[LINK] {OT} Walk against War - sunday in sydney

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd@austarmetro.com.au
Sun, 16 Feb 2003 18:56:41 +1100

Bernard Robertson-Dunn wrote:
> Two things frighten me:
> 1. That he might be wrong.
> 2. That he might be right.
> The secong possibility frightens me more.

The report, below, is also disturbing. Maybe Howard is losing the fear
battle. People might start fearing him more than any alternative. Ironic -
he only became PM because the voters couldn't stand Keating any more. 

Howard denies mass rallies measure public opinion
February 16 2003
The Age

Public opinion could not be measured by the hundreds of thousands of
Australians who turned out at anti-war rallies over the weekend, Prime
Minister John Howard said today.

But his Defence Minister Robert Hill said the mass protests around the
nation, and the world, sent a message to the government to do everything
possible to resolve the Iraqi conflict peacefully.

As many as 10 million people protested across the globe over the weekend in
one of the world's biggest displays of anti-war feeling to oppose United
States' threats to invade Iraq.

Tens of thousands of people descended on Sydney's Hyde Park today while an
estimated 150,000 people marched in Melbourne on Friday.

Rallies were also held in Brisbane, Darwin, Adelaide and Canberra.

But Mr Howard said he was not convinced the anti-war crowds were evidence
public opinion was firming against war.

"I don't know that you can measure public opinion just by the number of
people who turn up to demonstrations," he told the Seven Network.

"What I'm doing here is what I think is right for Australia.

"This is not something where you read each opinion poll or you measure the
number of people at demonstrations."

Senator Hill said the protests were understandable and were no cause for
concern by the federal government.

He said people wanted to avoid war and had taken the opportunity to express
that point.

"They also don't want a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction so
it's hard to know what to draw from them in terms of detail," he told the
Ten Network.

"But certainly it's a message to us that we should be making every
endeavour to resolve this issue without the need for armed conflict."

Labor and the Australian Democrats warned Mr Howard was ignoring the public
outcry at his own peril.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said arrogance was creeping
into Mr Howard's handling of the Iraq situation and it was obvious he was
out of touch with public opinion.

"What the Australian people are sending Mr Howard is potentially a
million-strong memorandum ... which is the Australian people are yet to be
convinced that he's made any case to them as to why Australia should be a
part of a military action against Iraq outside the framework of the United
Nations," Mr Rudd said on the Nine Network.

"I think the prime minister has always had a keen weather eye as to what
the politics of this country are.

"The bottom line is this: he's done a bad job in convincing the Australian
people that a case exists for going to war against Iraq outside the UN

Democrats foreign affairs spokeswoman Natasha Stott Despoja predicted the
Iraqi issue would continue to burn beyond the next election and would haunt
Mr Howard.

Former UN weapons inspector Richard Butler said he was astonished Mr Howard
would openly admit to ignoring opinion polls and the public rallies.


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia