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Downer Signed Off on AusAid Grant to Iraq

Downer Signed Off on AusAid Grant

Senator Coonan, the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Senate said during question time that she assumes Mr Downer signed off on the $100 million aid package to Iraq in 2003.

"This means that the Foreign Minister signed off on the probity of a
$100 million aid package which channelled $45m to Alia, the Jordanian trucking company at the centre of the AWB sandal. This is despite admitting yesterday to having been told three years earlier of rumours of Iraqi transport rorts," she said.

"The Minister is responsible as financial delegate under the Financial
Management and Accountability Act for certifying the proper expenditure of aid money based on a detailed risk assessment process," said Senator
Siewert.

"He had a strong obligation to look into the details of the AusAid proposal, it is simply beyond belief that major alarm bells weren't ringing" she said.

"If proper probity assessment was carried out, the payments to Alia should have been identified. If the Minister was doing his job properly when he signed off on this money, why wasn't the rorting identified?"

In recent Senate estimates hearings AusAid officials assured the committee that process was always followed 'to the letter'.

"The bottom line is that nearly 2500 Iraqi people's lives could have been saved with the $45m spent on bogus trucking fees" said Senator Siewert.

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