Radio: Across The Ditch – Bizarre Saudi Sheep Deal Under Official Investigation + Prep for Rugby World Cup

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Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning.

Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning.
Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning.

EveningReport.nz’s Selwyn Manning and FiveAA.com.au’s Peter Godfrey deliver this week’s Across The Ditch bulletin: This week we talk about how Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Perth and Auckland all feature in the top ten of the world’s most liveable cities.

We also discuss the bizarre Saudi Sheep Deal Under Official Investigation + Prep for Rugby World Cup – Recorded live on 20/08/15.

ITEM ONE
Saudi Sheep Deal

Fallout from the bizarre Saudi sheep farm deal just won’t go away, and this week the Government’s auditor watchdog, the Auditor General, initiated an official inquiry into the scandal.

The background to this weird scandal is:

  • In 2007, the Labour Government banned the export of live animals for slaughter.
  • in 2008 the National Party won the elections and became Government.
  • In 2009, Agriculture Minister David Carter (who is now NZ Parliament’s speaker) began negotiations with Saudi Arabia for a resumption of live-sheep exports.
  • In 2010, the National Government extended the ban of live exports.
  • February 2013, the Cabinet approved Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s deal to pay $4 million to Hmood Al Khalaf’s business to secure it to run an agri-hub to promote New Zealand agriculture in Saudi Arabia and as a settlement of a long-running dispute over the ban on live-sheep exports.
  • Also in 2013 Cabinet approved $6 million be paid to NZ businesses to deliver their services and help set-up the Saudi farm.
  • And the Government also paid $1.5 million for 900 pregnant ewes to be flown to the Saudi farm, onboard Singapore Airlines! (end of summary)

Until recently, the National led Government kept details of the Saudi sheep deal secret, that is until the Ombudsman insisted redacted information be released.

Specifically, the Auditor General confirmed she will investigate the following:

  • the amount of public money budgeted and spent on this Partnership, how it has been used, and the outcomes achieved with it;
  • whether the expenditure on services was within the appropriations of Vote Foreign Affairs and Trade, as authorised by Parliament;
  • the procurement and contract management practices used by the Ministry and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to purchase services relating to the Partnership;
  • whether the services received were in keeping with the business case and contract specifications; and
  • any other related matter that I consider it desirable to inquire into and report on.

Labour’s trade spokesperson David Parker has called for the Foreign Minister Murray McCully to be stood down pending the outcome of the inquiry.

ITEM TWO:
Sport Update

With the All Blacks having been unceremoniously awoken from their slumber, it is now full steam ahead to the Rugby World Cup in England.

Australia has a tough pool (pool a) at the World Cup, squaring off against England, Wales, and Fiji.

New Zealand on the other hand has an easier pool (pool c). To get through to the quarter finals the All Blacks need to beat Argentina, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia.

Being beaten so decisively by the Wallabies in Sydney two weeks ago will be a blueprint on how to beat the All Blacks.

This week All Black captain Richie McCaw said: “In Sydney, while we didn’t think about it, maybe in the subconscious we knew we always had next week,” McCaw admitted. “At the World Cup you don’t have that…”

*** Congrats too to Australia for the Netball World Cup win over New Zealand’s Silver Ferns.

Across The Ditch broadcasts live weekly on FiveAA.com.au and webcasts on EveningReport.nz LiveNews.co.nz and ForeignAffairs.co.nz.

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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.

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