‘We must return stable, predictable, AND honest government to Australia.‘ Joe Hockey, May 23, National Press Club
May 23, 2013
When I saw Paul Barratt’s tweets today on some momentous Howard government lies, I remembered this letter, which Barratt signed in 2004. The government’s trashing of the elders who signed it triggered the decision of public servant Michael Scrafton to blow the lid on the children overboard lie. Thanks for the memories, Paul. And Joe Hockey, don’t talk about bringing back honest government, please. Your last government’s record does not allow it.
Paul Barratt, AO, former Secretary Dept of Defence and Deputy Secretary Dept of Foeign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
TIME FOR HONEST, CONSIDERED AND BALANCED FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICIES: A STATEMENT BY A CONCERNED GROUP OF FORMER SERVICE CHIEFS AND AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMATS
Sunday August 8, 2004
We believe that a reelected Howard Government or an elected Latham Government must give priority to truth in Government. This is fundamental to effective parliamentary democracy. Australians must be able to believe they are being told the truth by our leaders, especially in situations as grave as committing our forces to war.
We are concerned that Australia was committed to join the invasion of Iraq on the basis of false assumptions and the deception of the Australian people.
Saddam’s dictatorial administration has ended, but removing him was not the reason given to the Australian people for going to war. The Prime Minister said in March 2003 that our policy was “ the disarmament of Iraq, not the removal of Saddam Hussein”. He added a few days before the invasion that if Saddam got rid of his weapons of mass destruction he could remain in power.
It is a matter for regret that the action to combat terrorism after 11 September 2001, launched in Afghanistan, and widely supported, was diverted to the widely opposed invasion of Iraq. The outcome has been destructive, especially for Iraq. The international system has been subjected to enormous stress that still continues.
It is of concern to us that the international prestige of the United States and its Presidency has fallen precipitously over the last two years. Because of our Government’s unquestioning support for the Bush Administration’s policy, Australia has also been adversely affected. Terrorist activity, instead of being contained, has increased. Australia has not become safer by invading and occupying Iraq and now has a higher profile as a terrorist target.
We do not wish to see Australia’s alliance with the United States endangered. We understand that it can never be an alliance of complete equals because of the disparity in power, but to suggest that an ally is not free to choose if or when it will go to war is to misread the ANZUS Treaty. Within that context, Australian governments should seek to ensure that it is a genuine partnership and not just a rubber stamp for policies decided in Washington. Australian leaders must produce more carefully balanced policies and present them in more sophisticated ways. These should apply to our alliance with the United States, our engagement with the neighbouring nations of Asia and the South West Pacific, and our role in multilateral diplomacy, especially at the United Nations.
Above all, it is wrong and dangerous for our elected representatives to mislead the Australian people. If we cannot trust the word of our Government, Australia cannot expect it to be trusted by others. Without that trust, the democratic structure of our society will be undermined and with it our standing and influence in the world. Read the rest of this entry »