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John Howard on Mahathir Mohamad.

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Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs


Man of Steel becomes Man of Jelly

On Mahathir Mohamad, John Howard ‘Man of Steel’ has become John Howard ‘Man of Jelly’.

The Australian people have had a gutful of Dr Mahathir. Within the last week he has:

• Described Australia as a ‘transplant’ in Asia;

• Described Australia as a potential terrorist state; and

• Called on 1.3 billion Muslims to arm themselves and to rise up against the Jewish people.

Mahathir’s comments are not just offensive - they are downright dangerous. They demand a total a public repudiation by John Howard at the APEC Heads of Government forum.

They also demand a resolution from APEC Heads of Government condemning Mahathir’s remarks. This should not be a problem given Foreign Minister Downer’s statement from Bangkok that no one in the region supports Mahathir’s remarks.

Despite bleatings from Foreign Minister Downer, the bottom line is that the Malaysian Foreign Minister has not apologised on Mahathir’s behalf. In fact he has effectively defended Mahathir’s attack.

John Howard’s continued response is that Mahathir’s remarks should be left to ‘go through to the keeper’.

So who is now running Australian Foreign Policy? Ian Healy, Adam Gilchrist or John Howard?

John Howard’s response to Mahathir to date is pathetically weak and un-Australian.


20 October 2003

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