Someone is lying. And as the
varying
accounts
stack
up
today,
it’s
clear
that
either that someone is Senator
Ross
Lightfoot

or
otherwise
everyone
else is
lying.

Ross Lightfoot is “a walking
disaster,”
according
to
a
comment
made
by
a
Liberal colleague to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Louise Dodson today. He says he’s “a
decent
person”
and
has
“done
nothing
wrong”.
That,
presumably, is why he’s
given
some
of
the
most
comprehensive
answers to
media
questions since
Senator
Bill
Heffernan
ran
down the corridor of the Press
Gallery making chicken
noises
when
pressed
for
details
over
his
Michael Kirby
allegations.

Just like Crikey’s very own
Noel
Crichton-Brown,
the
Liberal
Senator
is
a
right
wing death beast from the
Wild
West who made
a
motza
in
minerals
and
then
devoted his life to
public
service

and
branch
stacking.
Western
Australian
right wing Liberal
death
beasts
were
also
involved
in all
the sleaze
of the
Wanneroo
Council
and
mortgage
broking
scandals.
Lightfoot has
made his statement to the Senate (although he didn’t do it
in
person
and
it
was
only
tabled),
so
any contradictions in his media
statements
or
today’s
newspaper
reports,
particularly
about
the
money, must be
errors.

Or are they? The prime
minister
told
parliament
yesterday
“My
party
is
composed
of honourable men and women, and if those honourable men
and
women
deny
things,
I
don’t
intend
to
assume that those denials
are
untrue,
Mr
Speaker.”
He
says
Lightfoot’s story
is
“credible”.
That’s a little different from “true”.
A
century
and
a
bit
ago,
Rudyard
Kipling
fictionalised the cloak and dagger activities on
the
fringes
of
the
Raj
and
Araby,
the
intrigues between the British
and
the
Tsar’s
agents,
as
‘The
Great
Game’.
Lightfoot’s playing games.
He’s
either
making up
yarns
as
good
as
Kipling’s or
telling lies.

Here’s Lightfoot on AMyesterday: “I never saw any money,
never
carried
any
money
with
me,
apart
from
my own money…” And on PM:

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Now on AM this morning you said, quote, “I
never
saw
any
money.
Never
carried
any
money
with me apart from my own
money.”
But
in
your
signed
statement
to
the
Parliament today, you say that you
were
at
a
meeting
with
the
Kurdish prime minister, where
Simko
Halmet
passed
the
donation
from
Woodside
Petroleum’s
research facility to
him,
to the
prime minister who
in
turn gave it
to his principal secretary. So
what
happened?

ROSS LIGHTFOOT: That’s my position.
Whether
I
didn’t
add
except
for
the
time
that he did it – but it’s never been
a
secret
that
the
money
was
passed
over.
It just wasn’t passed over by me. And
I
just
hadn’t
seen
it –
I
had
nothing to
do with it. Never touched it. I
must
tell
you, it’s
a bit
of
a
storm
in a
teacup and I don’t know how long you
can
live
off it,
but
it’s
not
unusual
in
Iraq – you know, there’s no
postage
service
there.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So in what form was the donation?

ROSS LIGHTFOOT: It was in American… new American bills by what I could perceive.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Cash?

ROSS LIGHTFOOT: I didn’t touch it. Yes, yes, that’s right…

“Perceive”? How does that differ from “seeing”? Latelinecovered the differences in the
two
accounts
nicely
last
night.
Then
there
are
the statements in the
News
Limited
papers
this
morning.
Look
at
the
Australian’s Middle East
correspondent Nicolas Rothwell’s account of his meeting with Lightfoot in the Suleimaniyah Palace in Kurdistan today:

“He sketched out
the
details
of
West
Australian
energy
group
Woodside’s
fledgling operation
in
Iraqi
Kurdistan,
and
its hopes
to
develop the
region’s
oil and gas resources

a high
priority
for
the
Kurdish
regional
government.
Lightfoot then
announced
that he
had
carried
in
with him
a
substantial sum of
money from
Woodside as a
donation
for
the
little
hospital
in
Halabja – the
Kurdish border
town famous as
the
site
of
a
devastating
chemical
attack staged
14 years ago by
the
Air
Force
of
Saddam
Hussein.

“Did he claim personal credit?
His
demeanor,
if
not
his
words,
suggested
so.
Indeed, he had just made a
special
visit to
hand
over
in
person
the money
he
had brought in: $25,000 in
cash, and
the
money
was
handed
over
in
his
presence.‘ I felt it was the right
thing
to
do,’
said
the
senator,
his
eyelids
at that moment touchingly lowered.

“I pondered this
slightly
startling
instance
of
collaboration
between
a
large
corporation and
a
political
emissary,
and
wondered if I
should
remind
the
senator just what I
did
for a
living. I
formed
a mental
picture
of
Woodside’s
strategic chief
and
former
Labor Party
guru Gary
Gray,
sitting
in
his high-rise
office,
doubtless
unaware
of
this
lone
parliamentary
gunman
active in the
oil
company’s
cause
on
the
furthest
frontiers of Araby.

“‘Of course,’ said Lightfoot, rather edgily,
in
the
style
of
a
man
conducting
a
street drug purchase, ‘I’m telling
you
all
this
off
the
record.’ ”

The Herald Sun’s Nick Butterly is little blunter in his account today:

“Ross Lightfoot was not shy about
how
a
US$20,000
donation
to
a
run-down
hospital was taken into Iraq when
I
first
spoke
to him
on
Tuesday.
‘We
stitched
it into our jackets,’ he
told
me…
I
was
surprised
he
volunteered
this
information…”

This is what Lightfoot’s statement to the Senate said yesterday:

“I did not take US$20,000 in cash with me
to
Iraq.
The
only
money
I
took
with
me was US$1,000 of my own money
for
personal
expenses.
I
have
a
receipt.
At no
stage have I ever received nor
have
I
carried, nor
have
I
given
to the
Kurdish
Regional Government or the
PUK
or
any
agent
or
officer
thereof US$20,000.”

When did we last have
Senate
shenanigans
like
this?
Someone’s
either
lying
or
someone’s got things
very
wrong. It’s such
a
pity
that the
story broke
on
the
last sitting day of
the
autumn session –
and
that
very
few
witnesses
will
probably ever make the
trip
from
Kurdistan
to
Canberra
for
the
inevitable
Senate committee inquiry,
as
there are
so
many
questions.

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