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Howard cancels intelligence briefing as punishment for parliamentary inquiry.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

STATEMENT BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON SIMON CREAN

Howard cancels intelligence briefing as punishment for Parliamentary Inquiry

In a further attempt to cover up the Government’s handling of intelligence information on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction programmes before the war, the Prime Minister has today arrogantly cut off intelligence briefings to the Opposition.

Late this afternoon, the Prime Minister’s Office cancelled a briefing from the Office of National Assessments as punishment for Labor’s success in establishing a Parliamentary inquiry into this matter.

Half an hour before the briefing was to take place, my office was told the Prime Minister had instructed that:

“Given that the Opposition has chosen to pursue this matter via a Committee inquiry, despite the view of the Government that it’s too early, therefore it is not appropriate to have a separate intelligence briefing”.

At a time when intelligence material is crucial to national security, it is essential that this country is confident that the intelligence we rely on is accurate, reliable and timely.

The ongoing failure to find significant amounts of Iraqi WMD has raised serious and legitimate questions about the intelligence used by the Prime Minister to justify Australia’s participation in the war against Iraq.

The Australian people will not be satisfied with Mr Howard’s constant cover- ups and denial of the truth.

CANBERRA 19 JUNE 2003