, which is that, because we do that we should support the actions that have been taken by the Australian Government against the South African regime, is a quite different issue and quite fatuous.

Indeed, it is pathetic that any honourable senator could come into the chamber, roll up these two totally distinct propositions and ask us to support them. For those reasons I have already obtained the support of the Senate to suspend Standing Orders to enable me to move a motion for the deletion of all words after `apartheid' from Senator Giles's motion. Accordingly, I move:

That the statement of the matter of urgency be amended by leaving out all words after `apartheid'.

Let me first address what is certainly the fundamental question at issue here-the first limb of Senator Giles's motion, namely, the need for all party leaders and other parliamentarians in the Australian Parliament to condemn apartheid. I suppose one could make the nit-picking point that, although we all condemn apartheid, there is no further need to do so because it has been condemned so often and that, therefore, from a literal point of view, it may be unnecessary to ask the Senate to support the need for that to be done. However, I believe that as party leaders, leaders of the community and members of parliament we cannot too often condemn the regime of apartheid. Indeed, the coalition parties have been on record over and over again for many years as having condemned it. The strong views on apartheid of Malcolm Fraser could not have been made clearer when he was Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia and Prime Minister and since then.

Those views were also held by a former Leader of the Opposition, Mr Andrew Peacock-and not only in recent times, when the issue has become high priority. Mr Andrew Peacock held those views when he was a Foreign Minister in the Fraser Government and probably for many years before that. Certainly on 19 August this year as Leader of the Opposition he expressed in a very fine statement his views and the views of the Opposition. It was a statement made by him after a meeting of the shadow Cabinet. It was made on the day that the Government announced its puny policies on this matter. I will quote from that statement by Mr Peacock on 19 August. He said:

The Coalition's condemnation of apartheid in South Africa is unequivocal and long-standing. Apartheid is, rightly, a subject that excites high emotion and widespread censure. It does so for one fundamental reason: it discriminates against non-whites on the grounds of race.

That is the central point, and is why we have always taken this view. We can put aside for one moment the brutality, human degradation and so on that are part of the regime because those things happen in many other countries; South Africa is not unique in the world in that respect. But what is unique and so offensive to mankind, and why we in the coalition parties certainly join in the condemnation, is that apartheid dicriminates against non-whites on the grounds of race and race alone. In the same statement of 19 August it is stated:

The Coalition calls on the South African Government to make a specific commitment to the reform of its internal policies in the following manner--

Here we spelt out in great detail what we believe are the absolute minimum requirements to be undertaken by that regime-

an end to the state of emergency;

an end to detention without trial;

the unconditional release of political leaders;

the progressive abolition of the Pass Laws, the Group Areas Act, and other forms of discriminatory legislation;

a commitment to a common form of citizenship for all South Africans;

an end to forced removals;

equality of educational opportunity.

The Coalition believes it is of critical importance that there should be a genuine and continuing dialogue initiated by the South African Government between it and black leaders genuinely representative of the black community, together with representatives of other groups in the South African community, so that confidence and understanding can be promoted and the means of achieving the objectives the Coalition believes to be essential can be examined.

That is where the Opposition stands and has stood for many years. It put down that very considered statement on 19 August. Lest anybody should try to say that there has been a change in our leadership and that Mr Howard may have a different view, I will quote what Mr Howard has said. As recently as last Sunday on the Sunday program when he was asked about this matter, Mr Howard said:

I do not approve of apartheid and I totally support all of the views that have been expressed on that on behalf of the Liberal Party over the past couple of years. I'm dead against apartheid.

Nothing could be clearer than that. As far as the views of the leadership of the coalition parties are concerned, we have had the well known views of the former Leader, Malcolm Fraser and of our immediate past Leader Mr Andrew Peacock, which have now been reaffirmed by our Leader, Mr Howard. Let us have no attempts to qualify it. There could be nothing more definite from Mr Howard when he says:

I'm dead against apartheid.


Senator Ryan —What is he going to do about it?


Senator DURACK —In a Press conference that he held at the end of last week, under questioning he said exactly the same things but I do not need to reiterate them. There is no question whatever about where the Opposition stands on the first limb of this proposition. It is absurd for Senator Ryan, in the light of those quotations and in the light of what I will say now, to keep saying that there is doubt about that. That is rubbish and she knows it is.

