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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 10907


Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/02/1998

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 10907


Well ladies and gentlemen, the National Security Committee of Cabinet

has authorised the deployment of elements of the Australian Defence

Force to the Gulf. Those elements will depart tomorrow. This follows

discussions between Australia and the United States. As indicated

the elements will include a contingent of the SAS and two Boeing 707s

for refuelling purposes.

I will travel to Perth tomorrow to see the personnel before their

departure. I have spoken to the Leader of the Opposition and I have

invited him to accompany me in speaking to the forces before they

depart. I know that they will depart with the universal goodwill of

the Australian community who will be united in their hopes for their

safe return.

I should emphasise at this stage that the authority has merely been

for deployment and as yet no authority has been given for the engagement

of those forces in military activity. It remains the fervent hope

of the Government that this matter can still be settled by diplomatic

means. But it is essential as part of the preparations for military

action, if that becomes regrettably necessary, it is essential that

early deployment take place.

Can I express my appreciation of the decision announced today by the

Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mrs Shipley, which she spoke to me

about by telephone before making the announcement in Wellington, that

New Zealand had offered a contingent of SAS and also some Orions.

Every effort will be made for co-operation between the Australian

and New Zealand forces should military action become necessary. The

degree and the character and the extent of that co-operation is something

that has to be worked out at an operational level.

I want to emphasise that the contribution that Australia is making

demonstrates our desire to make it plain to Saddam Hussein and the

Iraqi leadership that a growing number of the states of the civilised

world will not tolerate or agree to his continued possession of and

capacity to deliver weapons of mass destruction. That does represent

a threat not only to the immediate region but also in the long run

to the security of nations around the world. And it is important that

that message be conveyed. It is also important that the authority

of the United Nations be maintained and supported and if action were

not to be taken, in the event of diplomatic efforts failing, then

the authority of the United Nations would be severely damaged and

undermined and there would be very significant security implications

for states in the Middle Eastern region but also around the world.

Can I say again that the forces that will be going to the Gulf are

forces in which all Australians feel an immense sense of pride. And

we all hope, first and foremost, that their use will not be necessary

and if that use does become necessary then that they will all safely

complete their mission and return home to their families and loved


Transcript 10907