Labour to call for NZTE to answer to committee

Labour members of the Commerce Select Committee have put a motion on the agenda to request NZTE officials re-appear before the committee to answer more questions on suspension of funding for the Saudi agri-hub.

When asked directly if funding for the ‘Al-Khalaf agr-hub’ was suspended, NZTE chief executive Peter Chrisp told the Commerce Committee last Thursday, ‘no, there’s absolutely no reason to’.

That contradicts a board paper that states funding for ‘the Al Khalaf agri-hub’ was suspended days after the Auditor General commenced her inquiry.

“NZTE should return to the committee to correct their answer and explain why funding was suspended and if it remains suspended. Labour MPs have put this motion on the agenda for the committee this Thursday,” says Labour MP David Parker.

“It is a very serious matter to mislead a select committee. Their purpose to scrutinise government spending is to ensure taxpayers’ money is not being wasted or used to fund improper projects.

“This controversial deal has included a $4m cash payment, $1m on flying sheep to Saudi Arabia, most of the lambs dying, and concern over whether the abattoir being paid for by taxpayers will be owned by the Saudi government. It was always clear this would be the subject of questions by Labour members at select committee.  

“Yesterday a spokesperson for Mr Chrisp disingenuously argued the funding was not suspended, but delayed until they sorted out who owned the abattoir, another issue that needs more answers.

“This deal gets murkier and murkier. The public deserve proper answers. NZTE must reappear as soon as possible,” David Parker says.