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Thursday, 25 March 2004
Page: 27282

Mr RUDD (2:18 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the foreign minister advise the House how many Australian Defence Force personnel are currently on deployment in Afghanistan, the frontline state in the war against terrorism, al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden? Will the foreign minister confirm the advice given by General Cosgrove in Senate estimates on 18 February this year that the total Australian military deployment within Afghanistan is just one army officer, a single lieutenant colonel?

Mr DOWNER (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —It is not for me to argue with General Cosgrove. I asked the Prime Minister what was the point of the question. I am sorry, I just do not know the point of the question. I think General Cosgrove is a good man and a strong man—a man who has shown a lot of courage. I think this country has always been a country that has shown a lot of courage and a lot of strength.

The SPEAKER —The member for Brisbane!

Mr DOWNER —I repeat what I said: I can only implore the Leader of the Opposition to think this through a bit more. It sounds as though Hawker Britton or someone may have come up with this policy, but he needs to think about it himself and get those briefings—that would be good.

The SPEAKER —The member for Brisbane!

Mr Bevis —It is a one man war on terror!

The SPEAKER —The member for Brisbane, for the third time!