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#Sheepgate – did National ask the Saudi Sheep Farmer to sue NZ?

Written By: - Date published: 8:36 am, June 24th, 2015 - 42 comments
Categories: david parker, Economy, farming, john key, national, national/act government, same old national, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , ,

There was some crazy talk in Parliament yesterday.  Greens leader James Shaw suggested that a National Cabinet Minister may have invited the Saudi Sheep Farmer whose sheep raising efforts have not been very successful to sue NZ Inc.

James Shaw and David Parker asked John Key some very interesting questions.  The video is here:

The transcript from Hansard included these passages:

James Shaw : Does he have confidence that all of his Ministers, in particular Murray McCully, disclosed all details about the threat of legal action against the Government by Mr Al Khalaf and his associates?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Yes. I will refer the member to the Cabinet paper on this matter.

James Shaw : Did any of his Ministers suggest to Mr Al Khalaf and his associates that they sue the Government of New Zealand?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, I cannot speak for the other Ministers—I have never asked that question—but I know I certainly did not and I would be surprised if they did.

So John Key would be surprised if his ministers suggested to a Saudi sheep farmer that he should sue NZ?  I mean was he being real?  I mean WTF?  Did he really think that it was possible?

Then there was this question:

James Shaw : Why then did Brownrigg Agriculture in a letter dated November 2011 to Murray McCully say that Mr Al Kalaf will be looking “to seek commercial redress, as indeed suggested by your Government as a last resort option for him.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I cannot answer that question because I was not privy to those conversations, but what we do know by the paper trail that was released last week is that this problem was the making of Labour, which misled that investor and misled Saudi Ministers. [Interruption] It is very inconvenient for those members, but it is actually factually correct.

The “it is all Labour’s fault” is getting really weak.  And for a Minister to suggest to someone that they should sue the Government should be grounds for immediate sacking.  Shaw then asked if it was true:

James Shaw : Did the Government encourage Mr Al Khalaf to seek commercial redress so that his Government could justify buying Mr Al Khalaf’s cooperation for the Gulf States free-trade deal?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not aware of all the conversations that other Ministers would have had, but the reality of the situation was that Labour inherited a mess by deliberately misleading the Saudis over this issue.

Surely the answer should have been “NO NO NO”.  So National Ministers may have encouraged the Saudi sheep farmer to seek redress but it was all Labour’s fault?

James Shaw : Why did the Prime Minister say to the media last week that he was not aware of any cause of action when Murray McCully claimed in the House that the reason for the farm in the desert was that New Zealand was exposed to “legal claims estimated to be up to $30 million”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Because the way I interpreted the question was, had I actually seen the action of the $20 to $30 million, and I said I was aware of it. My point was that I was aware of it in the Cabinet paper, but I was also aware that that was a potential threat, and it was parked up when negotiations began.

Key should allow release of the unredacted cabinet papers so that his claims can be understood.  Then David Parker asked this question:

Hon David Parker : Does he believe that in 2013 the Al Khalaf group had a legal right of action against the New Zealand Government for $20 to $30 million?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : It is not for me to offer legal opinions in this House, and the member knows that.

So that is a probable no.  Parker then again sought to table the un-redacted version of the Sheepgate Cabinet papers but this was refused.  Murray McCully suggested that the proof was in the unredacted part of the cabinet papers.  If so he and Key are reading something that no one else has been able to.

The final question was a doozie:

Hon David Parker : Would a Minister who authorised a multimillion-dollar facilitation payment to be made to a disaffected businessman to unlock a free-trade agreement retain his confidence?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Absolutely, and for the reasons I pointed out earlier. The previous Labour Government can run, but it cannot hide. On two occasions, it deliberately misled the Saudis. They know it. Phil Goff actually went to Riyadh—

So facilitation payments aka bribes are acceptable to the Prime Minister?

Brownrigg Agriculture Group Limited is the company in which the Saudi Sheep farmer has an interest.  It supplied the sheep which were airfreighted to Saudi Arabia with disastrous results for the sheep’s offspring.  I would be really interested to see how that tender process was handled given the threat to commence legal proceedings.

Director David Brownrigg confirmed the important details of the letter.  From the Herald this morning:

David Brownrigg, managing director of Brownrigg, said it was the company’s understanding the Government had suggested commercial redress as an option for Mr Al Khalaf.

Asked if Mr Al Khalaf considered commercial redress as a response to National’s actions, Mr Brownrigg said: “Yes, it is our understanding that Mr Al Khalaf considered commercial redress as a response to Governments’ actions on live sheep exports over the previous seven years.”

