House debates

Monday, 13 February 2006

Howard Government

Censure Motion

3:01 pm

Photo of Alexander DownerAlexander Downer (Mayo, Liberal Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

We of course gave the Volcker committee documents that would assist them. We have no documents that show that the Australian government knew that the AWB was involved in kickbacks. We do not have those documents. Of course, that is increasingly transparent through the Cole process. Once the Volcker committee had completed its work, the Australian government established the Cole inquiry. Of the 66 countries I mentioned, over 2,000 companies were involved. Yes, the Wheat Board was at least allegedly a big transgressor. But, remember, 85 per cent of the contracts were contracts which involved companies from other countries.

The Labor Party’s assertion is that Tony Blair or President Chirac or Prime Minister Persson of Sweden were not involved in cover-ups but the Australian government was. This is oppositionism at its worst. This is oppositionism at its weakest. Of course, the opposition cannot produce any evidence that the government was somehow backing these kickbacks or had been involved in these kickbacks, because the government was not. The government was not involved in the kickback scheme. It was never the policy of the Australian government. It has never been the policy of this government and, for that matter, I believe going right back to 1901, it has not been the policy of any Australian government to support kickbacks. It is as simple as that.

The policy of the government was to support UN sanctions. The policy of the government was to support the oil for food program. That was the policy of all or nearly all countries in the United Nations.


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