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Saudi sheep deal exposed as a shabby deal to buy a FTA

The Saudi sheep deal report provides extraordinary criticism by the Auditor General of the Saudi sheep deal, says Labour’s Shadow Attorney General David Parker 

“While she has found there was no corruption in terms of the definition in the Crimes Act 1961, she has not held back from exposing how badly this government made decisions around the Saudi sheep deal.

“The Government will claim this exonerates them, as they did with the Auditor General report on Sky City. 

“The only positive for McCully is that he is not guilty of the crime of corruption. 

The Auditor General found ‘settlement of a grievance was provided under the guise of a contract for services.’ 

“She agreed explanations to date from the Ministers and officials had been inadequate. 

“She finds the deal was to facilitate the Gulf FTA. 

“She made no comment on the morality of the deal saying, ‘the use of a contract for services was a decision made by Cabinet. I comment on the quality on the Cabinet paper process, but not on the decision itself.’ 

“The Auditor General in particular found ‘significant shortcomings’ in the Cabinet paper. 

  • It ‘did not clearly identify that the Al Khalaf Group would own the goods and services costing the NZ Government $6m.’ 
  • ‘did not identify how the $10m figure was arrived at’, which we now know included spending $1million on flying sheep to Saudi Arabia. 
  • ‘signalled the risk of a claim against the Government based only on the $20-$30 million figure that the Cabinet paper said was suggested by the Al Khalaf Group (there was no assessment by the Ministry officials of the substance of that legal risk)’ 

“The record is clear that the Government, and Murray McCully tried to hide the $4m payment and blame others. 

“Whether he should resign, is for the Prime Minister who should be asked: Have we reached the point in New Zealand that his standards are so low that Ministers will only be sacked if they end up before the courts rather than for incompetence, wasting millions, hiding it, and misleading Parliament and the public? “