Well, Howard may still be in denial, or damage control mode, or insane, but the rest of the world now knows the truth:
Iraq - Oil supply is an essential factor of Australia’s presence in Iraq
Pakistan - Daily Times: Oil key motive for Iraq involvement: Australia
United Arab Emirates - Gulfnews: Oil 'key factor for Australia's role in Iraq'
Turkey - Oil a factor in Australian role in Iraq: minister
India - NDTV.com: Iraq oil security a priority for Australia: Nelson
Germany - Oil slick hits Australia's Iraq policy
Ireland - RTE News: Mideast oil priority for Australia
Even the Canberra Times has a refreshing glimpse of the truth:
It would seem inconceivable that the White House's Iraq invasion plans were not substantially influenced by the Cheney's energy plan, whatever Bush's public statements.(Cartoon courtesy Steve Bell in the UK Guardian)
Ironically, the invasion has done everything but ensure security of supply, or indeed stability of price. International oil prices are at historic highs, in part because of increased demand from India and China, but also because of disruptions to Iraq's oil industry caused by the on-going civil conflict...
Howard's assertion that staying the course in Iraq will ensure energy security for the US is equally dubious as is the implication that supporting this US foreign policy aim will bring some long-term benefit to Australia. Few Australians question the value of our military alliance with the US, but it is a bridge too far for Howard to suddenly suggest that there are mutual economic obligations on us as well. As a country with substantial energy reserves, Australia does not need to go to war over oil, much less give aid and comfort to another country with a huge, some would say profligate, appetite for oil habit and one with the means to pay for it.
The Japanese and the Chinese have proved that it's possible to achieve energy security without resort to force. Indeed, gas and coal producers line up to win contracts to supply their industries. Energy producers and consumers have a symbiotic relationship: both have an incentive to do business, a fact sometimes lost on Americans. Such simplistic thinking on energy is perhaps understandable from Americans after all, they have had access to cheap and plentiful oil for 150 years and want it to continue. It's rather harder to understand coming from a politician like Howard.