DOZENS of Iraqi citizens have received secret compensation payments of up to $90,000 each from the Federal Government after claiming personal harm or hardship caused by Australian soldiers.In true Howard fashion, Australia has not admitted wrong-doing in "that incident" (our troops opened fire on the Iraqi Trade Minister's entourage) but we are paying out compensation anyway. Not that anyone should "link" the two things, of course!
Australian taxpayers have funded at least 45 amounts - usually paid in wads of US dollars - out of respect for what the Defence Department describes as an "eye-for-an-eye culture".
In total, $266,681 of taxpayers' money has been paid out to Iraqi civilians in so-called act of grace payments since the Australian Defence Force began operations in Iraq.
The payments are huge sums for Iraqis, with the US Agency for International Development putting the present Iraq average annual income at $1830.
There were 37 individual payments for damage and injuries resulting from car accidents, ranging from $69 to $9390. Others included payments relating to crop damage and shootings.
While brief details are provided for some of the awards, the single biggest amount of $89,100 paid out last year has not been explained.
But it is thought the sum is most likely to have been paid to the family of the bodyguard of the Iraqi Trade Minister Abdul Falah al-Sudani.
Other payments of $33,900, $14,150 and $9280 may also be related to that incident.
NB: The blurb above comes from News Ltd, which I try to avoid, but I have not seen it reported anywhere else yet.