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Monday, 11 November 1985
Page: 1879

Senator ZAKHAROV —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware of reports that the editor of the Cape Times, Mr Heard, has been charged with violating the new South African Internal Security Act on the sole ground that he printed an interview with the President of the African National Congress? What is the attitude of the Australian Government to such an attack on the freedom of speech in South Africa?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The Government has noted the reports that the editor of the Cape Times, Mr Anthony Heard, was charged yesterday, 10 November, for violating the South African Internal Security Act by printing, as Senator Zakharov has said, an interview with Oliver Tambo, the President of the banned African National Congress. He is liable to a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment for that offence. This move follows the imposition of restrictions last week on the freedom of the domestic and international Press to cover township unrest. The toughening of the South African Government's stance towards the Press obviously reflects its growing dissatisfaction with both internal and external media coverage.

If these reports are correct, these measures come at a time when journalists have been increasingly the victims of arrest and assault at the hands of the South African police and they constitute a severe infringement of the freedom of the Press. Mr President, it will not come as a surprise to you for me to say that Australia strongly supports the right of the news media to report first hand on matters of international interest. It regrets absolutely any form of censorship and believes that there should be a free flow of information whenever possible.