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Saudi sheep deal still stinks

Documents released today confirm Treasury were not aware of any threat of legal action from a Saudi businessman to justify the Government handing over millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money, Labour MP David Parker says.

“Almost $12 million has been spent on equipment and sending sheep to businessman Hamood Al Khalaf's farm in Saudi Arabia.

“Foreign Minister Murray McCully and the Prime Minister have repeatedly claimed a $4 million payment was to avoid legal action following New Zealand’s live sheep ban.

“The documents reveal that just a week after John Key claimed that payment was to avoid legal action, officials from Treasury couldn’t find any reference to legal proceedings in their advice.

“It’s appalling that the truth had to be dragged out of both Murray McCully and the Government. The Auditor-General is currently investigating and, if it’s confirmed the deal was improper, the Government needs to respond appropriately.

“These new documents only confirm what we have been saying all along – that this was a shabby, unprincipled deal that has wasted millions dollars of taxpayers’ cash,” David Parker says.