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Wednesday, 18 September 1985
Page: 736


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE(7.29) —Tonight I raise some matters concerned with South Africa. One of the disappointing and, in fact, almost depressing aspects of this argument is that when one rises to speak on this subject one has to qualify oneself by saying one is anti-apartheid, that one finds it abhorrent and that one is totally opposed to the present distortion of political representation in South Africa. One is not able to begin a speech on South Africa without prefacing it with those remarks. However, I rise particularly to record my concern at some recent statements on South Africa that have been made by a number of people, not least those by a past Prime Minister of this country, one John Malcolm Fraser. I do not do that because I abhor apartheid less or more than does Malcolm Fraser. To me that is not the point. No one, in my view, has an absolute mortgage on morality.


Senator Button —Certainly not you, Senator.


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Well, I do not have a mortgage but I have my corner of the market. I have not seen the honourable senator's yet, but I am still waiting optimistically. The indignation of some seems to be based on white upper middle class social guilt complexes, whereas on the other hand there are those who more properly have a concern which touches upon a capacity for compassion and empathy.

I take issue particularly with Mr Fraser because I do not believe his strident, intemperate, emotional and biased statements and views lend themselves either to an understanding of the events or circumstances in South Africa or to a constructive contribution to the peaceful co-existence between all people of South Africa in the future. One could almost be led to believe, from the remarks of Mr Fraser and others-I refer to Mr Fraser particularly because he is the one who has been getting the media coverage and he is the one who is likely to influence people who in their own minds are not able to draw an opinion other than that which they read in the newspapers-and from their high moralising, that white Australia's treatment of our indigenous people was of a divine, inspirational nature, that we are the model upon which all other white democratic nations ought to model their actions. Perhaps we ought to remember that prior to 1967 Aboriginals in Australia were considered to be so unimportant that we did not even bother to count them. That was true of successive Liberal and Labor governments. They did not consider them important enough to include them in a census and did not know how many there were. Prior to 1967 the Constitution specifically stated:

In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, Aborigines shall not be counted.

In 1967 that section was repealed and in 1971, for the first time, our Aboriginals were taken by the Commonwealth Government to be of equal consequence to white people in terms of a referendum.


Senator Button —It is now 1985. Senator, we are talking about 1985.


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Yes, we are talking about 1985, but I am talking about ten years ago, which is not very long in the evolution of man and his maturity and understanding. Prior to that there was some counting by some States. However, 1971 was the first year they were counted with whites.


Senator Jessop —How many Aborigines are in Australia?


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —It depends on whether we are talking about those with full blood, half castes, quarter castes, or one-eighth castes. Perhaps we ought also to look at the enlightened approach of successive governments of both Liberal and Labor persuasion in respect of the entitlement of Aboriginals to vote. Prior to 1961 they were not entitled to vote in elections for the House of Representatives or the Senate unless they were entitled to vote in a State for the more populous House of that State, if they were ex-members of the defence forces or if they had become naturalised. Indigenous Australians had to become naturalised and only then could they get a partial vote in Commonwealth elections.

As we know, in 1962 the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended to allow Aboriginals for the first time an of right vote in Federal elections, but still not on the same basis as whites-quite separately. The difference was not too subtle. On that occasion they were entitled to vote but not compelled to. The distinction for them, compared with whites, was based purely and exclusively on race and colour. There was one law for blacks and one law for whites up until that time. It was only in 1983-Senator Button says that it is now 1985-during Senator Button's period in government that for the purposes of enrolment the Aboriginal community was placed in the same category as whites in terms of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

I ask the Senate to go back a little in history-but not too far-in contemporary times and to the opening remarks of a 1961 House of Representatives inquiry into the voting rights of Aboriginals, which was the model for the 1962 amendments and which simply said that they could enrol but that it was voluntary. They did not necessarily have to vote in an election for a State parliament. The report stated:

The Aboriginal people are increasing in numbers. Changes have occurred in their customs of the great majority which ensure, in the words of one of our witnesses `that they will never tend to die again'.

They were not going to die off, they were a reality and they were with us forever. The report further stated:

The Aboriginal people are a permanent part of the Australian community.

This is the interesting line:

This makes imperative--

that is, the fact that they were not going to die off-

the recognition of their proper status and the planning of their integration into the Australian community.

To give honourable members a final quote, I refer to the bottom line of the first page, which states:

It was demonstrated to your committee that any policy other than integration of the Aboriginal people of Australia would be impractical.

