Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Into the Woods with Iron John

Prime Minister John Howard said today that public opinion would not sway any decisions on Australia's future involvement in Iraq.

Mr Howard said he believed many Australians were "not feeling strongly either way at the moment" about potential war against Iraq.

"I will take what I think is the right decision in Australia's long-term interests," he told radio 3AW.

"I will weigh public opinion, I will listen to the public.

"In the end, however, on this as on other issues such as the introduction of a new tax system and a number of other things, I won't just be swayed by the latest opinion poll."

But while Mr Howard said public opinion would not be the ultimate deciding factor, he would not disregard it either.

"You can't make great national decisions based on that (public opinion), but equally you have no right as a Prime Minister to be contemptuous of public opinion," he said.

"I've never been that, I'll always respect the opinion of Australians because they're very commonsense people."

The Age, January 24, 2003.

More than two-thirds of Australians believe the Howard Government misled the public over Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, according to a new poll.

The Australian newspaper's Newspoll of 1,200 people found 67 per cent believe the Howard Government misled Australians on the issue and 36 per cent thought it did so knowingly.


Mr Howard says he is not surprised by the survey. He says the percentage who believe the Government misled the public is the same as those who opposed the war in the first place.

"We did not mislead the Australian public because we did have those assessments - I stand by those decisions," he said.

He says he still believes the Government made the right decision.

Mr Howard says no-one should leap to a judgment until the search for evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is complete.

And, in all fairness, we ought to wait for those drowned kiddies to turn up too. It's only a matter of time.

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