House debates

Monday, 16 October 2006

Prime Minister

Censure Motion

3:50 pm

Photo of Annette EllisAnnette Ellis (Canberra, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Ms Annette Ellis interjecting

4G4 Downer, Alexander, MPMr DOWNER—Thirty years ago it was all right, was it? This is what the Leader of the Opposition said in June 2003:

Personally, I believe that weapons of mass destruction—

this is the Leader of the Opposition speaking to this House—

... will be found. Some already have been found in regard to the mobile biological laboratories which have been identified.

He also said, on 19 July 2002:

Much discussion of US intentions in Iraq revolves around the credibility of claims that the Iraqi dictator is developing nuclear weapons. He may be.

This is what the Leader of the Opposition said:

What he has done unquestionably is establish a substantial biological capability.

I make the point that the Leader of the Opposition—and I often make this point in question time—rushes up to the press gallery and sells the line that he is some sort of world expert on national security issues because he was a lecturer in national security issues or something at university. I think he is a world expert on opportunism. This is a man who is a weak leader—if you could call him a leader—of a political party who will never take a difficult brief and go out and argue it.

Back in 2002-03 he was pounding his fist with the faux anger that we are so used to these days. Because the pollster told him to do it—and we know that—he went out there and said, ‘Iraq has weapons of mass destruction; it’s a terrible thing.’ Today he accuses the government of lying that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Excuse me, Mr Speaker, if I just draw the attention of the House to the cant and hypocrisy of a weak leader—a weak leader who has never taken a tough brief.

One of the observations I would make in foreign policy, which is not an observation that the Labor Party would ever make, because weakness is their constant friend, is that in these difficult decisions you never have easy or perfect choices. There is not a perfect choice. There is a cost of action but there is also a cost of inaction. If the world had given Saddam Hussein a great victory back then in 2003, would he have become a benign funder of Australian Labor Party campaigns? I think not. I do not think any sensible analysis—not emotive or opportunistic analysis but sensible analysis—would conclude that in the struggle against terrorism we would have had the benign support or indifference of Saddam Hussein and his regime.

The Leader of the Opposition sometimes makes the argument that Saddam Hussein did not have anything to do with terrorism. That is sometimes his argument. That was not his argument on 28 February this year, though. In this very chamber he said of Saddam Hussein:

... he was supporting terrorists in Israel and in the areas controlled by the Palestinians. We know that for a fact.

So he was supporting terrorists. He went on to say:

We know at least he had a research program associated with weapons of mass destruction ...

So it was all right to have a program associated with weapons of mass destruction, Mr Speaker. I think not; I think it was not all right.


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