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Monday, 15 September 2003
Page: 20018


Mr CREAN (3:10 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister recall his 4 February address to parliament on Iraq when he drew extensively on what he described as British Joint Intelligence Committee assessments of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction capabilities to advance his case for a war in Iraq? Isn't it a fact that the Prime Minister received, read, used and quoted extensively British Joint Intelligence Committee material when it suited his argument for going to war, but he expects Australians to believe that he did not receive or read it when it did not suit his arguments for going to war? How do you expect Australians to put up with this sort of double standard, Prime Minister?


Mr Ross Cameron —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I just ask that the argument in the last clause of the question be withdrawn.


The SPEAKER —The member for Parramatta has drawn my attention to a matter that I had already intended to raise. The imputation in the latter part of the Leader of the Opposition's question is inappropriate and it will be ignored.


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —Mr Speaker, in answer to the Leader of the Opposition, it is true that in my speech on 4 February I made reference to the Joint Intelligence Committee. It does not automatically follow from that—


Mr Bevis —Your shoulders are twitching, John!


The SPEAKER —The member for Brisbane is warned! The Prime Minister will be heard in silence.


Mr HOWARD —It does not follow from that that I had read and seen all of that report. It is perfectly possible that I had been advised by my intelligence agencies, the Australian ones, that the British had made certain conclusions. That was included in the speech of 4 February on that basis and certified as accurate by the Office of National Assessments, so the whole basis of the Leader of the Opposition's question, as usual, is insubstantial.


Mr Crean —I seek leave to move a motion of censure of the Prime Minister.

Leave not granted.