This was 1962, but they had to be integrated. We have been enlightened since then. We now have separate development. We have blacks living in areas for which whites need permits to enter. We have separate development, separate schools, separate education, separate facilities and separate budgets. We have more separation here than in almost any country bar South Africa. But of course in 1961, in that enlightened period, we were saying that they had to be assimilated and brought into the Australian community. By any standard, the first page of that report can be interpreted only as a begrudging or perhaps pragmatic acceptance by the white community and the government of the day that Aboriginals were here to stay and that therefore it was imperative to recognise that they ought to have proper rights. The determination to give them proper rights was based on the premise that they were not going to die off, that they were a reality.

I shall give the Senate some sober reminders of the Australian Parliament's attitude to Aborigines at the time of Nelson Mandela's incarceration. Honourable senators will recall that he was originally incarcerated in about 1961. The following quotation I think sums up the views of many at the time:

Surely enough has been said in this Parliament to make honourable members doubt the wisdom of giving full voting rights to Aborigines immediately.

If I said that now, what would Senator Button say?


Senator Button —I did not hear what you had to say.


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I will read it again for the honourable senator's benefit because he is the responding Minister. The following is a quote from a parliamentary Hansard, somewhere in the world:

Surely enough has been said in this Parliament to make honourable members doubt the wisdom of giving full voting rights to Aborigines immediately.

That is a statement by John Malcolm Fraser, appearing in Hansard of 1961. I go on to quote him further:

An Aboriginal who has lived a nomadic life can probably never be fully assimilated into the Australian community, but his child can if he has the right attention, care and help from welfare workers and from the State and Federal governments.

It could be P. W. Botha giving us this little speech. Mr Fraser was talking about assimilation in generous terms. He said:

Surely it means that ultimately the aborigines will have the same privileges, responsibilities and rights that other Australians now have. In other words, aborigines will live in the same street . . . The marriage of two persons of different colour would be a part of their assimilation.

They ought then, at a later date, to be treated as equals. He continued:

It may well be that by that means the aboriginal race will be absorbed over a period of time. As far as I can see, assimilation and absorption are part of one and the same thing.

John Malcolm Fraser was telling us that we had to have assimilation, and that that was the only way the Aboriginal community could go. Let us see what Mr Fraser had to say about education. He said, in very generous terms:

The provision of special schools is a transitional process which we hope will not last for too much longer.

But:

The special school is necessary because of language difficulties, environment and heredity.

There had to be different schools because of heredity! That was John Malcolm Fraser in 1961. There are those who strut the world stage now with the conscience of society cast heavily on their shoulders. Twenty years ago, many years after Mr Fraser first got into Parliament, the man of conscience, the man of the world, had those sorts of things to say about the Aboriginals in the Australian community. How is his born again, enlightened conscience now in regard to the black community? Let us not have this pious approach. Let us not believe that any of us has a mortgage on knowledge, wisdom, understanding or morality.

Some recent comments Mr Fraser has made are very distinct in prejudice or ignorance-or they are designed particularly to reflect something other than the truth; I am not in a position to make a judgment about that-which in my view can add nothing to the debate in persuading the white South Africans that changes in their political system to accommodate the political aspirations of all South Africans must take place. We can be certain of one thing: There is nothing more calculated to drive the South African Boers into their laager mentality than to have them read statements of overseas opinion which, frankly, are just not true.

Let us take the first of Mr Fraser's statements. He claimed recently on Australian Broadcasting Corporation news programs that the Australian cricketers were being used to say that Australia supported apartheid and that the South African Government was using the media to give the impression to South African people that it was the official Test team. That is what the media in South Africa was saying, according to Malcolm Fraser in his flying three-day visit to that country recently-and I understand that he spent six days in Zimbabwe. Let me just give the Senate the headline story in the Sunday Times-hardly a South African newspaper known to be sympathetic to the Government:

A fresh uproar over the rebel cricket tour of South Africa has rocked sports-mad Australia.

The new row centres on whether Australians-most of whom back the tour-will be able to see the matches on television.

In the latest turn, tough Australian TV tycoon Rupert Murdoch-nicknamed the Dirty Digger-was last night poised for a showdown with Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

In the Star of Thursday, 5 September 1985-these are the reports that are apparently intended to give the South African people the impression that it is an official Test team-this was written from Canberra by Geoff Kitney:

An agonising search has begun here for explanations for Australia's failure in the Ashes series in England and attention has focused immediately on the damage done to team morale by the South African rebel tour upheaval.

