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Downer doesn't have the decency to apologise to Keelty.



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Mr Kevin Rudd MP

23/3/2004

DOWNER DOESN’T HAVE THE DECENCY TO APOLOGISE TO KEELTY

Foreign Minister Downer today refused to apologise for his attack on the integrity of the Australian Federal Police Commissioner.

Last week Mr Downer accused Commissioner Keelty of expressing views which reflected al Qaeda propaganda.

This was because Commissioner Keelty, like 65% of Australians, dared to express the unremarkable view that countries like Australia, which supported the US in Iraq, may be an increased terrorist target because of their involvement in the war.

Commissioner Keelty’s crime against the Howard Government was that he dared to express an independent point of view.

But independent advice is simply not welcomed by the Howard Government on national security policy - especially advice which departs from the Government’s 12-month old political line that there is no connection between military involvement in Iraq and any possible increased terrorist threat to Australia.

And Mr Downer’s absurd defence today? He insisted his “broad point” about Commissioner Keelty was that the world has to be wary of al Qaeda’s impact on moderate Islamic governments and the replacement of those governments with Taliban-style regimes.

How can Mr Downer truthfully argue that this was the “broad point” he was seeking to advance when he uttered the words “he (Keelty) is just expressing - expressing a view which reflects a lot of the propaganda we’re getting from al Qaeda”?

Mr Downer lacks the decency to apologise for his attack on the Police Commissioner. And he is being loose with the truth in attempting to extricate himself from the mess he is now in. Mr Downer’s reinterpretation of his own remarks borders on the pathetic.

How can the Howard Government be credible on national security when the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Defence Minister declare open season on one of their principal national security advisers, simply because he has dared to tell the truth?