The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

Media Release

FA70a -  28 May 2004

Rudd Undercuts Labor's Cut-and-Run Folly

 

Labor's Foreign Affairs Spokesman Kevin Rudd has undercut his own party's Iraq policy - agreeing that the Government is right to keep troops in Iraq.

Labor's policy to cut-and-run from Iraq before Christmas was made on-the-run and on-the-air by Labor Leader Mark Latham on 23 March.

Now Mr Rudd has agreed that the Howard Government is right to have 86 ADF personnel protect the Australian Representative Office and its staff in Baghdad.

On ABC TV's Lateline program last night Mr Rudd said: "If that is the advice Mr Downer has received, then that's an appropriate judgement for Mr Downer to make now."

In Parliament this week I tabled a letter from the Secretary of the Deparment of Foreign Affairs and Trade outlining that advice (see letter attached).

Furthermore, Mr Rudd has underlined the cynical opportunism of his own Leader's "troops out by Christmas" promise when he said: "All I'm saying is it's irresponsible for a politician to say six months in advance of a reality, this is precisely what the lay of the land will be then."

I could not agree more. That is why the Australian Government will not set arbitrary deadlines. We will ensure our troops stay in Iraq until their important tasks are completed.

Labor needs to reveal a detailed Iraq policy. I repeat the Government's offer to arrange Iraq briefings for Mr Latham from Defence and Foreign Affairs.

 

Attachment: Letter from the Secretary of the Deparment of Foreign Affairs and Trade to the Minister (pdf)

 

Media inquiries:          Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02-6277 7500


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