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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 2071

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Fowler is suspended from the service of the House for 24 hours.

The member for Fowler then left the chamber.

Mr HOWARD —It is a matter of great pleasure for us on this side of the House—who do not believe in cutting and running from Iraq—that there will for the first time be this Olympic team competing without fear of retribution from Uday Hussein when they return from the Athens Games. Could I also point out that the other good news coming out of Iraq is that all 240 hospitals, as well as 1,200 health clinics, are operating; more than 3 million children under the age of five have been immunised against preventable disease; public health spending is now $US950 million compared to only $US16 million under Saddam Hussein; electricity, water, telephones and sanitation are gradually being restored; peak power production is greater than it was before the military operation last year; six major water treatment plants have been rehabilitated; motor fuel and heating and cooking fuel supplies have dramatically increased; 95 per cent of the demand for motor fuel is being met; and 85 per cent of the requirement for heating and cooking oil is also being met.

More than 15,000 mobile telephones are sold each week. Under Saddam Hussein, mobile phones were outlawed. The number of telephone subscriptions has passed one million, which is 20 times more than there were under Saddam. Overall, phone services are at 145 per cent of prewar levels. In the area of education, all universities are open, and more than 2,500 schools have been rehabilitated. The number of schools needing repair has dropped from 12,000 in April of last year to 9,000 in July of this year. Some 255 municipal councils have been established since the middle of last year, the central criminal court is operating, Iraq's first ministry of human rights has been established, and an Iraqi special tribunal will bring those responsible for crimes under Saddam fully to account. Crude oil production is already around prewar levels, and judges and other public officials continue to be appointed; for example, 860 judges have now been vetted. Finally, on the economic front, inflation is stable at around 20 per cent after the hyperinflation under Saddam.

I know that the opposition does not like to hear the good news that is coming out of Iraq, but those who constantly condemn and criticise the nations of the world that joined in the liberation of the Iraqi people—of which Australia was proudly one—must understand that free Iraq is now producing a dividend, and free Iraq will one day embrace a democratic future. But, in order to embrace that democratic future, they will need the continuing understanding and help of their friends and allies. They do not need nations to cut and run; they need nations to stay and finish the job.