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Australian Financial Review : October 17th 2006
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The Australian Financial Review Tuesday 17 October 2006 www.afr.com 6 Iraq gloom gives Beazley ammunition Geoffrey Barker KEY POINTS Labor moves to censure John Howard over the 'fiasco' in Iraq. Kim Beazley says the war has weakened the US and its allies The censure is defeated. Opposition Leader Kim Beazley moved yesterday to reinforce wide- spread unease over Australia's involvement in the Iraq War, claim- ing that federal government policy had undermined the security of the Australian people. Prime Minister John Howard countered that Mr Beazley was advocating a policy that would ''give an enormous boost to the terrorist cause not only in the Middle East but also in our part of the world''. Mr Beazley and Mr Howard went head-to-head in a parliamentary censure debate moved by the Oppo- sition Leader after British Army chief General Richard Dannatt said British troops should leave Iraq soon because they were exacerbat- ing the country's security problems. The debate also followed a sur- prising backflip by the former Aus- tralian Defence Force chief, Gen- eral Peter Cosgrove, who reportedly said it was ''pretty obvious'' that the protracted war in Iraq had energised the jihadist movement. Referring indirectly to the recently leaked US intelligence assessment that the Iraq War had spawned a new generation of Isla- mic radicals, Mr Beazley said the war had put Israel under pressure and allowed Iran to increase its regional power. He said the war had weakened the US and limited its capacity to exercise influence in the Middle East and elsewhere. ''We find our position is less secure than it was,'' he said. ''Fiasco is your policy,'' Mr Beazley shouted at Mr Howard, ''it is what you are responsible for.'' Mr Beazley said the government had created a set of conditions that played into the hands of terrorists. ''Australia is a safe country because of its geography and the character of its society... Things are not absolute. They are relative,'' he said. ''We are much less safe, we are much less influential, we are much less effective as a country as a result of what this Prime Minister and government have done,'' he said. Mr Howard replied that Mr Beazley was obliged to explain how an allied defeat in Iraq would make Australia safer. ''That is the central failure of the Leader of the Opposition's speech. He has not explained, let alone justified, how the policies that he advocates could in any way make this country safer,'' he said. The Prime Minister said that leaving Iraq in chaos would be catastrophic. The censure motion was defeated. Sweeping all before them Australia's state premiers and chief ministers have thrown their support behind the campaign to improve the pay and conditions of cleaners, in a move aimed to stepping up public pressure on major CBD property owners and cleaning contractors. The message of support -- which was also endorsed by a range of religious leaders and influential broadcaster Alan Jones -- is made in a full-page advertisement today in The Australian Financial Review. It coincides with a series of rallies by cleaners in capital cities across Australia. Mark Skulley Nationals seek tax inquiry The Nationals will lobby the federal government for a comprehensive inquiry into tax breaks available to timber and agricultural plantations, and the impact on water licences and traditional family farms growing grapes and citrus. Despite apparent concern among some Nationals MPs and rank-and-file members, the Nationals will support the current taxation treatment of managed investment schemes after a motion from WA and Victorian Nationals won support at the party's federal conference in Canberra on the weekend. Fleur Anderson Rock art safe from emissions A scientific report has suggested that industrial emissions on the Burrup Peninsula would not affect ancient Aboriginal rock art, according to West Australian Resources Minister John Bowler. Andrew Burrell Congolese charge Perth miners A Congolese military judge has recommended the prosecution of three former employees of Perth's Anvil Mining for complicity in war crimes following a massacre of villagers in the town of Kilwa in the country's southern mineral province two years ago. Pierre Mercier, general manager of Anvil's Congolese subsidiary, Anvil Mining Congo, and Anvil's deputy general manager, and two other men were charged last month and accused of having ''voluntarily failed to withdraw'' company vehicles placed at the disposal of the Congolese army and of having knowingly facilitated the commission of war crimes. Marcus Priest Senior job for Beattie adviser Queensland Premier Peter Beattie's principal media adviser for the past 11 years, Steve Bishop, has resigned to take up a senior role in the state's public service. Mr Bishop, who has helped the Premier to four successive election victories, will become acting executive director of state services, governance division. The state opposition has described Mr Bishop's new appointment as a ''job for a Labor mate''. Mark Ludlow More info sought on terrorists ASIO and the federal Attorney-General should provide more up-to-date information about the relisting of groups such as Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah on Australia's proscribed list of terrorist organisations, according to a bipartisan inquiry. The Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, chaired by Liberal David Jull, yesterday repeated this request for the third time in 18 months. Fleur Anderson Bracks in full flow Expectations that future water flows could be up to 60 per cent lower than historical averages will underwrite today's launch of the Victorian government's water policies, a key battleground for the November election. Premier Steve Bracks is expected to announce the central region water strategy covering the key population centres. Duncan Hughes