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You Should Not Be Going: Crean To Troops

The Leader of the Opposition, Simon Crean, has told troops at the official farewell to the HMAS Kanimbla that “I don’t believe you should be going”.

Crean claimed that it was a political decision that pre-empts consideration by the United Nations over the coming weeks and months.

The Opposition Leader emphasised that whilst he deplored the decision to send the troops, ” do support our troops and always will, and that distinction is fundamentally important.”

Transcript of speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition, Simon Crean, at the farewell to HMAS Kanimbla, at Garden Island, Sydney.

CreanGovernor-General, Prime Minister, Head of Defence Forces, Head of the Navy, men and women of the Kanimbla and their families who are gathered here today for us to farewell you and to wish you God speed and a safe and speedy return.

I don’t want to mince my words because I don’t believe that you should be going. I don’t think that there should be a deployment of troops to Iraq ahead of the United Nations determining it. But that’s a political decision, that’s an argument that the Prime Minister and I will have, no doubt, over coming weeks and months.

But having said that I don’t support the deployment of our troops in these circumstance, I do support our troops and always will, and that distinction is fundamentally important. The men and women of our fighting forces in a democracy are expected unquestioningly to accept the orders of the government of the day. You don’t have a choice and my argument is with the government, not with you.

I know that you will give, through service and through your training, to the best of your ability. You are a magnificent fighting and Defence Force, you have been trained for it. You’ve been trained in circumstances in which you hope the politicians of the day can avoid, circumstances in which you are called on to exercise those skills, particularly the combat skills. I also believe that it’s fundamentally important in this complex world that more and more we’ve got to resolve these issues through the United Nations collectively. Understanding the complexity, but fundamentally understanding that no one country has got the right answer here.

But if in fact the United Nations is capable of getting a unanimous resolution to get Saddam Hussein to disarm, if that task is being performed through the Weapons Inspectors, let them finish the task. My point to you is this, I wish you well and the reason I am here today is to support you. To support you in your efforts and to signal to the families that while there may be debates raging in this country as to whether or not it’s appropriate for you to be there, that argument should be directed to the government of the day not to our great men and women who are prepared to give of themselves to serve the country.

I know talking to the families out there that there is a lot of anxiety, this is a very poignant day. But I know at times we tend to hold emotions and it’s only through talking to people personally that you understand the fears, the anxieties, the reservations. Understand this again, and I repeat it, the people going on our behalf don’t have a choice. But in the circumstances I wish them Godspeed and I will be doing everything that I can, everything possible to ensure that they are returned safely and quickly. God bless all of you and to your families we will share with you the concerns and the anxieties. But we know that the people that are being sent have been trained to the best of their ability and we know that they will serve in a professional, outstanding manner. I wish you well, God speed.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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