Margo Kingston has collected all the facts on the snap decision to impose excise on ethanol imports to the benefit of Australian ethanol producer Manildra.
Howard will undoubtedly get away with this, but until a few years ago, misleading Parliament over a decision involving more than a hundred million dollars, to the benefit of a party crony, would have been exceptionally politically damaging. As late as the 1980s, ministerial careers were ruined over far smaller sins.
Many factors have contributed to this, and standards declined markedly in the later part of the Hawke-Keating government, but undoubtedly public acquiescence in the ‘children overboard’ lies has been a big factor. Once it’s clear that you can lie about a policy issue, be caught, and still get away with it, the temptation to lie about money becomes overwhelming. It’s a safe bet that at least some of those involved in this process will end up with cushy post-political jobs as a result (see Reith, Wooldridge etc).
Update I am obviously hopelessly behind the times. Manildra has already hired Howard’s former chief of staff.