When the Cole Commission began inquiring into AWB, past experience of the operations of this government yielded the following conclusions
* Both Downer and Howard knew that the AWB was paying kickbacks to the Iraqi regime
* This information was transmitted in a way that preserves deniability, so no conclusive proof will emerge
* No government minister will resign
* Endless hair-splitting defences of the governmentâ€™s actions in this matter will emerge from those who have previously made a loud noise about Oil for Food.
With only Howard, master of the straight bat defence, still left to appear, all of these conclusions have been borne out. The offices of senior ministers were flooded with dozens cables and other communicaitons warning them of AWB activities yet, as far as the official record is concerned, no one ever looked into these any further than to ask for, and receive, a flat denial from AWB. It’s obvious that they knew enough not to ask any official questions that might produce inconvenient answers, but as predicted, no conclusive proof of this has emerged. Resignations appear to be out of the question. The theory of accountability remains in force.