Australian Government Gags Public Servants on AWB. Defence Department investigates Australian Armies crap equipment rort.

The un-Australian government is ducking for serious cover as the fallout from the AWB “wheat for weapons” Sadaam kick-back scandal keeps going higher and higher into government. They have put a gag order on all public servants that might be called before Senate legislation committees .

From the Australian:

… Government had directed public servants not to answer questions in relation to any matters before the Cole Commission of Inquiry, which is investigating $300 million in kickbacks paid to Saddam Hussein’s regime by the wheat distributor under the United Nation’s disgraced oil-for-food scheme.

‘I should inform the committee that the Government has directed that officials appearing before Senate legislation committees should not answer questions directed to them on matters before the commission of inquiry being conducted by the honourable Terence Cole into certain Australian companies in relation to the oil-for-food programs,’ Senator Minchin told the finance and public administration committee.

‘While examination of officials by the committee might be appropriate in the future, the Government considers that Mr Cole should be able to proceed with his inquiry and present his findings without parallel public questioning that would not assist consideration of complex issues.’

Opposition senators were outraged, saying the Government had overturned 30 years of precedent by directing officials not to answer particular questions.

‘This is just a despicable cover-up and you know it,’ Labor senator Robert Ray said.

‘There has never been an inhibition on questions … going to matters other than those that are sub judice before the courts.’

But Senator Minchin said the committee could ask any questions it liked it just might not get any answers.”

The other story in the headlines is that Aussie soldiers, including the SAS, find their equipment so crappy and useless, they have had to resort to buying their own.

Again, from the Australian (gee they are doing some good Investigative work these days):

An investigation has been launched into the Defence Department unit charged with equipping Australian soldiers amid allegations of defective equipment and conflicts of interest.

The Weekend Australian revealed the safety of Australian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the elite SAS, had been compromised by poor equipment.

Faults included jackets that glow in the dark, as well as body armour that cracks easily and is subject to “premature failure”.

(Uber Kiwi: Another article adds that blood-filled boots and sodden jackets infested with maggots also force thousands of Australian soldiers a year to buy their own military equipment.)

Internal Defence documents, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, also revealed problems with helmets and body armour were affecting soldiers including the SAS in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The documents show a former employee who worked on a tender for combat jackets subsequently left Defence to work for the winning contractor.

They also show an ABC radio journalist asked Defence about the former employee and any “conflict of interest”.

The journalist was told the employee had no “part in the process to award the combat jacket contract”.

However, Defence Department documents show the employee was not only involved in the design of the jacket but also provided “technical support during the tender process”.

The initial contract for jackets was awarded on March 7, 2003, and the employee started work with the winning contractor on July 1, 2003.

I love this government. The new would be boring without it.

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