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Wheat scandal claims first scalp -

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(generated from captions) Senate, those wanting the removal of the ministerial veto, are confident. AWB has announced the resignation of its managing director, Andrew Lindberg. As the Iraqi wheat scandal claimed its first big scalp, the Howard Government's handling of the Oil-for-Food Program was undermined from within. Senior Liberal senator Bill Heffernan has condemned the organisation charged with monitoring wheat deals as a "toothless tiger". Andrew Lindburg took charge of AWB six years ago, which means he was at the top for most of the kickback scandal. At the Cole Commission, his memory failed him more than 200 times on key facts, meetings and emails, provoking counsel assisting the inquiry, John Agius,

to ask Mr Lindburg whether he was a complete fool. Now, he's become the inquiry's first casualty. Mr Lindburg has taken responsibility for his actions,

but John Howard refuses to take any responsibility for the actions of his government. The resignation came amid more damning evidence about AWB. A third former manager, Nigel Officer, told the inquiry the company's most senior executives were aware AWB was making payments to Saddam Hussein in breach of sanctions. In Canberra, Labor maintained its rage at John Howard and his ministers, but, more importantly, the Government's case was undermined from within. The Wheat Export Authority is charged with monitoring export prices. In 2004, it asked AWB about kickbacks and examined 17 Iraq contracts,

but, despite the unusually high prices, could find nothing untoward In Parliament, Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran accused AWB of repeatedly misleading the authority. They were clearly and repeatedly told by AWB there were no improprieties in regard to the contracts. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer went even further, arguing that backed the Government's case that it had not turned a blind eye to hints of kickbacks. He also praised the Wheat Export Authority as "..extremely credible and responsible."

But that's not the view of wheat farmer and prime ministerial confidant Bill Heffernan,

who today dismissed the organisation as a toothless tiger. A bed of pansies, where we need a cage full of gorillas. They haven't been equipped to do the work. Not only that,

Senator Heffernan says he and other Coalition backbenchers had been warning the Government of the problem for years. We've been saying this for three years. In other words, the Government had been told of the Wheat Export Authority's shortcomings well before it tried and failed to uncover the truth about the Iraq kickbacks. Jim Middleton, Lateline.