Crikey is always flattered when the mainstream media picks up our stories and unashamedly runs with them even without any attribution. Geoffrey Barker’s piece in today’s Fin is no exception.  Perhaps he would have been more accurate had he checked with Crikey first — our loquacious mole deep in DFAT was laughing when he brought Barker’s take on the Downer/Woolcott/Vanstone/Rome commedia dell’arte to our attention.  For the information of our readers and Geoffrey, despite Barker’s argument that Downer was “dismayed” at Howard’s “private deal with Vanstone”, the Foreign Minister couldn’t actually give the proverbial about the incredible inconvenience and disloyalty meted out to shafted Ambassador to Rome Peter Woolcott — he is the pawn in the centre of the unprofessional machinations of the Man of Steel, who again displayed his total disregard for human feelings when he and Vanstone secretly worked out this shabby deal.  Woolcott must wonder if he will ever see out a full term in future posts — he was unceremoniously hauled out of the Jakarta embassy, where he was the second most senior diplomat, to become Downer’s principal private secretary. This was a move concocted by Downer in the hope that Peter’s father, Richard Woolcott, the distinguished former diplomat and DFAT secretary would feel constrained to temper his trenchant criticism of Howard and Downer’s foreign policy decisions, which he found totally unpalatable. Downer misread Woolcott senior and the rest, as they say, is history but we will publish exclusive details of Peter Woolcott’s next career move when they are handed to us.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey