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Sep 15, 2014

Crikey says: Shorten lacks Crean’s courage on Iraq

The Australian companies making big bucks off war in Iraq. How Cambodia rebuffed Morrison on refugees. Mayne: questions for Packer ahead of Crown AGM. Colombian cyclists in nude fashion faux pas. Why Vic Labor dumped East West Link. The colourful past of Scotland’s ‘No’ man. Sex and death: jihadi brides make for good headlines. Why Shorten’s union schtick doesn’t cut it. And vote aye or die! Groundskeeper Willie’s advice to Scots.

On February 5, 2003, then-opposition leader Simon Crean made the following address to Parliament, in opposition to John Howard’s decision to send Australian troops to Iraq at America’s behest:

“The prime minister has made a great mistake in committing our troops [to Iraq] ahead of the UN. Labor does not support that decision. We do not support the deployment of Australian troops in advance of any UN authority … I believe that political leaders should always tell the truth. This is especially so when committing troops to war. The prime minister failed that test. He treated the Australian people like mugs and he continues to do so.”

In contrast, current Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is in lockstep with Tony Abbott over his decision to follow America to war in Iraq again, saying in a statement on the weekend:

“We don’t do so lightly … [But] Australia has a role to play in eradicating this evil, and we are reassured that our support is being provided at the request of, and in full co-ordination with, the Iraqi government.”

The Opposition Leader knows that, amid the sickening murders of Western journalists and aid workers by Islamic State, a refusal to endorse the mission would leave him open to being wedged on matters of national security. And he also knows Labor will not shoulder the blame when our latest ambitious foray into the Middle East inevitably turns sour and leads to a heightened security risk at home and abroad.

Politically, Shorten is taking the path of least resistance — which just serves to highlight how brave and principled the much maligned Crean’s stance was in 2003. Joining the war in 2003 was never in Australia’s national interest. Joining a war to address one of the direct results of that ill-fated war 11 years later is even less so. It is a pity Crean’s successor lacks the courage and wisdom he showed.

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10 thoughts on “Crikey says: Shorten lacks Crean’s courage on Iraq

  1. paddy

    It’s quite remarkable just how spectacularly Bill Shorten has managed to disappoint at *every* chance he’s been given.
    Australia currently has the worst PM I’ve ever seen and an opposition leader to match.
    Sad days.

  2. Malcolm Street

    And let’s also not forget Calwell in 1966 – it cost Labor that election but helped lay the ground for Labor in 1969 and 1972.

    Shorten seems to be another who’s p*ssed off at the Greens for standing in the way of the ALP becoming Another Liberal Party.

  3. Bill Hilliger

    Shorten learned from Crean’s (honest intention) mistake. Australian voters love war just watch the polls because rAbbott certainly will be.

  4. CML

    Sadly, I must agree with your editorial.
    Shorten should have done a ‘Crean’, but obviously lacks the equipment!!
    Having said that, IMHO the mood in the community seems to be different from 2003 and the first foray into Iraq. I think the majority see this latest brainfa+t from the rAbbott as just another political exercise – one which he hopes will lift his poll numbers. There seems to be a lot of cynicism about.
    Time for another march in the streets – specifically to tell that lot in Canberra that we DON’T want to go to war in Iraq. But this time someone needs to listen!

  5. David Hand

    Labor have always been suckers for the 24 hour news cycle. It was worst under Rudd but not much better under Gillard or Shorten and certainly NSW Labor, where “announcables” were the main event and substance was optional.

    Abbott stands for something and you can all praise him or criticise him. But what does Shorten stand for? I guess he needs another few Western Sydney focus groups to tell him.

  6. Duncan Gilbey

    Abbot and Shorten – one tail wagging both dogs.

  7. zut alors

    Shorten continues the search for an original idea/policy.

  8. JMNO

    Perhaps Crikey could run a fundraiser to buy Shorten a backbone as he doesn’t seem to have one

  9. klewso

    Here’s hoping it’s a Shortened tenure.

  10. AR

    What an outrage that when Blort Shilten emerges from well deserved obscurity it is only to make himself even more risible.
    I seem to recall someon, 18thC Whig?, saying that the purpose of Opposition is to oppose stupid, damaging & unjust policies and it was not the incompetant incumbent of the office in primus inter pares… all equally useless.