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Published: Canberra Times – Letter to the editor

There has been no suggestion, indication or any other sign, from either major political party that there should be an inquiry into why Australia joined the US and the UK in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

John Howard took Australia to war, without debate, without the assent of parliament and on the basis of misinformation. Did he know that the reason he put forward for going to war, the existence of weapons of mass destruction, was incorrect?

We need to establish the facts surrounding that decision. We need to curb the powers of the Prime Minister. Parliament needs to be given the power to decide if we should go to war.

Downer has admitted that the Howard government had the Australian Navy tow boats with asylum seekers on board back into Indonesian waters. The Howard government applied pressure on the AWB to hold onto contracts with Iraq. The Howard government used the army and police to intervene in the Northern Territory. It was a government of ‘whatever it takes’.

Australians have a right to know the extent of ‘whatever it takes’, particularly with respect to decisions surrounding our involvement in the war in Iraq.

There are senior figures in the Opposition who need to be cleared of any suggestion that they were a party to improper decisions making if they are to be considered for high office.

Tony Abbott has indicated he would be prepared to become the leader of the Opposition with a possibility that he might become Prime Minister. For the sake of that high office he needs to be cleared of any suggestion that he was complicit in a cover up surrounding reasons for Australian involvement in Iraq.

The British inquiry into the reasons for their involvement will throw some light on Australian involvement, but for the sake of Australian democracy and future decision making we need to have our own inquiry.