Today in Parliament Murray McCully said the reason Michelle Boag was involved in 2011 in the Saudi farm scandal was in her capacity as a member of the New Zealand Middle East Business Council. The problem with that answer is that she was not on that council until 2012, says Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson David Parker.
“Ms Boag was on TV on the 31 May of this year defending the government. Asked then about her involvement, she said she worked for the Middle East Business Council. Asked if she helped with the farm deal she said: ‘ No, no it was done entirely by officials.’
“The letter dated 2 November 2011 to the Foreign Minister from Brownrigg Agriculture (the eventual tender winner which built the multimillion dollar farm in the desert) said the letter was being copied to “Michelle Boag, who has been in contact with both of us in her capacity as a director of Laurium Asset Management, regarding her interest in seeing the live sheep export issue resolved and free trade with the Gulf States advanced.’
“This newest information, and the letter from Brownrigg Agriculture, shows yet more inconsistencies.
“The $4 million initial payment was a facilitation payment. It, and the bizarre $7 million spent on a model farm in the desert, were made to remove the barrier to the FTA. There was no legal claim.
“Mr McCully has misled his cabinet colleagues and sullied New Zealand’s reputation for fair dealing, animal welfare and agricultural excellence,” says David Parker.