Funny some of the things you pick up at ABARE’s annual Outlook conference, both within and without the official sessions.

Chairing the grains session, one gained the impression it’s very early days in the single desk debate, whatever the mood of wheat farmer meetings. The likes of GrainCorp have only just begun to fight, claiming farmers actually lose $5 a tonne through the current export monopoly.

After being fed AWB and Wheat Board propaganda for decades about the single desk adding value, it will take time for farmers to assess the other side.

Beyond the sessions though, one was struck by the admiration some folk have for Andrew Lindberg’s legal team at the Cole inquiry. The former AWB CEO escaped with nothing other than sympathy from Terence Cole’s long report while many of his juniors and a former chairman face further investigation with a view to criminal charges.

From Terry Cole’s point of view, it almost looks as if they must have all conspired to mislead poor Andrew.

The thing is that other people had the impression Lindberg ran AWB with an iron fist, personally driving a “take no prisoners” culture and simply rejecting any opinions he didn’t like.

Still, if ASIC’s test case against former James Hardie directors is successful, Andrew might yet have need for his legal advisers again, as well other former AWB board members.