Michael Pascoe writes:


As predictable as pork barrelling, John Howard has played his consistent straight bat to this morning’s
AWB headlines – he remains solidly Sergeant Shultz, as AAP reports:

The prime minister repeated his assertion he did not learn about the
kickback allegations against AWB until 2005, while former US Federal Reserve
chief Paul Volcker was investigating oil-for-food rorts.

“The first time this really came onto my radar screen was early in
2005 when my department came to me and gave me a note and said look, Mr Volcker
is very unhappy with the cooperation he’s receiving – he believes he has
evidence that AWB paid kickbacks,” Mr Howard said. “I gave immediate instructions that there should be total transparency
and cooperation with the Volcker inquiry.”

I somehow doubt Howard is going to crack
under the repeated allegations, breaking down in the witness box in the last
scene and confessing he did it with the candlestick in the bedroom.

It would be nice though to see Terence Cole
at least explore my spook theory that at least someone in AWB was probably doing a
little spying for Oz while bankrolling Saddam. Espionage has always been
something of a double game.

Whatever they might tell Tezza, spooks by
their very nature are unreliable witnesses. Misleading for their masters is
part of the job description. It would at least provide Blocker Howard
with an alternative defence when Perry Mason zeroes in for the final,
penetrating question: It was all for national security.

Peter Fray

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