Sunday August 8, 2004

We believe that a reelected Howard Government or an elected Latham Government must give priority to truth in Government. This is fundamental to effective parliamentary democracy. Australians must be able to believe they are being told the truth by our leaders, especially in situations as grave as committing our forces to war.

We are concerned that Australia was committed to join the invasion of Iraq on the basis of false assumptions and the deception of the Australian people. Saddam's dictatorial administration has ended, but removing him was not the reason given to the Australian people for going to war. The Prime Minister said in March 2003 that our policy was “ the disarmament of Iraq, not the removal of Saddam Hussein”. He added a few days before the invasion that if Saddam got rid of his weapons of mass destruction he could remain in power. It is a matter for regret that the action to combat terrorism after 11 September 2001, launched in Afghanistan, and widely supported, was diverted to the widely opposed invasion of Iraq. The outcome has been destructive, especially for Iraq. The international system has been subjected to enormous stress that still continues.

It is of concern to us that the international prestige of the United States and its Presidency has fallen precipitously over the last two years. Because of our Government’s unquestioning support for the Bush Administration’s policy, Australia has also been adversely affected. Terrorist activity, instead of being contained, has increased. Australia has not become safer by invading and occupying Iraq and now has a higher profile as a terrorist target. We do not wish to see Australia’s alliance with the United States endangered. We understand that it can never be an alliance of complete equals because of the disparity in power, but to suggest that an ally is not free to choose if or when it will go to war is to misread the ANZUS Treaty. Within that context, Australian governments should seek to ensure that it is a genuine partnership and not just a rubber stamp for policies decided in Washington. Australian leaders must produce more carefully balanced policies and present them in more sophisticated ways. These should apply to our alliance with the United States, our engagement with the neighbouring nations of Asia and the South West Pacific, and our role in multilateral diplomacy, especially at the United Nations. Above all, it is wrong and dangerous for our elected representatives to mislead the Australian people. If we cannot trust the word of our Government, Australia cannot expect it to be trusted by others. Without that trust, the democratic structure of our society will be undermined and with it our standing and influence in the world.


Signed by: Military
Admiral Alan Beaumont AC, former Chief of Defence Force

General Peter Gration AC, former Chief of Defence Force

Admiral Mike Hudson AC, former Chief of the Navy Vice Admiral Sir Richard Peek, former Chief of the Navy

Air Marshal Ray Funnell AC, former Chief of the Airforce

Air Vice Marshal Brendan O’Loughlin AO, former head of Australian Defence Staff, Washington

Major General Alan Stretton AO, former Director General National Disaster Organisation


Departmental Heads and Diplomatic Representatives

Paul Barratt, AO, former Secretary Dept of Defence and Deputy Secretary Dept of Foeign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

Dr John Burton, former Secretary of Dept of External Affairs and High Commissioner to Ceylon

Dr Stuart Harris AO, former Secretary of DFAT

John Menadue AO, former Secretary of the Prime Ministers Department and former Ambassador to Japan

Alan Renouf, former Secretary of DFAT, Ambassador to France, Ambassador to US Richard Woolcott, AC, former Secretary of DFAT, Ambassador to the United Nations, Indonesia and The Philippines

Dennis Argall, former Ambassador to China

Robin Ashwin, former Ambassador to Egypt, the Soviet Union and Germany Jeff Benson, former Ambassador to Denmark and Iceland

Geoff Bentley, former Ambassador to Russia and Consul General in Hong Kong John Bowan, former Ambassador to Germany

Alison Broinowski, former Charge d’Affaires to Jordan

Richard Broinowski, former Ambassador to Mexico, Korea and Vietnam John Brook, former Ambassador to Vietnam and Algiers

Ross Cottrill, Executive Director Australian Institute of International Affairs Peter Curtis, former Ambassador to France, Consul General to New York and High Commmissioner in India

Rawdon Dalrymple, AO, former Ambassador to the United States, Japan, Indonesia and Israel

Malcolm Dan, former Ambassador to Argentina and Chile

Stephen Fitzgerald AO, former Ambassador to China

Geoff Forrester, former Deputy Secretary of DFAT

Robert Furlonger, former Director General of the Office of National Assessments (ONA) and Head of JIO and Ambassador to Indonesia

Ross Garnaut AO, former Ambassador to China

Ian Haig AM, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE. Robert Hamilton, former Ambassador to Mexico, El Salvador and Cuba

Cavan Hogue, former High Commissioner to Malaysia, Ambassador to Thailand, and United Nations (Security Council)

Roger Holdich, former Director General of Intelligence and Ambassador to Korea Gordon Jockel, former Chairman of the National Intelligence Committee and Ambassador to Thailand and Indonesia

Tony Kevin, former Ambassador to Cambodia and Poland

Peter Lloyd AM, former Ambassador to Iraq

Alf Parsons AO former High Commissioner to United Kingdom, High Commissioner to Singapore, Malaysia

Ted Pocock AM, former High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ambassador to France and Morocco, the Soviet Union, Korea and the European Union

Peter Rogers, former Ambassador to Israel Rory Steele, former Ambassador to Iraq H. Neil Truscott AM, former Ambassador to Iraq Ron Walker, former Special Disarmament Adviser, Ambassador to the UN, Geneva, Ambassador to Austria and Chairman of the Board of Governors IAEA

Garry Woodard, former High Commissioner to Malaysia and Ambassador to China