Despite the SMH‘s delicious photographic scoop,
Labor’s wild enthusiasm, various headlines and Senator Bill Heffernan’s
hilarious request to leave criminal behaviour lie, there are still no
traces of Prime Ministerial DNA at the scene of the AWB crime.

There is nothing to contradict Howard’s carefully prepared defence put on Channel 9 this morning:

“I did not know, my ministers did not know and, on the
information that I have been provided and the advice I have received
from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, I do not believe that
the department knew that AWB was involved in the payment of bribes.”

is even a further defence available to Howard – if he had known, he
would never had allowed this public inquiry that will destroy AWB’s
export monopoly and continue to embarrass the government.

wording of Howard’s statement shows he’s very confidently sticking with
Lord Downer, but his explicit qualification regarding DFAT is a step
towards some bureaucrats going down as the inquiry is widened.

there is another charge which is not being raised yet against the
government. We saw an example of it earlier this week when the Sydney
Futures Exchange was doing over Macquarie Bank for, among other things,
providing information “which it knew or ought reasonably to have known
to be false or misleading”.

There is still nothing to show Downer and Vaile knew, but there is plenty to say they ought reasonably to have known.

a legal principle that company executives can be taken out and shot
for, metaphorically speaking, but one that constantly eludes this

There is no saving those at the top of the AWB from
at least that charge – whether or not they’ve been photographed fooling
around with small arms and bags of cash in Iraq.

But as the rollovers continue, the “ought to have known” is likely to be the least of their worries.

And let’s not forget the December 2000 Arthur Andersen report commissioned by the AWB itself that fingered the corruption risks inherent in AWB’s behaviour. There was no shortage of knowledge.