House debates

Monday, 16 October 2006

Prime Minister

Censure Motion

3:50 pm

Photo of Alexander DownerAlexander Downer (Mayo, Liberal Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

I appreciate the opportunity of this debate being brought on today. I would urge members to vote down this censure, and I think the majority will. The first thing I would say in a general sense is that one of several reasons why somebody who has always been interested in politics would never join the Labor Party is that the Labor Party, as I said in the Earl Page lecture, has always been a little weak when it comes to tyranny and has never wanted to stand up and confront people until it has ended up with no choice.

The proposition about how we should not stand up to Saddam Hussein, which has been the basic working hypothesis of the Labor Party, is just a continuum of a long history in the Labor Party of not wanting to stand up to anybody very much because it might be a little frightening. This is the Labor Party which, by the way, preaches and moralises and, if I may so—and I think you can in a censure motion—has issued a tissue of lies on the issue of Iraq. This is the Labor Party that received $500,000 in funding from Saddam Hussein for its 1975 election campaign. It is the only party in the history of Australian politics whose leader has gone to an apartment block in Sydney and tried to get half a million dollars out of Saddam Hussein to fund the party’s election campaign. Even Bob Hawke was very ashamed of that. But that is the measure of the Labor Party: that it would take money to fund its election campaign in 1975 from Saddam Hussein. Excuse me if I say that I do not much warm to lectures from the Labor Party about Saddam Hussein.

The second thing I would say is that the Leader of the Opposition, who often makes these claims, makes the claim that the government went to war on a lie—that is, a lie about the weapons of mass destruction. The Prime Minister in his remarks talked a little about the speeches that the member for Griffith had made and he used one particular example. I could dig out many others. A person who for the time being is more significant in the Labor Party is the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition said, when writing in the Financial Review on 7 February 2003, before the invasion of Iraq:

No foreign office or defence department official anywhere on the globe entertains the view that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction.

The Leader of the Opposition is embarrassed about this because he comes to the dispatch box and accuses Australia, Germany, France, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain of lying, but he himself used precisely the same sort of formulation and is exposed—and I will come back to that—for what we all know he is. The Hansard of the federal parliament of 3 June 2003—this is after the fall of Saddam Hussein, whom Labor wanted to keep in power: remember, the person whom they got the $500,000 promise from for the 1975 election—


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