Election Of Nelson Mandela As President Of The Republic Of South Africa

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SpeakersO'Grady The Hon Paul


The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY [12.33 a.m.]: I wish to speak about the election of Nelson Mandela as the first black President of the Republic of South Africa. Tonight on television Desmond Tutu showed his obvious delight at the election of Nelson Mandela. The comment was made that onlookers who were gathered inside the building where the ceremony was held would have been banned from that same building not so many years ago. South Africa has changed dramatically and quickly. When speaking of Nelson Mandela I am reminded of a warm spot that I have for Malcolm Fraser - and I have only one warm spot for him. He always adopted the correct position in regard to South Africa. He wrote in the Australian of 27 April that when he first met Mandela in gaol in 1986 - Mandela having been incarcerated for 22 years - the first question Nelson Mandela asked him was: "Fraser, can you please tell me: is Donald Bradman still alive?" That demonstrates the extraordinary spirit of the man. He had been in prison for 22 hard years, and it is reasonable to assume he would have had some bitterness. But he did not. He asked Malcolm Fraser a quite light and perhaps pertinent question. The House should acknowledge Malcolm Fraser's contribution as an Australian who has consistently worked for the end of apartheid in South Africa.

On several occasions I also had the opportunity of meeting and talking to Eddie Fundi, who for a number of years was the African National Congress representative in Australia. I note that Mr Fundi is still active, and it is my hope that he will play a leading role in the new bureaucracy after this election. I wish him well. The Australian Labor Party has played a significant role in assisting the ANC in this election. I am certainly proud to be a member of the Australian Labor Party and am proud of the work the party has done and of the involvement of the party's national secretary, Gary Gray, in the promotion of our involvement in the South African election. Nelson Mandela, when convicted in 1964, said, amongst other things:
      I have fought against white domination, I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all people live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

Mr Mandela repeated those words in his address to an election rally some 30 years later. Of Nelson Mandela the U. S. News & World Report of 9 May states:
      Though he suffered from tuberculosis in prison, he remains healthy and arises each day at 4:30 to exercise and eat a traditional South African breakfast of cold porridge and fruit.

When I eat my porridge each morning I shall think of Nelson Mandela and the many challenges ahead for South Africa. I hope that Australia can play a role in assisting and continuing to assist the development of South Africa. From a recent interview I noted that Nelson Mandela thought he should stop smiling
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because it was not regarded as presidential. It is my hope that Nelson Mandela never loses his smile. I hope that he continues to lead his people out of the wilderness in which they find themselves. President of South Africa will be a very challenging and demanding job, but I am sure Nelson Mandela has the capacity to undertake and carry out that job with great distinction. [Time expired.]