COUNTRY HONEST

NRO’s Claudia Rosett reviews the Cole Royal Commission:

While most of the alleged collaborators in Saddam’s global web of graft get a free pass, we have headlines about corruption in one of the few countries honest enough to conduct a public investigation — Australia. The silver lining is that the scandal may result in the breakup of the Australian Wheat Board, Australia’s domestic monopoly buyer of bulk wheat for export.

Via neoZionoid. Also, this from a correspondent close to events:

My firm acted for Howard, Vaile, Downer and their respective departments and agencies in the Cole Inquiry. I managed the team that prepared the matter, took statements from them, sat with them for hours over the course of weeks going through documents and file notes prior to their evidence.

Never once did I see a single indication from anything said, done or written that they had the faintest idea what AWB were up to. I saw plenty that suggested senior AWB Execs knew exactly what was going on and that they were desperate to keep it hushed from anyone outside and most within the company.

Posted by Tim B. on 11/29/2006 at 10:26 PM
    1. Pah! Howard lied Wheat supplied!

      Posted by Nic on 2006 11 29 at 10:37 PM • permalink

 

    1. Payments faked: Iraqis baked!

      Posted by anthony_r on 2006 11 29 at 10:41 PM • permalink

 

    1. I have a source (might be a taxi driver :)) that indicated that PM&C became of the issue through the oil for food enquiry, sometime in early-mid 2004.  The interval between then and announcing the enquiry (was it as much as six months?) was an internal check to make sure they hadn’t missed anything before luanching the enquiry.

      Posted by entropy on 2006 11 29 at 10:44 PM • permalink

 

    1. No bread for lead

      Ahhh yes lads…your lefties will have a field day anyway you slice it…oh my another.

      Oh and Bushes fault.

      Posted by El Cid on 2006 11 29 at 10:46 PM • permalink

 

    1. Well, there’s a perfectly simple explanation for all this.  Obviously, AWB knew they were screwed either way, whether or not members of the government were implicated.  So why alienate individuals in the government who are in a position to extricate them from this legal dilemma.

      Hmmm.  This conspiracy theory crap is easier than I thought.

      Posted by Mark V. on 2006 11 29 at 10:50 PM • permalink

 

    1. Also, this from a correspondent close to events: 
      Actually from Lex Luthor on thread ‘Academic Knows All’. I won’t spoil it – I’m sure Lex will post the whole thing again here.

      Anyway, Messers Howard, Downer, Vaille et are off the hook and the left just will not have it do you hear!!They will not stand for this. Howard is guilty, don’t you understand!…. (voice trails off as man in white coat drags the Left away….)

      Posted by Bonmot on 2006 11 29 at 10:58 PM • permalink

 

    1. A couple of points:

      1. Was the payolla to to get wheat into Iraq any worse in priciple than the tariffs and other barriers to trade that are put in place for the benefit of special interest groups at the expense of the consumers?

      In other words, how many of the people who are scandalised by the wheat deal have been equally scandalised by tariffs and trade protection at large?

      2. Would the ordinary folk in Iraq be any better off today if the sales had not gone through?

      Posted by Rafe C on 2006 11 29 at 11:04 PM • permalink

 

    1. Wheat is sold in BUSHels. Coincidence? I think not.

      Posted by Infidel Tiger on 2006 11 29 at 11:07 PM • permalink

 

    1. What about the poor bloody shareholders?

      Waaaaaaaaaah!!!

      Posted by gubba on 2006 11 29 at 11:09 PM • permalink

 

    1. 8

      Wheat is sold in BUSHels. Coincidence? I think not.

      Excellent…and damn good too..lol.

      Posted by El Cid on 2006 11 29 at 11:11 PM • permalink

 

    1. …voice trails off as man in white coat drags the Left away.

      Away to hoWARDS.

      Coincidence?

      You be the judge.

      Posted by C.L. on 2006 11 29 at 11:13 PM • permalink

 

    1. An investigation is definitely kneaded, those responsible, will be in a bit of a jam.

      Posted by El Cid on 2006 11 29 at 11:17 PM • permalink

 

    1. Glutens for punishment, I tells ya’

      Posted by El Cid on 2006 11 29 at 11:23 PM • permalink

 

    1. Gaia is trying to tell us something:

      flOUR wHEAT

      We’re doomed. doomed I say. Won’t anyone listen?

