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Wednesday, 9 October 1985
Page: 900

Senator FOREMAN —Did the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs see the report of an interview with South African businessman, Mr Gavin Relly, in the Australian on 3 October this year? If so, does the Minister agree with the sentiment expressed in the interview that sanctions will kill the road to reform in South Africa?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am aware of the report of an interview with the Chairman of the Anglo-American Corporation, Mr Gavin Relly, in the Australian on 3 October to which Senator Foreman refers. I met Mr Relly yesterday to discuss with him the sanctions issue and the circumstances of his leadership of the delegation of South African businessmen to talk recently with the representatives of the African National Congress.

On the question at issue, the Government does not accept that sanctions will kill the road to reform in South Africa. On the contrary, international pressure has brought about much recent reform to the apartheid system in South Africa. In the same interview Mr Relly admits that international pressure may have speeded up a process of commitment to reform that might have been slower in itself. The call for economic sanctions has also been supported by prominent black leaders in South Africa. The need for increased international pressure on South Africa is brought about by the South African Government's unwillingness to be further influenced by internal pressure for reform.

After the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Hayden, announced the series of economic measures in respect of South Africa on 19 August he made it clear that it was not Australia's intention, acting unilaterally, to employ all possible measures at our disposal. Rather, the Government preferred to keep some measures up our sleeve, as it were, so that we would be in a position to apply further pressure in a graduated series of responses to the situation in South Africa as it evolves.

As part of that approach the Government has also made it clear on a number of occasions that we support the imposition of mandatory economic sanctions by the United Nations Security Council-the only body really capable of imposing such mandatory sanctions-and that we are prepared to work towards such world-wide action.

I conclude by saying that what we have made repeatedly clear, and what I made clear speaking directly to Mr Relly, is that the Australian Government does not regard the imposition of sanctions as any kind of end in itself. We see sanctions as properly applied to constructive ends in South Africa rather than destructive ends.