Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, August 10, 2004
ONE FORMER LABOR APPOINTEE as head of our Foreign Affairs department, Michael Costello, is clearly too young, and too intelligent, to join the Duffers' Declaration on LIES.
Former Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Michael Costello, who was a chief of staff to ex-Labor leader Kim Beazley, said yesterday the "deception" allegation was not justified or borne out by the recent inquiry into pre-war intelligence by Philip Flood.

"Every piece of inquiry, (and Labor) Senator Robert Ray for gosh sake, not known for being soft on government, has said the Government did not deceive," he said.

Gerard Henderson takes a closer look at the prime movers of this political operation here. For example:
Last year Woolcott wrote a paper, Truth and Accountability in Public Policy (Asia-Australia Institute), in which he made the extraordinary point that a former diplomat (like Woolcott) "is likely to be a sounder judge of Australia's true national interest than our political leaders".

The concept, derived from Britain and the US, was introduced to Australia by John Menadue, another vocal critic of the Prime Minister. General Peter Gration then stepped forward as spokesman for the 42 men and one woman who have expressed concern about Australia's policy in Iraq. There was nothing new here, either.

On September 18, 2002, Gration - with Admiral Alan Beaumont - criticised the Government's Iraq policy. Shortly after, on September 25, 2002, they co-signed an open letter opposing a US "'military offensive against Iraq without the backing of a specific United Nations Security Council resolution". Fellow signatories included Admiral Mike Hudson along with former prime ministers Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke. Beaumont and Hudson joined Gration as part of last weekend's "concerned group".
What was different about the "declaration of the 43" turned on its clear political intent. The timing gives an idea of the operation. Parts of the statement were leaked to Michelle Grattan, who broke the story in the Sun-Herald. Then the document was released in time for the Sunday evening news bulletins and a follow-up detailed report in Monday's newspapers and on the breakfast electronic media. All very professional.