We know that we can trust the Howard Government – just in the same way as we
can trust oil giants like Woodside and the News Limited tabloids, all of whom
were sticking to their stories yesterday.

These matters – should there be any petty quibbling – may well be tested in the
defo courts. So let’s have a look into the other player in the saga. Curtin
Uni, home of the Woodside Hydrocarbon Research Facility.

Curtin boasts about its international links on the very front page of its website. But yesterday the University issued in interesting statement headed Curtin disputes claims. “Disputes”, not denies.

Curtin University of Technology has disputed claims that one of its staff,
Professor Robert Amin, was involved in Senator Ross Lightfoot’s controversial
January 2005 visit to Iraq,” it reads.

The University did provide some support for a previous visit by Senator
Lightfoot and Professor Amin during which they visited educational institutions
and met with Iraq representatives.

Curtin Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Development Professor Barney Glover
said Professor Amin was aware Senator Lightfoot was going to Iraq, but was not
involved in the January visit.

Professor Amin – Chair of the Woodside Hydrocarbon Research Facility – is a
prominent expatriate Iraqi Kurd. He has been instrumental in Curtin’s efforts
to develop closer educational links with the country and has also been
assisting Woodside to pursue business opportunities in post-war Iraq…

Then there’s this exchange from PMlast night:

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Did you have a role in organising this money, because you’re
quoted in The Australian newspaper as saying there was a donation given to the Halabja Hospital by an
interpreter – your bodyguard and interpreter – that you had negotiated back in
July last year, on behalf of Woodside Petroleum?

ROSS LIGHTFOOT: That’s right – but it wasn’t so much Woodside Petroleum. That’s
the short name. It’s the Woodside research centre at the Curtin University in
Western Australia.

All very odd. Still, it’s nice to know that hydrocarbon research facilities
aren’t so obsessed by their work that they can still find time for a little
philanthropy. Or is this just all research and development of another kind?
More on the site here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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