Thursday November 23 2006, 6:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"Australian Wheat Board Documents as presented at the Cole Inquiry are outing the Prime Minister John Howard fairly and squarely as a liar, who has played unbelievable games of manipulation with the trust and integrity of both the Australian Parliament and the Australian people," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"The facts are now squarely present, printed in black-and-white and listed as undeniable facts, and John Howard has been shown beyond any reasonable doubt that he lies to us; he plays a game with Australia's Parliament and with any notion of trust given to him, and he should immediately resign," spokesman Jack H Smit said after Fairfax (printed below) reported about the AWB documents which revealed that former UN Ambassador John Dauth had told former AWB Chairman Trevor Flugge a year before Australian troops went to Iraq that Howard would join the US in military action against Saddam Hussein.
"The Prime Minister has played with the lives of Australian soldiers, with the notion of accountable democracy and he has played with the high office of Prime Minister. John Howard has manipulated the Westminster system of government. Perhaps the PM should also face prosecution in the appropriate courts for this."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Envoy knew war plans, AWB documents reveal
By Marian Wilkinson
November 23, 2006
A year before the invasion of Iraq, Australia's then ambassador to the UN, John Dauth, told AWB's former chairman, Trevor Flugge, that the Howard Government would join military action by the US to overthrow Saddam Hussein, new AWB documents reveal.
Details of the conversation contradict statements by Prime Minister John Howard that Australia had not agreed to join the war in Iraq before the UN debate in late 2002 and early 2003.
The conversation between Mr Dauth and Mr Flugge took place in early 2002, 13 months before the war began. The details are contained in confidential AWB board minutes released by the Cole inquiry yesterday.
The minutes record Mr Flugge telling the board on February 27, 2002, that Mr Dauth confided in him that "he believed that US military action to depose Saddam was inevitable and that at this time the Australian Government would support and participate in such action".
With astonishing accuracy, Mr Dauth also predicted that the Iraqi regime's offer to invite UN weapons inspectors to return was only likely to stave off US action for 12 to 18 months but that some military action was inevitable.
The ambassador also told Mr Flugge the operation in Iraq would operationally be similar to that in Afghanistan with, "heavy use of air support followed by deployment of ground troops".
Mr Dauth promised Mr Flugge he would ensure AWB had "as much warning as would be possible" of the action but that it was unlikely that even the Australian Government would know the timing.
Until now, it was believed that the Howard Government began to consider military action against Saddam only in the middle of 2002. British and Australian intelligence assessments claiming Iraq still held dangerous WMD were released by the coalition governments in September 2002, but throughout the next months Australia publicly supported the return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq.
The minutes reveal Mr Flugge was given an unusual level of access to highly sensitive information by the Government. While Mr Flugge was voted out of his job as AWB chairman in 2002, he stayed on retainer for the company until 2003.
Immediately after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Mr Flugge was hired by the Government to help with reconstruction efforts. He took more than $1 million in cash into Iraq to distribute as part of the postwar operation.
Evidence before the Cole inquiry revealed that Mr Flugge was aware that AWB was paying millions of dollars in kickbacks to Saddam's regime in exchange for securing wheat contracts.