David Parker, New Zealand's Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Environment, Minister for Trade and Export Growth, and Attorney-General.

MIL OSI – Source: Labour Party & NZ Government – Saudi sheep scandal continues with Labour accusing PM of backflips

Labour MP, David Parker.
Labour MP, David Parker.

John Key’s explanations of the Saudi sheep scandal continue to be riddled with inconsistencies and irreconcilable backflips, Labour’s Trade Spokesperson David Parker said.

“Either he has been misled by his Minister Murray McCully or the Prime Minister is deliberately obfuscating in order to confuse the public;

  • Having stated the upfront $4 million payment to the Al Khalaf group was to settle a legal claim caused by Labour, John Key on Thursday admitted that Al Khalaf had ‘no cause of action’.
  • Having stated that Al Khalaf had no ongoing financial interest in the 900 sheep flown to the $7m plus model farm in the desert, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise on Thursday conceded the New Zealand Government had no financial interest in the sheep, or their lambs. These must then have passed completely to the Al Khalaf group.

 

“The Prime Minister is the person New Zealand relies on to uphold this country’s standards and reputation internally and internationally. This scandal is undermining New Zealand’s reputation for fair dealing, for humane treatment of animals and for excellence in agriculture.

“The facilitation payment has sullied our reputation for fair dealing.

“The Labour Party will continue to hold the Prime Minister, and his Ministers, to account. New Zealanders have the right to expect those they have elected to work ethically and in the best interests of our country,” David Parker said.

Last week, the National-led Government insisted released Cabinet papers revealed the previous Labour Government acted in ‘bad faith’ around the Saudi sheep issue and was repeatedly warned its actions carried legal, commercial and diplomatic risks, Acting Foreign Minister Todd McClay said.

McClay said the documents confirmed live sheep exports, for slaughter, stopped in 2003 but in the following year Labour began to negotiate a bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia to resume those exports.

“The papers show Labour knew it had a Saudi investor in New Zealand who was operating a breeding programme of sheep for export to Saudi Arabia, so it sought to address that by resuming live exports,” Mr McClay said.

“Labour started to negotiate a deal with Saudi Arabia to resume live exports ‘on a commercial basis’.

“Phil Goff travelled to Riyadh as Trade Minister in 2006 and told a Saudi Minister that New Zealand was happy with the deal and had no objections to its conclusion in the near future.

“However, Labour then changed its position and acted in bad faith,” Todd McClay said.

Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.