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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 14:32 GMT
Media 'frenzy' over wheat scandal
Threshing wheat in Iraq
Wheat was sold to Iraq under the oil for food programme

Revelations emerging from Australia's oil-for-food inquiry have left the national media wondering how many more heads will roll from among the country's elite.

The resignation on Thursday of Andrew Lindberg, managing director of Australia's wheat exporter AWB, has put the Cole inquiry firmly at the top of the news agenda, even though its final report is not due until October.

"The wheat bribes scandal has claimed its first scalp", says The Sydney Morning Herald.

Looking for a grain of truth
The Herald Sun

"AWB boss quits" is the lead story for Australia's public broadcaster ABC and several mass-circulation daily newspapers.

An editorial in The Australian argues that "while mandarins hide behind ministers, there is no accountability in the way we are governed". The paper is also concerned that those involved may be "Passing the Buckwheat".

According to The Daily Telegraph, the opposition Labour party is "chaffing at the bit" in its attempt to score political points at the expense of the government.

'Career suicide'

Among the revelations broadcast on ABC news radio were a former AWB executive reportedly saying it would have been "career suicide for him to act on his suspicions that the wheat exporter's payments were going to Saddam Hussein's regime".

Looking for a "grain of truth" in the scandal, The Herald Sun considers the possible end of the AWB's monopoly on wheat exports, a theme echoed by The Australian which reports that "rivals are lining up to step into AWB shoes".

An Australian media frenzy must be a horrible thing to be the subject of
The Australian's foreign editor

Writing in The Australian, Errol Simper points to the liberal use of language, writing that guffaws came from the audience gallery as the inquiry searched to define the meaning of the word "donation".

Bucking the trend, The Australian's veteran foreign editor calls for calm, believing there is too much coverage and that the media should take a step back.

Greg Sheridan writes: "I think it's time we all took a cold shower on AWB and its participation in the Iraq oil-for-food scandal."

"An Australian media frenzy, which always knows no limits of common sense, must be a horrible thing to be the subject of."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

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