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Senator Hill's new strategic doctrine.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

STATEMENT BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON SIMON CREAN MP

Senator Hill’s New Strategic Doctrine

Senator Hill’s remarks regarding the Australian Government’s support for pre-emptive military strikes require further explanation.

Specifically, he must explain what strategic circumstances have changed since last week when the Prime Minister said from Washington that there was no plan on President Bush’s desk for military action against Iraq.

As this is a matter of most serious policy, Senator Hill’s first responsibility is to tell the Australian people what has changed.

Any military action against Iraq must be based on clear evidence of Iraqi support for terrorist activity or threats of such activity or specific information indicating an increased threat from nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

If the Australian government has further information relating to US military action against Iraq and possible Australian commitments, Labor stands ready to receive that information - as we have for some time.

Labor set out a detailed policy position on Iraq on 22 April 2002. That position emphasised the need for the international community to exhaust all diplomatic options before consideration of any military attack on Iraq.

In the first instance, Saddam Hussein must immediately comply with the UN Security Council’s mandate to monitor, verify and destroy weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. His failure to comply thus far is to be condemned outright.

Labor policy, based on our desire for continuing bipartisanship in the war on terrorism, is that the Opposition should be briefed and Parliament should be recalled before any decision to commit Australian military forces is made.

This is the framework against which we will consider any such proposal.

The Shadow Ministers for Defence and Foreign Affairs today will be seeking briefings from their counterparts to establish exactly what now has changed in relation to Iraq.

CANBERRA 19 JUNE 2002