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<nettime> 'No' to going it alone
Ben Moretti on Sun, 19 Jan 2003 07:06:01 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> 'No' to going it alone

# kicking refugees might have got the support of the electorate, and john 
# howard into office, but the australian people seem to be baulking at 
# this next bit of support for the empire. it is strange really, one would 
# image, given the autralian obsession with the anzacs and gallipoli, we 
# should be wanting young men to head off to war for another empire. the 
# british in 1914 and the us in 2003 -- b


'No' to going it alone
  By Annabel Crabb
  January 18 2003

Only 6 per cent of Australians are prepared to send Australian troops 
to war against Iraq without United Nations backing, an exclusive 
national Age poll has found.

In the AC Nielsen AgePoll - a blow to the Federal Government's stand on 
the war with the United States - 62 per cent of respondents said 
Australia should be involved in a conflict only if approved by the UN.

One in three believed war against Iraq was not acceptable under any 

Defence Minister Robert Hill said yesterday he remained hopeful of 
avoiding armed conflict, but warned that the government would make its 
decisions based on the nation's security interests.

"The government obviously doesn't disregard community attitude," he 

"But ultimately the government has the responsibility to take executive 
decisions that it believes are in the best interests of Australia, and 
ending this threat through ending the (Iraqi) weapons of mass 
destruction program is in Australia's interest."

AC Nielsen's research director, John Stirton, said the poll showed 
"that for every Australian supporting war without UN approval there are 
10 Australians that want UN approval".

Opposition Leader Simon Crean last night claimed the results as a 
vindication of Labor's stance against sending Australian troops to the 
Persian Gulf region.

"The AC Nielsen survey overwhelmingly demonstrates that the Australian 
people want a peaceful resolution of the Iraqi crisis through the UN 
system," he said.

"I call on Mr Howard to now join with Labor in ruling out support for 
any attack on Iraq outside the authority of the UN."

Mr Crean denied Labor's opposition to troop deployment was 
destabilising for the defence forces.

"Not at all - what I want to do is to make sure that we don't put young 
Australian men and women in the position of having to go to war, a war 
that can be avoided," he said.

The political dominance of Prime Minister John Howard continues, 
regardless of his Iraq stance. Unlike President George Bush whose 
approval rating fell five percentage points this week, Mr Howard 
maintains an approval rating of 62 per cent and has established a 
crushing lead over Mr Crean as preferred prime minister.

Mr Howard is rated a better leader by 65 per cent of voters, compared 
with 27 per cent who prefer Mr Crean, in what Mr Stirton describes as 
the largest lead recorded in the history of his group.

The poll found that most Australians - 65 per cent - felt that a 
unilateral attack on Iraq would increase the likelihood of terrorist 

A large proportion of respondents clearly disagreed with Senator Hill's 
comments on Tuesday that he did not see North Korea as a threat "at 
this time".

Of those surveyed, 42 per cent thought North Korea posed a greater 
threat to Australian national security than Iraq, while 46 per cent 
believed Iraq remained the greater danger.

The poll indicates that unilateral action against Iraq is even less 
popular in Australia than it is among Americans or Britons.

A British poll published this week suggested 13 per cent of Britons 
supported an attack regardless of UN support; a similar survey in the 
US yielded about one-third of respondents in favour of an attack.

In Australia, the opposition to war is most prevalent among Labor and 
Greens voters, and among women.

Thirty-four per cent of women opposed conflict under any circumstances, 
compared with 27 per cent of men.

Opposition to war was roughly uniform across the states, but in the ACT 
47 per cent of respondents believed that there were no circumstances 
under which Australia should become involved.

The poll also exposed substantial differences between Democrats and 
Green voters on the Iraq issue - 70 per cent of Democrats voters were 
prepared to accept Australian involvement in a UN-approved attack, but 
only 46 per cent of Greens voters agreed.

Australian Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett will use a keynote speech 
at his party's national conference today to enjoin Labor to support a 
conscience vote on the matter.

"Welcome to the peace movement, Mr Crean - please stay with us," his 
speech notes read.

"We call on you to take the next step and back a conscience vote on 
going to war, and support the decision being made by the Parliament 
elected by the Australian people, rather than that decision being made 
by someone who no Australian voted for - George W. Bush."

Senator Hill said he still hoped a diplomatic solution over Iraq was 
possible, and played down suggestions that the discovery of 12 warheads 
in Iraq by weapons inspectors was a "war trigger".

"If it unfortunately gets to the stage where it's necessary to deploy 
Australian forces I would like to see widespread community support for 
that, and I would like to see the other major political parties 
supporting it," he said.

"It's one thing to have a different point of view politically with us, 
but if we get to the stage of deployment I certainly hope all the 
political parties and the broad Australian community stand firmly 
behind those forces that are deployed."

The Age poll was conducted on Tuesday night. It interviewed 1549 people 

This story was found at:          

ben moretti
bmoretti {AT} chariot.net.au

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