The ACTU has condemned the Howard Government for sending Australian troops to prepare for war with Iraq today without the support of parliament or the United Nations.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow called for a full debate on Australian involvement in any war in both houses of Federal Parliament.

“John Howard’s actions are contemptuous of the United Nations and subservient to the United States. He does not have the support of the Australian people, the parliament or the international community,” Ms Burrow said.

“Labor and the other opposition political parties should be congratulated for standing up for Australia’s national interest against the Howard Government’s servile rush to be involved in United States-led war.

“Instead of rushing to war, the Australian Government should be working for disarmament and peace through the United Nations.”

Ms Burrow said union members across Australia have been expressing their opposition to Australian involvement in a war that is not in the national interest, would destroy thousands of lives and cause international instability.

The international Save the Children Fund has warned that a war would exacerbate a humanitarian crisis in Iraq, where nearly half the population is under 14-years-old and one million families are already displaced.

The ACTU Executive passed a resolution last November to oppose any unilateral declaration of war with Iraq, condemn terrorism and support United Nations actions to disarm countries with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.