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If you can't find Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, how are we safer?

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Leader of the Australian Democrats Spokesperson for Defence 18 May 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/338

If you can’t find Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, how are we safer?

Government claims that the war on Iraq had made Australia safer showed John Howard and his Ministers truly were living on a different planet, the Leader of the Australian Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett said today.

“Defence Minister Robert Hill’s claims that the war on Iraq lessened the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists are ridiculous.

“The Coalition claims the weapons were in Iraq. They haven’t found them. Even John Howard has openly speculated they may have been smuggled to Syria.

“In what way is this a better situation than before the war, when United Nations Weapons Inspectors were making progress in Iraq?

“And how does that make us safer?”

Senator Bartlett said the Government could not realistically say on the one hand that the risk of terrorism has decreased, and then announce the need for greater anti-terrorist capabilities through the Reserves.

“The Democrats have always welcomed increased domestic anti-terrorism capacity, but we do not think the Government is being honest with Australians about the terrorist threat.

“The Government’s justification for the war on Iraq was always a moving target.

“The Defence Minister says it was never to do with al-Qaeda, yet they have constantly pointed to September 11 and the Bali attack.

“The claims this government is making that we are all a lot safer because we attacked Iraq, beggar belief.

“We've got terrorist strikes around the world and travel warnings against moving outside our front gate - yet they claim there's no danger?

“Australians are not safer as a result of the war on Iraq. Australia is a potential target for terrorists.

“The fact they're setting up a reserve response force of army reservists to protect us from increased terrorist threats shows that Australians need more protection. This country just isn't as safe as it used to be.”

For interview with Senator Bartlett contact Katrina Beikoff on 0419 867 649