Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has admitted that securing oil supplies is a key factor behind the presence of Australian troops in Iraq.
He said maintaining "resource security" in the Middle East was a priority.
But PM John Howard has played down the comments, saying it was "stretching it a bit" to conclude that Australia's Iraq involvement was motivated by oil.
The remarks are causing heated debate as the US-led Iraq coalition has avoided linking the war and oil. Read more...
The desperation to procure those oil sharing agreements has driven the issue closer to the surface. Australia has been a close ally in the occupation of Iraq, and you can rest assured PM John Howard isn't going to bring any of his country's troops home until the transition to the Coalition of the Drilling is complete.