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Aust Govt admits Downer approved money for Saddam

Govt. admits Downer approved money for Saddam

Minister Coonan admitted to the Senate today that Foreign Minister
Alexander Downer signed off on a $100 million AusAid plan which included $45 million for 'packaging and distribution'.

Senator Coonan confirmed to the Senate that the stringent AusAid risk management process was undertaken and signed off on by Mr Downer -despite the fact that he had been warned of the AWB transport rorts three years earlier by cable.

"Mr Downer chose to ignore clear warnings that money was being
channelled to Saddam - allowing millions of dollars to aid an enemy at a time of war," said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"Things don't get any more serious than this."

"It does not matter that the Oil-for-food program eventually picked up the bill," said Senator Siewert. "The Foreign Minister still signed off on the AusAid project to say that they'd looked at the risks and certified that everything was above board."

"He signed off on $45 million of aid going to bogus trucking fees."

"There is no way that the Prime Minister can fail to act," said Senator Siewert. "He might delay proceedings until Cole's final findings come in - but sooner or later Mr Downer must be called to the carpet."

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