Here’s
hoping nobody missed Ross Fitzgerald’s list of ministers who have fallen on
their swords, in yesterday’s Australian, over matters infinitely more trifling than the AWB scandal – poor dumb sods
like “the United Australia Party’s John Lawson, who resigned from the ministry
in 1940 because he was leasing a racehorse from a man who had business
interests covered by Lawson’s trade portfolio”.

The wheat
for weapons scandal – and all the associated manoeuvrings – has exposed the
power of the Nationals in keeping a monopoly wheat exporter.

Now, some
agro agrarians are having another go at the Nats for their involvement in the
AWB affair.

The
Nationals are under attack from the Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA)
for inflaming the precarious AWB situation, according to the WA Farm Weekly.

PGA Western
Graingrowers
chairman, Leon Bradley, said WA wheatgrowers identified the Nationals as part
of AWB’s serious integrity problem, not the solution. He has called the
Queensland Nationals’ proposal to appoint a parliamentarian as the moral
conscience of AWB as beyond belief.

“We have
the Nationals from Queensland, a state that is virtually a net
importer of wheat, trying to defend an export wheat marketing system that is
now totally discredited,” he told WA Farm Weekly. “And that system is an
increasing cost liability on growers, particularly those in WA who must
surrender their wheat. It is the National Party that has played the lead role
in frustrating every process to make AWB accountable.” So much for the
interests of regional Australia.

It was
AWB’s close ties with Parliament and the Nationals that enabled it to develop
an exclusively untouchable culture, Bradley told WA Farm Weekly.

Of course,
there are some Nats who say the whole thing is just a Liberal beat up designed to
further diminish their role within the Coalition. They must be moral
consciences, too.

Peter Fray

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