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Of all the stories to emerge form the catastrophic floods that hit Queensland in the summer of 2011, the most starkly tragic and dramatic were those that emerged form Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley. "The Torrent" is a unique and powerful account of human courage in the face of the devastating force of nature, and the enduring resilience of ordinary Australians.
The investigation, panning over a year, exposes 11 Members of Parliament from major political parties in India willing to issue letters of recommendation to promote a fictitious Australian oil exploration company in exchange for fees ranging between Rs 50,000 to Rs 50 lakh. The political parties include Congress, BJP, BSP, JDU and AIADMK. Six of these MPs even wrote the letters for a fee. The parliamentarians who are willing to not only write recommendation letters for a fee but also lobby with the Union Ministry of Petroleum for a foreign company to help it secure oil exploration and rigging rights in the Northeast. A total of 11 MPs from the Congress Party, BJP, JDU, AIADMK and BSP are on camera willing to help an oil exploration company to set up shop in India. However, none of them bothered to check the antecedents of the company or check if the company was real. What they hankered after was money, quoting as low as Rs. 50,000 to a mind boggling Rs. 50 lakh as the price for a letter of recommendation, delivered all in cash; one MP even had the audacity to demand that his fee be delivered through a hawala operator. Six MPs issued letters of recommendation to Cobrapost. Cobrapost reporter Ashish Jadon approached these MPs as a representative of fake foreign oil company, Mediterranean Oil Inc. of Queensland, Australia. He had already prepared a functional website, printed a modest brochure, and carried with him a few copies of the company profile. Our reporter introduced himself as a consultant working for Mediterranean Oil Inc. entrusted with the onerous task of rallying support from MPs across the political spectrum for its oil exploration bid in the Northeast, pegging the project at Rs. 1000 crore. He requested the MPs he met to write a recommendation letter. Their recommendation letter will help boost the profile of his company and assist the company in being awarded with oil exploration rights in the Northeast India. To our surprise, far from being turned down, which should have been the ideal case, all parliamentarians agreed to help. If some of them wrote letters of recommendation addressing the Joint Secretary with the Petroleum Ministry, others offered to either lobby directly with the ministry mandarins or get the project sanctioned with help from the most mighty among the ruling party.
Palm Island was established in 1918 as an Aboriginal penal colony. Today it is the largest Aboriginal community in Queensland state. Most of the islanders today are the descendants of women who, because of their half-caste children, were forcibly moved to the island in the 1930s.