One burning question I have is if Labour did damage the relationship with the Saudis then why were they able to successfully commence free trade negotiations which have been concluded?  It seems much more likely that the Saudi sheep farmer is upset at National’s broken promise to lift the ban on the export of sheep for slaughter than he was for Labour continuing the ban which started in 2003.

Murray McCully is back in the country and I am pretty sure he will be targeted for questions in Parliament today.  Talk about leading sheep to the slaughter …

 

 

42 comments on “#Sheepgate – did National ask the Saudi Sheep Farmer to sue NZ?”

  1. dv 1

    Sort of odd that Key knows more about what Labour did several years ago but not what his cabinet minister have been doing recently!!!!

    • Pascals bookie 1.1

      Well, it’s important for the continuation of stable government that he retains confidence in his ministers. Best not to pay much attention to any details whatsoever.

      • aerobubble 1.1.1

        Yeah, but here’s what gets me. In two and a half years, or longer, Labour will release the unredacted cabinet papers which will show Key’s abuse of process. Given that Key is correct and the stench for not fully releasing was all an own goal, more smoke around what obviously Keys govt is trying to put out. As here’s the thing, Keys own statement, that he believes a Saudi business person thought they had a promise from a kiwi politician to provide pork, which I’m told is reliously and legally impossible, just because Labour were in power and could, yes, command all future public condemnation of a ship of dead sheep from forcing them into taking it on the chin, Labour would have been toast, no politician gives that kind of promise, to lose the next election, to allow our Parliament to be decided by a Saudi businessman. Really, how else was the Saudi business man to think we’d react, that he had some personally insurance with the NZ govt for all future loses aka TTP like. WTF.

        No, this is your classic arrogant govt who lavish opportunities to keep clean even when they cost heaps pf taxpayer funds, or worse provide precedent for all future loses compensation schemes to foreign businesses wrong but their own lack of risk management around environment or ethical wrongs. Strange why anyone would provide future loses compensation when its not provided to citizens and thus is unconciousable

  2. Save NZ 2

    Hon David Parker : Would a Minister who authorised a multimillion-dollar facilitation payment to be made to a disaffected businessman to unlock a free-trade agreement retain his confidence?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Absolutely, and for the reasons I pointed out earlier. The previous Labour Government can run, but it cannot hide. On two occasions, it deliberately misled the Saudis. They know it. Phil Goff actually went to Riyadh—

    Absolute proof that John Key agrees with Bribery with tax payers money.

    To think we used to rank no 2 in the government corruption stakes. Not any more.

    Surely there must be some redress legally that the oppositions should be taking!

    ie in JK world, ok to bride a saudi business man because he wants a free trade deal and it is all Labour’s fault.

    And this man runs our country?

    • Anne 2.1

      Surely there must be some redress legally that the oppositions should be taking!

      Of course they should be taking some sort of legal action but I bet they won’t…

      Does Labour not understand this constant attacking and smearing and lying about Labour is soul destroying for members and they are in danger of losing many of them because they have had enough?

  3. vto 3

    Of course bribes are ok in John Key’s book ….. this is the world of “winning” at all costs, where money matters and everything else can eat shit. This is the world we have created – where lying is considered ok, where bribes are fine, where the short and easy dollar is to be celebrated, and where humanity is completely absent….

    cold hearted bloodsuckers

  4. David H 4

    And if that’s not enough the NZ taxpayer has stumped up another 11 million for the same Saudi guy. for Waygu Beef farming

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11461963

    How to become a Saudi Billionaire? Key & NZ Taxpayer

  5. Anne 5

    Matthew Hooton – “John Key flat out lying about sheepgate. He’s a disgrace.”

    • Tracey 5.1

      Hopefully Matthew dislikes enough of what he played a small part in creating (read Hollowmen about him in 2002 ) to do more than just tweet.

      • tc 5.1.1

        Trying to reconstitute himself to maximise opportunity. A sellsword of the pen variety where money cleanses and forgives all.

        I’ll give matty credit for being honest though….Key is a disgrace ….one he helped put there.

  6. dukeofurl 6

    You see with Key, when he has enormous power, what he does with it.

    Deceit and corruption- check

    Flag waving mindless patriotism- check ( first create a new ‘product’)

    Discredit the business/machinery of government- check

    Embrace negative campaigning -check ( brought it right into 9th floor)

    These are the stars on his walk of fame.

  7. Tracey 7

    “but it is actually factually correct.”

    like when people say “honestly, it’s true”.

    When John Key says “actually factually correct” I become suspicious of the veracity.

    • dukeofurl 7.1

      By hiding behind the redacted version, hes just like a medieval priest who doesnt want the bible translated into everyday languages.

    • peter 7.2

      Yeah its a little bit like Clinton ‘I did not have sexual relations with that women’. True but ……
      Gee, I wonder how long it will take ‘one anonymous guy’ to troll me on this thread!

