Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Vaile enters witness protection program in attempt to seek refuge from wheat for weapons fallout.



Download PDFDownload PDF

MEDIA RELEASE

KEVIN RUDD

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, TRADE AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY

24 SEPTEMBER 2006

VAILE ENTERS WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM IN ATTEMPT TO SEEK REFUGE FROM WHEAT FOR WEAPONS FALLOUT

Today’s reshuffle is all about placing Mark Vaile in a witness protection program to shield him from the political fallout of the $300 million wheat for weapons scandal. It is not about Australia’s long-term national interests.

This reshuffle is a short-term political move designed to take the blow torch off Mark Vaile’s involvement in the $300 million wheat for weapons scandal - the biggest corruption scandal in Australia’s history.

Mr Vaile should be removed from the Ministry because he failed to do his job -not rewarded with another senior Ministerial post.

The wheat for weapons scandal has revealed Mr Vaile’s gross negligence in turning a blind eye to 33 separate warnings about AWB’s activities in Iraq. The scandal has also revealed a high degree of cooperation between Mr Vaile, the Howard Government and AWB in trying to cover up AWB’s activities in Iraq. All the while the cost to Australia’s hardworking wheat farmers has been significant. Australia’s share of the Iraq wheat

market fell by 50 per cent between 2004-2005 and 2005-2006.

Mr Vaile has been the worst Trade Minister Australia has had since Federation. On his watch Australia has recorded 52 consecutive monthly trade deficits despite record prices for Australia’s commodity exports. He failed to meet his promise to double the number of Australian exporters. And as chair of the Cairns Group he presided over the mass

defection of Cairns Group members in 2003 to a newly established group - the G20.

Mr Truss should not be rewarded by receiving the Trade portfolio because he also failed to do his job in the wheat for weapons scandal.

Mr Truss was Minister from Agriculture from 1999 to 2005 - covering the period that the wheat for weapons scandal ran. During that time Mr Truss was responsible for overseeing the Wheat Export Authority - the body that failed badly in its responsibility to properly scrutinize AWB export contracts. There is also a prominent Victorian grain

merchant who has said on the record that he warned Mr Truss in 2002 about the AWB’s activities in Iraq.

It is clear the Howard Government is quickly become an endangered species protection agency for Australia’s greatest endangered species - the National Party. Ends. 24 September 2006

Contact: Alister Jordan 0417 605 823