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Friday, 5 May 1989
Page: 1920

Senator McGAURAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. In response to a question without notice from Senator Giles on 2 May 1989 about the possibility of Australian rugby union players participating in the South African centenary rugby celebrations, the Minister said that, should Dr Craven, President of the South African Rugby Board, apply for a visa to enter Australia, he-the Minister-would advise against the issuing of such a visa. The Minister said:

My reasons are again that the Government remains totally committed to our specific obligations under the Gleneagles Agreement . . .

If the Minister and his Government are totally committed to specific obligations why did he not oppose the issuing of visas to South African tennis players and surfers who competed in Australia last summer?

Senator GARETH EVANS —There has been a continuing distinction under the Gleneagles Agreement and its application by Australia between sporting teams and individual sportsmen coming to this country. There may be no significant moral distinction but there has certainly been a distinction in the practical administration of the policy. I think it is a policy that needs to be kept under constant review in terms of its application to both individual South African sportsmen wanting to come here and individual Australian sportsmen wanting to go to South Africa.

The Australian Government will never take a position of seeking to deny the issuing of passports or trying to curb, physically or in any other way, access by its nationals to South Africa. But we constantly draw attention to the continuing iniquity of the apartheid system in that country and the way in which even though in some individual sports efforts have begun to be made to civilise the practical administration of those sports, nonetheless, in an environment where the treatment of blacks and whites is so inherently unequal, where the financial allocations to education, sporting facilities and health are so manifestly unequal, it is just impossible to have normal conditions in that abnormal society. That is the prevailing moral force, if you like, of the position that we, among others, have adopted. There will always be room for argument from time to time about the practical administration of that policy but there can never be room for argument about its moral basis, its principal force, except from the back benches of the National Party of Australia.