      Posted by Nic on 2006 11 29 at 11:30 PM • permalink

 

    1. A rye smile broke out across the governments face, when they realised the half baked attack by the opposition had turned up no knowledge of dodgy dough.

      Posted by Infidel Tiger on 2006 11 29 at 11:32 PM • permalink

 

    1. #7 Rafe C, the ordinary folk in Iraq?  What could they possibly matter?  To borrow from the Kosoids, “screw them!”…

      Posted by anthony_r on 2006 11 29 at 11:37 PM • permalink

 

    1. Oh, AWB is Australian Wheat Board.

      I thought it was this.

      That makes more sense.

      Posted by rinardman on 2006 11 29 at 11:40 PM • permalink

 

    1. A thorough threshing for the shrieking lefty commentariat.

      Posted by PW on 2006 11 29 at 11:41 PM • permalink

 

    1. The opposition shoulda seen this coming.  If only they’d gazed into the crystal AWB…

      Posted by anthony_r on 2006 11 29 at 11:42 PM • permalink

 

    1. Quoting Claudia:
      ”…the Cole inquiry has set a standard of clarity and transparency that the U.N. itself has yet to adopt — and shows no signs of doing so.”
      Put that in your Vegemite sandwich and chew on it, Kofi!

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2006 11 29 at 11:47 PM • permalink

 

    1. Lead Investigator, identified. Heads will roll, he says…film at 11.

      Posted by El Cid on 2006 11 29 at 11:55 PM • permalink

 

    1. The wheat BlIX decided to sCORN FLAKES over pRICE BUBBLES.

      Howard and Downer not in the pocket of big cereal?

      Yeah right.

      Posted by C.L. on 2006 11 29 at 11:56 PM • permalink

 

    1. How are you Swinish my fine friend?

      Have a lovely evening all…crashing, I am.

      And please do not butter me up, to stay…I’m toasted.

      Posted by El Cid on 2006 11 29 at 11:57 PM • permalink

 

    1. I have this image in my head of Quiggens sitting at his desk, and muttering into his beard, “I know they’re guilty, I know they’re guilt, I know they’re guilty….”

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 11 29 at 11:59 PM • permalink

 

    1. See, every time I see “AWB”, I think of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging.

      Posted by Warmongering Lunatic on 2006 11 30 at 12:01 AM • permalink

 

    1. S-T-O-P
      Ah the wit and wisdom on this blog.
      And I’m supposed to be the Bonmot…..
      sheeeeesh…

      Posted by Bonmot on 2006 11 30 at 12:06 AM • permalink

 

    1. Sleep well, EC, and when you wake up I’ll tell you the story of How Swinish Got His Raise…

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2006 11 30 at 12:15 AM • permalink

 

    1. New lefty protest chants:

      ‘Better dead than bread’

      ‘No no, let it grow’

      ‘Flour Power’

      ‘Ear we go Ear we go Ear we go…’

      Posted by Nic on 2006 11 30 at 12:16 AM • permalink

 

    1. Howard should be tried for war crimes by a baker’s dozen of his peers.

      Posted by Infidel Tiger on 2006 11 30 at 12:20 AM • permalink

 

    1. This thread is harvesting a rich crop of silliness.

      Trying to pick out the useful comments is like sorting the wheat from the chaff.

      Posted by mr creosote on 2006 11 30 at 12:37 AM • permalink

 

    1. There’s a thread on FR which quotes a NY Times story that the Baker commission has recommended a “pullback” of American combat troops from Iraq.

      What a fucking nightmare.

      Posted by 68W40 on 2006 11 30 at 12:49 AM • permalink

 

    1. AWB.. arabs with bread…

      Posted by sparrow on 2006 11 30 at 12:50 AM • permalink

 

    1. #31,

      The Baker commission you say? It was all about dough it would seem.

      Posted by Nic on 2006 11 30 at 12:51 AM • permalink

 

    1. Sorry, O/T

      Or maybe it isn’t, as it has Pixie Rudd in it.

      Rudd and Gillard are being offered up as the “Dream Team”. I would have thought “Desperate and Dateless” was more fitting.

