Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

the no-nothing Ministers « Previous | |Next »
April 10, 2006

The Government's response to the argument, that ministers in the Howard Government had a responsibility under international law to ensure Australia did not transfer funds to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, is that the federal bureaucracy and relevant Ministers were merely a "postbox" for forwarding wheat contracts to the world body.

The Government's "we didn't know about it and therefore can't be held responsible" response is an implausible one. The Ministers in effect flicked the responsibility to the UN whilst they engaged in UN bashing in the run up to the war with Iraq.

Alan Moir

What we know from the work of the Cole Inquiry is that AWB is in the dock. So what of the ministers who turned a blind eye to the kickbacks in the UN oil-for-food scandal program? We know that their primary concern was trade, preventing the loss of wheat exports and protecting AWB. Hence they, and their departments, evaded all responsibility to ensure AWB was not paying bribes. Despite all the warnings they didn't act.Therein lies a problem.

Felicity Johnston, the UN's former chief customs officer who vetted oil-for-food contracts with Iraq, has said that:

"Every nation has a responsibility absolutely under (UN) Resolution 661 to ensure that nationals comply with that resolution. It states that all countries should ensure that its nationals do not provide transfers of funds to Iraq. Now I did not make that up. That's what it says in resolution 661 in black and white. Mr Vaile may try to wash his hands of it, but they do have a responsibility to ensure that their nationals abide by the rules and the regulations."

Australia's obligations under resolution 661 were enshrined in the Customs (Prohibited Export) Regulations, which placed an obligation on the Foreign Minister or his delegate to satisfy himself that exports to Iraq did not breach sanctions.

So much for the Government's evasion of responsibility. We know the Government's response. Downer and Vaile will say that none of the warning cables were drawn to their attentio prior to the Volker Inquiry. At the Cole Inquiry this week they will put on a public performance of anger for the way the public service ‘failed’ its responsibilities.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:52 AM | | Comments (0)