Andrew Wilkie, the only person from any arm
of the Federal Government to tell the truth about Iraq
before the last election, fires a telling shot at DFAT today while defending
his spook former colleagues.

In a Smage feature, the former intelligence officer argues that the speculation about what Canberra’s
spies did or didn’t tell their masters is a red herring, a distraction prodded
along by journalists that will be welcomed by the government. The real
sting, he says, is elsewhere:

My observation
during a
trip for ONA in 2002 into Jordan was that the handful of Australian
embassy officials in Amman were kept busy with wheat business. In fact,
so
preoccupied with facilitating AWB’s business with Iraq were staff from
the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – they routinely accompanied
AWB
officials on trips to Baghdad – that any suggestion AWB was able to
conceal
serious misconduct is implausible.

The official assistance to AWB was well known in Canberra. At
every step the Australian diplomats in Jordan cabled Australia and
copies were always sent to numerous people,
including across the road in Parliament House. In other words, the
Government
hardly needed input on AWB from spooks because it was operating
hand-in-glove
with the wheat marketing company; just as it is now with the Deputy
Prime
Minister, Mark Vaile, heading to Iraq with the head of AWB.

Would ministers and officials lie to conceal their
knowledge of AWB’s mischief? Such official corruption can’t be ruled out.

As an aside, where else have we recently seen
something about Jordanian-based Australian diplomats doing the AWB’s bidding?
Crikey, I think – that story out of SBS about their interview with a trucking
company of interest being cancelled after an Australian diplomat spoke to the
prospective talent.

Just taking care of business, but of course
never knowing what the business was, m’lud.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW