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Beazley Puts Up the White Flag

Minister for Defence Media Mail List

Thursday, 28 September 2006 134/2006

Beazley Puts Up the White Flag

Interviewer: "…on day one of a Beazley led government you'd order all of the Australian troops out of Iraq, would you?”

Mr Beazley: "The only exception I'd make to that is those guarding Australian diplomats." (Lateline, 27/9/2006)

Kim Beazley's latest commitment, to cut and run from Iraq, is inconsistent and weak. It would represent a setback for the War on Terror and would put Australian troops at greater risk.

For example, Mr Beazley fails to understand that withdrawing all elements other than the Security Detachment in Baghdad, would leave these Security Detachment personnel without the logistics and air support they rely on and, therefore, dangerously exposed.

To take another example, he now wants to remove our frigate from the North Arabian Gulf. In January, Mr Beazley acknowledged the critical role played by our frigate when he said: “We support the continued protection of Australian diplomats in Baghdad, and our naval presence in the Gulf fulfils the dual purpose of protecting Iraqi oil terminals and inhibiting the movement of terrorists around the Gulf.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 12/1/2006)

His latest irresponsible policy would play directly into the hands of terrorists.

Mr Beazley doesn’t appreciate the significant role played by our soldiers based in Tallil. In June this year, the southern province of Al Muthanna became the first of Iraq’s eighteen provinces to transfer to full control by Iraqi Provincial Government, with security presided over by Iraqi security forces. This was in large part attributable to Australia’s efforts in providing security and in training the 2nd Brigade of the Iraqi Army’s 10th Division, who are now taking a key role in providing security.

Australia is now playing an overwatch role, including training and mentoring and being on hand to provide security backup, if required, for Al Muthanna and Dhi Qar (the second province to transfer to full Iraqi control).
Having come so far, it is important to bed this progress down. Mr Beazley disregards this imperative.

In a statement reported by Al-Jazeera on 28 December 2004, bin Laden said that Iraq is where the “third world war…is raging”. On 26 July 2006, in a speech to a joint meeting of Congress, democratically elected Prime Minister of Iraq, al Maliki pledged that “Iraq will be the graveyard of terrorism and terrorists for the good of all humanity.”

The stakes in Iraq are high. In the words of Mr Beazley's former Chief of Staff and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Michael Costello: “to disengage from Iraq now would be the biggest single encouragement the terrorists could get”. (The Australian, 13/1/2006).

The Government is determined to ensure the terrorists lose. Mr Beazley proposes walking away and letting them win.


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