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Vaile seeks to blame Opposition for the Government's own mismanagement of wheat exports to Iraq.



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MEDIA RELEASE

KEVIN RUDD M.P. Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and International Security

16 November 2005

VAILE SEEKS TO BLAME OPPOSITION FOR THE GOVERNMENT’S OWN MISMANAGEMENT OF WHEAT EXPORTS TO IRAQ.

In classic Howard Government political management style, Trade Minister Mark Vaile has today tried to divert attention from his own mismanagement of Australia’s wheat exports to Iraq by blaming both the Opposition and the media.

Prime Minister Howard, Foreign Minister Downer, and Trade Minister Vaile are collectively responsible for approving the AWB’s commercial arrangements with Saddam Hussein’s regime back in 2000.

As a consequence the AWB went on to provide $300 million to Saddam Hussein in defiance of UN sanctions.

The effect of the Government’s mismanagement has been to:

• Undermine Australia’s foreign policy reputation by having been party to a breach of UN sanctions; • Undermine Australia’s reputation as a wheat exporting country; and • Create doubts about Australia’s future in Iraqi and other world export

markets.

The truth is that none of this would have happened had the Howard Government not displayed culpable negligence in ignoring UN warnings back in early 2000, and giving an unqualified green light to the AWB to engage a Jordanian trucking company - which then became the vehicle for funnelling funds to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein.

The bottom line is that Australia will not be able to extricate itself from this foreign and trade policy mess until it expands the powers of the Inquiry to investigate the actions of the Australian Government as well as the AWB.

Ends. 16 November 2005

Media contact: Alister Jordan 0417 605 823