The federal government will be asked to widen the scope of the AWB Iraqi wheat corruption inquiry – to investigate BHP and possibly the government or its officers.

Commission head Terence Cole said today in an address to the inquiry that it was “incongruous and inappropriate” that he has been unable to make findings about BHP’s activities, reports the Fin Review.

“For that reason I regard it as appropriate for me to write to the Attorney-General [Philip Ruddock] seeking a widening of the terms of reference to permit this inquiry to investigate and make findings regarding any breaches of commonwealth, state and territory law by BHP Billiton and its associated companies and Tigris Petroleum Corporation … in respect of the Tigris matter,” Mr Cole said.

Cole also noted that he might ask the government to broaden the terms of reference for the probe if he uncovered any evidence of illegal acts by the government or its officers.

Meanwhile, AWB’s hopes that Australians are turning a blind eye to the scandal will be quashed by a new poll showing that 68% of Australians are aware of the Royal Commission into AWB Ltd, according to Roy Morgan research. Moreover, the majority of people believe that AWB Ltd did not act ethically in Iraq (50%), while only 12% believe they did and 38% couldn’t say.