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Aust. Govt. plays 3 wise monkeys over AWB

Government plays 3 wise monkeys over AWB

"The Howard Government's three wise monkeys act on the AWB scandal is laughable," said Senator Rachel Siewert.

"Do they really expect us to believe the see no evil, speak no evil or hear no evil routine?"

See no evil: Despite it being common practice that bribes were used in Iraq, DFAT failed to look into UN allegations of bribery and blockade busting. Did they simply not want to see what was going on?

Speak no evil: Could DFAT really have failed to pass on information, suspicions and concerns to the Trade Minister, Foreign Minister or the PM who had clearly expressed interest in ensuring wheat sales continued? Was it just a case of not telling them what they didn't want to know?

Hear no evil: Or did the Prime Minister and his Government simply not want to hear about the details?

"Whatever way you look at it, there may be an exceedingly high level of culpability within the Government," said Senator Siewert.

"Mr Howard expects the Australian public to believe that he and his

Government were naïve enough to think that AWB could re-establish Iraqi wheat sales without bribery."

"How could he and his Ministers possibly meet with AWB to discuss the resumption of sales without asking how it was achieved?" she asked.

"The government has very deliberately limited the terms of reference of the inquiry," said Senator Siewert. "They were pushed into having the inquiry and now need to be pushed into doing it properly."

"The inquiry needs to be extended to include the role of government in this scandal. How could they really know nothing about it?" she asked.

"The Government appears to have tried really hard not to know."

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