The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Media Release

FA36 - 11 March 2004

Pilger Should Say Sorry

Former Australian commentator John Pilger has plumbed new depths with his distasteful and dangerous comments about Iraq.

Pilger has told the ABC’s Lateline program that he hoped terrorists and insurgents in Iraq could successfully force Coalition troops to leave the country.

In that context, Pilger said Australian troops in Iraq are legitimate targets. (See transcript below).

Pilger’s comments are deeply offensive. He should immediately apologise to his fellow Australians, especially the relatives and friends of our armed services personnel serving in Iraq.

Men and women from the Australian armed services are doing their nation proud as they conduct dangerous work in order to support the establishment of a free and independent Iraq.

The overwhelming majority of the people of Iraq are extremely grateful for the efforts of Australian, American and British personnel who have freed them from the brutality of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.

Australians from my department, other government agencies and the private sector are in Iraq helping the Iraqi people to rebuild their country after decades of oppression and decay.

They should not have their aims misconstrued nor their personal security further jeopardised by the bizarre ramblings of a fellow countryman who seems determined to draw attention to his own money-making enterprises in publishing and broadcasting.

ABC Lateline 10/03/04

TONY JONES: Can you approve in that context the killing of American, British or Australian troops who are in the occupying forces?

JOHN PILGER: Well yes, they're legitimate targets. They're illegally occupying a country. And I would have thought from an Iraqi's point of view they are legitimate targets, they'd have to be, sure.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500

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