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Tuesday, 9 September 1958

Mr Ward d asked the acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -

1.   Can he state whether the South African Government has ordered the closure of an Anglican training college and has the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev. Joost de Blank, announced that the board of governors of Grace Dien, a secondary school in Petersburg, has decided that it can no longer operate the school under the conditions laid down by the Government?

2.   Can he also state if this action is a reprisal against the Christian churches for their establishment and support of an organization known as Christian Action, which is raising funds for the defence of 95 people facing a charge of high treason?

3.   If the position is as stated, what action has the Commonwealth Government taken, in view of its frequently declared belief in the maintenance of religious freedom, to raise this matter in international discussions?

Sir Philip McBride - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   I have no information on this subject.

2.   I cannot pretend to speak for the Government of South Africa on its domestic affairs.

3.   Even if the matters mentioned by the honorable member were true, it is certainly not Australia's business to intervene in the internal affairs of another country, and we have constantly maintained this stand in the United Nations and elsewhere. In taking this stand the Australian Government has constantly made it clear, in public statements, that our respect for matters which come under Article 2 (7) of the United Nations Charter - as being "essentially within the domestic jurisdiction " of other countries - implies neither approval nor criticism of the policies being pursued in particular cases.

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