Jun 18, 2003

Statements by members: Iraq


18 June 2003

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (9.50 a.m.) —On 18 March 2003 the House of Representatives adopted a motion supporting war in Iraq. Point 2 of that motion said:

… that Iraq’s continued possession and pursuit of mass destruction, in defiance of its mandatory obligations under numerous resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, represents a real and unacceptable threat to international peace and security;

Mr Howard, the Prime Minister, went on to say:

This morning I announced that Australia had joined a coalition, led by the United States, which intends to disarm Iraq of its prohibited weapons of mass destruction.

That was the basis upon which Australia participated in war. On 14 May 2003 the Prime Minister, in this House, said:

I remind the House, and through it the people of Australia, that the Security Council was unanimous, through resolution 1441, in its view that Saddam Hussein had continued his weapons of mass destruction programs and that Iraq was therefore in material breach of its obligations under a long series of Security Council resolutions.

We know also that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair continued to put the argument. Indeed, Prime Minister Blair put the argument that Iraq had missiles and offensive weaponry ready to go within 45 minutes.

I am very pleased that no Australian casualties, apart from a journalist, were suffered during the Iraq conflict. We can all be pleased that it was over as quickly as possible. But at the same time that is in itself an indication of the extent to which containment was working. It is very clear that the Iraqi regime, evil as it was, had largely been disarmed, which is why it fell so quickly. Some months later, there has been no evidence produced of either weapons of mass destruction or of a direct link with al-Qaeda. Andrew Wilkie, the former defence analyst with the ONA, said on 17 June:

… sooner or later the cock and bull surrounding Iraq and WMD is going to catch up with the Australian Government. The deception and its consequences are just too great to be ignored.

I join with people such as Robin Cook and Clare Short in expressing my concern that a war occurred—a war with over 3,000 civilian casualties—on the basis of false and misleading information and indeed deception by governments about the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program. We need to get the full facts of this matter. (Time expired)