Clean sweep

With the decision of Mark Vaile to stand down, and Alexander Downer likely to return to the backbench, if I’ve read these tealeaves correctly (BTW, is anyone else thinking “AWB inquiry” here), the Coalition will have lost its Leader, Deputy Leader, Treasurer and Foreign Minister in the space of a few days. That certainly increases the likelihood of the kind of radical restructuring I’ve been predicting/proposing.

42 thoughts on “Clean sweep

  1. SJ, I agree with that claim – most people are sane but any group you will still come up with one vindictive nark. Look at your comment 1. You are bursting for a witch-hunt.

    Now in 24. you were just kidding, right? You were just saying what you would like to see happen. That’s different – you know it never would so your exposed narkiness warrants no criticism. Wrong SJ, yet again.

  2. Harry, if you really can’t see any difference between Nuremberg and the Great Purge, you’re a sad, sad excuse for a human being.

  3. hc,
    There is a world of difference between justice and a witch hunt.

    We have imprisoned innocent people in Australia on the flimsiest of excuses in recent years but even after an enquiry into AWB and where corruption was discovered no charges have been laid against those people responsible. If criminal behaviour is OK if it is performed by the political class then democracy has been undermined far more during the Howard years than I had imagined.

    Charges should be laid for AWB transgressions and a forensic enquiry should be conducted to prevent against this kind of behaviour in the future by our future politicians. A consequence for a criminal or immoral action is justice.

  4. “Not really sure what an inquiry would now prove – instead just get rid of the single desk and you’ll kill off the privileges that surround AWB.”

    Well that’s the rub with large monopolies, how they can become a law unto themselves and when they do err, they can err big time. Same with monolithic public education systems(and ddon’t tell me it’s not because it needs a revolution) Why some lefties bitch so much about an AWB, when their utopia is everything run by one bloody great big monopoly/monolith is hard to fathom. Kill off the privileges as much as possible I say. Competition between players in the Iraq wheat market would have quickly divulged any serious skulduggery, not that you could seriously expect to deal at true arms length with any totalitarian regime. The very idea is nonsensical. As nonsensical as believing you can punish these regimes with economic sanctions and restrictions. They simply pass the price of that on. Get over it and see the AWB problem for what it always was. Lack of competition.

  5. Re AWB.

    It is alleged that an Australian company, operating under a monopoly warrant granted by the Australian government, conspired with the administration of a rogue state illegally to divert $300m into the coffers of that rogue state.

    There is a public interest in discovering the extent to which public officials and members of the government of Australia, had, or ought to have had, knowledge of the circumstances of this transaction between a government-warranted monopoly and the government of a rogue state.

  6. “Why some lefties bitch so much about an AWB, when their utopia is everything run by one bloody great big monopoly/monolith is hard to fathom.”

    You do realsie that not all “lefties” aspire to this, I hope.

    If not, I think we’ve all been talking at cross-purposes for the last couple of years.

  7. Katz: imagine the reaction if an anti-Iraq-war Labor government had been in power while the AWB payments were being made.

    We also have to consider the small matter of thousands of Australians who bought shares in AWB on the basis of representations made by the Howard government, supposedly after full and proper due diligence had been done.

  8. We also have to consider the small matter of thousands of Australians who bought shares in AWB on the basis of representations made by the Howard government, supposedly after full and proper due diligence had been done.

    Interesting point IG.

    Who, precisely, is responsible for th everacity of that due diligence?

    Presumably the underwriters of the IPO have primary responsibility.

    But again, if those underwriters can demonstrate fraudulent misrepresentation on the part of the previous owners of the asset (the federal government) then I imagine that they would have a remedy at law to recompense them for the effects of the fraud.

    And further to that, fraudulent misrepresentation is a crime if it is committed by a private entity.

    Is the federal government indemnified in some way from criminal prosecution?

  9. I would like to see an inquiry into going into Iraq under false pretences, Siev X, children overboard and a few other things. I am not so concerned about AWB because while they were in breach of sanctions, these sanctions have been estimated to have contributed to the deaths of something like 500,000 people through increased malnutrition, infant mortality etc. Those sanctions deserved to be broken.

