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Wednesday, 6 November 1985
Page: 1655


Senator SIBRAA —Is the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs aware of reports that Dr Alan Boesak, President of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, has had his passport withdrawn by the South African Government only hours after a court agreed to return his passport? If these reports are correct, will the Australian Government express in the strongest terms its opposition to these actions by the South African Government?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I am aware of reports that Dr Alan Boesak, the President of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and a very prominent and respected anti-apartheid leader, had his passport withdrawn by the South African Government only hours after a court near Capetown agreed to the relaxation of harsh bail conditions imposed upon him, including the return of his passport. As yet these reports are unconfirmed but they are believed to be accurate. When I was Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs on a previous occasion, in August, on behalf of the Government, I made a statement strongly condemning the arrest of Dr Boesak and of 26 other black leaders. It is apparent that in this and other respects the intention of the South African authorities manifestly is, so far from entering into constructive negotiations with prominent black leaders of a kind that has been urged by the business community in South Africa, both English-speaking and Afrikaner, to remove these opponents from political life and from peaceful political opposition. This reaction is to be unambiguously condemned and I unambiguously condemn it now on behalf of the Government.

The South African Government's actions demonstrate its continuing intolerance of legitimate political opposition and, by means of detention over an extended period, its determination to intimidate extraparliamentary opposition and to stifle constitutional reforms. Its actions serve only to highlight the inadequacy of constitutional changes to date and seriously undermine the South African Government's claims to credibility when it talks about reform. I look forward to the Opposition continuing to support the efforts of the Government, as it says it is, and continuing also, of course, to support the efforts of our recent appointee, to make the South African Government appreciate the enormity of its actions and to take action to move that country towards some semblance of decency and democracy.