I could go on and on with that article. Again in the South African Star of Monday, 12 August 1985, under the headline `Hughes under renewed attack' these words appeared:

Former Australian cricket captain Kim Hughes says he will reconsider his participation in a tour of South Africa later this year only if the trip is shown to be a `scam'.

Here we go again with the foreign news service of the Star:

Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke is determined to show the world that despite the rebel cricket tour, Australia's anti-apartheid stand remains undiminished.

That is hardly likely to convince people that it is an official cricket tour. `Rebels' prospects under fire'-and so it goes on and on. There is not one single indication in the media that it is the official cricket Test team. Quite the contrary; every article refers to them as the rebel cricket team.

The past Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has said in recent days that all political prisoners ought to be released, including Nelson Mandela. Clearly, Malcolm Fraser sees Nelson Mandela as a political prisoner. I can only take it that he is at total variance with Amnesty International, a world-wide body. The President of its Canberra branch, Senator Alan Missen, is hardly, I would think, a mad extreme right winger. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Button, would understand and appreciate, Amnesty International is an organisation of and with the highest integrity. I quote what it had to say about Nelson Mandela:

Amnesty International opposes torture and executions in all cases and seeks fair and prompt trials of political prisoners. It works for the release, however, only of prisoners of conscience.

These are defined in the Statute of Amnesty International as people detained anywhere by reason of their political, religious or other conscientiously held beliefs or by reason of their ethnic origin, sex, colour or language, provided that they have not used or advocated violence.

Amnesty International does not believe that this definition applies to Nelson Mandela.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 after acknowledging in court his participation in the planning of acts of sabotage as a leader of the African National Congress.

He certainly was not convicted of trumped up charges. Of the five charges he pleaded guilty to four. In my view, Nelson Mandela ought to be released from prison. I do not say that on compassionate grounds, particularly in view of Mandela's own refusal to accept release. I believe that it is not politically wise for South Africa to leave him in gaol. If I were being purely pragmatic and political, I would say to the South African Government: `He is a greater martyr in a greater cause and a greater symbol of the ANC and the aspirations of black Africans as long as he is incarcerated in that prison'. I am sure that the South African Government recognises that, and that is why it offered him a release. It was prepared to provide him with a pardon and to release him on one condition-that he disavowed violence. But he refused to do so. As was said in an interview which was well documented and broadcast:

In January, he informed Lord Nicholas Bethell, Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament's Human Rights Committee, that he still supported violence.

If any prisoner in Australia who had been given a life sentence came before a parole board which was seeking to identify whether he was likely to offend again or whether he was reformed, or whatever expression is used these days with prisoners, and he said `No, I am not, if I am charged with murder, I give no undertaking, and in fact I give you the undertaking that I shall offend again', clearly he would not be released. In those circumstances no responsible government could release a prisoner.

If some of us are to call for Nelson Mandela's release, it is worth knowing why he was convicted and gaoled in the first place. Before I touch on that, let me say, as I have said before, that I believe he ought to be released for a number of reasons. The South African Government believes he ought to be released, but, quite properly, it is terrified that he would be out of gaol for five minutes and, more than likely, somebody from the left and not the right would shoot him to make him a greater martyr than he presently is. No black in South Africa would believe that that was not done by the secret police, as the police are sometimes called by some people.

I think that the greatest fear the South African Government has is that Mandela will die in gaol. It would be glad to have him out of gaol. When he gets out the blacks will have real problems. There is Bishop Tutu, the de facto leader, in his mind at least, of part of the black community. There is Chief Buthelezi and a whole range of United Democratic Front leaders. There is a whole range of new people who had hardly been born when Mandela went to gaol and who now have control of the ANC and the United Democratic Front in South Africa and they will not give it up too easily. When Mandela gets out of gaol he will be just in the ruck with all the rest. As long as he is in gaol he really is a symbol of all that the blacks represent. The sooner he gets out, the sooner, in my view, his influence will be considerably diminished.

