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Political interests of Bush should not influence Australia.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/450 FRIDAY 4 JUNE 2004 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS Political Interests of Bush should not influence Australia The Australian Democrats today slammed the comments made by US President, George Bush that withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq would be disastrous. "In determining an exit strategy, Australia needs to consider what is in the best interests of the Iraqi people and the Australian public, rather than the political interests of President Bush", Democrats Leader Senator Andrew Bartlett said today. "George Bush is obviously concerned that withdrawal of troops would be disastrous for his electoral prospects. It’s time for John Howard to consider what is best for Australians and Iraqis, rather than George Bush's political timetable. "Establishing stability and sovereignty in Iraq is something that needs to be determined by the United Nations in conjunction with the new interim government in Iraq. We need to be listening to the UN and the Iraqi community about what is best for that country, not those like Bush and Howard who bear primary responsibility for causing the current mess. The Democrats have welcomed President Bush's promise to provide a full account of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, but urge the Prime Minister to not be lax in his efforts to establish whether David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib have been subject to mistreatment in Guantanamo Bay. "The majority of the Australian public along with the Democrats and the Senate did not support Australia involvement in the war in Iraq. The Democrats stand by our belief that in going to war we incurred a legal and moral obligation as a nation to help rebuild Iraq. "John Howard must now fulfil his obligation to the Australian people as the elected representative and make decisions that are in the Australia's interests, not those of the US President". Media Contact - Rowena Bew - 0400 729 555