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Thursday, 19 October 2006
Page: 72

Mr BEAZLEY (2:19 PM) —$6.5 billion must be a record—

The SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition will come to his question.

Mr BEAZLEY —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister’s comments on national radio this morning when he was asked whether it was necessary that Iraq remain a single state as a prerequisite for troop withdrawal and his reply:

Well, I think that’s desirable, but once again that’s a degree of micro management by another country and another leader that is not necessarily justified.

Will the Prime Minister now confirm that, as of today, his government’s policy of ‘getting the job done in Iraq’ no longer requires leaving behind a unified Iraqi state?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —What I made clear—

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will be heard.

Mr HOWARD —is that the future arrangements between the component parts of Iraq is a matter for the people of Iraq. I know why the Labor Party does not like that assessment. It is because it invests democracy in the Iraqi people. It is for the people of Iraq to determine the future state of arrangements between the different provinces of Iraq.

Ms King interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Ballarat is warned!

Mr HOWARD —That is not for us to decide, and it does not in any way alter the policy of the government. The policy of the government is not to hand Iraq over to terrorists and, more importantly, not to hand the terrorists an enormous propaganda victory. That is the essence of this debate. The Leader of the Opposition can ask as many questions as he likes about future constitutional arrangements, but I do know this: if we had followed the advice of the Leader of the Opposition, we would still have Saddam Hussein butchering people in Iraq.

Mr Cameron Thompson interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Blair is warned!

Mr HOWARD —That is the reality and, as far as the government is concerned, the Labor Party’s policy would give an enormous boost to the terrorists—

Mr Tanner interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Melbourne is warned too!

Mr HOWARD —and do enormous long-term damage to the interests of this country.