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no referendum on sending troops

  1. February 17 2003


    HOW DEMOCRATIC


    Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has rejected calls for a plebiscite to be held before Australian troops participate in any war against Iraq.

    His comments follow a call by Greens Senator Bob Brown for a national referendum on the matter, as well as massive weekend demonstrations against Australia's involvement in possible military action.

    But Mr Downer today said the government was elected by the people of Australia to make decisions and judgements in its best interests.

    "The government will keep in place arrangements that have existed throughout Australian history since 1901," he told reporters in Sydney.

    "If it comes to military conflict, then questions of Australian participation in that will be considered by the Cabinet. "There will then be, of course, a debate in the parliament.

    "This is the procedure that has been followed throughout Australian history.

    "We will just be following the normal procedures if it does come to military conflict."

    Mr Downer said while he understood everyone wanted a peaceful resolution in Iraq, he said a win by Saddam Hussein would be a big setback for peace.

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