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Notice given 22 April 2003

1403  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister—

(1) With reference to a claim made by the Prime Minister before the war that only the threat of force by the United States of America (US) allowed the United Nations Monitorings Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) weapons inspectors back into Iraq, and given that it was the threat of force by Washington which pulled the weapons inspectors out of Iraq in March 2003 before they could complete their work (as in December 1998), does the Prime Minister now concede that the threat of force failed again to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.

(2) What is the Government’s response to the claim of the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, Dr Blix, that the US was guilty of ‘fabricating’ evidence against Iraq to justify the war, and his belief that the discovery of weapons of mass destruction had been replaced by the main objective of the US of toppling Saddam Hussein (The Guardian , 12 April 2003).

(3) With reference to claims made by the Prime Minister before the war that there was no doubt that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that that this was the primary reason for Australia’s participation in the ‘coalition of the willing’, what is the Prime Minister’s position now that, even after the collapse of the regime in Baghdad, no weapons of mass destruction have been found despite United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s claim to know where they are.

(4) Given the Prime Minister’s statements that ‘regime change’ was only a secondary concern for Australia, does the Government agree that the primary justification for the war may prove to be a lie.

(5) If, as the Prime Minister repeatedly claimed, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein could not be contained or deterred, what is the Government’s analysis of why they were not used in the regime’s terminal hours against the invading US, United Kingdom and Australian forces.

(6) With reference to the Prime Minister’s argument that stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction was a primary motive for Australia’s participation in a war against Iraq: (a) is the Government concerned that one of the direct effects of the war may be the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to third parties, including other so called ‘rogue states’ and possibly terrorist groups, and (b) what analysis has the Government done of this likelihood, and (c) can details be provided.

(7) Does the Prime Minister now regret saying just before the war (at the National Press Club and elsewhere) that Saddam Hussein could stay on in power providing he got rid of his weapons of mass destruction, thus allowing him to continue the repression of Iraqis; if so, what circumstances altered the Prime Minister’s view.