  10. Peter,

    Firstly, the claims that sanctions killed 500,000 people are highly dubious.

    Secondly, the “sanctions-busting” didn’t result in a single kilo of additional food reaching the Iraqis – in fact by securing wheat contracts for AWB when they weren’t the lowest bidder the bribes paid to Saddam probably resulted in LESS food reaching them.

  11. Ian G @36,

    if the substantial reduction in child mortality throughout Iraq during the 1980s had continued through the 1990s, there would have been half a million fewer deaths of children under-five in the country as a whole during the eight year period 1991 to 1998.

    Unicef, 12 August 1999.

    I found this quote on the Campaign Against Iraq Sanctions archive which, interestingly, bears the Cambridge University coat of arms. Can you explain why you consider the number to be “highly dubious”?

    I’m also not clear why you think less food got to people on account of the sanctions busting. Maybe Saddam on-sold it to other countries?

    Not defending AWB here, just curious.

  12. That’s a pretty massive “if” – no other country in the region achieved anything like it – primarily because the oil price collapsed after the Gulf War.

    Furthermore, it assumes that any increase in mortality was due to the sanctions – not to the war; the destruction of infrastructure associated with it; the urpisings in Kurdistan and the shia areas; the massive number of internally displaced people after Kurdistan became a quasi-independent state or the massive environmental pollution from oil fires and depleted uranium.

    The AWB wasn’t selling Iraq wheat outside the UN oil-for-food program – they were bribing the Saddam regime to use the money from that program to buy Australian wheat rather than wheat from our competitors. That money was then used to prop up the government and Saddam’s lavish lifestyle.

    Just because we oppose the invasion of Iraq doesn’t mean we should ignore the fact that Saddam really was an evil bastard. Doctors have testified that they were prevented from using what drugs they did have to treat childhood leukemia victims so the kids suffering could be used as anti-sanctions propaganda.

  13. The claim of 500,000 children dying from the sanctions is a very conservative estimate based on a 1995 UN Food and Agriculture Organisation report – no doubt quite a few Iraqis died as a result of the sanctions ice then. This figure was not contradicted by Madeline Albright in a famous 60 minutes interview when she was asked about it.

    There is no doubt that the bribes to Saddam Hussein were dodgy, but hardly significant compared to the awful impact of the sanctions. An inquiry into the consequences of those sanctions – I’d like to see that!

  14. IG@38,
    “The AWB wasn’t selling Iraq wheat outside the UN oil-for-food program – they were bribing the Saddam regime to use the money from that program to buy Australian wheat rather than wheat from our competitors. That money was then used to prop up the government and Saddam’s lavish lifestyle.”

    Not in dispute. But Saddam ate the money not the wheat. Who ended up with the wheat in their belly?

    Basically AWB was involved in a “tendering” process. Anyone could have offered the same or more money for the contract. But while Saddam got the money the amount of wheat was the same. Without the bribe, how much wheat would Saddam have purchased? How many more children would have died? I am not ignoring Saddam’s evilness.

    As for infant and child mortality the relevant comparison seems to be Iraq in the 1980s v Iraq in the 1990s. Mortality in the rest of the region doesn’t seem relevant.

  15. The issue of AWB bribes and Howard government connivance in them is a question of Australian jurisprudence not a question of international humanitarianism.

    If anyone can produce a Howard government document which states that the Howard government winked at AWB supplying Saddam with a $300m bribe because the Howard government believed it was more moral that the Iraqi people got something to eat under any conditions, then I’ll but PC’s line of argument.

    But of course such a document would prove Howard government foreknowledge of a deliberate breach of a UN sanction, wouldn’t it?

  16. In 1995 the sanctions had been in place for about 2-3 years. The estimated 500,000 deaths implies a greater death toll per year than the Lancet estimate of annual deaths since the US invasion.

    I find it difficult to accept that as conservative.

    Furthermore as I pointed out already there were several other factors beside sanctions contributing to the failure of the Iraqi child mortality rate to continue to decline at the same as pre-war. The Iraqi child mortality rate was also declining at an unusually rapid rate in the 80’s because it went up during the Iran-Iraq war and then reverted to the long-temr trend of declining mortality.

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