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Mr Downer loose with the truth again.



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Kevin Rudd, MP Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Affairs

MR DOWNER LOOSE WITH THE TRUTH YET AGAIN

On Tuesday he embraces consultation with the Opposition on Iraq Inquiry - on Thursday he unilaterally announces Philip Flood

The Parliamentary Inquiry demonstrated that Mr Downer had been loose with the truth on national security in his pre-war exaggeration on the Iraqi WMD threat.

But Mr Downer’s habits have extended to the post-war period as well - with the establishment of another inquiry into pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

On Monday Parliamentary Inquiry Chair David Jull recommended bipartisanship in the establishment of a further inquiry and the appointment of its Chair.

On Tuesday Mr Downer said he would consult the Opposition.

Yet Labor heard nothing from the Government, only to watch it unilaterally announce the Flood Inquiry in Parliament yesterday and expect the Opposition to automatically support Flood’s appointment and his limited terms of reference.

Mr Downer then had the hide last night to claim that Labor’s opposition to Mr Flood is driven by “political reasons”, when in fact Mr Downer could have avoided any controversy by simply picking up the telephone and working this matter through.

Labor has no confidence in John Howard’s new inquiry because:

• Its limited terms of reference focus exclusively on the intelligence agencies and ignore the relationship between those agencies and the political arm of government (both dimensions were dealt with in the parliamentary report);

• It has no Royal Commission powers, no power to compel Ministers at public forums, and no reference to the possibility of public hearings.

• The inquiry is to be led by a former recent head of an intelligence agency - Mr Flood has been Director General of ONA within the last eight years and ONA itself is a central focus of the criticism of the parliamentary inquiry.

Ends. 5 March 2004