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Senate endorses Labor's withdrawal plan.



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MEDIA RELEASE

Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

30 March 2004

SENATE ENDORSES LABOR’S WITHDRAWAL PLAN

The Senate today endorsed Labor’ s position on the withdrawal of ADF personnel from Iraq by the end of 2004. The motion, moved by Senator Bartlett, was successfully amended by Labor and passed in the following form.

‘That in the opinion of the Senate the following is a matter of urgency:

a. The need for the Senate to express its continuing support for and confidence in the women and men in the Australian Defence Force currently deployed in and around Iraq, and its appreciation for the high standard of professionalism they have displayed in carrying out their duties.

b. The need for any Australian Government committing Australian forces overseas to have a defined exit strategy for the eventful withdrawal of those forces.

c. The need for Australian military forces in Iraq to be withdrawn from that country as soon as practicable once Australia’s responsibilities as an Occupying Power have been discharged, with the intention of returning our forces to Australia by the end of 2004.

d. The need for Australia to continue to provide strong levels of humanitarian assistance and economic reconstruction assistance to the Iraqi people for the rebuilding of the Iraqi nation.’

The Senate has rejected the Government’s decision to abandon its earlier commitment to involvement in Iraq for a ‘short or specific duration’.

In an exquisite political irony, the Government chose to vote against the motion which included the expression of support for the role of the Australian troops in Iraq.

They were caught on the very wedge that Prime Minister Howard had planned for Labor in the House of Representatives.

Labor deplores the Prime Minister’s attempts to drag ADF personnel into the

political debate, especially after the strong multi-party support for our troops, whatever their views were on the Iraqi conflict.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Mary Wood 0438 983 908