As if flying heavily pregnant sheep to a farm situated in the middle of a Saudi desert and paying $4 million dollars to settle a legal dispute that did not exist was not enough. Now the Government is gifting a $2.6 million kit set abattoir to the Saudi sheep farmer.
From Radio New Zealand:
The government is about to spend more than $2.5 million of taxpayers’ money building an abattoir for a disaffected Saudi businessman.
The kit-set abattoir is part of the Government’s $12m attempt to appease him.
A free trade deal with the Gulf states is no nearer.
It has already given the influential businessman, Hamood Al-Ali Al-Khalaf, $4m and has flown 900 pregnant sheep to his farm – nearly all the lambs subsequently died.
Mr Al-Khalaf has opposed New Zealand getting a free trade deal in the region.
The Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said $2.6m will now be spent building Mr Al-Khalaf an abattoir.
The abattoir will be gifted to the Saudi government then installed on the businessman’s farm in the Saudi desert, which the Government said doubles as a New Zealand agri-hub.
However, Mr Joyce said there was still no movement on a free trade deal with the Gulf states.
There is already an Auditor General inquiry into the deal. Looks like the office will now have more work to do.
And to all the right wing readers out there. Please justify the spend. Pouring tens of millions of dollars into a sheep farm in a Saudi desert where most of the sheep die and with no measurable benefit is not the thing a prudent and careful Government does.
As Danyl McLaughlan states the Government is hoping that swinging voters do not care and is relying on the weakened ability of the media to get to the core of these stories as some sort of protection. In his latest post he says this:
The resignation of Murray McCully over the Saudi sheep deal should have been the biggest political story of the year. Back in 1999 when McCully was found to have acted illegally in his role of Tourism Minister he was forced to resign. This time the allegations were much more serious, but because of the decline in influence of mainstream media outlets, and the fierce competition between them – TV3 and the Herald largely ignored the scandal because it was broken by journalists at rival companies – the Minister simply dropped out of sight until it all blew over.
But the whole episode has certainly upset those of the right who actually believe in free and open markets. And if rumours of the resumption of live exports by ship are true the Government is going to have another very difficult political issue to deal with.