New Zealand Labour Party

Saudi sheep papers released at 1pm if the Government does not do so

The 2007 cabinet papers relating to the prohibition on the export of live sheep for slaughter will be released  at 1pm today if the Government fails to do so, says Labour’s Export and Trade spokesperson David Parker.

“It is now three weeks since the Prime Minister and Mr McCully claimed that former papers from the last Labour government proved that the $4 million facilitation payment to the Al Khalaf group, the $6 million model farm and the million dollar sheep flight were justified, and were to settle a claim for $20m to $30m by the Saudi group.

“Labour sought and obtained the 2007 papers from the Cabinet office. The papers show the original ban being extended because of concerns about inhumane treatment after landing, using slaughter methods not allowed in New Zealand.

“National’s excuse was always nonsense. The actions of the prior Labour government were legal, and indeed renewed twice by National in 2010 and 2013. No claim had ever been filed by Al Khalaf, and would have expired under the Limitation Act even if it had been real.

“Trying to shift the blame to its predecessor is standard practice for this Government, even after seven years.

“We sought to table the papers in Parliament on Thursday 4 June. National blocked this, saying the papers could be processed and released ‘in the next day or two’.

“It is now the 17th of June. They have still not been released, and so yesterday we again sought to table them. This was again blocked by National.

“The convention is former Ministers who have accessed Cabinet papers will not release them publicly until they have been put through a proper vetting process.

“This convention is now being abused by the National government by their inexplicable delay.

“It seems they are doing this to avoid responsibility for the disreputable conduct of Mr McCully, which has sullied New Zealand’s reputation for clean and fair dealings by making a multimillion dollar facilitation payment, which in other countries is called a bribe.

“Despite having also wasted more than $10 million dollars of taxpayers’ money, the Government seems to be hoping that its delays will allow the controversy surrounding this scandal to die down.

“But this is no trifling matter. It is not going away. It is also time for Mr McCully to return home, to stay and attend Parliament to explain his actions,” says David Parker.