Nothing Bush Said Has Changed Our Hopes

Labor’s policies on Iraq will always put Australia’s interests first.

The Howard Government’s failed policies are hurting Australia in five unacceptable ways:

1. They’ve made Australia a bigger target–something widely acknowledged in this country;

2. They’ve diverted resources away from the real war on terror–catching Osama bin Laden, destroying al-Qa’ida and breaking up terrorist networks in Southeast Asia;

3. Unfortunately the prisoner atrocity scandal has given the terrorists a significant win–(it has provided them) the best recruitment campaign they could have hoped for;

4. The Howard Government sent young Australians to war for reasons that were not true–they were sent to find weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist; and

5. The war in Iraq and instability in the Middle East have contributed to record high petrol prices that are now hurting Australian motorists.

Enough is enough. In these circumstances, the best role Australia can play in Iraq is through humanitarian, economic and civilian aid.

Labor has more important strategic priorities–the defence of Australia and the real war against terror.

Labor never wanted the troops there in the first place. We intend to have them home by Christmas.

The alliance is bigger and stronger than the mistakes made in relation to Iraq. Labor strongly supports the alliance but not as a rubber stamp. Nothing President Bush has said changes our hopes and expectations about the future.

MARK LATHAM is the leader of the Labor Party in Australia.