April 11, 2006.
Downer refuses to walk the gauntlet at AWB… but will he talk the talk?
In a big loss for democracy the Foreign Minister Alexander Downer refused to submit to the scrutiny of the media by
sneaking into the Cole Inquiry into the AWB today.
The courageous though seemingly amnesiac, Mark Vaile fronted the media yesterday on his way to give evidence to the Cole
Australia’s Foreign Minister Alexander Downer took the cowards way out by scurrying in the back door and skulking past
the peaceful AID/WATCH event which was situated out the front of the inquiry. Highlighting the use of Australian aid
money to support commercial interests in Iraq – namely by giving over $1.4 million of our aid money to AWB to protect
their wheat contracts.
Kate Wheen from AID/WATCH - resplendent in fishnet stockings, private schoolboy uniform and Alexander Downer mask was
disappointed Mr. Downer wouldn’t talk with the Australian people about why our aid program was supporting business
before the many in Iraq who needed the aid money so badly.
“It’s scandalous that AWB was paying kickbacks to the Iraqi regime, but it is unethical, immoral and possibly illegal
that our government can ruthlessly support Australian business whilst so many in Iraq remain in such great need.”
Tim O’Connor from AID/WATCH commented “Whilst there is certainly a role for the Australian government to play in
supporting Australian business, to do so through the aid program is a flagrant dereliction of duty. Aid should be about
supporting people worse off than ourselves but under this Government we have seen the taxpayer funded aid program
consistently deployed to advantage Australian business with little regard for the many who need aid so badly”
AID/WATCH staged a colorful event out the front of the Cole Inquiry today. Saddam Hussein, Alexander Downer, Mark Vaile,
John Howard and AusAIDs $1 million man, Trevor Flugge were depicted handing around bundles of cash. The event titled
“Aid for people not for profits” highlighted the misuse of Australian aid monies.
Unfortunately the scandal of using Australia’s aid to lock up commercial contracts for Australian business lies outside
the terms of reference of the Cole Inquiry and as such is likely to never be fully investigated.