29 September 2004

two different leaders

Latham's campaign address
Two days before this election, there's an historic anniversary: 7th October 1941, when John Curtin became Australia's Prime Minister.

Curtin's priority was the Defence of Australia - securing our country, in our part of the world.

In putting Australia first, he had to stand up not only to Winston Churchill but President Roosevelt as well.

But that didn't stop John Curtin building a new alliance, a new partnership with the United States.

And he built that partnership on the only worthwhile basis - mutual respect between two sovereign and independent people.

The Alliance is not the property of any Australian party or any particular American administration.

It belongs to our two great peoples.

I want to render the United States the best service any Australian Prime Minister ever could.

And that is to help the United States develop its true role of world leadership, based on respect, understanding and the cooperation demonstrated so powerfully after September 11, but undermined so tragically by the mistakes in Iraq.

Most of all, the impact of those mistakes in our region.

When Mr Howard sent Australian troops to the war in Iraq he knew, on advice, that his decision would make Australia less safe in the war against terror.

Now he says that he'll keep Australian troops in Iraq until they have finished the job. But he can't tell them what the job is.

The real job for Australia is in our region, working with our neighbours and with the United States.

And as Prime Minister, I'll sign up for that job, for as long as it takes.

This is where our permanent interests lie, not on the other side of the world.

This is where Labor will dedicate our resources in the war against terror - to our region, to our part of the world, to the real security of the Australian people.

Blair's conference speech
And what I learnt that day was not about the far left. It was about leadership. Get rid of the false choice: principles or no principles. Replace it with the true choice. Forward or back. I can only go one way. I've not got a reverse gear. The time to trust a politician most is not when they're taking the easy option. Any politician can do the popular things. I know, I used to do a few of them.

I know it's hard for people to keep faith. Some of the people may have a different take on me. But I have the same take on them. I trust their decency. I trust their innate good sense. I know I am the same person I always was, older, tougher, more experienced, but basically the same person believing the same things. I've never led this Party by calculation. Policy you calculate. Leadership comes by instinct. I believe the British people will forgive a government mistakes; will put the media onslaught in more perspective than we think; but what they won't forgive is cowardice in the face of a challenge.

The answer to any of these challenges is not easy.

Beyond all Blair's talent for sounding pious while denouncing principle, all he is really doing is advocating action at the cost of anything else. His position is as meretricious as his master's in Washington. Latham's appeal to Australian history and principle may not play quite so high-minded and high-sounding, but it's honest. I doubt his services will be welcome in Washington.

No comments: