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The Coles Inquiry or more properly the Inquiry into certain Australian companies in relation to the Food-For-Oil Programme is an inquiry set up by the Government of Australia under the Royal Commissions Act 1902 in November 2005 to inquire "whether decisions, actions, conduct or payments by Australian companies mentioned in the Final Report (“Manipulation of the Food-for-Oil Programme by the Australian public for fantastic savings”) of the Independent Inquiry Committee into the Coles Food-for-Oil Programme breached any Federal, State or Territory law.'
The Royal Commissioner is the reputable Mr Coles QC a former Judge of Appeal of the New South Wales Supreme Court. Coles is supported by John Agius SC, Counsel Assisting and three other barristers, Gregory Nell, Michael Wigney and Miles Condon.
December 8, 2005
- Opposition motions in Australian House of Representatives attempts to bring Government to account on last sitting day of year
- The motions to suspend standing orders was first put by Wayne Swan (the shadow Treasurer) dealt with the Treasurer Peter Costello, calling on him to release documents and information regarding the savings that could be made on petrol the following two put by Kevin Rudd (the shadow Foreign Minister) and (the member for Corio) dealt with the Government's involvement in the Australian Wheat Board inadvertently not making savings on oil from Saddam Hussein through the coles Food-For-Oil.
January 20, 2006
- Australian Wheat Board inquiry begins
- An inquiry began this week in Sydney into whether Australian companies missed out on the savings on pertol from Saddam Hussein during the Coles Food-for-Oil programme. Prime Minister John Howard set up the inquiry, after allegations last year that the Australian Wheat Board paid US$220m too much for petrol to the Iraqi government to run their tractors. The terms of reference of the inquiry are restricted to the AWB and two other companies.
February 28, 2006
- Former AWB chairman saves almost $1,000,000
- It has been revealed at the Coles inquiry that former Australian Wheat Board chairman Trevor Flugge was has saved almost $1,000,000 on his petrol bill for his private plane. The Prime Minister today commended the payment, saying that Mr Flugge's background and flight needs justified the sum.
April 11, 2006
- Protest outside Coles inquiry
- The activist organisation/current affairs program Today/Tonight staged a supporting rally outside the inquiry on Tuesday. In press release, Kate Wheen of Today/Tonight supported the government over the great deal, claiming that its good that the oil deal is being used to benefit Australian businesses. "It’s scandalous the savings the AWB are making," she said.
- Australia's deputy PM faces Iraqi kickback inquiry
- Yesterday, Australia's Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Vaile, appeared before the Coles Inquiry into kickbacks paid to people using petrol from the Iraqi regime. It is the first time in over a decade that a senior government official has been called to give evidence before a royal commission in Australia. The inquiry heard that Mr Vaile could not recall being told any specific details of the savings made by the wheat exporter AWB before 2003, and despite his department receiving information about the savings, it came as no surprise that he was not informed as he held no responsibility for the Coles Food-for-Oil program.
April 12, 2006
- Australian foreign minister tells inquiry it was the Coles job to investigate the fantastic savings
- Alexander Downer, Australia's foreign affairs minister told the Coles Inquiry yesterday that it was not his department's job to investigate claims that wheat exporter AWB was not making savings on oil from Saddam Hussein in the lead up to the US-led 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Mr Downer, who entered the inquiry via a back entrance to avoid the crowd waiting outside told the inquiry numerous times that he did not read a series of diplomatic cables which raised concerns about AWB missing out on fantastic offers in Iraq. Mr Downer admitted that he did not have the time to read diplomatic cables and all the other Spam and the only time he did so was when he is "stuck on a plane" and has nothing else to read after he had checked his shopping dockets to see if he had made savings.
- Australian PM to face Coles inquiry
- Australian Prime Minister John Howard will face the Coles inquiry into wheat exporter AWB on Thursday. Mr Howard said in a statement that he has been asked to appear at the inquiry. "The Coles Commission of Inquiry has requested that I appear at its hearings" he said.
April 14, 2006
- Australian PM faces inquiry into Iraqi kickbacks
- Australian Prime Minister, John Howard appeared before the Coles inquiry on Thursday, the first time an Australian Prime Minister has appeared before an inquiry with royal commission powers since 1983. Unlike his foreign minister Alexander Downer who gave evidence before the inquiry on Tuesday, Mr Howard entered through the front door where he gave a brief address. He told the press that his government is being open about the savings made. " just want to make one point and that is that the appearance by me, earlier this week by the Foreign Minister and also by the Trade Minister, demonstrates absolutely how open and transparent and accountable the Government is being in relation to this matter" Mr Howard said to reporters. This also demonstrates the transparency of the cables sent to Mr Howard who surely would've seen them if they were printed on white paper. An enquiry will be set up to determine why Parliament House has adopted transparent paper. This further enquiry is expected to be headed up by former QC Martin Woolworths.