As two Australians die in Iraq we turn for consolation to Hansard, and its record of debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, 14 May 2003. It’s hard to imagine what all the current fuss can be about: the war is over. We won. Hurrah.

JOHN HOWARD: I again take the opportunity of reaffirming the correctness of the government’s assessment in predeploying our forces, and I record the bitter opposition of the Australian Labor Party when that decision was taken. Not only was the military operation completed quickly and successfully but it is also worth recording that all of the doomsday predictions, particularly the many that came from those who sit opposite, were not realised.

The oilwells were not set on fire; there were not millions of refugees; the dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were not breached to bring on catastrophic flooding; and there was no long, drawn out, bloody, Stalingrad style street-to-street fighting in Baghdad. For all of this we must be immensely grateful, but it is a reminder of the hysteria and the doomsday predictions that often accompany operations of this kind. And, just as many of the predictions about a Western Front style holocaust that were made in 1991 when the land war commenced were proved wrong, so the predictions on this occasion have been proved wrong.

The decisive victory of the American led coalition reflects enormous credit on the strength and the determination of the leadership of President Bush. Again I remind the House of the way in which his role was vilified and traduced by many of those who sit opposite and of the way in which speaker after speaker from the Australian Labor Party impugned his integrity, assaulted his judgment and called into question his ability to lead the United States in this very difficult conflict. History has proved them wrong.

The performance of the President has illustrated how infantile their protests were, and the leadership that he has given on this occasion, I believe, will bring about a permanent change in attitudes in the Middle East.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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