What price can be put on integrity, reputation, and good name? They are priceless. Once integrity is besmirched, reputation downgraded, and a good name has become a byword, it is difficult - in fact, well nigh impossible - to make up the ground that has been lost. So it is with Australia following the AWB bribes and kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime. Australians have been and are shamed by the actions of AWB's gun-totin' cowboys - gun-totin' cowboys who were buoyed with the confidence of Australia's Howard Government.
Australia's Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Vaile, made that quite clear in his evidence to the Cole Inquiry yesterday. He didn't read the cables. He didn't ride shotgun on his department. He didn't double-check with his department. He didn't require an investigation to be carried out into the probity of AWB. He bought the flim-flam lock, stock and smoking barrel and then he dished it out - through the Ambassador - vouching for AWB with the solid backing of Australia's integrity, Australia's good name, Australia's reputation.
Read Mark Vaile in his own words here.