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[casi] Australians don't want Iraq attack: poll

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A new poll that confirms results obtained by a recent SBS survey

Australians remain unconvinced about getting involved any military
action against Iraq, according to the results of a new poll.

Less than a third of the 1000 respondents to the telephone poll
conducted by UMR Research believed Australia should commit troops to a
US-led offensive, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

And nearly half - 47 per cent - said they thought Canberra was extending
too much support to the US.

Iraq has threatened to cancel lucrative wheat contracts with Australia
over the issue, and more than 60 per cent of respondents supported
compensation for local wheat farmers caught in the firing line.

According to the poll, nearly 60 per cent of respondents disapproved of
any Australian involvement in military action, with 33 per cent saying
they supported it.

Full Sydney Morning Herald report below:

  PM polls apart from public over Iraqi strike

By Michael Millett and Craig Skehan
August 17 2002

The Federal Government is struggling to convince the public about
Australian involvement in any military action against Iraq, a national
poll has revealed.

The survey, carried out by UMR Research, showed less than a third of
respondents believed Australia should commit troops to a United
States-led offensive, despite the Howard administration's pro-Washington

It also reveals concern about the Government's foreign policy approach,
especially Australia's relationship with America.

Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they believed Canberra was
extending "too much" support to the US.

More than 60 per cent also support compensation for wheat farmers caught
in the firing line between Canberra and Baghdad, amid sensitive talks in
Iraq to save export contracts worth up to $800 million.

The telephone poll, involving 1000 people and commissioned by lobbying
firm Hawker Britton, was conducted from August 9 to 14 amid heated
debate between the Government and the Opposition over Australia's
response to a likely US strike.

The war of words was prompted by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's threat to
cancel lucrative wheat contracts, citing Australian belligerence.

The Opposition and other critics accused the Government - particularly
the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer - of risking Australia's trade
position by "war-mongering".

According to the poll, 57 per cent of respondents disapproved of any
Australian involvement in an Iraqi campaign and 33 per cent supported
it. Only 32 per cent approved of Australian participation in a US-led

Support for military action was particularly weak among the over-65s and
people aged in their 40s. Hawker Britton's managing director, Bruce
Hawker, claimed the findings suggested "Australians who have had the
most experience of war have the strongest views against Australian
joining in another [war]".

The poll also gauges support for the participation of Australia's armed
forces in military operations in other locations, such as East Timor,
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia.

East Timor, where Australian troops are involved in prolonged
peacekeeping duties, was the only area of military operation to get a
strong majority vote, recording 72 per cent support.

Meanwhile, the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) yesterday described
negotiations in Baghdad with the Iraqi Trade Minister, Mohamed Mehdi
Saleh, as "very constructive and positive".

The board's managing director, Andrew Lindberg, was heading to the port
of Umm Qasr, "hopeful' that further talks would result in the unloading
of four ships containing Australian wheat. Another eight ships carrying
Australian wheat are currently en route to Iraq.

A previous 500,000-tonne order was cancelled altogether and Iraq
threatened to scrap 2million tonnes of annual imports from Australia.

The board said yesterday that the Iraqi Trade Minister had said he "took
no pleasure" in seeking to reduce future wheat commitments in response
to the Australian Government's perceived hostile position towards Iraq.

The Opposition said it was "profoundly disturbing" the Iraqi government
had now told the AWB it would resume buying Australian wheat only if the
Howard Government "rules out future military action".

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