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Australia must not repeat John Howard's sins in Iraq

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16 June 2014


The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will discuss the deteriorating situation in Iraq and possibility of renewed Australian military involvement.

Mr Wilkie resigned from the Office of National Assessments in 2003 over the invasion of Iraq and blew the whistle on the fraudulent reasons for Australia joining in the war. He was the only serving intelligence official to go public before the invasion.

``Former leaders John Howard, George W. Bush and Tony Blair should hang their heads in shame for what they have done to Iraq,’’ Mr Wilkie said. ``Their decision to invade that country in 2003, for entirely fraudulent reasons, did untold damage and set Iraq on a downward spiral.

``As deeply regrettable as the anarchy and bloodshed in Iraq is, it is no place for any more Australian military involvement. We simply can’t right the wrongs of the past with more violence at our hands and the loss of more Australian lives.

``What Prime Minister Tony Abbott should be doing instead is to take the crisis in Iraq as a prompt to launch a Royal Commission into Australia’s involvement in that country. Former Prime Minister John Howard and former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, among others, stand accused of war crimes and must be held to account. In my opinion they share the responsibility for the current bloodshed in Iraq. How Downer could be appointed High Commissioner to London is nigh on bizarre in these circumstances.

``Remember Australia helped start the war in Iraq by claiming it was a haven for terrorists and had a massive arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Both claims were blatantly misleading and were quickly debunked after the March 2003 invasion. However

as a direct result of the consequences of that invasion, and 11 years of subsequent war, Iraq has in fact become a haven for terrorists and put Australia at increased risk.’’

Mr Wilkie has seconded the Greens’ move to legislate to require parliamentary approval for the deployment of Australian forces overseas.

For more information: Philippa Duncan 0428 528 673