House debates

Monday, 16 October 2006

Prime Minister

Censure Motion

3:34 pm

Photo of Kevin RuddKevin Rudd (Griffith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and International Security) Share this | Hansard source

What the joint intelligence committee, led by the member for Fadden, found is a conclusion along these lines. This is the committee known as the ‘Jull committee’. It is difficult to refer to it by any other name. In section 5.13 of its report, the Jull committee concluded:

The specific intelligence cited to support these assertions is from three major sources: the intelligence from the Australian Intelligence Community, the intelligence from partner agencies, especially in the US and the UK, and the information from United Nations inspections processes. On occasions the Prime Minister or the Foreign Minister specifically quoted Australian intelligence. However, the speeches also directly quoted from overseas sources. The Prime Minister argued on 4 February 2003 that there was ‘compelling evidence … within the published detailed dossiers of British and American intelligence. This evidence is the most specific and emphatic within the speeches ...

It made a series of claims about Iraqi WMD including:

  • Iraq’s current military planning specifically envisages the use of chemical and biological weapons.

What was the Jull committee’s conclusion on this? Chaired by the Liberal Party, dominated by the Liberal Party, it was in section 5.20:

The statements by the Prime Minister and Ministers are more strongly worded than most of the AIC judgements. This is in part because they quote directly from the findings of the British and American intelligence agencies. In particular, in the 4 February 2003 speech to the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister quoted the findings of Joint Intelligence Committee of the UK and the key judgements of the National Intelligence Estimate of the CIA.

It goes on:

In both of these documents the uncertainties had been removed and they relied heavily on the surge of new and largely untested intelligence, coming, in the US at least, from Iraqi defectors.

I repeat:

In both of these documents the uncertainties had been removed ...

It means that the intelligence was exaggerated. It means that politically the government stood here at the dispatch box, made an argument to the Australian people and exaggerated what was in their possession. That is the core conclusion here when it comes to the use and abuse of national intelligence information. It is not our conclusion; it is the joint intelligence committee of the Australian parliament’s conclusion. It is that of a majority committee chaired by the government’s ruling party.

But it does not stop there. Exhibit 2, which torpedoes this Prime Minister’s credibility amidships, also from the Jull committee, states in section 5.29:

Other significant intelligence not covered in the government presentations included an assessment in October 2002 that Iraq was only likely to use its WMD if the regime’s survival was at stake and the view of the Joint Intelligence Committee of the UK, available at the beginning of February 2003, that war would increase the risk of terrorism and the passing of Iraq’s WMD to terrorists.

This information according to the Jull committee, chaired by the Liberal Party, dominated by the Liberal Party, again was not conveyed to the Australian people. These are two clear conclusions by a government chaired and dominated committee. Firstly, on prewar intelligence on Iraqi WMD, the government exaggerated. This is not our conclusion; it is the government committee’s own conclusion. Secondly, the government did not provide the Australian people with clear evidence that if you go to war on Iraq it is not going to reduce the terrorist threat, it is going to compound the terrorist threat. The government sat on both these pieces of information because it did not suit the political case they were about to make to the Australian people.

That is why, when this Prime Minister stands at the dispatch box and they see his lips move, the Australian people now conclude that this is simply a clever politician—a clever politician who can no longer be trusted with the actual truth of Australia’s national security circumstances. Could you imagine a John Curtin doing that with this nation’s secrets? Could you imagine a Bob Hawke doing that with this nation’s secrets during the first Gulf War? Could you imagine a Bob Menzies doing that with this nation’s national security information? When it comes to going to war, the decisions about going to war, I have to say, Foreign Minister and Prime Minister, on these questions you finally take the cake when it comes to ritualistic use and abuse of national security information and, simply, outright damn lies with the use of national security information.

The Prime Minister spent a large slice of his defence against the censure motion saying that we should talk about a strategy for Iraq’s future. Foreign Minister, you are about to stand on your feet after this. You know how long it is since you—


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