Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Iraq; Arthur Howard

TRANSCRIPT

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Doorstop Interview

Bunjilaka Centre, Melbourne Museum
Monday, 17 March 2003
9.35 am

SUBJECTS: Iraq; Arthur Howard

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello are you concerned at all that Australia will become in a Vietnam type situation if war is declared tomorrow or Wednesday?

TREASURER:

Well, the important thing of course is the disarming of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction. And we call on the international community to unequivocally support that. Australia of course will consider its response once the outcome is known of the negotiations that are still taking place. But at the end of the day you can't trust dictators with weapons of mass destruction. And the regime of Saddam Hussein has to be disarmed.

JOURNALIST:

So you don't believe that this is going to be a long protracted drawn out war?

TREASURER:

Well look I am not talking about the tactics of war at this stage other than to say that Saddam Hussein is somebody who we know from experience only responds to force. The concessions that he has made to date are in response to the pre-deployment by the Allies. And you won't have a situation, I don't believe, where you have stability in the Middle-East until you have dictators disarmed of their weapons of mass destruction.

JOURNALIST:

How do you feel about the possibility that like Vietnam if there is a war in Iraq there could be a high number of civilian casualties?

TREASURER:

Well, there have been enormous civilian casualties in Iraq over the last ten years. Hundreds of thousands, many, many hundreds of thousands of civilians have been murdered by the regime of Saddam Hussein. Kurds have been murdered with chemical and biological weapons. Disarming Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction is a way of protecting civilians and for all of those people who have suffered is a way of bringing the potential casualties, they will be victims of weapons of mass destruction, bringing potential casualties to an end.

JOURNALIST:

Do you feel some concern that perhaps if Australians do go into this war and come back, that they may be treated like some of the Vietnam Veterans were treated when they came home?

TREASURER:

Well, I think that Australians should respect all of their veterans whatever the conflict. Today I am awarding a Certificate of Appreciation to a Vietnam Veteran, who is being honoured, who is being honoured for his involvement on behalf of the nation. And I think Australians of good sense and good intention will honour veterans who have served their country in all of the conflicts whether it be Vietnam or any other conflict. Our servicemen and women do a very difficult and onerous job on behalf of our nation and we honour them. That is what this morning has been all about.

JOURNALIST:

Was the timing of today a bit of a political stunt given it looks like we're about to go to war with Iraq?

TREASURER:

No I think that the Certificate of Appreciation to Arthur Howard has been organised for a very long period of time. I don't think there is any reason why you should be cynical about that. He is a man who served his country. And we honour him.

JOURNALIST:

Where do you think the Security Council will go now?

TREASURER:

Well, the discussions will obviously continue in the Security Council and it is important that the Security Council, in our view, makes it clear, that the weapons of mass destruction held by Saddam Hussein must be given up. But at the end of the day you have got to bring these talks to a conclusion. And I expect that they will be brought to a conclusion some time this week.

JOURNALIST:

Is it important for Mr Howard to be in the Azores this morning, or yesterday I should say, to meet with President Bush?

TREASURER:

Well he wasn't.

JOURNALIST:

I know. Should he have been there?

TREASURER:

Oh no, the meeting was between the three countries that are sponsoring the resolution in the UN Security Council. As you know Australia is not on the UN Security Council. So we won't be taking part in the deliberations in the Security Council. We are in the General Assembly, where of course our Ambassador has been putting Australia's case. But this was a meeting between those that were sponsoring the resolution in the Azores.

 

17 Mar 2003

View more media transcripts …

Latest News

Paris Diary

Peter Costello Paris Diary

Read more …

PPI - Rising Role of Sovereign Wealth Funds

Peter Costello Rising Role of Sovereign Funds Speech

Read more …

The Hole Truth

Peter Costello in the Daily Telegraph

Read more …

Videos

Video Screenshot

Watch videos …