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Thursday, 14 November 2002
Page: 6451

Senator McGAURAN (7:33 PM) —I rise to speak on the same report of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. Briefly, I wish to respond to the previous speaker, because we have received the usual anti-US—

Senator Ian Macdonald —Left-wing.

Senator McGAURAN —left-wing pitch from the Leader of the Australian Democrats. It is hard to believe he is now the Leader of the Australian Democrats. He still spends most of his Thursday on the minutiae of reports instead of the bigger picture.

Senator Bartlett —War with Iraq is not `minutiae'!

Senator McGAURAN —I wonder if he even thinks about September 11 and the predicament that the United States and the world were put in with that. Since then, this country has been allied with America on the war on terror. As Senator Ian Macdonald said, there is no war on Iraq to this point. But, Senator Bartlett, the pressure of the United States, Australia and their allies has brought that country to heel—

Senator Bartlett —Through the United Nations.

Senator McGAURAN —through the United Nations, exactly—to accept the new resolution. Let me say something about Mr Howard, the Prime Minister, which you probably do not know because you do not follow things as closely, as intelligently and as deeply as you think you do. It was Mr Howard, in private conversation with Mr Bush, who urged him to continue and to go along the UN security route. That has been our Prime Minister's position all along. You did not know that, and if you did you would not give him credit for it anyway.

Senator Bartlett —He has followed, not led, all the way.

Senator McGAURAN —Senator Bartlett, do you deny that Iraq have weapons of mass destruction? You would not know. The truth is that they have. The whole world knows they have, but Senator Bartlett does not. If he did he would not admit it, because then he would have to find a solution to the world problem. The greatest problem is that if any part of those weapons of mass destruction gets into the hands of the terrorists then the consequences will be disastrous.

That is the point. There is a whole picture of the war on terror. Do not try to flog Iraq out of the war on terror that we have. I wonder if you are even part of the war on terror itself—but do not try to prise Iraq out of all this. Iraq has been a sponsor of terror since Saddam Hussein came into power, and it has just got worse. It is worse for Australia now. We are in the net. Appeasement and standing back will not win this war on terror. We cannot hide, as you would have us do. What clouds you? What is bigger than the war on terror? What is bigger than the brutal, murderous dictatorship of Saddam Hussein? What is bigger in your eyes is an anti-US position. That sweeps any other problem that the world might have, that Australia might face, out of the way for you. That is how your mind works. It is atrocious, following September 11 and following Bali, that you would put that political position ahead of this country's best interests. We are not to be intimidated, as you would be. We hold a duty and a responsibility for the security of our citizens, as they would have us hold. Heaven help us if you ever held the reins!

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Cook)—Senator McGauran, please make sure you address your remarks to the chair.

Senator McGAURAN —Mr Acting Deputy President, the war on terror is multifaceted, as you would know only too well. It is long term—nothing under five years will win this war—and it is a war where you must be unflinching or you will not win it. But win it we must. If you cannot start putting aside certain dictators like Saddam Hussein who sponsor terror—

Senator Bartlett —What about the Chinese dictator?

Senator McGAURAN —By the way, we are not just talking about Australia's position or the United States' position; we are talking about the United Nations' position—

Senator Bartlett —Their position was against the war.

Senator McGAURAN —There is only one person who can prevent war on Iraq and a United Nations condemnation, and that is Saddam Hussein himself. He is now in a position to meet the United Nations resolutions and to meet the demands of the world. He is now in a position to prevent war. Will you get off his fence? Will you stop supporting Saddam Hussein over your greater political dislike, even hatred, of the United States?

Senator Bartlett —Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I know that it is not worth the bother. It is not a debating point, because there is no point engaging in debate, but I think that, if accusing me of supporting Saddam Hussein is not unparliamentary, we need to rewrite the standing orders.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESI-DENT —I think you have used some unparliamentary language, Senator McGauran. I would be grateful if you would withdraw it.

Senator McGAURAN —I do withdraw it. Of course Senator Bartlett does not see what he is doing. He knows not what he does. I do not believe he would directly support Saddam Hussein, but unless he takes a stand and supports at least the parliament and the United Nations in this war on terror then in fact he is supporting Saddam Hussein. Senator Bartlett is the sort of person Saddam Hussein likes. He is the sort of person that Saddam Hussein has bluffed, cajoled and conned for years. That is my point. I do not attribute any collaboration or evil intent to you. But what I do say is that you are weak in your approach to this matter. More than ever, we are talking about the security of the Australian people. You only have to pick up the Australian papers and read the front page. I reject everything you have said, Senator Bartlett.

Question agreed to.