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Magazine of the Socialist Party in Australia

John Howard opposed in Irish parliament

In the Irish Parliament yesterday, May 18th, the Socialist Party TD (MP) for Dublin West Joe Higgins forced a debate on the Irish Government’s invitation to Australian Prime Minister John Howard to address the Irish Parliament.

Below we publish a press statement from the Socialist Party in Ireland.

Mr. Higgins condemned the invitation and forced a vote against it.

Speaking in the debate Joe Higgins said:

“Prime Minister Howard is a warmonger, complicit with Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair in the criminal invasion of Iraq and compliant with the ongoing occupation of Iraq, with Australian troops in that country.

“Prime Minister Howard is the author of vicious, anti-trade union legislation designed to strip away workers’ rights which were hard won by the Australian working class over many generations.

“During the Australian general election of 2001, in order to win votes from an entrenched bigoted minority, Prime Minister Howard pedalled the monstrous falsehood that desperate refugees fleeing Iraq had thrown their children over the side of a ship as they were prevented from landing in Australia by the Australian navy. When it was proved that this was a vicious lie, he did not retract it or apologise.?

“Every day the Australian Government steals of $1 million worth of oil and gas from the Timor Sea, resources that by international law belong to East Timor. The unfortunate Timorese people live in abject poverty while their resources are stolen by the Australian Government. Not too many generations ago, an imperial power sent thousands of Irish people in chains to Australia after waging war against them, robbing their resources and telling the world of that time that they were savages. With Prime Minister Howard at its head, the Australian Government, now acting as a local imperial power, is replicating these injustices against the poorest people on earth.

“The noted Australian folk hero, Ned Kelly, in his famous Jerilderie letter, railed against the repression of the poor by the powerful and the rich. I believe that is also the instinct of the Australian working class, one of the reasons Ned Kelly is held in fond memory. I do not know what he would say today with regard to Mr. Howard coming to this House given what he had to say about those in authority who repressed and brutalised his family and community.?

“There should be a céad mile fáilte roimh (a hundred thousand welcomes for) Australian people in Ireland but not the Prime Minister.”