Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Downer's dopey defence

So Alexander Downer's too busy to do his job! It's a bolder take than Mark Vaille's pathetic cry that he was snowed under in his job as Deputy PM and Trade Minister and didn't have time to check on AWB bribes - but as an excuse before the Cole Commission into the wheat for weapons scandal, it's a ripper.

The Herald-Sun's Gerard McManus captures the extraordinary Downer evidence today. Sloppy and negligent is probably the best that can be said for Downer, and Peter Hartcher says so in today's SMH.

So what do we make of a Foreign Minister who only reads diplomatic cables when he is "stuck on a plane" and has nothing better to read? Sadly, Downer's evidence is characteristic of the man. In fact, it's fair to say the lazy minister will do just about anything to avoid the responsibilities that come with his high office.

We are reliably informed that when travelling, Downer prefers playing with his Gameboy to taking advice from his diplomats. DFAT officials tell of times the minister has waved them away in airplanes with the imperious order: "Not now, I'm nearing top score on Super Mario Brothers!"

Downer is a smart bloke who jumped into the commission's witness box yesterday with a twinkle in his eye. But if he thought he could joke his way through the questioning he was wrong.

Just how does his admission yesterday that he didn't read any of the 21 cables containing warnings about AWB square with this Downer declaration to Parliament in February?

Asked in Parliament on February 28 about his knowledge of the cables, Downer said: "Of course, I would have read them. I was perfectly satisfied with the response of the department to these inquiries." Downer is really his own worst enemy - but Michelle Grattan definitively states in today's Age that "the scandal will not bring down a minister..."

It's a judgement based on Howard's determination not to lose a minister to scandal under almost any cicumstance - and Michelle jumps the gun a little too early, without even awaiting Commissioner Cole's report.


Blogger Niall said...

I think that commentators like Michelle Grattan are unwittingly helping Howard out. If it's about winning and losing, Howard's fine: he's been in office ten years, therefore he's a winner. But it's about principle and practice. On both of these grounds, Downer and Vanstone are admittedly incompetent and must go! Downer's admission that he only reads cables on the plane beggars belief. Why is he still there!?

2:39 am  
Blogger Rebekka said...

Apparently not only does 'Lex openly reads cables marked "Top Secret" on planes so that they can be viewed by others, but also has to deal with his frequently drunk wife. Allegedly, accordinly to my gossip-mongering sources.

5:34 pm  
Anonymous Cameron Reilly said...

well let's not leave it up to Howard. I'm sick to death of this kind of shit from Howard, and I voted Liberal! Everyone can see Downer is not worthy of the post. If he had any balls at all he'd stand up and take it like a man. It's time the people intervened. Hugo, you're my expert in such matters. What are the avenues available to us?

6:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have a heart, Rebekka. You'd need a drink...

10:31 pm  
Blogger Rebekka said...

Oh, I am certain I'd need a drink*. I wasn't judging! Just suggesting that dealing with one's drunk partner probably minimises the time one is able to spend reading top secret cables in public places.

*by which I mean at least one entire bottle of vodka.

9:07 pm  

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