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Sheepgate

Written By: - Date published: 8:54 am, May 28th, 2015 - 103 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, capitalism, corruption, Economy, exports, farming, farming, International, Minister for International Embarrassment, national, overseas investment, Politics, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

Murray McCully used to be a feared operator.  Dubbed “the black prince” his wielding of the dark arts of politics created awe in the minds of those who admire that sorts of thing.

More recently he has become a major embarrassment.  His handling of the MFAT restructure was shambolic and he was only saved by persuading former head John Allen to fall on his sword and take the blame.  His handling of issues concerning the Malaysian Diplomat and the attack on Tania Billigsley should have persuaded anyone beyond any doubt that he is not fit to hold office.

His latest escapade involves paying large amounts of money (up to $11m) to a Saudi businessman to settle a legal dispute that did not exist and which is probably, at least in New Zealand, statute barred.

He tried to defend himself yesterday in Parliament.  As words cannot adequately describe how awful he was I thought it best to include the video.

David Parker was trying to get McCully to confirm how much money had been paid to the Saudi businessman to settle the long running dispute. McCully claimed that actions of the fifth Labour Government had exposed New Zealand to potential liability of up to $30 million. The actions were the stopping of the live export of sheep, a policy decision made after 4,000 sheep died on a ship bound for Saudi Arabia and apparently subsequent discussions which led him to believe that the ban would have been dropped. National renewed the ban in 2010.

Words used by others to describe the transaction included “bribe” and “corrupt”.  The payment appears to have been made to persuade an influential individual to support New Zealand’s proposed free trade agreement with Saudi Arabia.

Parliament reached peak cray with the following interchange:

Hon David Parker : Can the Minister point to any other example where the New Zealand Government has ever paid millions of dollars to an overseas businessman in order to advance a free-trade agreement?

Hon MURRAY McCULLY : I cannot point to any such example, because I do not think New Zealanders had a Government as stupid and dishonest as the Government that Mr Parker was a member of.

Seven years after its demise the fifth Labour Government is still being blamed for all of the country’s woes.

McCully was questioned this morning on Morning Report about the payment.

Guyon Espiner did a good job and McCully was absolutely dreadful.

He said that there was “an active misleading of the individuals who had invested over that period which would have led them that had they continued to invest they would have been able to export live sheep for slaughter to Saudi Arabia.”  Mistake number one.  A Minister of the Crown should never ever publicly agree with someone who apparently wants to sue the Crown about the basis of their claim.

McCully was asked if New Zealand would have lost the Court case, if one had ever been filed.  McCully answered another question and talked about a claim of up to $30 million dollars.  He was asked if NZ Inc had actually paid compensation.  McCully then again answered another question.

Then Espiner asked a Zinger.  He asked if a liability waiver had been obtained so that there would be no prospect of New Zealand being sued.  McCully blustered and said that he was not going to get into the detail.  He eventually came up with the response that the Government was satisfied that it had met that objective.  The Government being satisfied it will not be sued is not the same as the businessman accepting the payment in full and final settlement of his claim.  Either the waiver exists or it does not.  Saying that you are confident you will not be sued suggests to me that a cast iron waiver had not been obtained.

I received the distinct impression McCully’s nose was attempting to grow during the interview.

Whatever the background the distinct impression is that New Zealand money has been paid to an individual not to settle a non existent legal dispute but to curry favour so that the Gulf Free Trade Agreement is signed.  There is an unparliamentary word for this sort of behaviour.

Update:  Maybe there was the threat of legal action but because of actions taken by National, not Labour.  From Dimpost (h/t Sacha):

  • “According to Hooton (his stories are paywalled at the NBR), a very wealthy and influential Saudi businessman named Hmood Al Khalaf, who had a business importing sheep contacted National when they were in opposition, and John Key and David Carter privately assured him that exports would resume when National came to power.
  • When National won the election in 2008, Al Khalaf supposedly invested tens of millions of dollars in New Zealand farmland and a ship that could transport sheep to Saudi Arabia. But National didn’t change the law.
  • So Al Khalaf hired Mai Chen to prepare a lawsuit against the government, claiming for ‘between $20 million and $30 million. He also, allegedly, used his influence in Saudi Arabia to block a free trade deal between New Zealand and the Gulf States.”

Update:

103 comments on “Sheepgate ”

  1. Ed 1

    Will National support McCully’s campaign for FIFA President?

  2. ianmac 2

    So far there is no evidence that a legal opinion was sought or given. An approach from a lawyer that the Government could be sued for $30million is not enough cause to pay up.

