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Thursday, 26 September 2002
Page: 5004

Senator HARRIS (2:46 PM) —My question is to Senator Robert Hill, Minister for Defence and Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Minister, are you aware that some of America's wealthiest industrialists, with annual turnovers of over $US35 billion, have as their core businesses the purchasing of oil and gas? Is the minister also aware that, through donations to political parties and through charities, their corporations have spent $US100 million to influence the outcome of the American election? As a result, is the decision to attack Iraq's weapon base or is it to gain control of oil?

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —No decision has been made by the United States to attack Iraq. The United States has expressed its grave concern at the threat posed by the program of weapons of mass destruction of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and has demanded that that program end. It has in fact gone further and warned Iraq that it is not going to tolerate that threat indefinitely. That has, of course, nothing to do with oil at all. It is the right of self-defence, under the Charter of the United Nations. I would respectfully suggest to the honourable minister that the best way that he could help in this matter would be to add his influence to get Saddam Hussein to end that program of weapons of mass destruction.

Senator HARRIS —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, has the Howard government considered that any commitment of Australian troops to Iraq could be designed to remove Saddam Hussein, who has entered into agreements with Russia, China, India and France, and to influence the replacement of Saddam Hussein with an American-user-friendly leader who would reallocate Iraq's oil to American interests?

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —It is difficult to take the supplementary question seriously, but I will repeat the fact that the United States wants to see an end to the weapons program because it sees the weapons program as a threat.