Michael Pascoe writes:

When Terry Cole was appointed back in
November to have a look at Australians’ dodgy dealings in Iraq, the
inquiry was expected to take three months. Nine months later, the inquiry is over budget and lining up for another round of hearings from 22 August to re-examine some of the main AWB and ex-AWB
players.

Yet the inquiry has sought no extension of
its current deadline of reporting on 29 September, so one might think the bulk
of the job has been done with just a final icing to be accomplished – battles
over allegedly “privileged” documents notwithstanding. And “icing” in this
context could be read two ways.

The myriad documents AWB is still trying to keep away from Cole obviously would make the expected
re-examination of AWB executives and directors all the more interesting, but
our mail is that the inquiry already has other significant documents it wants
to test against the less-than-brilliant memories and earlier testimonies of AWB
types.

With the new hearings expected to last a
week, we can only speculate about exactly who might be called in for another
chat with counsel assisting. Past and present chairmen and former CEOs would
have to be top of the list, but all those stained by the Tigris deal would have to be
feeling nervous.

And, given the vehemence and expense AWB
has put into trying to keep those “privileged” documents secret, perhaps the
wheat monopolist’s in-house lawyers should expect a chance to hone their powers
of recall.

With so much forgotten and so much never
known, there’s always the chance of fascinating discoveries. Recovered memory
syndrome anyone?

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off