Prime Minister, just on a final question, at the end of this week you're flying to Texas for another meeting with President Bush. Still no weapons of mass destruction, no Saddam Hussein, no irrefutable link between Iraq and international terrorism. Don't some people have the right to say we were conned?
No they don't. It's unrealistic to expect that all of the evidence of weapons of mass destruction would have been discovered within...
They haven't found any.
No, well I think there is a lot of circumstantial evidence around and a lot of inspections are being undertaken. I didn't think for a moment that you'd find it under a sign on the road side saying weapons of mass destruction look here. I mean they were hiding the stuff from the United Nations inspectors and you remember the great lengths they went to. The question of whether Saddam Hussein is dead or alive, I don't know whether he's dead or alive, what I know is he's no more the president and dictator of Iraq and that is a very good thing. And in the long run whether he's dead or alive I don't know, I think as far as links are concerned there's more evidence that's become available over the past few days that I was aware of, that suggestion of the visit to Baghdad by the al-Qaeda representative is not something that I, or to my knowledge President Bush or Mr Blair had been aware of prior to the commencement of the invasion. So I don't believe people would feel conned, I think they feel very happy that Iraq now has the opportunity of building a democratic future.
The road sign metaphor has been around for a while. It was meaningless when first used and it's meaningless now. The coalition leaders told us they knew of WMDs in Iraq. They did not tell us they had a fair idea and they'd look for street signs after the war. They gave us the aluminium tubes and that was untrue. They gave us the African uranium and that was untrue. Now John Howard is giving us street signs.
Before the war they spoke about knowledge from intelligence sources. Now they are talking about guesswork. I know Australians are into gambling but making war on another country because the chances are good that the country has weapons of mass distruction seems a bit too much of a punt to me.
The motion put to the House of Representatives at the outset of war reads in part:
(a)that Iraq?s continued possession and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, in defiance of its mandatory obligations under numerous resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, represents a real and unacceptable threat to international peace and security;
(b)that Iraq?s behaviour weakens the global prohibitions on the spread of weapons of mass-destruction, with the potential to damage Australia?s security; and
(c) that, as more rogue states acquire them, the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists multiplies, thereby presenting a real and direct threat to the security of Australia and the entire international community;
I can't see any references to street signs there. I also can't see anything about an each way bet.
In his address the prime minister said:
Intelligence analysis tells us that Saddam Hussein considers these weapons programs to be essential both for internal repression and to fulfil his regional ambitions. No doubt he looks to a time when the world will be distracted by other events and he can use his arsenal to bully and coerce his neighbours and to dominate the Middle East. Iraq?s continued defiance represents a threat to the delicate balance which supports nonproliferation. It is no idle speculation that other countries in the region, perceiving this threat, might decide that their own security requires that they develop a significant chemical, biological or even possibly nuclear arsenal to deter attack from Iraq. Moreover, other rogue states would be tempted to ignore the international conventions on arms control, which Australia and others have so painstakingly built up over the last 30 years, and would feel that they could get away with developing similar weapons programs. This is proliferation. We know the lessons of history: the more nations that have these weapons, the more likely they are to be used. That is why we fear proliferation, and we are very concerned about the potential for the proliferation of these weapons in our own region.
Nothing in there about searching under street signs either. John Howard said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. None have been found. The frequent announcements that fizzle out 48 hours later have now been running since early February. None has ever proved true. Why is that?