The Guardian 23 March, 2005

Corporate bag man or Walter Mitty?

Senator Ross Lightfoot has threatened to sue any media outlet that alludes to his trip to Iraq and the handing over of $25,000 to Kurdish authorities as a "bribe" from Woodside Energy. In fact, it turns out the money never came from the resources giant. We know this because Woodside has "categorically" rejected the claims. And we know the Senator, labelled "honourable" by Prime Minister Howard, must be telling the truth because one the guardians of security in these terrorist times, the Australian Federal Police, has abandoned a planned investigation into the matter.

It turns out nothing happened. Oh, there are the photos of Lightfoot in Iraq with an AK-47 assault rifle, and there's the handgun he said he carried. And there are the varied and amended versions of reported events.

For example, Lightfoot is reported as telling the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, referring to the money, "We stitched it into our jackets." He told the Parliament, "The Woodside donation had been presented." He stated in a radio interview, "I never saw any money. I had nothing to do with money going in."

About the weapons, he told the Telegraph it reminded him of his national service. He told Parliament he was "uncomfortable" with the weapons. He said on radio, "If someone was going to shoot me, I was going to shoot back. I carried the .38 pistol."

About Woodside: "There was a donation given by my bodyguard that I negotiated on behalf of Woodside", he said in a statement. He told Parliament, "I reject the suggestion [my] shares in Woodside motivated me in my actions." He stated on radio, "I had no business on behalf of Woodside."

So, what do we know about the honourable Senator? Well, we know he's a racist. In 1995 he gave his honourable opinion on the teaching of Aboriginal culture in schools: "We will be forced to study a culture that some people find distasteful in all our schools".

He referred to asylum seekers as "uninvited and repulsive". He also sold his shares in Woodside when it became apparent that his connections to the company were going to be exposed.

Then again, none of this should come as a surprise. Lightfoot is part of a government that has based its very existence on nepotism, deception, deceit and outright lies. Australia is participating in the occupation and slaughter in Iraq based on a lie.

The most recent example of nepotism is the former Minister for Community and Family Services, Larry Anthony, going onto the board of Australia's biggest private childcare company, ABC Learning Centres. Under Anthony the government poured hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies into ABC Learning Centres.

And of course Howard has ruled out an inquiry into the Lightfoot business, because the loss of a Senator would upset the government's balance of power until a replacement was reinstated.

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