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Wednesday, 18 September 1985
Page: 697


Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(4.06) —The Australian Democrats will vote for the matter of urgency moved by Labor Senator Giles, which reads:

That in the opinion of the Senate the following is a matter of urgency:

The need for all Party leaders and other parliamentarians in the Australian Parliament to condemn apartheid, and to endorse and support the action taken by the Australian Government against the oppressive South African regime.

Although I want to begin by complimenting Senator Durack on a fine speech, we cannot support his amendment to split this matter in two. I make it perfectly clear that I understand why the Liberals are doing this: There should be two questions. As far as we are concerned, while we will support the motion moved by Senator Giles, under no circumstances should it be construed that the Democrats believe that everything the Government has done has been correct or that it could not have done a lot more. I compliment Senator Durack on his speech. The only jarring note, as far as the Democrats are concerned, came at the end when he mentioned that the old political remedy to this sort of thing is to attack the sportsmen but leave the businessmen alone. In other words, we support the Gleneagles Agreement, which I will come back to in a moment; but that was the only jarring note as I heard the speech.

Today we are debating and voting on one of the most fundamental cases of man's inhumanity to man. Not since Nazi Germany has there been a case of degradation and oppression, physically and psychologically, of a group of people for only one reason: Because of an accident of birth-in this case, the colour of their skin. That is the only reason these people are being oppressed and degraded. Not only is there a need for all party leaders in the Australian Parliament to condemn apartheid unequivocally, but also leaders of all governments everywhere and all political parties in the Western world must do so on purely moral grounds. This has always been the case, but South Africa now faces a blood-bath, the like of which is unprecedented in the world's history if there is not a peaceful resolution of the existing system.

Those who are not persuaded by argument must surely be able to see that such a devastating blood-bath will be an unmitigated disaster for the whole human race. One does not say that this blood-bath will occur as a result of the events now occurring in South Africa. It may be that the military will be able to hold it down and screw it down tight for a while, but in six months, twelve months or two years the one inevitability is a massive blood-bath and more violence. The reality is that the racist Nationalists have prepared for the contingency of violence for over 30 years. They hope either to win a civil war or, like Hitler, bring down everything in a final holocaust. It is their last card and I believe that the blacks should not allow them to play it-that is, to fight on a scenario chosen and designed by the psychopaths of Pretoria. Violence will not win the struggle for freedom and for human rights. It could well destroy it.

The Democrats are advocating that all world leaders should prevail upon the blacks not to resort to violence but to use the tools already at their disposal. On this point, I disagree marginally with the thrust of what Senator Durack has just said, because by economic and financial sanctions and international criticism the regime in South Africa is now being rendered impotent. It is being brought to its knees and it is starting to split and quarrel through non-military, non-violent means. This is the way to isolate, undermine and split asunder this South African regime of obscene beliefs and outrageous behaviour. Pretoria knows that these non-violent means are bringing it to its knees and I believe that that regime is praying for violence.

Violence would or could rally support for white South Africans. Is blood thicker than water? What about the scenes on the television screens in the white western world of blacks slaughtering whites? Would that cause an emotional blood-is-thicker-than-water syndrome and rally, wrongly, white non-South Africans in the free world to the white South Africans' cause? Although we cannot make a judgment on it, this is a possibility that we must contemplate. It is another reason why we should argue against the use of violence. Blood may well prove to be thicker than water in the long run. From the blacks point of view, they will want to take over a still prosperous society, not a ruin that has been devastated by civil war.

I point out another difficulty of a civil war in South Africa. If violence gets underway and is allowed to go uncontrolled, as it would in a civil war, the wrong people might win. I use that term advisedly. In a civil war between various black tribes an Idi Amin or a Bukassar, or some other outrageous creature could be thrown up.


Senator Missen —The violent tend to come to the top in those situations.


Senator CHIPP —Indeed. I thank Senator Missen for his interjection. I accept it in a flash. A dictatorship could well replace the already obnoxious and obscene form of government in South Africa, a dictatorship of black on black.

The second part of Senator Giles's motion is that the Senate endorse and support the action taken by the Australian Government against the oppressive regime in South Africa. The Australian Democrats will support the motion to the extent that we support some of the things that this Government has done. That should not, under any circumstance, be construed that the Australian Democrats totally endorse the Government's action or lack of action in this regard. We believe that it should and could have done a lot more. In that way we differ from the Liberals in that we can support this motion while saying that the Government should be doing more and doing things in a different way.

