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Commission says Howard looking at free trade reward for war

Melbourne's Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace (CCJDP) has said there is a clear connection between the Australian Government's support for a US war on Iraq, and US support for Free Trade Negotiations taking place this week.

The statements of US and Australian officials contradict denials by the Government that the trade negotiations are a reward for Australian support for a US war on Iraq.

"A trade deal as a reward for support for the war, although denied by the Australian Government is a real possibility," says CCJDP Executive Officer Marc Purcell. "The link was raised by Australia's ambassador to the US last November, who reportedly stated to US Cattlemen Beef Association that Australia's support for a war will overcome their opposition to the US Government opening trade talks with Canberra."

Mr Purcell argues Australia's isolation in matters of trade and defence is "keenly felt in Canberra".

"Our Government is gambling on US recognition of Australian support for an Invasion of Iraq," he said. "In moral terms, these national interest equations have no appeal when weighed against future civilian deaths in Iraq, and become unjustifiable."

The CCJDP statement quotes US Trade Representative Bob Zoellick, who last November made an explicit connection between Australia's support for war on Iraq and the Administration's support for a US-Australia FTA. Zoellick said: "Australia has fought with the United States in every war in the 20th century. They've been strong supporters of ours, and to me that matters."

It then quotes US Ambassador to Australia Tom Schieffer's interview with The Bulletin last month in which he linked Australian support for war on Iraq with the development of a "one of a kind" relationship with the US on free trade.

Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace

No trade payoff for war, says Howard (The Australian)
A favour for an ally (The Age)
Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade | Austrade

18 Mar 2003