3 October 2004

governing on the dark side

Documents reveal plans for Iraq war
Australia took part in detailed planning to invade Iraq earlier than previously admitted, according to Pentagon documents.

The records emerged as Prime Minister John Howard refused to follow Britain's Tony Blair in apologising for presenting incorrect information on whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

It would be a 'terrible defeat for the West' if coalition nations pulled out of Iraq before security had been restored, a defiant Mr Howard said yesterday.

He said he had acted in good faith, assessing intelligence briefings before making the decision to go to war. 'I don't apologise for one moment for the fact that we joined in getting rid of Saddam Hussein.'

London's Evening Standard yesterday reported that the United States Central Command in Florida hosted a 'planning conference' for Iraq on June 28, 2002, with Australian and British military commanders.

PM called talks to derail renewable energy
The Federal Government and fossil-fuel industry executives discussed ways to stifle growing investment in renewable energy projects at a secret meeting earlier this year.

Prime Minister John Howard called the meeting on May 6, five weeks before releasing the energy white paper on June 14.

The white paper favours massive investment in research to make fossil fuels cleaner, at the expense of schemes boosting growth in renewable energy.

Mr Howard called together the fossil-fuel-based Lower Emissions Technology Advisory Group to seek advice on ways to avoid extending the mandatory renewable energy targets scheme.

The Government has touted the scheme as a key plank in achieving its Kyoto Protocol target to hold greenhouse emissions at 108 per cent of 1990 levels.

The Government continues to refuse to ratify the protocol, despite Russia's decision last week to ratify and bring the protocol into legal effect.

Russia's move further isolates the United States and Australia.

Labor attack Govt over Honan ethanol deal
ANNA BURKE, MEMBER FOR CHISHOLM: Prime Minister, was the Government contacted by the major Australian producer of ethanol or by any representative of him or his company or the industry association before its decision to impose fuel excise on ethanol?

EMMA GRIFFITHS: The PM's answer was clear.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: Speaking for myself, I didn't personally have any discussions, from recollection, with any of them.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: But his statement's now in question, disputed by a document obtained by the Opposition under freedom of information laws and made public last week.

It records a meeting between John Howard and Dick Honan about ethanol, just six weeks before the decision.

The Opposition says Parliament has been misled.

The secret meeting is par for the course for the Man of Steel's government. Each time the Man of Steel gets caught in one he blames his staff for not sending the papers. The Manildra meeting was most dramatic because the prime minister's defence was apparently that his staff had not told him he attended a meeting.

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