      Posted by boxofmatches on 2006 11 30 at 01:08 AM • permalink

 

    1. I remember a report on iraqi bakers who said that Australian wheat was the best of all other wheat to work with…Labor should start making some noise about insurgents blowing up bakers who are trying to make a living and feed people not about the grain they are using.

      Posted by sparrow on 2006 11 30 at 01:08 AM • permalink

 

    1. While there’s a lot of rye humour to be milled from this thread let us not forget that, as gubba says (#9) a lot of people will be sour about their dough.

      And if I may get away with raisin a separate but related issue, over on Crikey Paul Faris QC Is predicting that legal professional privilege may be about to take a hit.

      The Federal Government is looking to lay the AWB blame elsewhere. Here it can argue that abuses of LPP have reached unacceptable limits as exemplified by the conduct of the AWB.

      Surely not, one would hope. Because the way of these things is, once it’s weakened “just to catch tax cheats” the remainder will be eroded faster than a glacier at global warmening time.

      Posted by RexW on 2006 11 30 at 01:09 AM • permalink

 

    1. ’Tis grist for the mill to those who considered it barley conceivable that at least one minister did not have his finger in the AWB pie trying to earn an ill gotten crust.

      Self imposed comments ban now in place.

      Posted by Infidel Tiger on 2006 11 30 at 01:18 AM • permalink

 

    1. Mmm, fresh-baked puns.

      The silver lining is that the scandal may result in the breakup of the Australian Wheat Board, Australia’s domestic monopoly buyer of bulk wheat for export.

      No doubt Claudia and plenty of other yanks would cheer the end of our single desk.

      Posted by slammer on 2006 11 30 at 01:20 AM • permalink

 

    1. This is all too corny for words.
      Rumour: Glenn Wheatley may be the new CEO of the AWB. He’s holding out for the dough to rise, but irrespective, it’s still a Tip Top job no matter how you slice it.

      Posted by Bonmot on 2006 11 30 at 01:25 AM • permalink

 

    1. #39, He’ll have to beat Glenn A Baker, but with an agent like Harry M Miller, he’s on a roll…

      Posted by anthony_r on 2006 11 30 at 01:30 AM • permalink

 

    1. Obviously we’re all using our loaf to come up with all these buns puns…. just proves we’re not a sandwich short of a picnic.

      Posted by Bonmot on 2006 11 30 at 01:44 AM • permalink

 

    1. Yanks need not apply for the AWB job – you need to be bread and born in Australia to get it.

      Posted by mr creosote on 2006 11 30 at 02:24 AM • permalink

 

    1. Now that the Cole Report is out, several AWB executives are toast.

      Posted by mr creosote on 2006 11 30 at 02:27 AM • permalink

 

    1. If you guys don’t stop all this nonsense, I’m leaven.

      Posted by andycanuck on 2006 11 30 at 02:36 AM • permalink

 

    1. Won’t someone at least make a crumb of sense here?

      Posted by flying pigs over mecca on 2006 11 30 at 03:12 AM • permalink

 

    1. Not me, I’ve been loafing all day.

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2006 11 30 at 03:51 AM • permalink

 

    1. #46 SwinishCapital
      Not me, I’ve been loafing all day.

      What sittin’ around on your gluten maximus all day?

      Posted by Bonmot on 2006 11 30 at 04:36 AM • permalink

 

    1. Half-baked bpuns (silent p) on this cereally seedy thread. It’s only that I knead my fix that I’m panizzi attention.
      This is the yeast of my worries, but I’ll rest here a while and see what Tim’s comment baguettes. (Thought I might end with a Pain Ordinaire.)

      Posted by kae on 2006 11 30 at 04:43 AM • permalink

 

    1. Well, I think we’ve all done splendidly here for a bunch of crusty old geezers..
      Pretty smart cookies in fact (I’m not just buttering you up) – but I think this could stand as the roll model for all other blogs.

      I’m raisin my glass to toast you all.

      Posted by Bonmot on 2006 11 30 at 05:28 AM • permalink

 

    1. Aargh!

      Stop it, you cereal punsters are a slice short of a loaf!

      MarkL
      Canberra

      Posted by MarkL on 2006 11 30 at 06:40 AM • permalink

 

    1. Sorry, I don’t buy it. The government had adequate warnings that something wasn’t right. When the clouds of war were forming and the US were bent on war, and Australia was bent on supporting the US; the AWB were announcing wheat sales to Iraq – I sensed something wasn’t right.

