PM announces second Iraq inquiry

The inquiry was recommended by a bi-partisan parliamentary committee report, which found the Government’s statements on the case for war apparently went further than the intelligence advice it received.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, says an inquiry headed by former spy, Philip Flood, will report to the Government by the end of June.

Mr Howard says he’s confident Mr Flood will conduct the report in a way that will build public support and confidence in Australia’s intelligence agencies.

“He’s not only a former director general of the Australian International Development Assistance Bureau, a director-general of ONA*, secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, he’s a former ambassador to Indonesia, and he’s a former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. In other words, a person eminently qualified, somebody who’s served with distinction, both sides of this parliament during his professional career, and I’m certain he’ll carry out the task in a professional way.”

The Federal Opposition has criticised the terms of reference of the second inquiry, saying it will only be the actions of the intelligence agencies in the lead-up to the Iraq war that will be examined, rather than the Government itself.

Labor’s spokesman for foreign affairs, Kevin Rudd, also says the inquiry does not appear to have the powers of a Royal Commission, and should not be headed by a former spy.

“Those who have headed intelligence agencies in the past would be problematic because there would be a conflict of interest. You can’t have people who have been a part of the intelligence club at some stage in their careers. And Mr Flood on that score has been formally the director of the Office of National Assessements.”

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