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Lowy poll undermines Govt foreign policy: Rud -

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Lowy poll undermines Govt foreign policy: Rudd

Reporter: Lynn Bell

TONY EASTLEY: The Prime Minister John Howard says if everyone pulls out of Iraq before the nation
is ready to defend itself, the terrorists win and the worldwide jihadist movement will receive a
massive boost.

Labor's Foreign Affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd says the Lowy Institute survey simply reflects a
commonsense view held by Australians about the situation in Iraq.

Kevin Rudd is speaking here to our reporter, Lynn Bell.

LYNN BELL: Kevin Rudd, 84 per cent of the Australians surveyed by the Lowy Institute disagreed with
the statement that the war in Iraq has reduced the threat of terrorism.

Are you surprised that so many people in the community hold that view?

KEVIN RUDD: No, I'm not, because it's commonsense. It also backs up what security policy analysts
have been saying for a long time. Mr Howard finds this very difficult to accept because it
undermines the political line he's been putting to the Australian people for so long.

LYNN BELL: Many of those surveyed by the Lowy Institute also believe that the United States has too
much influence on Australia's foreign policy.

Do you agree with that?

KEVIN RUDD: Mr Howard, and Mr Downer as well, have become followers, not leaders when it comes to
international affairs. When it came to Iraq in particular, they simply followed the American lead
rather than do the responsible thing for Australia and the world.

A responsible ally of the United States would have asked basic questions of the Americans, such as,
what is the game plan once an invasion of Iraq occurs? What is the post-war plan?

LYNN BELL: Labor is also committed to immediately withdrawing Australian troops from election if it
wins the next election.

But is that a responsible policy when many voters agree with the Government's perspective that
that's simply cutting and running?

KEVIN RUDD: Our view is that when it comes to the overall security needs of Iraq, three-and-a-half
years after the invasion, there are other ways in which Australia can assist.

LYNN BELL: The Prime Minister says any perception that allied forces were being driven out of Iraq
would give terrorists new energy. Does John Howard have a point there?

KEVIN RUDD: Mr Howard has presided over a three-and-a-half year long strategy in Iraq in terms of
his participation in the overall military occupation of that country, a strategy which has simply
not produced good results, either for the security of the Iraqi people or for our security as well.

LYNN BELL: The Government also says though, that pulling out of Iraq hands a massive victory to
terrorists and fanatical jihadists.

KEVIN RUDD: For Mr Howard to continue to believe that an exclusively military strategy is going to
succeed in Iraq frankly flies in the face of reality.

LYNN BELL: Do you think the policy though of removing Australian troops will be popular with the
voters, given it was the also policy that Mark Latham took to the last election?

KEVIN RUDD: Mr Beazley's already made claim that when it comes to the withdrawal of Australian
ground forces in Iraq that we would of course do that in consultation with our American ally.

On the question of what other security assistance we would then provide to the Iraqi people, we've
also indicated that we can assist with their border security systems.

This is not soft assistance, it's hard assistance. And the reason for that is that jihadists are
flooding into Iraq through Iraq's highly porous borders with Saudi Arabia, with Iran, with Jordan,
and with Syria.

We can do something to help plug those holes in the border by beefing up their border control and
security systems.

TONY EASTLEY: Labor's Foreign Affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, speaking to Lynn Bell.