      Given an adequate alternative, it should be a hanging offence for the Howard government.

      Posted by Bruno on 2006 11 30 at 07:39 AM • permalink

 

    1. #52, yeah, I guess that whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing is so inconvenient. I’ll notify the PM that it would be much more easier to base all future Inquiries on your gut feeling.

      Posted by Art Vandelay on 2006 11 30 at 09:34 AM • permalink

 

    1. I’ll betcha the leftobots and rant-o-chanters rework this into a pile of stale, day old, crumbs and try to use it to stuff the Howard gov for a roasting.

      Posted by Grimmy on 2006 11 30 at 10:13 AM • permalink

 

    1. #17 rinardman,

      And of course, AWB’s big hit: Cut the Cake.

      Posted by nobody important on 2006 11 30 at 10:14 AM • permalink

 

    1. Good God.  I feel like I walked into a bakery where the flour bin exploded.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 11 30 at 02:05 PM • permalink

 

    1. rebase – is that Laurie or Anthony?

      Posted by whyisitso on 2006 11 30 at 06:37 PM • permalink

 

    1. I think I am lucerne the plot.

      Posted by mr creosote on 2006 12 01 at 01:28 AM • permalink

 

    1. #52 ArtVandelay,- “innocent until proved guilty” is process of law, a principle that applies to defendants at court – as it should. It isn’t a principle that needs to be applied outside of that process – a common mistake that people make.

      I pointed to circumstances that observed that didn’t add up. Again, I make the point, not withstanding AWB’s deliberate deception, that there were adequate warnings for the government.

      Not holding them accountable now will have long-term detrimental effects on governance in this country.

      Posted by Bruno on 2006 12 01 at 08:28 AM • permalink

 

    1. #58, you’re the one whining about ‘hanging offences’ and ‘holding people accountable’. All I’m saying is that I’d like to see hard evidence rather than leftie wet dreams and conspiracy theories.

      I sense that someone like you would do really well over at WebDiary. I think they have a position open for an assistant to the Assistant Chief Bolderer.

      Posted by Art Vandelay on 2006 12 01 at 10:03 AM • permalink

 

    1. Which bit of hard evidence are you missing? That the AWB was illegally rorting the UN Food-for-oil program or that government departments, right up to minister’s offices, were warned that this was potentially happening?

      Blindly defending incompetency is a quality much in (hard) evidence on WebDiary.

      Posted by Bruno on 2006 12 01 at 05:24 PM • permalink

 

    1. Bruno, what hard evidence is there that Ministers were warned? Surely if it existed Labor would be trumpeting it to the rooftops.

      Posted by Art Vandelay on 2006 12 01 at 08:22 PM • permalink

 

    1. Nine reporting on the Cole report:

      “There is no evidence that any … (minister was) ever informed about, or otherwise acquired knowledge of, the relevant activities of AWB,” the report said.

      The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which was investigated because of its loosely-defined role in overseeing export activities under the oil-for-food program, was also cleared of turning a blind eye to the kickbacks.

      But the report also acknowledges DFAT failed to fully investigate a string of warnings about AWB’s activities.

      Lateline reporting on Downer’s evidence to Cole:

      MICHAEL EDWARDS: He was asked specifically why there was no action taken on an initial warning about Canadian kickback allegations and others containing information from American officials about inflated contracts. AWB strenuously denied the claims on all occasions. Mr Downer said this wasn’t the only thing he based his decision to not follow up the claims on.

      VOICE-OVER REPRESENTING ALEXANDER DOWNER: I relied on more than denials by AWB in relation to those specific allegations. I relied on my knowledge of AWB’s record – that is, that at no time had the United Nations concluded that AWB Limited had been acting in breach of the sanctions regime

      Posted by Bruno on 2006 12 01 at 08:36 PM • permalink

 

    1. Bruno, is that the best you’ve got? Real smoking guns there…there was no evidence that DFAT or the Minister turned a blind eye to the kickbacks. Indeed it notes that Downer chased up AWB over the allegations.

