Friday March 23, 2018

Democrats Oppose Troops To Iraq, Demand Recall Of Parliament

January 22, 2003

Senator Andrew Bartlett, Leader of the Australian Democrats The Australian Democrats have opposed the decision by the Howard Government to deploy troops to Iraq. The party's leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett, said the government is "wrong" and "hypocritical in denying a decision to go to war has been made".

Bartlett said Australian troops were needed closer to home, particularly in East Timor. He also attacked the decision as ceding power to the US president, George Bush.

The Democrats' spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, called for the recall of Parliament, saying the government's "rehearsed disclaimer" required urgent debate.

This is the text of a media release from the Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Andrew Bartlett.

Do not send troops to Iraq

The Government is wrong to send Australian troops to the Iraq region, and hypocritical in denying a decision to go to war has been made, the Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Andrew Bartlett said today.

"The decision about Australia's involvement in a war against Iraq has effectively been ceded to US President George W. Bush," said Senator Bartlett.

"By sending troops to the region, the Government has guaranteed Australia will be at war, if it occurs. This is happening without a vote of Parliament, without the support of the Australian people and without any case being put to explain this insanity.

"There is no case for a war on Iraq and no case for Australia to be involved in a US-led war.

"You do not send troops to increase diplomatic pressure, you send troops when diplomacy has failed and there are absolutely no other options. We are not anywhere near that point yet.

"Amassing troops at the border is more likely to see diplomacy fail. If the Iraqis believe war is inevitable they will not continue to engage in talks and they will certainly halt the weapons inspections," said Senator Bartlett.

Senator Bartlett urged the Government to keep Australian troops closer to home.

"There is potential for trouble in our region, particularly East Timor where Australia has to carry the load more than any other country.

"The Australian Democrats support service personnel but we do not support the decision to send them to the Iraq region," he said.

"The troops that leave tomorrow and those already in the Gulf have our support and I urge all Australians who are campaigning for peace to be sensitive to their loved ones left behind," concluded Senator Bartlett.

This is the text of a media release by the Australian Democrats spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.

Democrat idea to recall Parliament gains support

The Australian Democrats welcome cross-bench support for their long-standing call for the Federal Parliament to be recalled to debate the deployment of Australian troops.

Democrats' Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, called for the Opposition to now give their support.

"The Democrats have publicly and privately urged the Government and the Opposition to support the immediate recall of Parliament," said Senator Stott Despoja.

"As Foreign Affairs spokesperson for the Democrats, I wrote to Minister Downer and Shadow Minister Rudd last week asking them to agree to Parliament being recalled and I have had discussions with the major parties.

"I am awaiting formal responses.

"Decisions concerning Australia's involvement in any military action against Iraq will have significant implications for the safety and security of all Australians.

"The Federal Government has shown blatant disregard for the Australian Parliament and Australian public in its decision to forward deploy troops to the Middle East.

"Australians had made it very clear they do not support Australia being involved in unilateral action against Iraq.

"The Government's rhetoric that it has not yet committed Australia to a war with Iraq is increasingly hollow," said Senator Stott Despoja.

"The Prime Minister has opted to stick to this rehearsed disclaimer, rather than providing the Australian community with the relevant information required to make an informed decision on this issue.

"By sending troops to the region, the Prime Minister has guaranteed Australia's involvement in the war if it occurs.

"He has made this decision without consulting the Australian community, but following ongoing consultation with US President George Bush.

"The Prime Minister was elected by the Australian people and he is ultimately accountable to them. It is to the Australian community that the Prime Minister should turn when Australia is faced with complex decisions concerning military involvement.

"The Democrats reiterate our call for Parliament to be recalled immediately," concluded Senator Stott Despoja.



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