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Rudd on Cole inquiry, Rice visit -

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(generated from captions) States. We'll talk again if two

weeks. Thanks for your time this

morning. Thanks, Barrie. Now to our program guest. Foreign policy this week managed to break through the Commonwealth Games barrier with the visit to Australia of United States Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice. And there were troubling new revelations for the government at the Cole Inquiry. For more on that now, I'm joined from Brisbane by Labor's shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd.

This week you called the Prime

Minister a liar, 16 times in one

news inference, based on a hunch.

You can't prove it? I don't know

about that. In the Cole Inquiry

about that. In the Cole Inquiry this week we had revealed a great swag

week we had revealed a great swag of intelligence reporting going to

intelligence reporting going to what the government had been told by our

intelligence community as far back

as 1998. The reason I labelled the

Prime Minister a liar was very

simple. On 12 February, he told the

Australian people down the barrel

Australian people down the barrel of a camera that his government had

provided all documents to the Cole

Inquiry. On 17 February, we now

Inquiry. On 17 February, we now know as a fact that Mr Cole had to

as a fact that Mr Cole had to resort to legal subpoenas to extract from

the Howard Government all this

intelligence information. But you

don't know whether the Prime

Minister knew those documents

existed on 12 February? It beggars

belief that four months after the

Cole Inquiry began, John how warned

his office would not have known

his office would not have known what documents had been provided to the

Cole Inquiry. This inquiry was

kicked off back in

kicked off back in November/December and here we are in February/March,

the Prime Minister going out,

telling the Australian people,

telling the Australian people, trust me, honest John, I've provided all

documentation from this government

to the Cole Inquiry, and five days

later, the commissioner has to

resort to a legal subpoena to

extract these quite damning

intelligence reports. That's the we

know why John Howard was reluctant

to provide them, because they are

to provide them, because they are so damning. None of them suggest our

spy agencies knew anything about

AWB's involvement in kickbacks?

The reports go back to 1998, refer

specifically to this Jordanian

company, Alia, and talk

company, Alia, and talk specifically about the sorts of kickbacks Saddam

Hussein was extracting from

suppliers under the Oil For Food

Program. Now, at the same time, by

early 2000, we have directly from

the United Nations in New York

the United Nations in New York other warnings to the Howard Government

which do name the AWB, and say

specifically that this is what the

AWB is up to. And John Howard

negligently, grossly negligently,

dismissed those concerns. You put

these two things together, frankly

the government's position is

indefensible and the Prime Minister

has lied. Now the AWB lawyers are

has lied. Now the AWB lawyers are in effect crying foul at the

commission. They're saying that

their people are geting a tough

time, government officials are

getting off lightly. Are they right

about that? Well, I Commissioner

Cole is operating as best he can

within his terms of reference, but

John Howard's other great lie goes

to the actual nature of the powers

that have been given to

that have been given to Commissioner Cole. John Howard wants to cause

Cole. John Howard wants to cause the Australian people to believe that

Commissioner Cole has powers to

reach findings about whether or not

Australian ministers have breached

law, Australian domestic law,

international law, Commissioner

international law, Commissioner Cole can do no such thing. It is simply

untrue. The commissioner at present

has powers only to make findings as

they relate to whether or not the

AWB and other Australian companies

have breached Australian law. So

when it comes to the actual focus

when it comes to the actual focus of the commission's activities,

Commissioner Cole and his team are

acting professionally within their

terms of reference, the problem is

John Howard. And if our Prime

Minister had nothing to hide, if he

want concerned about the truth,

want concerned about the truth, then he would expand those powers to

Commissioner Cole right now. But

Commissioner Cole right now. But the AWB lawyers are not talking about

the terms of reference at all, it's

the nature of the

the nature of the cross-examinations and they're saying that they're

tough on AWB witnesses, soft on the

government? Well, they're entitled

to their opinion in terms of how

to their opinion in terms of how the day-to-day combat is conducted

within the inquiry itself. What I

have said to you just now is based

on our own legal advice from legal

counsel, in terms of how, in fact,

the commission is constructed under

the powers they've been given. I

have to say, what John Howard has

done is set up a commission of

inquiry which puts all the weight

inquiry which puts all the weight in the direction of the AWB and none

the direction of the AWB and none of the weight in the direction of the Howard Government ministers. That's

why John Howard appears to be

relaxed and comfortable about this,

because he knows that is exactly

because he knows that is exactly the sort of powers that he has given to

the commissioner. If he has nothing

to hide, he would expand those

powers right now. Given the number

of times that you you've said that,

are you surprised then that Cole

himself hasn't asked for those

powers? I believe Commissioner Cole,

at the end of the day, is operating

within the constraints what he has

right now. The small extensions he

has sought so far from the

government relate to his existing

powers as they relate to the AWB.

But when it comes to such a massive

expansion, or change in his terms

expansion, or change in his terms of reference, as would cause him to be

able to make findings about whether

or not Australian Government

ministers had complied with the law,

administrative law and other

Australian and international laws,

that's a big step and he knows the

commissioner knows, that lies

commissioner knows, that lies within the decision-making powers of the

government. So that's why John

Howard knows that that is something

for him to decide and not the

commissioner, and that's why John

Howard seems to be laughing all the

way to the bank. He thinks that he

can get away with this and I think

the Australian people would expect

more of their Prime Minister,

leadership, I would think, means taking responsibility for the

actions of your government, it

doesn't mean simply hanging out

there, trying to engage in

there, trying to engage in political spin-doctoring to remove yourself from the line of responsibility.

