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Thursday, 7 November 1985
Page: 1734

Senator JESSOP —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has he noted this week's Bulletin which contains an article on Mr Ali Kazak which states that Mr Kazak was appointed Palestine Liberation Organisation representative for Australia and the Pacific in 1981? Also repeated in the article is Mr Kazak's threatening claim that Mr Hawke's emotional ties to Israel are putting Australia and Australians at risk. He further suggests that the Israelis may bring Middle East terrorism to Australia. Having regard to the Minister's reply to my question on 15 October in which the Minister said that the Government did not recognise Mr Kazak as a PLO representative and that his views did not reflect official PLO thinking, can the Minister say, firstly, who appointed Mr Kazak as Australia's PLO representative in 1981? Secondly, which official PLO sources has the Government been in contact with which enabled the Minister to declare that Mr Kazak's views do not reflect official PLO thinking? Lastly, by what logic can Mr Kazak suggest that the Israelis may bring Middle East terrorists to Australia, which recognises Israel's right to exist?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I think the starting point should be my repetition of the proposition I advanced to Senator Jessop the other day but, with Senator Jessop being Senator Jessop, it takes a while to sink in. Mr Kazak is an Australian citizen and has in fact been a resident of this country for something over 15 years. Any views expressed by him are those of an Australian citizen. Although he talks about Palestinian matters, he is not recognised by this Government as a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, nor does the Government recognise his Palestine Information Office as in any sense a PLO office. I also repeat what I said in the chamber the other day that the Australian Government has received no suggestions from any official PLO sources-as I understand it, we have not sought information from PLO sources on this basis but we are certainly able to receive information if such information exists-that the views expressed by Mr Kazak about the threats faced by Australian citizens abroad reflect official PLO thinking. I am told that we have investigated a claim that two Austrians were singled out among the Achille Lauro passengers in the belief that they were Australians. The assertion that Australian citizens travelling abroad are in some way at risk is unfounded. Australian Embassy officials in countries where the PLO is represented are in frequent contact with representatives of the PLO. That is the key point to be made in this context: If claims were being made by Mr Kazak which did represent any official PLO position, and if he was acting in that capacity, we would know about it.

With regard to the other things that are reported in the original article in the Bulletin to which Senator Jessop referred, Mr Kazak has since said in an article in the Bulletin of 6 November that he had been reported too enthusiastically. He said that although Australia's image in the Arab world had been damaged, he did not want to give the impression that Australians abroad would be kidnapped. He also said that he thought Mr Hawke would not be a Palestinian target, which has no doubt cheered up the Prime Minister no end.

Senator Ryan —And us.

Senator GARETH EVANS —And us, as my colleague says. There is much more I could say on the question of Australia's preparations for anti-terrorist attacks or threat potential: That would not, however, be directly pertinent to Senator Jessop's question. If he wants to ask me anything else, I will be only too happy to ruffle through my notes and see what else I can find.

Senator JESSOP —Mr Deputy President, I ask a supplementary question. I take it from what the Minister has said that there has been no denial that Mr Ali Kazak is a PLO spokesman.

Senator GARETH EVANS —That may be the way in which Mr Kazak chooses to describe himself. That may be the way in which some others describe him. All I can say on behalf of the Government is that he is not recognised as such and he is not in the country by virtue of any such status. The views that he expresses are simply those, as I have said now on two occasions, of an Australian citizen.