Having said that, let me just remind the Senate of the reasons for Mandela being incarcerated. Without reading the fine print of the various charges, I will refer to the opening address by counsel for the state at the trial of Mandela and other accused. I remind honourable senators that Mandela pleaded guilty to the last four charges, but not the first. He stated:

As the indictment alleges, the accused deliberately and maliciously plotted and engineered the commission of acts of violence and destruction throughout the country . . . The planned purpose thereof was to bring about in the Republic of South Africa chaos, disorder and turmoil, which would be aggravated, according to their plan, by the operation of thousands of trained guerrilla warfare units deployed throughout the country at various vantage points. These would be joined in the various areas by local inhabitants as well as specially selected men posted to such areas. Their combined operations were planned to lead to confusion, violent insurrection and rebellion, followed, at the appropriate juncture, by an armed invasion of the country by military units of foreign powers.

Counsel stated that the resulting chaos, turmoil and disorder was planned by the accused to set up a provisional revolutionary government to take over administration and control of the country. It continued:

By the latter half of 1961 the African National Congress had decided to embark upon a policy of violence and destruction-a policy of sabotage-in order to achieve its political aims and objectives. For this purpose they formed the Umkhonto We Sizwe-

this means the spear of the nation-

This organization was recruited from followers who were prepared, whatever the odds, to die if necessary, in the execution of acts of violence and destruction.

That organization placed itself under the political guidance of the National Liberation Movement, of which Nelson Mandela was the head. The extent to which the national high command plotted its policy of sabotage, violence and destruction throughout the country can be gauged from the production requirements. It was a program which it planned to complete in six months. These requirements, as documented, include 144 tons of ammonium nitrate-for those who know what ammonium nitrate is-21.6 tons of aluminum powder and 15 tons of black powder. Without taking into account the explosive and detonators which the members of the sabotage squads throughout the country were enjoined by their leaders to steal from explosive magazines at various mines, the experts say that the aforementioned `production requirements' constituted sufficient explosive power to blow up a town as extensive as Johannesburg.

The saboteurs had planned the manufacture of at least seven types of bombs and 48,000 anti-personnel mines, also known as land mines, each containing 5lb of dynamite. A sample of such a mine was found at Rivonia, which is the name of the place where the accused were arrested. The saboteurs also planned to manufacture 210,000 hand grenades, each containing a quarter lb of dynamite, petrol bombs, pipe bombs, syringe bombs, thermite bombs and bottle bombs, colloquially known as `Molotov Cocktails'.

That was their little contribution to a revolutionary form of change to the political structure. They had just enough explosives to blow up Johannesburg, which has a population of 2 1/2 million people. Is not that a nice little opening shot? Nelson Mandela, in his own handwriting-some people may not find this offensive, but if I were a South African I would find it particularly so-stated:

The people of South Africa led by the South African Communist Party will destroy capitalist society and build in its place socialism . . . The transition from capitalism to socialism and the liberation of the working class from the yoke, cannot be effected by slow changes or by reform, as reactionaries and liberals often advise but a revolution. One therefore must be a revolutionary and not be a reformist.

He continued:

We Communist Party members are the most advanced revolutionaries in modern history and are the contemporary fighting and driving force in changing the society and the world . . . (The enemy) must be completely crushed and wiped out from the face of the earth before a Communist World can be realised.

That is what Nelson Mandela was all about. That is why he was charged with sabotage and got life imprisonment. He could have been charged with treason, but the prosecution charged him with a lower offence. If he had been charged with treason and convicted, it automatically would have been a capital offence and he would have been executed.


Senator Button —He could have been sentenced to death here, too.


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Absolutely, but he was not. As I have said, I believe that the South African Government takes my view. It would save that Government a lot of pain if they could let him out of gaol. He knows he is a martyr as long as he is in gaol; he may not be a martyr if he gets out. His power base might diminish. If a person were given a life sentence in Australia for such an offence and that person was not prepared to repudiate that type of violence, when that person's probation came up, to use a colloquialism, he would go back in the slammer very quickly. It is worth while that we understand what Nelson Mandela was charged with and convicted on.

I refer to another of Malcolm Fraser's comments on South Africa. He said:

Per capita spending on black education and health is but a fraction of that spent on white education and health.

He continued:

They have made absolutely no attempt in any budget for 40 years to do so.

That is blatantly and manifestly untrue. The most charitable interpretation that one could place on those statements is that Mr Fraser does not know what he is talking about. In the last three years the disparity between black and white education has been reduced from 7:1 to 4:1. That is still not good enough, but it is a dramatic change in three years. For instance, between 1981-82 and 1983-84 there was a 10 per cent movement between funds for black education and funds for white education. Just over $1 billion was spent on black education in one year. The tragedy for black education right now is not the level of money that is being expended on it but the fact that the blacks have burnt down 328 of their own schools.


The PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.