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Transcript of doorstep interview on: Tel Aviv bombing; Andrew Wilkie; Iraq; Bush and Jintao visits, Parliament House, Wednesday 10 September 2003. \n

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Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs




Subjects: Tel Aviv bombing; Andrew Wilkie; Iraq; Bush and Jintao visits

Rudd: Today we’ve had another act of mindless barbarism in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with this most recent set of suicide bombings. I cannot actually summon the words to continue to condemn this sort of wholesale murder. These are innocent civilians who have nothing to do with the Government of Israel and nothing to do with the security forces of Israel. They are men and women going about their daily lives and in some cases, I fear, children as well. This is an act of unspeakable barbarism and there is a very simple challenge as far as the Road Map to Peace is concerned: Hamas and Islamic Jihad must be disarmed by the Palestinian Authority. That must occur for the rest of the Road Map to Peace to unfold. That hasn’t happened. And this most recent set of terrorist attacks, so-called ‘suicide’ but in reality ‘homicide’ bombings are unspeakable beyond description.

Reporter: Inaudible

Rudd: My view, having been in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority recently - only a month ago - is that there is a struggle for power within the Palestinian Authority. At this stage, those who are reformists within the Authority appear not to be prevailing. That is regrettable from the perspective of all those who want to see a lasting and just peace settlement in the Middle East. The key factor alive within Palestinian politics is this: the debate over whether Hamas and Islamic Jihad should be disarmed. That must occur. Reformists within the Palestinian Authority want that to happen I believe but, frankly, they are not prevailing at this stage. That is regrettable. Regrettable not just for the

Palestinian people, regrettable also for Israel and regrettable for the entire Middle East peace process.

On Mr Wilkie. I said yesterday and the day before that the Wilkie affair continues to unfold and unfold it has. Let’s recast. What we have in fact is a saga where Mr Wilkie has been hunted uphill and down dale by the Howard Government because he’s had the temerity to stand up and criticise the Howard Government. Yesterday in the Parliament we had the extraordinary spectacle of the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister saying well if Mr Wilkie is going to attack us, well we actually will not be holding back in seeking to take on Mr Wilkie. But more than take on Mr Wilkie, it seems from the evidence to use every piece of information at their disposal to try and destroy this man’s standing in the community.

I find the Howard Government’s behaviour on the Wilkie affair appalling. Appalling on a number of levels, primarily because of the monstrous demonstration of double standards it represents as far as national security

documents are concerned. Cast your mind back six months. Six months ago in this Parliament we have the leak of a document called the Record of Conversation between the Foreign Minister and the New Zealand High Commissioner, the so-called Lackey document. Six months ago we have that supposed leak, and within 24-hours we had a full-scale investigation underway. Six months later, we had the leak of one of the most highly classified documents within the Government’s intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments. And what happens on this occasion? Well, three months into the process we have it finally confirmed that there is some AFP investigation underway. It’s just not good enough. The double standards in this exercise reek to high heaven. Either you have national security documents, which need to be protected, or you don’t. And if you’re going to play fast and loose with national security documents which are top secret, coded documents, frankly, you place our nation’s security in jeopardy.

What we’ve had with this whole saga is when there is a leak to the Opposition the storm troopers are unleashed within 24-hours. When there’s a leak from the Government of a more highly classified security document, frankly we have a bit of hand holding from the local troop of girl guides. The double standards in this exercise reek to high heaven. And the Government deserves condemnation for it.

Reporter: Inaudible

Rudd: Let’s not trivialise the extent to which the Howard Government hates Andrew Wilkie. They hate Andrew Wilkie because Andrew Wilkie stood up and opposed their policy on Iraq and said that the pre-war intelligence on

Iraq did not justify going to war. Andrew Wilkie stood up and delivered a salvo amid ships to the Government’s case for going to war. The Government, as a consequence, hates this guy. And the Government, as a consequence, has said that they are going to take this guy on. Therefore if that is the case, and it seems to me pretty obvious that it is, this Government has shown that it will stop at nothing when it comes to destroying its political opponents. Now, when it comes to this particular national security document I find it passing strange that Andrew Bolt is in the Herald Sun quoting from it extensively and yet we are told

by the Prime Minister that somehow this didn’t come from a national security document. Andrew Bolt himself said in the Herald Sun article back in June that he had this document and that he was quoting extensively from it.

Furthermore, poor old Sandy Macdonald the National Party Senator. Sitting up there with his brief provided by Alexander’s office and he says on two or three separate occasions: ‘didn’t your report say…’ or ‘did your report say…’ Now, all the evidence in this case starts to point in a very solid direction and that is that this Government has had no qualms whatsoever in using national security, highly classified documents to try and undermine the credibility of someone who’s dared to oppose them. But the double standards are huge. If it’s a leak to the Opposition, storm troopers within 24-hours to investigate. It it’s a leak from the Government to serve their political interests, a bit of hand holding from the local troop of girl guides.

