Well, the PM is pretty pissed off with Peter Garrett’s statements on Insiders this morning. With his most honest, responsible and experienced face set firmly in place John Howard clearly implied, choosing his words very carefully, that any criticism of George Bush (despite the great number of Americans critical of George Bush) represented a serious threat to the Australia-US Alliance.
Prime Minister John Howard says the criticism shows Labor’s divisions on the Australia-US alliance.
“President Bush is the democratically elected President of the United States, he’s the democratically elected President of our most important ally,” Mr Howard said.
“I thought Mr Garrett’s comments indicated the deep tensions within the Labor party regarding the American alliance.”
Now what Peter Garrett actually said was:
BARRIE CASSIDY: George Bush arrives on Tuesday. A poll released this week revealed that 67 per cent of Australians have an unfavorable view of the United States, not because of Americans per se, but because of George Bush. Are you part of that 67 per cent?
PETER GARRETT: I’m not a great fan of President Bush, and his policies. I certainly respect the fact that he’s the leader of the United States , he’s going to come here and participate in this APEC conference. Kevin has said he’s very much looking forward to that engagement.
But in terms of President Bush’s policies, particularly in terms of climate change, I think that it’s held the world back, frankly and the great tragedy is that Australia’s been a part of it.
This is a threat to the US-Australia Alliance?
Since when was honesty a threat to the US-Australia Alliance?
Frankly, I wish Kevin Rudd had been just a little less diplomatic in his reply on this.
Labor leader Kevin Rudd has tried to play down the hiccup, saying the American alliance would remain strong under a Labor government, despite some key differences of opinion.
“I think what Mr Garrett was talking about was his concerns about policies on climate change and policies on Iraq,” Mr Rudd said. “When it comes to the overall relationship with the United States, I am a life-long supporter of our alliance with the United States. That doesn’t budge one bit, never has budged one bit.”
Because nothing Garrett said was objectionable. Not to 67% of the Australian population, apparently. Certainly not to me.