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John Howard: Loose with the truth on national security.



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KEVIN RUDD M.P.

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs 19 October 2003

JOHN HOWARD: LOOSE WITH THE TRUTH ON NATIONAL SECURITY

Before the Iraq war the PM told Australians that attacking Iraq would reduce the terrorist threat. Now the terrorist threats are increasing because of Iraq

John Howard is once again being loose with the truth on national security.

Before the Iraq war, Mr Howard told Australians that attacking Iraq was necessary to reduce the overall terrorist threat to Australians and to Australia.

Since the Iraq war, the terrorist threat has in fact increased because of the war:

• Iraq itself (where we still have hundreds of Australian military and diplomatic personnel) is now a magnet for thousands of al Qaeda and other Jihadi terrorists; • Australian participation in the Iraq war has become a recruiting call for Jemaah Islamiah, al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations across Islamic South East

Asia (where hundreds of thousands of Australians visit and/or work each year); and • Now we have a further explicit warning apparently from Osama bin Laden (who possibly remains at large) calling for specific terrorist action against the states

that participated in the Iraq war - including Australia by name.

And what is John Howard’s defence? John Howard claims that Australia has always been a part of al Qaeda’s targeting - back before September 11 and the time of East Timor.

Of course Australia has always been part of al Qaeda’s targeting.

But the reason why Labor argued against Australian military participation in the war in Iraq is that it did not represent a logical extension in the war against al Qaeda and the war against terrorism. John Howard has never produced any evidence linking Iraq with

September 11 or Bali. And John Howard produced very little, if any, evidence linking Iraq with al Qaeda in general.

The emerging truth is that Australia’s participation in the war in Iraq has increased the terrorist threat against Australia, not decreased it as the Prime Minister claimed prior to the war.

And it certainly hasn’t remained the same as the Prime Minister lamely claims in his response today to Osama bin Laden’s most recent apparent statement specifically calling for terrorist action against Australia because of Australia’s participation in the Iraq war.

Labor remains 110% committed to the war against terrorism, the war against al Qaeda and the war against Jemaah Islamiah.

For Australia, the war against Iraq was not just a distraction from the war against terrorism, it’s turning out to have been a dangerous distraction from the war against terrorism because it has increased the terrorist threat against Australians and Australia.

And John Howard knows it - hence his defensive reaction to the Osama bin Laden claim today.

Ends.

Further information: Kevin Rudd, MP 0418 796 931 or Alister Jordan 0417 605 823