Operation Desert Storm

Blaming Saudi sand storms for the deaths of 70 per cent of Kiwi lambs born on a model farm meant to showcase New Zealand agricultural expertise is another part of the ludicrous attempt to disguise buying the cooperation of a wealthy Saudi Arabian businessman, Labour’s Trade Spokesperson David Parker says.

“Ministers are now trying escape being caught up in the scandal caused by Murray McCully.

“Yesterday Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy said he did not know of the extraordinarily high rate of lamb deaths. Today at Select Committee he said ‘a lot of sand and the wind’ may have been the cause of a ‘climatic event’ which killed high numbers of lambs born at the Saudi Arabian farm.

“At question time Trade Minister Tim Groser said that NZTE told both the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Minister of Foreign Affairs in December last year of the lamb deaths. Then this afternoon the NZTE contractor, Brownrigg Agriculture, said a desert storm was the cause.

“The truth is the so called ‘model’ farm has never been a model of New Zealand expertise. It is an embarrassment.

“This latest twist in this bizarre and sad waste of millions of taxpayers’ dollars is further evidence that the real purpose was to buy the cooperation of the Al Khalaf group who were, according to Mr McCully’s own cabinet paper, obstructing the Saudi FTA.

“National is sullying our international reputation for fair dealing, animal welfare and agricultural excellence,” David Parker says.