I don’t know why those QCs mentioned in The Age are making bold threats to cut Alexander Downer to shreds in the witness box when and if their clients face trial following the release of the report from the Cole Commission.

The only legal tactic needed to assure acquittal of the AWB’s so-called “Dirty Dozen” is to ensure the trial is held in rural Australia. At my pub in Tanunda the verdict would be a unanimous not guilty and I’m sure the jury would be no different if chosen from any country town anywhere.

This whole Commission of Inquiry has been a mystery to most Australians who accept as a given that bribery and corruption is part and parcel of the world of international trade.

The surprise would be to find that there were sales to Iraq without baksheesh. To miss out on those sales because none was paid would be seen by the public as the real scandal.

When the trials come, the most telling argument for most defendants will be the absence of personal gain. The lawyers will represent honest men and women doing what had to be done to benefit hard working and decent Australian wheat growers forced to survive in a harsh and corrupt world.

Prosecutors will find it hard to convince twelve good men and true that turning a blind eye to money paid to a transport company deserves putting anyone in the slammer.

Peter Fray

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