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Transcript of interview with John Shovelan: AM, ABC radio: 14 June 1991: South Africa

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Leader of the Opposition

14 June 1991 REF: TRANSCR\0215.tmc



SUBJECTS: South Africa


According to the Opposition Leader, John Hewson, Gareth Evans trip to South Africa has been a lost opportunity and shows the irrelevance of the Government's position on the country.

Dr Hewson accuses Senator Evans of preaching and grandstanding throughout South Africa. The Opposition Leader joins us now from Adelaide and to talk to him, AM's John Shovelan.


Dr Hewson, Senator Evans says despite all the problems, the trip has still been a success, you obviously don't believe that. What do you think actually happened on the trip?

It is a very perverted concept of success isn't it. He managed to get just about everyone offside, Government Ministers, the press, leaders of the black community.

We saw it as the unique opportunity, quite frankly, for him to go there and to learn and to listen and to see first hand the situation and to come back to consider the Government's position which we have consistently argued has been wrong in relation to

South Africa and then facilitate the process where by a range of economic trade, investment and sporting sanctions could be eased as a matter of urgency.

Now that opportunity has been lost by getting so many people offside.


Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Phone 77 4022

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Do you accept though falling out of favour with the South African police and even Inkatha might not necessarily be such a disaster. Indeed, falling out of favour with the South African police might have a positive side.


No, I think the key point is that is epitomises everything that has been wrong with the Government's approach to South Africa and they have never really understood, I believe, the situation. For

example, opposition to apartheid doesn't equal support for the ANC, there are a range of black leaders and black groups that need to be consulted. To be funding one of those and to be

publicly identifying with one of those, trying to pick winners if you like, obviously is going to be a counter productive

exercise. Similarly, not recognising, I believe, that de Klerk needs encouragement, international recognition for a process that he put in train to break down the legislative barriers of


Shove lan:

But that was what the trip was all about, wasn't it?


It should have been, yes. I think the problem is that Senator Evans and Bob Hawke are playing catch up politics on this. They have had it consistently wrong as the Foreign Minister, the South African Foreign Minister said in your earlier interview. They

have messed things up, they didn't do any good by their sanctions policy all the way through. They have now recognised they were wrong in a sense that the process is irreversible, that the legislative pillars of apartheid will be torn down and in that

sense they are now trying to get back in to the game but they are getting back into the game the wrong way.

For example, they are focusing on sporting sanctions. Sporting sanctions alone can't do much for the economic situation of the blacks in South Africa. It really is a range of economic, trade investment sanctions as well as sporting sanctions that have got to be addressed.


Do you think that Senator Evans could have been the victim of even a little bit of good old Aussie bashing?

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Well, he left himself exposed to that I imagine. I don't know that situation but he certainly didn't act in Australia's best interest and he certainly didn't play the sort of diplomatic role that I believe he should have played which the opportunity offered him on this occasion.

He has inflamed the situation which as I say really did offer him a very unique opportunity to learn and to listen and to see

things first hand and then in a very calm and measured way, try and play a constructive role.


Should Mr Hawke ring Mr de Klerk to ease the tension?

Hewson: -

Well that is a judgement that he will have to make talking to Senator Evans. Clearly Senator Evans ought to be given a hearing but as far as I am concerned, the Government has to re-think its whole approach to South Africa. We have consistently argued the

case I have just put and this trip, whatever ignited particular elements of the trip, epitomises everything we have been saying about what is wrong with the Government's attitude to South Africa.


The Opposition Leader, John Hewson, talking to John Shovelan.