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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 00:37 GMT 01:37 UK
Australians' doubts over Iraq

By Dominic Hughes
BBC correspondent in Sydney

An opinion poll indicates that two-thirds of Australians believe their government misled them over the case for war in Iraq.

The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, has faced questions similar to those put to Britain's Tony Blair and US President George W Bush over the use of suspect intelligence when building the case for war in Iraq.

An anti-war protest at the Sydney opera house
There were large protests in the run up to the war
But he has been under nothing like the same sort of pressure.

This is borne out by research conducted by the News Poll organisation which found that 36% of Australians believe they were knowingly misled by the government over the war in Iraq.

A further 31% believe they were unknowingly misled - in other words the government didn't realise it was using unreliable intelligence.

But unlike the British prime minister, Mr Howard has seen his personal standing remain very strong.

He is still way ahead of the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, Simon Crean, as the preferred prime minister.

Analysts say it is an indication that Australians almost expect their politicians to deceive them but they do not care.

And despite the substantial anti-war demonstrations before the conflict in Iraq - which saw huge crowds protest in the main cities - many Australians now seem to feel that their country's participation in the war was a job well done.

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