Reporter: Are you concerned that Indonesian President Megawati won’t be attending the Bali service, 12-months on from the Bali bombing?

Rudd: Well the particular decision of the President of Indonesia not attending the ceremony I’m not familiar with. I’m not sure what level the Government of Indonesia will be represented. The important thing about this occasion is that it is made appropriate for the Australian and Indonesian families directly affected by this atrocity. The other important thing is that not only do we deal with those responsible for the Bali bombings, and deal with them in the firmest manner possible under the law, but beyond that we redouble our efforts to deal with terrorism on the ground in Indonesia. I was in Indonesia only ten

days or so ago. Let me tell you, Jemaah Islamiah is alive and well. There are seven or eight other terrorist organisations like Jemaah Islamiah operating within Indonesia. Frankly, the challenge is huge and the practical thing for the Government of Australia to be focusing on right now is what we do to work with Indonesia to root out these terrorist organisations. That’s where the mainstream challenge lies right now.

Reporter: Inaudible

Rudd: Again, I'm just unfamiliar as to the reasons why President Megawati has made this decision. I’d prefer to be briefed on that first. And to be briefed further on the level of representation from the Indonesian Government at this particular ceremony. But the most important thing is what’s being done appropriately in terms of the lives and the practical wellbeing of the families of those affected by this horrific act.

If I could just finish on Iraq. We’ve seen the spectacle in the last 24-hours of the Howard Government running a million miles away from what’s happened in Iraq in the period since President Bush declared that formal hostilities had come to a close. Could I just say this: it’s all very good for the Howard Government to go to Iraq and participate in blowing up the place, but at the same time you take on a responsibility of putting Iraq back together. You can’t have it both ways. Now John Howard seems to think you can have it both ways. Bask in the military glory of a military campaign in Iraq and then absolve yourself of responsibility.

Now, we in our side of politics understand that the Australian Defence Force is stretched in terms of its resources in the Solomons, East Timor and elsewhere. But can I say this: John Howard is one of the three Occupying Powers in Iraq whether he likes it or whether he doesn’t. That’s just what the law says. So John Howard has got a responsibility that if Australia can’t plug the security gap in Iraq today, his job is to ensure that others do. That’s what the Geneva Convention requires. And on top of that, whatever John Howard’s decision may be as far as Australia’s military forces might be, when it comes to humanitarian assistance, John Howard can’t walk away from this. John Howard, under the Geneva Convention, is of the three Occupying Powers responsible for feeding, clothing and providing health care to the 20 million civilian population of Iraq. Now John Howard’s responsibility today is to ensure that’s happening. But do you see John Howard appearing at the Ministerial entrance these days saying: Well today’s situation report on the humanitarian situation in Iraq is as follows; here is what the bulletin from the relevant UN agency says; here is what UNICEF says; and here is what the World Health Organisation says in terms of need’? No. You couldn’t get John Howard away from a microphone prior to the war. You can’t get him near a microphone now that the war is over and Iraq starts to exhibit all sorts of difficulties and dangers, particularly for the Iraqi people.

Reporter: Do you think the Prime Minister deserves some praise for securing a visit by two super powers next month to Australia?

Rudd: When it comes to a visit by the United States at present, as I’ve said I think at this doorstop before, we in the Labor Party welcome any visit by the President of the United States. Why? Because Australia is a long-standing ally of

the United States and history underlines the fact that we in the Labor Party formed this alliance back in 1941. That cannot be changed. For those reasons we welcome this visit by the President of the United States and we look forward to the opportunity to have discussions with him.

As for whether this is any particular pat on the back for John Howard, talk to John Howard. I’m sure he’ll privately claim responsibility for anything good that’s happening in the world today and walk away in terms of responsibility for anything bad that’s happening in the world today. That’s John Howard’s division of labour.

Reporter: President Hu Jintao is coming as well. Isn’t that a good result for the Government?

Rudd: Well the President of China is always welcome in Australia as well. What we have long said with the China relationship is that the Government needs to be putting more resources into it, not less. Remember again that the China relationship exists because of the Australian Labor Party. The Australian Labor Party established diplomatic relations with China in 1972 after the conservatives pretended for 23-years that it didn’t exist. If people by the way think that the Chinese Government and the Chinese ruling party have forgotten that fact, they should sit down and have a few beers with the Chinese leadership one evening and find out about it because that’s the case. President Hu Jintao’s visit to Australia will be enormously welcome, as was the visit of President Jiang Zemin and others. And Hu Jintao first visited this country I think back in the 1980s when I was working in the Embassy in Beijing and that stage I think from memory he was General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Youth League. So we welcome him here and we welcome the further opportunity to meet with the Chinese leadership again and the fact that they are coming I think is testament to the fact that Australia’s interests in the region and in the Asia Pacific region warrant this kind of continuing high level contact irrespective of who the Government of Australia happens to be at the time. Ends.