Michael Pascoe writes:

With the Smage/ACNielsen and Morgan Polls
both showing the AWB scandal is starting to hurt John Howard, I’ve conducted my
own less-scientific survey that shows how cynical punters have become about the

On Saturday, Roy Morgan Research reported
54% of Australians thought Howard had not acted ethically over AWB’s Iraq
deals, with slightly more thinking just as less about Downer and Vaile.
Surprisingly, only 65% thought AWB did not act ethically – who would
have thought 35% of Australians were wheat farmers or worked in DFAT?

Herald/Nielsen poll was just as damning: “Seventy-two per cent of those aware of the inquiry
thought the Government knew about kickbacks paid by AWB to the Saddam regime,
with 48 per cent – up eight points – saying they have a less favourable view of
the Government as a result.”

My much smaller and less representative
poll was carried out at an investment industry conference that has to
nameless. Part of the proceedings involved Digivote polling – all the
participants have small terminals to anonymously answer various
questions. Given a toy to play with, the MC grabbed the opportunity to
ask the irrelevant
question: Do you think a Federal Minister will lose his job over the

About three-quarters of the room said no,
but the MC then asked if the participants thought a Federal Minister should lose his job over the
AWB scandal – and about three-quarters of the room said yes.

The science would never pass muster with
Gary Morgan, but as a reading of the level of cynicism about the Government’s
AWB stand in a group that I would suspect to be mainly Liberal voters, it was
nonetheless rather telling.

That event took place before the three wise
monkeys finished giving evidence to the Cole inquiry. What I’d now like to do,
given a decent conference and the same sort of opportunity, is to ask if anyone
thinks the Western Force hasn’t paid too much for Matt Giteau.

Well, it has about as much relevance to
Cole’s terms of reference as questions
of ministers’ competence.