Parliament returns on Monday for just one short sitting week before the
May Budget, as the Cole inquiry runs out of time.

As it has been all year, the AWB scandal will be the main focus of
opposition questions. That won’t be enough. Beazley has bungled his brief. He
blew the case before Parliament returned with his loose-lipped comments that
suggested the opposition had material that would incriminate ministers.

The Labor leader and counsel assisting – Kevin Rudd et al – have
mounted a strong attack on John Howard, Mark Vaile, Alexander Downer, Warren
Truss and Peter McGauran, but they have all been able to respond with non answers.

It’s the perfect illustration of why parliaments do not pursue
prosecutions in this country. It is the wrong forum. Politics poisons the
proceedings.

Early on in the Cole inquiry, the Commissioner made both a remarkable
and impressive statement from the chair, addressed to members of the United
States Congress. He reminded them that Australia, unlike their
country, does not have a politicised judiciary. He spoke of his independence
and his determination to get to the truth, free from political interference.

Terence Cole must assess those values again. He must put the Cabinet
members – and former deputy prime minister John Anderson – on the stand.

Peter Fray

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