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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 October, 2004, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Australians hold anti-war rallies
Australian armoured vehicle in Baghdad
The Labor Party says it will pull out the troops if it wins the polls
Thousands of demonstrators have marched in cities across Australia in protest at the country's role in Iraq - less than a week before a general election.

The future of about 850 Australian troops in the Gulf has become an important issue in the campaign.

The nationwide call for Australia to pull its forces out of the Gulf has been noisy and passionate.

Hundreds took to the streets of Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.

In Sydney, at least 2,000 people marched across the city.


The demonstrations call for truth in government and the target of the protesters' anger is the conservative government of John Howard.

Mr Howard, who has been fighting his campaign on a platform of national security, insists that Australian troops will stay in Iraq until their job is done.

But many of the protesters said they felt they had been lied to on a range of international and domestic issues.

"There are so many people who do care about the lies like ... the weapons of mass destruction - there is ultimately a price to the lie," author Thomas Keneally told Australia's ABC news.

The main opposition Labor party has promised to withdraw Australia's troops by Christmas if it wins next Saturday's election.

Labor has claimed that Australia's military involvement in the Gulf has made it more vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

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