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New deployment to Iraq - Mr Downer loose with the truth on national security yet again.

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KEVIN RUDD M.P. Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Security 15 September 2004


The Howard Government’s arrogance on national security was exposed today by Mr Downer when he said it was not necessary to consult the Opposition on the new deployment to Iraq.

Let’s not forget - if Labor wins in 26 days, it will be a Labor Government in charge of the same operation. Mr Downer should have contacted Labor Leader Mark Latham, Shadow Defence Minister Kim Beazley or myself to discuss the deployment.

The Opposition would have responded positively to any reasonable request in an emergency situation.

But none of these telephone calls were made before the media was notified yesterday afternoon. If fact, none of these calls were made at all.

Mr Downer’s arrogant response is that he made available the DFAT crisis centre to keep me apprised of developments in Iraq. In a caretaker period Mr Downer has no alternative. Mr Downer is being loose with the truth by inferring that my ability to contact officials was a basis of being briefed on this new deployment.

• The first the Opposition found out about this deployment was early evening through the media.

• At 6.00pm my staff contacted Mr Downer’s Chief of Staff to seek information about the most recent developments in Iraq. This call was not returned.

• At 7.30pm I spoke to our Ambassador in Baghdad who, on the general question of the ‘hostage’ matter, said that I should speak to the DFAT crisis centre in Canberra.

• At 9.15pm my staff spoke with the DFAT crisis centre.

In none of these contacts with Mr Downer’s Chief of Staff, our Ambassador in Baghdad or the DFAT crisis centre was the Opposition in anyway informed that this new deployment was being considered, let alone, underway. Ends. 15 September 2004 Media contact: Alister Jordan 0417 605 823 *Mr Rudd is in Singapore and Kuala Lumpa today and tomorrow for discussions with Government officials and terrorism analysts on regional counter terrorism policies following the Jakarta bombing.