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Minister's comments on Afghanistan contradict the PM.

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Senator the Hon David Johnston Shadow Minister for Defence I Senator for Western Australia Media Release MINISTER’S COMMENTS ON AFGHANISTAN CONTRADICT THE PM Shadow Defence Minister David Johnston has called on Kevin Rudd to clarify his Defence Minister’s comments in The Australian that victory against the Taliban in Afghanistan is neither feasible nor supportable. Senator Johnston said Mr Rudd needs set the record straight and reassure the Australian people and the men and women in our defence forces that his government believes we can prevail in Afghanistan. In April, the Prime Minister said: “As I have said before, I would not have Australian troops committed there and nor would I have had….them committed there as the alternative Prime Minister of Australia last year had I not believed there was a strategy which would ultimately prevail.” (Press conference, 28/4/2008) Earlier that month Mr Rudd vowed the “current levels (of troops) were rock solid and there for the long haul.” (Daily Telegraph 4/4/2008). And just last month Mr Rudd re-stated the Government’s resolve for success in Afghanistan in the parliament. Senator Johnston said Mr Fitzgibbon’s pessimistic comments about Afghanistan were extraordinarily ill-considered. “Recent work by our special forces has been very encouraging and significant gains were being made against the Taliban,” Senator Johnston said. “Mr Fitzgibbon needs to remember that the Taliban are quite capable of reading Australian newspaper reports online.” “Success in Afghanistan is vital not only to ensuring the freedoms and liberty of the Afghan people, but also to our own security. It should be remembered that 88 Australians were murdered in Bali by three men trained by the Taliban.” “Mr Fitzgibbon should urgently reconsider his comments.” Media contact: Rebecca Horton 0427 449 120

Rebecca Horton Media Adviser I Senator the Hon David Johnston Shadow Minister for Defence I Senator for Western Australia

Office (Perth) (08) 9478 2088 I Mobile: 0427 449 120