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Transcript of doorstop: "Friends NGO", Phnom Penh: 19 June 2003: Bali attack/Rudd comments.

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19 June 2003

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer

Doorstop “Friends NGO”, Phnom Penh on Bali Attack/Rudd Comments

Journalist: What is your response to what the Opposition said in Parliament?

Downer: Well I would say several things. Today Mr Rudd, the Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs, has exposed the Opposition tactics here of playing very cheap and I think very unattractive politics on the issue of Bali. Mr Rudd claims today that I had specific intelligence in relation to the attack on Bali. That is completely and utterly untrue. The opposition is raising questions about a 27th September 2001 ONA memorandum. The Opposition saw that memorandum over six months ago. It was attached to the Blick report. The Opposition was given the full Blick report. The Opposition had the opportunity to read that memorandum. They’ve known about it for six months. They’ve never asked the Government any questions about it privately. They have not raised it with intelligence agencies since they were shown that memorandum and now they are pretending that this is something new. I think that it is absolutely disgraceful. And the third point I’d make is the Prime Minister’s point about the Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs knew that the Canadian Travel Advisory had been changed on the 8th October to say that it was appropriate for people to go to Bali. He knew that and he deliberately misled the House of Representatives on this issue. Now the fact is the Government did not know that there was going to be a terrorist attack in Bali and we would have moved heaven and earth if we had known. But it is a matter of complete disgrace that Mr Rudd and Mr Crean should endeavour to play politics in this cynical way and today the cynicism of what the Labor Party has been doing has been blatantly exposed. And its embarrassing for them and they need to reconsider their position immediately.

Journalist: Are you absolutely confident that Rudd saw the full report from ONA and not just extracts?

Mr Downer: I’m absolutely sure that the Opposition, through the Leader of the Opposition, that the Leader of the Opposition was given the full report, with the ONA report as an attachment and that the Leader of the Opposition had the opportunity to read that. Of course I don’t know whether he does any work or not, whether he reads what he is given or he doesn’t. I cant attest to that. I just don’t know. But the Opposition were given that report and it is outrageous that over six months later they pretend that this information is somehow new. I think that is utterly reprehensible. Deceiving and misleading the Australian public in this way is beyond the pale.