A LABOR government would not make deals with terrorists holding Australian hostages, Opposition Leader Mark Latham said today.
A statement attributed to the Horror Brigades of the Islamic Secret Army, handed to reporters in the Sunni Muslim Iraqi stronghold of Samarra yesterday, gave Australia 24 hours to pull its troops out of Iraq, or two Australian and two east Asian hostages would be executed.
"Our policy is very clear, we wouldn't negotiate with terrorists, nor would we change our policy in response to anything they say or do," Mr Latham told Melbourne radio station 3AW today.
"I think anyone who negotiates or makes any concessions to terrorists is just setting up further problems into the future.
"I think it's wise policy and wise attitude not to negotiate with terrorists. These are evil people, you can't make any concessions to them, you need to be strong in the fight against terror."
He said while the Australian hostage claims were worrying, it was important everyone remained calm until they could be confirmed.
"Let's hope it's not a legitimate claim, let's hope that all Australians in that country are safe and secure," Mr Latham said. "Let's actually find out the facts until reaching any conclusions."
Mr Latham said although he differed from Prime Minister John Howard on the matter of national security, he stood side-by-side with him on the policy not to negotiate with terrorists.
"I am at one with the government in saying you shouldn't negotiate with terrorists and no-one should change their policies," Mr Latham said.
"Obviously there is a difference between Mr Howard and myself about the best way to conduct national security policy for Australia. The differences are well known.
"In terms of dealing with terrorism, you can't take a backward step. You've always got to ensure you've got policies in place, to maximise the nation's security."
He refused to speculate if the claims were timed to coincide with the federal election or if the Howard government could be held responsible.
"I don't think it's wise to speculate, let's not get into political debate about this. We don't even know if it's true or not," he said.
AG: Well Mr. Latham, since we've joint venture with another BIG terrorist proxies... maybe that the consequences. Working in this terrorist coalition. That what we call risk (pronounce what the *0%+# wasting!). Nevermind e'thing have its reward right.