      Regarding DFAT failing to recognise that there was a problem, I hate to break this to you but government does not operate as it is depicted on the West Wing. Bureaucracies are inherently inefficient. In fact, government/bureaucracy usually doesn’t operate at all; particularly in regard to communication and information. It’s no surprise to me that the system did not work in this instance. For example why would you expect a warning from one DFAT cable (in amongst the thousands and thousands of completely useless cables produced by DFAT in a week) to be picked up and acted upon?

      Posted by Art Vandelay on 2006 12 01 at 10:19 PM • permalink

 

    1. Bruno thinks there must be a kernel of evidence in there somewhere against Downer.

      Posted by mr creosote on 2006 12 01 at 10:47 PM • permalink

 

    1. Was there one warning to DFAT, Art? Is that your contention? It’s not mine.

      You contended there was no warning. You contended that my argument was based on leftist wet dreams and conspiracy theories. Do you concede you were wrong?

      Have I said that the government turned a wilful blind-eye or lied or engaged in corrupt conduct?

      Why would I expect that information to be picked up: because, as I originally stated, Iraq was buying wheat from a country that was preparing to go to war against it. Commonsense caused me to question that.

      Managerial competency should see that data received is properly dealt with. By your logic, they should stop sending any cables to Canberra or they should be stuck to wall and have a dart thrown at them to choose which ones should be dealt with competently.

      Perhaps you should define the level of managerial competency that is a reasonable expectation for the Australian electorate from ministers of the crown?

      Posted by Bruno on 2006 12 01 at 11:12 PM • permalink

 

    1. #64 Downer investigates an allegation of corruption – which is true – against the AWB, finds that it is untrue and then represents that the US government. What do you find evidence of?

      Posted by Bruno on 2006 12 01 at 11:33 PM • permalink

 

    1. I don’t see what the government or DFAT could do if AWB was persistently telling lies whenever questions were asked.

      I have the misfortune to work with a habitual liar.  Why he has not been sacked is beyond me, but that’s another story.  Whenever we have a problem, he lies about the cause.  I have pointed this out to our boss a few times, but he keeps covering for him.  He in turn has told porkies to upper management to protect the liar.

      Given my experience, I really don’t find it that hard to believe that AWB managers lied and lied and lied to the government, as I see it week in, week out.

      Besides, everyone lies to the government.  Is anyone honest when it comes to tax time.

      Posted by mr creosote on 2006 12 01 at 11:45 PM • permalink

 

    1. Bruno, you started by alleging that ‘hanging offences’ had been committed and that people ‘should be held accountable’. My point is simple: given that there is that there is no evidence of corruption or incompetence within government or the bureaucracy (except amongst conspiracy theorists), what exactly should be done?

      As I said, if there was even a whisper of problems with the Minister and the bureaucracy, the ALP and the press would be going insane, but after one or two half-hearted questions in Parliament during the week, the ALP dropped the issue completely.

      As for bureaucratic inefficiency, you seem to be the only person on the planet unaware of this phenomenon.

      Posted by Art Vandelay on 2006 12 02 at 12:31 AM • permalink

 

    1. January 2000

      EXCERPT OF BRONTE MOULES CABLE: “They understand the arrangement was to have been for the wheat supplier to be paid using funds from the UN’s Iraq account, but at a slightly inflated price.

      The supplier would then, in a highly irregular move, pay a return percentage of the value of the contract in US dollars to the non-Iraqi account. In short, it appears to be a system designed to generate illegal revenue in US dollars.”

      “The OIP (Office of Iraq Program) believes the company involved in the scheme is owned by the son of Saddam Hussein.”

      “The OIP asked if Australia could make some discreet high-level enquiries to ensure that AWB is not inadvertently involved in any payment scheme which might be in breach of the Iraq sanctions regime.”

      -“Excuse me, AWB. Are you corrupt?”
      -“No.”
      -“Very good. On your way.”

      You’re entitled your own judgement on the level on competency you expect of government. I believe we are entitled to better than this and that ministers are to be held accountable for the performance of their departments.

      Mr Creosote – it’s a pain in the arse working with or for liars. I’ve done it and what a poisoned place it became. I quit.

      Posted by Bruno on 2006 12 02 at 03:28 AM • permalink

 

    1. “Is anyone honest when it comes to tax time.”

      Yes.

      Posted by Dave Surls on 2006 12 02 at 03:29 PM • permalink

 

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