      • tracey 7.2.1

        well, you did choose to engage almost exclusively with him on the other thread… and then behave in a way you found offensive when he did it to you.

        • peter 7.2.1.1

          Actually I was trying originally to gave a discussion. I guess 8t my nature that if someone reply to me I will then reply to them. But if you think that is the case fine. But I disagree. But really tomorrow I will be recovered from my ear operation and gave a life again. But thank you for replying.

          • Tracey 7.2.1.1.1

            i tried to have a discussion with you but your first focus was lots of replies to OAB. that is your perogative but dont then whine in another thread when you stooped

  8. Tracey 8

    Definition of facilitated payment

    “A financial payment that may constitute a bribe and that is made with the intention of expediting an administrative process. A facilitating payment is a payment made to a public or government official that acts as incentive for the official to complete some action or process expeditiously, to the benefit of the party making the payment.

    In general, a facilitating payment is made to smooth the progress of a service to which the payer is legally entitled, without making such a payment. In some countries, these payments are considered normal, whereas in other countries, facilitating payments are prohibited by law and considered bribes. Also called facilitation payments.”

    Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/facilitating-payment.asp#ixzz3dvr6Xknx

    John Key is a currency trader and latterly a “banker”, He will not blink at the notion of paying money to smooth a transaction. The ability to do stuff like this gets you a jump on your colleagues and your competitors. In his mind he will believe this either saved NZ money or got a free trade deal which makes NZ money…

    For the record, those without FTA with countries still trade with them

  9. esoteric pineapples 9

    “Talk about leading sheep to the slaughter” – that would be the huge number of New Zealanders who keep voting for this government (unfortunately dragging the rest of us down with them)

  10. Question Time has been interesting. David Parker seems to be suggesting that Michelle Boag was the fixer for the payoff.

  11. Anne 11

    Goodness gracious…

    David Parker has just revealed in parliament the presence of another Brownrigg letter indicating a Michelle Boag was involved in the Saudi sheep deal.

    So, do we have it? Was Ms Boag acting as an intermediary between minister, Murray McCully and the Saudi business man? If so, who was guiding her with her deliberations eh?

    Will upload video as soon as available.

    • mickysavage 11.1

      Yep the rifts in National’s ranks on this issue are getting clearer and clearer …

    • tracey 11.2

      She was one of the women on the last Saudi trip wasn’t she? In her scarf? Mrs Key, a CEO and Ms Boag

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/68055160/John-Key-hopes-for-talks-with-Saudi-royals

      I think people forget mcCully was a midget of dark arts for the Nats for some time… including when Boag was President. He lost that main role when Joyce the usurper arrived on the scene…

    • ianmac 11.4

      Michelle Boag acting as go between means that “no Minister” said or did anything naughty, like suggest that the Saudis should sue.

      • Anne 11.4.1

        If this is more or less what happened, there’s no way she would have gone ahead with the ‘arrangements’ without the tacit approval of SOMEBODY in government. And If it was who I think it might have been (somebody whose former profession was doing such deals on a daily basis), then McCully may well find himself being made the scapegoat.

        • mickysavage 11.4.1.1

          Boag has got some explaining to do and her use as a political commentator by TVNZ must be questioned.

          Here is her on TVNZ where she is asked and says that she is a member of the Middle Eastern Business Council.

          http://tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news/mccully-has-done-huge-favour-nz-michelle-boag-saudi-sheep-deal-video-6326992

          Here is my transcript from QT today:

          Parker: Did former National Party president Michelle Boag ever propose or endorse a proposal that the New ZEaland Government subsidise a model farm in Saudi Arabia benefitting the AL Khalaf group

          McCully -I think that as a member of the Middle East Business Council she was involved in making representations on those matters and those have been in the public arena.

          Parker: Did the letter of 18 October 2015 from Brownrigg Agriculture also say that it was being copied to Michelle Boag saying “who has been in contact with both of us in her capacity as a director of lorian asset management regarding her interest in seeing live sheep export issue resolved and free trade with the golf advanced.”

          McCully: Yes

          Then there is this … (http://www.voxy.co.nz/politics/more-questions-saudi-farm-deal/5/224800?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter)

          “Today in Parliament Murray McCully said the reason Michelle Boag was involved in 2011 in the Saudi farm scandal was in her capacity as a member of the New Zealand Middle East Business Council. The problem with that answer is that she was not on that council until 2012, says Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson David Parker.

          “Ms Boag was on TV on the 31 May of this year defending the government. Asked then about her involvement, she said she worked for the Middle East Business Council. Asked if she helped with the farm deal she said: ‘ No, no it was done entirely by officials.’

