I’ve criticised John Howard in the past for his insistence that the threat of terrorism in Australia has nothing to do with the Iraq war, which I think is clearly dishonest. But at least in Howard’s case his motives are comprehensible. What are we to make of Kim Beazley running the same line?

Here’s Beazley yesterday, as reported in this morning’s Age: “There is no reason why Australia should be exempt from al-Qaeda attention … They have focused on all non-Muslim nations on the periphery of Islamic nations who are involved with them — and Australia is heavily with Islamic nations in this region.”

That’s an interesting theory, one which would cover Spain and the Philippines, and maybe Russia and Thailand as well, if you buy the line that their separatists are “terrorists.” But London and New York are a bit of a stretch.

With the Iraq war now more unpopular than ever, surely it’s in Labor’s interests to point out that it’s a significant factor making Australia a terrorist target. But reports from yesterday’s caucus meeting say that when John Faulkner pointed this out he was rebuffed by Beazley and Kevin Rudd.

Beazley also wants us to believe that “the industrial relations bill reduces civil rights more emphatically” than the anti-terrorism legislation. I’m not sure what civil rights he thinks are at stake in industrial relations, but I’d be surprised if they’re more important than the right not to be shot down by the anti-terror squads.