mark latham now willing to kiss george w's botty

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    STAND FOR BUSH, CREAN ORDERS
    By Louise Dodson, Annabel Crabb
    Canberra
    October 15, 2003

    Opposition Leader Simon Crean has told labor MPs to show due respect to visiting US President George Bush as confidential Labor Party polling has shown overwhelming voter support for the Australian-American alliance.

    Of those polled, 89 per cent said they were committed to the alliance while a massive 77 per cent were "strongly committed".

    Party strategists believe the polling shows Labor has to be seen to be more supportive of the alliance. A meeting of the powerful right-wing faction on Monday night decided Mr Crean had to demonstrate stronger support for the alliance by getting tough with left-wing MPs planning to protest against the visit to Parliament by President Bush.

    About 12 Labor MPs had been planning to show their disapproval by not joining in applause for President Bush. Speaking to his party meeting, Mr Crean demanded that MPs show respect for a visitor to the Parliament. He said MPs should stand for Mr Bush when he arrives to deliver his speech and at its conclusion.

    Mr Crean said he expected his MPs to be present to hear the speeches of both President Bush and, on the following day, Chinese President Hu Jintao. "We've put our views on Iraq, it is now time to move on,"Mr Crean warned his party meeting.

    One MP, Harry Quick, who plans to wear a white armband when President Bush addresses Parliament, said last night that Mr Crean had told caucus members not to remain seated before and after Mr Bush's speech.

    "I interpreted it as we can't all sit down because someone will take a photo and that will somehow destroy the Australian-American alliance," he said. "So we were told that we were expected to be standing up when he comes in and when he leaves, and if we wanted to clap, we should."

    Mr Quick, who is expected to address a hostile rally before President Bush's speech, said while some in the chamber would doubtless applaud the President, "others will just stand and stare at him and with our eyes say 'we have no respect for you'."

    Sydney Labor backbencher Tanya Plibersek has been distributing pamphlets for a protest titled "Don't be Bushwhacked: Give George the Welcome He Deserves", to be staged in Sydney on Sunday. "I will be polite to the President, but as for giving a standing ovation which would imply support and approval for him - well, I don't think I can do that," she said.

    The procedural question of how a visiting president should be received was canvassed in November 1996, before the visit from then President Bill Clinton.

    "It is unparliamentary to clap," Prime Minister John Howard instructed the parliament on that occasion. The then opposition leader, Kim Beazley, asked Parliament's Speaker: "If you find it difficult to accept clapping, will you accept 30 seconds of blind eye to whatever transpires at the conclusion of this before you do your quince?"

    Labor strategists are worried that the party is seen to be anti-American because it did not support the pre-emptive strike against Iraq. It also had a highly publicised row with the US embassy after Mark Latham described President Bush as "the most incompetent and dangerous president in living memory".

    But Mr Latham yesterday backed Mr Crean's call for MPs to show respect for President Bush.


 
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