          “The letter dated 2 November 2011 to the Foreign Minister from Brownrigg Agriculture (the eventual tender winner which built the multimillion dollar farm in the desert) said the letter was being copied to “Michelle Boag, who has been in contact with both of us in her capacity as a director of Laurium Asset Management, regarding her interest in seeing the live sheep export issue resolved and free trade with the Gulf States advanced.’

          “This newest information, and the letter from Brownrigg Agriculture, shows yet more inconsistencies.

          “The $4 million initial payment was a facilitation payment. It, and the bizarre $7 million spent on a model farm in the desert, were made to remove the barrier to the FTA. There was no legal claim.

          “Mr McCully has misled his cabinet colleagues and sullied New Zealand’s reputation for fair dealing, animal welfare and agricultural excellence,” says David Parker.”

          Weirder and weirder …

          • Anne 11.4.1.1.1

            Thanks for the above and especially the link to the Boag Q+A interview ms.

            Two salient points:

            1. She said… He (McCully) inherited an international relationship that was not good as a result of the banning of live sheep exports and it was left up to Murray McCully to come up with some way to resolve the issue.

            I remember there was an outcry over the death of so many sheep on the voyage to Saudi Arabia and also after they had arrived. The Labour government responded by banning live sheep exports. In other words the decision to ban was based on humane grounds. It seems cruelty and inhumane treatment of animals are of no importance to this government.

            It also confirms for me that the “it’s all Labour’s fault” line was thrashed out between the guilty parties some time ago. They knew if the truth was ever revealed they were in big trouble.

            2. She said… All I did when I met the gentleman (Saudi businessman), who was “really affronted” (emphasized by Boag) by the way he had been treated by the previous government, was to say to Mr McCully “I think you should talk to him (businessman) because he is really upset…”

            She then goes on to talk about being part of a delegation with the PM to the Middle East etc.etc.

            In other words, she was ‘donkey deep in it’ from the start and was involved in the official talks and the decision making process. Her line it was all done by officials was nothing more than a smokescreen. Of course the officials drew up the final agreement. That’s what they’re there to do – but only after they have received instructions from their political masters and mistresses.

            Boag’s overall tone in that item was one of belligerent defiance. She knew this issue was about to blow up and she was desperately covering her backside. She considers herself a VVVIP (very, very, very important person) – a power behind the political throne.

  12. wyndham 12

    It is obvious that Key is going to brazen out the Saudi sheep scandal. Whatever the questions directed at him, it’s all the fault of Labour and he’s in no way going to acknowledge the fact that a National govt. was just as culpable. It’s Alistair Campbell stuff – – – deny, deny, deny and eventually everyone will get tired and go away. Key’s evasions, distortions and outright lies grow worse by the day.
    When he has left politics Key will have to live with his duplicity – – -good luck with that. And not one of his present lickspittles and sycophants will hold out a hand to help.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 12.1

      just as culpable

      How exactly? Bribery is a crime. How exactly was Lab5 “culpable”?

      • peter 12.1.1

        Yes bribery IS a crime. But ird recognize it as s legitimate tax deduction. Now that’s weird!

    • Anne 12.2

      A repeat of the Dirty Politics saga in August last year. And he succeeded in hood-winking almost an entire nation of voters. Says it all about this govt. and unfortunately even more about the majority of voters.

      And to quote OAB… where was Labour culpable? They weren’t culpable over anything. Key is lying, lying, lying!

    • Ffloyd 12.3

      The Opposition just needs to keep on hammering key. He is not looking good/well. He is not getting the whooping and hollering he is used to from his own party. Have noticed that English keeps his head down now when key is off on one of his lying REPETITIVE rants. The whole country knows he is lying. His whole party knows he is lying. HE knows he is lying. The more he utters *Labour’s fault* the more it becomes obvious that that is all he has. If he has any intestinal fortitude he would ALLOW Parker to be able to table the so called damming evidence that key say’s exists. He (key) knows that will show him to be a LIAR! So that is not an option. Ably supported by failed woodwork teacher Slim Brownlee , and esteemed Speaker of the House, waste of space Carter. Keep hammering! He will implode.

      • Clemgeopin 12.3.1

        Great post. You are absolutely correct.

        The opposition is doing a very good job exposing the apparent corruption and lies from Key, McCully and this government, but are not supported by a pretty biased speaker, the coalition supporting dishonourable patsy parties and a sad set of mediocre and gutless journalists and our weak piss poor RW media. Only hope is that the general public will see through all this government crap sooner or later. But sadly, that too seems like a forlorn, going by our recent history and the public’s scant interest in important political matters!

  13. ian 13

    Labour need to keep up the pressure. Mccully is toast based on current facts. Why are the opposition so useless ?

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