Last month an opinion piece in the NBR (paywalled) summed up the “sheepgate” scandal – Govt sheepgate story a shameful coverup.
A minister who tells the prime minister and the cabinet they face a $30 million legal risk when they do not, to secure $11.5 million for an out-of-court settlement that is not needed and in any case has never been recorded in writing, should obviously be sacked.
For Mr Key to allow Mr McCully to continue as foreign minister, just because he fears the consequences of sacking him, brings disgrace on the government and New Zealand and suggests Mr Key is now impotent as prime minister over even the worst behaviour by his senior ministers.
The big question here is what was the $11.5 million payment for? There never was a Saudi threat of legal action, see – Treasury officials contradict Key’s claims
But because both Key and McCully justified the payment to Al Khalaf on the basis of avoiding a legal settlement, the Treasury denial coming on top of Mr Assaf’s statements raise more questions about just what the money paid to Mr Al Khalaf was actually for.
The Nats don’t want the truth to come out. Yesterday – Government withholds letter from Saudi sheikh
The Government is refusing to make public a letter to Prime Minister John Key from the Saudi sheikh at the centre of a controversial farm deal.
The Government has been under pressure for months to explain why it spent more than $11 million setting up a farm in the Saudi Arabian desert in a deal with Hamood Al Ali Al Khalaf.
Al Khalaf was irritated by a 2007 ban on the export of live animals for slaughter. National blames Labour and says it struck the deal – which included a $4m payment to Al Khalaf – to prevent legal action from him.
However, National reconfirmed the ban in 2010 – and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing note appears to suggest this was why Saudi investors were furious.
The documents also reveal the Office of the Auditor General questioned the legality of the farm proposal, and Treasury officials repeatedly voiced opposition.
What was the payment for, why did the Nats go ahead with it against all advice, and why won’t they release the letter?