The fact is that the coalition parties when in government not only condemned apartheid by words; we took very firm actions against it. Under the leadership of Malcolm Fraser we were party to the historic Gleneagles Agreement, an agreement to which the Fraser Government gave very strong adherence throughout its time in office. The adherence to and implementation of that Agreement was a very practical demonstration of where we stand. It is not simply a matter of words. Moreover, the Fraser Government stopped the flights of Qantas Airways Ltd into South Africa as a further demonstration of that view. Restrictions were imposed on the Australian export of arms and military equipment to South Africa. They are some very clear, firm earnests of our attitude to this regime. In the statement I have read, we detailed a whole series of things that must be achieved. Of course, the Opposition supports the efforts being made around the world and in the United Nations, by the pressure of moral persuasion, to try to bring about the modification of apartheid.


Senator Ryan —It needs more than persuasion. Even the United States is in on the boycotts now. You are weaker than Ronald Reagan on this issue.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Colston) —Order!


Senator DURACK —Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. Senator Ryan is certainly not helping matters or herself by her constant barrage. I reiterate that the Opposition has not only spoken on the subject; we have also acted, when we have been in a position to do so, in support of that condemnation.

The coalition does not believe that sanctions are an effective way of achieving these purposes. It is not just a matter of unilateral sanctions. It is a sad case, perhaps, but it is a fact that sanctions, even through the United Nations, have not been effective in achieving their purpose.


Senator Ryan —These will be.


Senator DURACK —This is a childish belief that, because the Labor Government has imposed sanctions, something different will happen. The fact is that sanctions through the United Nations were imposed on Rhodesia without effect in the long run. They were imposed without effect on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a result of its invasion of Afghanistan. I remind members of the Government that when they were in opposition they condemned efforts made by the Fraser Government to impose sanctions against the Soviet Union because of its invasion of Afghanistan, particularly as they related to sporting activities at that time. Let Government members ponder on that. I notice that at last Senator Ryan is silent on that subject.

The fact is that we have learned by hard experience, and perhaps unfortunate experience, that sanctions are counterproductive and will not bring about a change in apartheid. Change will be brought about by moral persuasion on the South African Government, by world leaders doing what they are doing at present. The Opposition has taken the view that sanctions against the South African Government would be counterproductive. The application of sanctions is likely to have only the opposite effect. It will strengthen and reinforce the conservative forces in South Africa against any reform. Sanctions will also hurt black Africans, not only black South Africans. They will be very hurtful to many other black southern African countries.

Those are the reasons we have adopted the attitude we have in relation to the present Government's sanctions policy. I have described that policy as a puny effort by the Government. The Government believes that sanctions are the way to go and we do disagree with that, and I have moved an amendment to this motion to remove any endorsement or support of what the Government has done. When one looks at the Government's efforts, one sees that it is really a pathetic list of efforts that have been made by it. The Government has said that it will seek further sanctions through the process of the United Nations, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and so on, but that may be down the track and nothing further may come of it. There are two issues which are fundamental issues as far as the Opposition is concerned. We do not believe that these sanctions will be effective. We point to the ineffective nature of sanctions in other circumstances and even those that have been not just unilateral but through the United Nations. We point to the experience of Rhodesia and Afghanistan. In simple terms, that is the Opposition's attitude.

Senator Giles said that the blacks in South Africa want sanctions, but the blacks are very much divided on whether or not they want sanctions. One of the leading black South African leaders, Chief Buthelezi, the chief of the Zulus, which is the largest single group of black South Africans, is very much opposed to sanctions and is waging a major campaign against sanctions around the world. We believe that already very effective things are in place, such as the Gleneagles Agreement, to which we have adhered and will continue to adhere. That is one of the most effective ways in which the feelings of those who condemn apartheid have been expressed in the past and will continue to be expressed in the future. That is the only point of contention we have with the Government on this matter.

Senator Gareth Evans said that this motion has been brought on because the Government wants to condemn the fact that the opposition will not have a bipartisan policy in relation to this matter. There is a clear bipartisan policy in relation to our attitude to apartheid. As I have said, the policies we put in place when in government have been constantly reiterated by Liberal and coalition leaders over the years. No finger can be pointed at us, because we have stated our abhorrence and condemnation of apartheid and the actions of the South African Government and the methods it has used to maintain it. That is a bipartisan policy. Of course it is ridiculous to believe that this Government should seek to have the support of the Opposition, uncritically and presumably unthinkingly, for anything it has done. I am sure that the Government will not have Senator Chipp's support; I am sure that Senator Chipp will be expressing a good deal of criticism for what the Government has done.


Senator Chipp —What it has not done.


Senator DURACK —Sure. I hope that Senator Chipp will consider my amendment and support it, because the Government is seeking to get a blank cheque from the Opposition under the guise of the need for bipartisan attitudes, but we will not give it. I reiterate firmly the Opposition's support for the first limb. We are opposed to and seek to delete the second limb, because we will not support the actions that have been taken by the Australian Government. We have not supported them and we will not support them. It is a separate issue and it should never have been included in this motion.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Jessop) —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.