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Transcript of doorstop: Melbourne: 22 April 2004: [Mr Latham's speech]

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DATE: April 22 2004

TITLE: Doorstop, Melbourne

Journalist: What are your comments about Mr Latham’s speech?

Downer: To be making a speech on national identity and to be plagiarising the words of an American President…Mr Latham is nothing more that a phoney. It’s hardly surprising he opposes the FTA with the US. One aspect of the FTA with America is that it toughens up the copyright laws, makes it more difficult for people to plagiarise.

Journalist: Isn’t it hypocritical for the Government to get upset about this…(inaudible).

Downer: We actually share a common language with a number of countries around the world and so we have common colloquial terms. For us and other countries to be using common colloquial terms is a far cry from cutting and pasting the President of the United States’ speech when you’re a political leader. This is a country which is supposed to be a proud and independent country and yet the leader of our major opposition party is cutting and pasting the speech of the former President of the United States. They’ve gone to the website, they’ve found the speech and they’ve cut and pasted it. There’s just no question of it.

Mr Latham in May 1996, and I direct people to the Hansard, called for the resignation of a Liberal backbencher for copying the ideas of an American academic, and here’s Mr Latham himself cutting and pasting the 1997 State of the Union Address by President Clinton.

I find it demeaning that the Leader of the Opposition in our country is reduced to a cut and paste job of President Clinton’s speeches.

Journalist: On Basra and developments last night, does this signal a further worsening of the situation?

Downer: What happened in Basra is utterly horrific. It is more likely than not, but still not conclusively proven, that it was an al Qaida attack. It just makes a point though. What are we going to do? At a time like this are we just going to down tools and cut and run from Iraq and leave the country in a state of anarchy in the hands of terrorists, leave Iraq as a haven for terrorism? Or are we going to stay there, see it through and give Iraq a secure and democratic future. The answer to that question is obvious. I do think the difficulties in Iraq, tragic as they are, underline the need for us to behave responsibly. Whether it’s popular or not popular we have a responsibility to tell the Australian people what is responsible, and cutting and running out of Iraq is not responsible. Cut and run, cut and paste.

ENDS……………………………………………………………………APRIL 22 2004

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