    Did I get the impression that the Speaker was not covering up for McCully? Could this have a Key move to abandon McCully with an eye on the 2017 election?

    • mickysavage 2.1

      I think even Carter has standards and modest though they may be McCully was in breach of them!

      • Tracey 2.1.1

        I haven’t seen those standards, so given Nats don’t do anything without a CT strategy in place, perhaps McCully is going to London (and Lockwood coming home)

        Carter, imo is worse than Wilson, but plays the same role for the government as she did. I was disappointed with her performance. I thought she would be impartial. Turned out Lockwood was the kind of Speaker I thought she would be.

      • ianmac 2.1.2

        Wasn’t Speaker Carter involved with the earlier tinkering with the sheep export problem?
        Edit: John Key and David Carter privately assured him that exports would resume when National came to power. (Dimpost)

    • Sacha 2.2

      McCully’s “answers” in question time say there was no legal opinion sought or received. Who needs that when you’re a stone-cold genius like him?

      • Tracey 2.2.1

        I thought he said something like he didnt think MFAT would do something like make a payment without legal advice?

  3. dukeofurl 3

    Sounds to me like National got a big juicy donation in advance of a policy change ( but kept the money off the books)

    No other possible conclusion that you would pay out someone on the situation described, unless you dont want unpleasant truths coming out in court.

    • Tracey 3.1

      “unpleasant truths coming out in court.”

      You could have a waiver but they threaten to sue anyway, knowing that they can expose some stuff a politically driven group would not want aired… so, despite having a waiver, you settle. That’s a possible scenario.

  4. Tracey 4

    “Either the waiver exists or it does not. Saying that you are confident you will not be sued suggests to me that a cast iron waiver had not been obtained.”

    Not having the law on your side does not stop people suing others. It is possible that there was a waiver but the Saudis were going to challenge it on other grounds or just sue to embarrass the government… The Crown would weigh up the cost of defending (even to a win) against a settlement.

    Of course, were that the case one wonders why McCully wouldn’t just say that.

  5. saveNZ 5

    Funny how human rights don’t come into it when seeking a free trade agreement with Saudi Arabia, while at the same time making a case to go to war in Iraq for human rights.

    Remember how the nationalities of the 9/11 bombing were mostly Saudi’s? Funny Iraq used to be secular but now after the illegal war, it is like a poster child for turning to Muslim in the middle East.

    Gosh those human rights are a moving target with National.

    Any else looking forward to 100 lashes for putting up a website criticising the government – I guess that is what John Key wants shut down here in NZ of freedom of Speech and well as selling a few oil rights maybe.

    Who knows, NZ does what the puppet master in the US dictates.

  6. saveNZ 6

    As for Murray McCully, everything he touches turns into a liability.

  7. Sacha 7

    Love the detail that we paid this guy’s NZ company to send his sheep to his Saudi company. Cosy.

  8. Stuart Munro 8

    I’m interested in this network of supply farms – it looks like the Key junta is building a middle east version of Oravida. A please explain is certainly overdue – we’ll probably get a Brownlee response – how dare you ask me such questions.

    • wyndham 8.1

      Yes Stuart, Unmistakable arrogance from Brownlee, Groser, Tolley, Findlayson and now McCully. Parata has a “born to rule” air of superiority .
      It’s getting to them !

  9. NZJester 9

    I’m guessing this man was chosen so they can defend themselves with the smoke and mirrors of blaming it all on the previous Labour government.
    They have also potentially created a ticking export time bomb for our farmers in the middle east by not having control of that farm with all that prime NZ breading stock.
    If the farm is successful and stock numbers increase I can see the meat exports of the sheep from NZ farm being squeezed out by the descendants of those very sheep. Then there is the large loss of NZ Jobs in the meat industry with all the processing being done overseas by cheaper lower paid workers. There has been a lot of problems in that area of virtual indentured workers being tricked into low paying jobs that they can not legally quit to move to a different employer. With the talk of trial farms being set up in other countries as well it sounds like National is exporting farm jobs now also and not just the meat processing ones. A few investors are likely to get very rich at a huge cost to the average NZ farmers future profits.

    • Capn Insano 9.1

      Yes, I’ve been thinking this myself about whether we’re potentially screwing over more of our farm exports by doing this. Is this National’s bizarre method of diversifying the economy?

  10. T Chris 10

    Off topic, but does it annoy anyone else that every issue now has to have “gate” added to the end of it?

    • mickysavage 11.1

      Thanks Sacha fascinating. Occasional Standard commentator thinks that the threat of a lawsuit was because of National’s actions and not Labour’s.

