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Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Standing up for what Australians believe

Australian Prime Minister John Howard projected strong comments on international issues in his weekend, re-election victory speech and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer today further amplified the Australian Government's views and values in an Opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

On Saturday evening Howard said:

No Australian should ever shrink from a passionate belief in the ability and the capacity of this nation not only to provide a wonderful homeland for our 20 million, not only to be a partner with our friends in our own region but to be a beacon of democracy, of tolerance, of hope and of achievement all around the world ... we are a nation that is respected around the world because we are prepared to stand up for what we believe in ...

Let us remember that this very same day the people of Afghanistan have had an election and for the first time in years. That election has been made possible by reason of the fact that a number of countries, including Australia, were prepared to take a stand for democracy and to take a stand against terrorism.

As the people of Afghanistan vote today, and particularly the women of Afghanistan, they have been so brutally suppressed for so long, we should be proud of the role that we have played in their liberating Afghanistan just as we should be proud of the role that Australia has played in many other areas in standing up for the values we believe in and the things we hold dear ...

Full text here .

According to Downer, Australia's federal election included clear foreign policy choices, particularly the commitment to the Iraq invasion and the War on Terrorism:

With opposition parties promising to bring home Australian troops from Iraq by Christmas, Australians could have taken the easy option to "cut and run." Instead, they strongly re-endorsed the government of Prime Minister John Howard and its promise to stay the course in Iraq.

Having been an original, modest but important contributor to the so-called Coalition of the Willing, Australia is not about to set any arbitrary deadline for leaving Iraq. We will not let down the Iraqi people. We will not let down our allies. And we will not let down the international community. Our troops are involved in the important work of training Iraqi security forces, patrolling the waters and skies around Iraq and protecting Australia's diplomatic staff in Baghdad. Our commitment also extends to reconstruction assistance, especially in the fields of agriculture and water management ...

Despite the vicious terrorist bombing against the Australian embassy in Jakarta a month before our election (which killed nine Indonesians and wounded scores of people including Australians), the poll result should not come as a surprise.

Australians have a proud record of standing for up for our values, our allies, our neighbors and our national interests abroad. In recent years we have done this in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. The Australian government will continue to show resolve and commitment in the war against terrorism, especially in our own region. We have struck counterterrorism agreements with nine of our regional neighbors and co-hosted with Indonesia a regional summit on counterterrorism ...

We will also engage fully in the "battle of ideas" to ensure that the war against terrorism is not seen as a "clash of civilizations" but as a battle to root out the extremists ...

Full text here.

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