Old-style agrarian socialism was all about
private ownership of profits and state ownership of losses. The brand now being
pushed by Senator Bill “I’m John Howard’s fixer” Heffernan is wheat farmer
ownership of Iraqi profits but AWB shareholder ownership of Iraqi losses. Not
surprisingly, it seems wheat farmers think that’s a good idea.
Never mind that wheat farmers presumably
profited from AWB’s corrupt Iraqi relationships by obtaining more than their
wheat was worth, or that most of them allegedly still support the wheat
monopoly when it suits. The Grains Council of Australia wants an assurance from
AWB that farmers won’t bear any costs from the aftermath of the oil-for-food scandal.
The AFR‘s Angus Grigg reports AWB has given
just such an assurance as far as Cole Inquiry legal costs are concerned, but isn’t
offering any such comfort for other possible future costs – such as further
legals over possible criminal and civil charges, a shareholder class action and
one by American wheat growers. Says the Fin:
Senator Heffernan, a persistent critic of
the company, said AWB had no right to pass on any costs to wheatgrowers. “I will go out of my way to make sure this
does not happen,” he said.
I suppose it’s in character – somehow
Heff’s always looked more Country Party than Liberal.