The SMH’s David Marr has a partial leak of the final 1,300-page submission of the Cole Inquiry’s counsel assisting. Not surprisingly, the big story is what’s not in there – any suggestion that any government ministers did anything wrong.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Crikey readers, as we’ve tried to show throughout that the inquiry was never able to come up with any rodent DNA, or that of his attendant mice. Despite the best efforts of Fairfax headline writers and Labor spokesmen, Howard, Vaile, Downer, Hill, Truss et al never knew nuffin’, being the trusting and innocently incompetent souls that they are. As has been shown, there are whole teams of people employed to make sure they don’t know what might harm them.

Counsel assisting John Agius believes AWB’s kickbacks might have financed terrorism and that AWB and its officers misled the government and UN and committed criminal and corporate offences, but it seems all ministers of the crown are blameless, even if some of their underlings could cop stick. Writes Marr:

The submission singles out for criticism the former chairman, Trevor Flugge, and the former managing director, Andrew Lindberg. But it also makes adverse findings against the AWB managers who first set up the kickback scheme, which funnelled almost $300 million to Iraq disguised as trucking fees.

Mr Agius has also made adverse findings against former and current officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The department’s lawyers have been given access to the submission but have apparently not yet informed the individuals concerned.

It is still open for Terrence Cole to say harsh things about the relevant ministers, but don’t bet on it. If Agius lets them off, it’s difficult to imagine Tezza going for them. It comes down to that little problem of the missing DNA.

Peter Fray

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