The Government has certainly become more consistent in its attitude and policies towards South Africa and for this it is to be congratulated. Certainly, the Government cannot expect total endorsement for its policies by the Australian people unless its position is consistent. Listen to this as an example of the Government's sheer inconsistency and abject hypocrisy. In June this year the Government removed one of the major hypocrisies in its policies towards South Africa by withdrawing, under pressure from the Australian Democrats it was only the Democrats who were putting pressure on the Government the Brisbane Airport paving contract. The Government had taken the outrageous decision of granting a paving contract worth $11m at Brisbane Airport to a South African company. This was a strange sort of logic. The Government was condemning South Africa on the one hand and on the other it was giving an $11m contract in Australia to a South African company.

At the same time the Government is to be commended for offering to give legal and financial support to any Australian cricketers who wish to back out of the South African tour. I support that. I have a great deal of sympathy for those cricketers. I disagree with what they are doing but I understand the temptation to young men who have magnificent skills, who have been spurned by their own sporting bodies and not been chosen to go to England in a Test team. These young men know that time is running out and they are offered something like $200,000. I certainly wish they would not go to South Africa. I believe that a visit by our cricketers will be misrepresented and distorted by the South African regime. Mr Fraser commented on that only a while ago.

I shall give an illustration of inconsistency in Government policy. I am sorry to be personal about this but I am speaking of a man for whom I have tremendous admiration as a sportsman, a cricketer, a leader and an Australian. I refer to Kim Hughes, who has magnificent cricketing skills, but the politicians want to stop him from selling those skills in South Africa. Let us assume for a moment that Kim Hughes has a brother-I do not know whether he has-who has no cricketing skills but has enormous skills in civil engineering. Until recently the Government would have stopped Kim Hughes from selling his cricketing skills to South Africa but would have assisted in every way the brother with civil engineering skills to go and trade with that country. This has since been stopped and I compliment the Government on that. That is why I say to the Liberal Party with great respect that when these international problems come up we should not take it out on the sportsmen. If we have to take it out on anyone, we should be consistent and take it out on sportsmen and businessmen alike. The sportsmen are the one group in the community who are against violence, yet they always seem to cop the political blame.

The Democrats are looking forward to the new effective guidelines legislation for government tenders which the Labor Government foreshadowed in June to be introduced in this Parliament so that the Brisbane Airport fiasco cannot occur again. Since the imposition of the state of emergency in South Africa in July the Government has taken a high profile in the United Nations on the issue, in spite of pressure from the United States and Britain. Ultimately however, it is not supporting motions in the United Nations which count or which will bring the Government in Pretoria to the conference table-trade sanctions and acting on them. Those who have said that trade sanctions cannot work are already being proven wrong. The South African rand is under pressure and there is strong speculation that the Pretoria Government will have to face a further massive fall in the rand. European and American companies are withdrawing funds from South Africa and the Government there is feeling the pinch. The Australian Government, having voted in the United Nations to ban future investment, is now waiting to see which countries line up on what side before it takes the plunge and supports an economic blockade. The Australian vote in the United Nations is not simply meaningless but hypocritical unless the Government acts on it in every way possible. I certainly hope that the Hawke Government is not waiting for the United States to tell us how to vote before it grasps the nettle, as it did with New Zealand, with the instance of the Rainbow Warrior and with refusal of that Government to allow nuclear ships in its ports.

Last month the Government decided to initiate strategic effective sanctions against South Africa. These sanctions are steps in the right direction but they do not constitute an economic blockade. Mr Hayden has said that the Government is considering blocking South African Airlines but we are still waiting for the Government to make up its mind and act. There are a number of other things that the Government could do. It could impose a complete ban on South African fish and diamonds, mainly being taken illegally from Namibia. It could immediately expel the South African Mission in Melbourne and the South African information office in Sydney. There should be at least a general downgrading of diplomatic representation.

As in the past, I once again call upon all political parties in this Parliament to make the policy on South Africa tripartisan. I say this without trying to score points. I hope that certain sections of the Liberal Party will stop calling for closer sporting, cultural and trade links with South Africa as they did in July this year. If ever there was a time to have a tripartisan policy on an international issue, surely this is it. The Democrats support the actions taken by the Australian Government against the oppressive South African regime and urge it to do everything it can to help bring about a resolution of the South African situation.

I end on a gracious note. I do not have to tell honourable senators or the listening audience that I am no favourite of Malcolm Fraser. I do not see myself as his champion. I never have been and I never will be. But it would be ungracious if I did not conclude by saying: `Well done, Malcolm Fraser, for what you are doing in South Africa. I hope that you will continue to be the champion of the blacks in South Africa in the forthcoming difficult days'.