“It wasn’t me, it was the mysterious one-armed man,” former AWB chairman Trevor Flugge almost tells the Terror’s Janet Fyfe-Yeomans.

As Baghdad Trev prepares to go down fighting, the actual quote is:

I am sick to death of being set up by every man and his dog. The bottom line was that my role was exaggerated by a number of people….It seems to me that if they could say that the chairman knew, that we were all in this together, then you can’t blame them. There’s a tactic there.

And a chair as well. People with games. And stories to tell.

The games and stories are all being polished as the Cole report is due to be given to the government today ahead of public release sometime. Howard and co might have the AFP bomb squad taking delivery of the parcel as a precaution, but according to Caroline Overington in the Oz, there’s no need – not only are ministers out of reach by the terms of reference, even DFAT’s been cleared.

I’m still thinking the spook card is the most powerful trump, but gross incompetence will have to do as the public face for DFAT’s absolution – and that will suit the government just fine. Incompetence in the line of duty never hurt anyone at DIMA or Defence when it was politically convenient, so DFAT should be no different.

The Smage meanwhile rounds up the likely suspects and the very long list of potential crimes and charges. It will keep many lawyers in private school fees for years to come.

But at this stage the great mystery is the way AWB itself still soldiers on. Michelle Grattan has their latest effort, hiring a consultant who advises the government not to move quickly in stripping it of its monopoly.

AWB also has hired consultants who’ve reported that the single desk is the best thing for wheat farmers since the stump-jump plough, but that’s all over bar the burying.

All up, the anticipation is building on schedule for the Cole report’s eventual public release. Cue the shocked and disappointed Prime Minister, albeit within the media limits of an Ashes series. You might say it’s all been set up nicely indeed, Trev.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

12 weeks for $12