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Democrats call on Flood to include Government's role in "truth overboard" Intelligence Inquiry.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Leader of the Australian Democrats Spokesperson for Defence and Veterans Affairs 4 March 2004 MEDIA RELEASE 04/135

Democrats call on Flood to include Government’s role in “truth overboard” Intelligence Inquiry

The Australian Democrats have called on Mr Philip Flood to widen the investigation into Australia’s intelligence agencies to ensure an examination of the Government’s role in the misleading of the public over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Responding to the announcement today that Mr Flood would chair the inquiry and the terms of reference, Senator Andrew Bartlett, leader of the Australian Democrats, said there was scope for the Inquiry to also examine the Prime Minister and senior Ministers’ use and misuse of intelligence information.

The Government’s terms of reference focus only on intelligence agencies, however they also specify “Without seeking to limit your examination…”.

“The Government has left itself out of the terms of the inquiry. Mr Flood should not,” Senator Bartlett said.

“There will be an unclassified version of the report and we hope Mr Flood is able to take this opportunity to reveal where responsibility really lies for the public being misled on the reason for going to war.

“As Inquiry Chair, Mr Flood will see classified information that none of us ever will and he is perfectly placed to compare that to the Government’s pre-war statements.

“There is a case for review of the intelligence agencies performance and we welcome this, but there is an even greater argument for review of the Government’s performance.

“While there may be concerns that Mr Flood’s former role as chief of the Office of National Assessments could be in conflict with the terms of reference that he assess the capacity of ONA, the Democrat’s primary concern is that Australians have the opportunity to hear whether the Government’s statements really reflected what our intelligence agencies were telling them.

“It is of utmost importance we find out if the intelligence was wrong or if this was yet another case of the Government engaging in ‘truth overboard’,” Senator Bartlett concluded.

For interview with Senator Bartlett contact Daele Healy on 0419 867 649