Despite all of this, despite all

Despite all of this, despite all the AWB scandals, the industrial

relations campaign, surely there's

something that your side ought to

something that your side ought to be acutely embarrassed about and

acutely embarrassed about and that's that you're behind in the polls and

Kim Beazley is at 18%? Barrie,

Kim Beazley is at 18%? Barrie, we've been through some tough times.

been through some tough times. Let's call a spade a spade. But if you

look at the state election results

you have just referred to, I think

there is a key element in that

there is a key element in that which we need to bring out today. I spoke

to Kevin Foley last night, the

Deputy Prime Minister of south

Australia. We've won some fantastic

wins, both in South Australia and

Tasmania. But a key element in both

these campaigns was industrial

relations. And industrial relations,

the legislation which was brought

the legislation which was brought in by Howard, not long ago, beginning

to see the Americanisation of our

industrial relations system, and

that worked very badly for the

Liberals at both a state level in

Tasmania and in South Australia.

Both in South Australia and

Tasmania, the Labor Party focused

clearly on issues. Simon Crean and

Julia Gillard are insisting top

priority, internal party reform.

What's your message to them?

My response to that question,

Barrie, is that all of us have had

our say on this particular question.

And all of us are now back at work

doing our job. My job is to hold

doing our job. My job is to hold the government accountable for this

government accountable for this $300 million wheat for weapons scandal,

the biggest national security

scandal in the 10 year history of

this government. And when it comes

to my other colleagues, Stephen

Smith on industrial relations,

Smith on industrial relations, Wayne Swan on tax, we are back talking

about those matters which go to the

core of the living standards of

working Australian families. It's

not a question of them simply

not a question of them simply having their say. They're demanding action.

And they're saying that they won't

move off this issue until they take

action, until the Labor Party takes

action on factions. So they want

internal party reform to stay

internal party reform to stay frontd and centre? Any long standing

and centre? Any long standing policy is not to talk publicly about the

party's internal affairs. Our job

party's internal affairs. Our job is to hold the Howard Government

accountable and there is much for

accountable and there is much for it to be held accountable on, not

to be held accountable on, not least this wheat for weapons scandal.

People seem to be very down in the

mouth at the moment about Labor's

prospectses at the the moment. When

it comes to such radical decisions

as to Americanise our industrial

relations system, this will wash

through over time. Working families,

as Nick Minchin indicated the other

day, in his secret meeting with a

certain society, when he was saying

this was such a sensitive matter he

could only make a secret speech

about it, the government knows it

has real problem on this issue.

has real problem on this issue. John Howard makes like to believe he has

made Australians relaxed and

comfortable. Not many feel are

feeling relaxed because job

feeling relaxed because job security is at stake into the future. That's

what happened in South Australia

what happened in South Australia and Tasmania in part. Do you see a

Tasmania in part. Do you see a issue emerging on uranium? Australia is

now sending officials to the US and

India to have a look at the I

greemt. The Prime Minister when

asked about uranium sales to India,

you never say never. I'm

disappointed in our Prime Minister

on that que. Australia has a long

standing commitment to the

non-proliferation treaty, the international

International Atomic Energy Agency

and our bilateral nuclear

and our bilateral nuclear safeguards regime. This has been I thought a

matter of bipartisan consensus for

matter of bipartisan consensus for a long, long time. This country given

the size of its uranium reserves

can't afford to suddenly start

weakening its commitment to the

global non-proliferation regime. We

would be very concerned if John

Howard was about to step outside

that whole regime. Can I give you

one practical reason why? We are

one practical reason why? We are now faceing a very acute problem with

Iran. What the government and

Iran. What the government and Tehran is up to. What are we going to do

when that problem starts to get

when that problem starts to get more prominent in the international

political debate in the weeks and

months ahead? We're going to be

saying apparently under John Howard,

well, doesn't matter, I have just

weakened our commitment to the

global non-proliferation regime on

the one hand, but when it comes to

Iran we have to may ply it more

vigorously on the other. I think

this requires us all to stick to

these principles, because when it

comes to break-outs against this

non-proliferation regime, we have

non-proliferation regime, we have to make sure that we are upholding the

international standards and not

tearing them down. I will ask you

about Iran in just a moment. On

uranium sales now to China, because

the Chinese premier will visit next

month, are you expecting there that

there will be uranium sales to China, provide

China, provided there's some

monitoring going on to ensure they

use uranium for peaceful purposes?

The principle we've applied in

relation to India, we also apply to

China, that is, in the case of

China, officials are currently

negotiating a bilateral nuclear

safeguards regime. We have about 20

of these with various countries

around the world, and they've been

in place, I think, from memory,

in place, I think, from memory, from the late 7 #0s and early 80s. Our

pre-condition is that a nuclear safeguards bilateral agreement on

top of the international

arrangements must be in place

arrangements must be in place before we'd sell uranium to China. If

that's in place, we have no in

principle ox to sales being made

there. On Iran, if diplomacy fails

and it's not looking good to given

the Russian compromise didn't get

up, do you think in the end

Americans will pursue

Americans will pursue regime change

or will they limit their approach

or will they limit their approach to air viks? You're getting way ahead

of yourself there. The important

thing now is to use diplomacy and

take this step by step. This is a

very serious situation. I spoke to

the assistant Secretary of State,

Chris Hill, about this in Sydney

only this week. We've just had a referral to the United Nations

Security Council. The United

Security Council. The United Nations scourt council needs to adopt a

scourt council needs to adopt a very hard line resolution in relation to

Iran's non-compliance. I think

timetables should be attached to

that but we need to exhaust these

diplomatic and related options

diplomatic and related options first before anyone starts talking about

anything else. There is is a long

way to go to this and I would urge

caution all round, before people

start sounding as if they're too

trigger happy. Thanks for your time

this morning. Appreciate it.

Good to be with you, Barrie.