Saturday, June 05, 2004

Latham responds to Bush's attack: "Latham wrote yesterday: 'Labor's policies on Iraq will always put Australia's interests first. The Howard Government's failed policies are hurting Australia in five unacceptable ways: they've made Australia a bigger target; they've diverted resources from the real war on terror - catching Osama bin Laden, destroying al-Qaeda and breaking up terrorist networks; unfortunately, the prisoner atrocity scandal has given the terrorists the best recruitment campaign they could have hoped for; the Government sent young Australians to war to find weapons of mass destruction that did not exist; and, the war in Iraq and instability in the Middle East have contributed to record high petrol prices now hurting Australian motorists.

"'Enough is enough. The best role Australia can play in Iraq is through humanitarian, economic and civilian aid, not a long-term military role. Labor has more important strategic priorities - defence of Australia and the real war against terror. Labor never wanted the troops there in the first place. We intend to have them home by Christmas.

'Labor strongly supports the American alliance first established by the Curtin Labor government during World War II. The alliance is bigger and stronger than the mistakes made over Iraq. I look forward to the day we can put these mistakes behind us and a Labor Government can work with the US to further strengthen [our] intelligence, strategic and cultural relationships. Labor strongly supports the alliance but not as a rubber stamp. Nothing President Bush has said today changes our hopes and expectations about the future.'"

"A bull's roar from a passionate Latham in Parliament on February 5 last year, on the eve of the US invasion: "I am opposed to the Government's strategy for war in Iraq because it is the wrong way to conduct the war against terror. I am opposed because it repeats the worst mistakes of George Bush's foreign policy. I am opposed because it comes from a Prime Minister too weak to say no to the Americans.

""I believe the war against terror should be conducted against terrorists, not the women and children of nation states. The best way of ensuring weapons of mass destruction do not fall into the hands of terrorists is to rid the world of terrorists. Instead, President Bush has squandered international goodwill for his country by following a flawed strategy of regime change.

""Bush himself is the most incompetent and dangerous president in living memory. It is a bit rich for him to be preaching democratic values when he failed to win a democratic majority himself in his presidential election...""

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