Tuesday, February 28, 2006

He got AusAID but needed a Hearing AID

Consider the contrasting fortunes of Trevor Flugge and Jack Thomas.

Trevor Flugge is a key figure in the AWB Saddam bribery story. He played a central role in the Iraq wheat arrangements when he worked for AWB. The story so far, as is being unveiled in a special royal investigation, is that it appears the Australian Wheat Board was far and away the single largest bribe paying benefactor to the Saddam regime in contravention to the UN Oil-for Food sanctions. It appears the AWB paid Iraq, both before and after the fall of Saddam, bribes totalling roughly A$300 million. It is not hard to speculate, as some have suggested, that some of that money may have enabled Saddam to support the Palestinian suicide bombers.

As vehemently opposed to Saddam as the Prime Minister, John Howard, was, Trevor Flugge was nevertheless selected by the Australian government to go to the post-Saddam Iraq and "help" the reconstruction effort, including looking over the contracting of provisions and sevices for that effort. This would have been a parlous job assignment and required a fully capable, attentive and astute candidate. The Howard government nominted Trevor Flugge notwithstanding that he is deaf in one ear and can't hear out the other, and that he has uncommon incapacity to remember things. In short, he made a perfect political appointment and an imperfect commercial/diplomatic one.

To compensate him for his efforts, the Australian taxpayers chipped in almost A$1 million, which works out at well over a 1 million dollar a year wage for his time in the job.

Read all about it in the Herald.

Jack Thomas is a bit of a stargazer rather than a star. Taxi driver, seeker of guidance, misplaced and misdirected from all I can gather from the papers. Hard to know, really, whether he's harmless or harmful.

Jack Thomas sat at the knee of Osama bin Laden and took instruction from him. Then he was sent back home, to Australia. He was prosecuted for being a terrorist, but was not convicted of that. He has been convicted of passport fraud and receiving money from a terrorist organisation, about A$3500 as I understand it.

Read all about that one also in the Herald.

So here we have two guys, one of whom apparently played a pivotal role in directing millions of dollars to a terrorist organisation and gets a plum job from the government for his connections and experience, and another bloke who takes a few thousand dollars from a terrorist organisation and gets 25 years imprisonment.

Go figure.

For more on the AWB story, click here.


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