      From the article:

      “According to Hooton (his stories are paywalled at the NBR), a very wealthy and influential Saudi businessman named Hmood Al Khalaf, who had a business importing sheep contacted National when they were in opposition, and John Key and David Carter privately assured him that exports would resume when National came to power.
      When National won the election in 2008, Al Khalaf supposedly invested tens of millions of dollars in New Zealand farmland and a ship that could transport sheep to Saudi Arabia. But National didn’t change the law.
      So Al Khalaf hired Mai Chen to prepare a lawsuit against the government, claiming for ‘between $20 million and $30 million. He also, allegedly, used his influence in Saudi Arabia to block a free trade deal between New Zealand and the Gulf States.”

      • Tracey 11.1.1

        And people think we don’t have to worry about the investor clauses in the TPP. Look what can be achieved without the OOMPH of the TPP behind it. How much bigger would the settlement have to be under TTP??

        • Macro 11.1.1.1

          Exactly!
          Wayne! Wayne! Where are you Wayne? We need your reassurance it’s going to be perfectly ok!

  11. Old Mickey 12

    Hamood invested heavily into farm assets in NZ, as well as converting a cruise liner for transport. His family have been in the live sheep game for hundreds & hundreds of years. Hamood invested on the assurances he was given from the then Labour Government run by Helen Clark, via MFAT officials – at least one of which is still with the ministry today. Hamood relied on the assurances that live sheep exports would be continued. The 2011 Government delegation was ambushed by Hamood about the fact he was lied to by the former government (his words, I was there). It was clear that the FTA would not be concluded with the GCC despite substantive agreement already reached between the GCC & NZ. Minister McCully established a special envoy (who is now working in investment banking) to broker a solution for NZ and the GCC. The investment in the Saudi farm to allow breeding for slaughter was seen as the most effective way forward. A tender to NZ companies was issued seeking parties that were keen to establish a farming center of excellence in Saudi – there were many companies keen on taking part – why ? It is a great opportunity and show case for NZ excellence. A plan was agreed, and then executed – there was a fly in the ointment, a local NZ’er nutter tried to blackmail MFAT claiming that MFAT had stolen his idea to solve the problem with a breeding farm in Saudi. For the record this was done in the months leading up to the last election – how nervous wa steh Government about this getting out then ? (MFAT ignored this nutter, and I do wonder if he has been leaking this to the media as nutters are disposed to do ?). The legal threat from Hamood & George was kept pretty quiet, and is news to me although one of the MFAT/NZTE guys in Dubai has come from a top law firm so suspect he evaluated the claim/risk. Is the amount of money compensation reasonable ? Hard to tell, however, if it leads to the FTA being signed then it will make a huge difference to NZ trade in the region, and the dollars at question here will be peanuts.

    • Sacha 12.1

      Interesting. Can you shed any light on Hooton’s claims that Key and Carter offered assurances to Hamood?

      • Old Mickey 12.1.1

        No idea about Hooton’s claims….the truth and his world don’t often intersect. His behaviour on the 2011 delegation was disgraceful.

        From speaking to Hamood personally, I know that he believed that the National Government would endeavour to do its best to allow live sheep export – he had made his investment based on prior assurances. The argument was that if National couldnt swing the change then it would never happen in NZ under a labour/green govt. Hamood’s partner George also received this message, and it is what I believe stopped any legal action (if there was any). There was also concern that the MFAT official who made the original commitment on behalf of the Clark government was still employed by MFAT – they would have liked to see that person removed from MFAT completely. I was amazed that the Saudi intel was that good on our public service – Hamood joked to me, that I would be shocked at what the Saudi government knows about us.

        • Karen 12.1.1.1

          So this MFAT official is the one who made the promise initially. When was this? Who was he talking to? Did he do this off his own bat because he believed the Nats would soon be back in power?

          Certainly the Nats wasted no time in trying to get live sheep exports back as this 2009 article shows:
          http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/2287062/Live-sheep-exports-to-resume

          Unfortunately for Carter it was just too unpopular with the public.

        • Tracey 12.1.1.2

          Why would Hooton make this up?

          During your time with MFAT or whatever position that led you to be having these conversations, did you or anyone else you overheard tell the Saudi’s that in a democracy, a new government may undo things done by a previous government or vice versa? And that “promises” by opposition parties are relatively meaningless?

  12. toad 13

    If you or I did this sort of shit, Micky, I suspect we’d be facing prosecution under section 105C Crimes Act 1961.

    But the Crown can’t prosecute itself, I guess (or can it?)

    • mickysavage 13.1

      A minister could be …

      The cheek of McCully trying to blame Labour for it though. It looks like they were up to their ears in it.

      • Old Mickey 13.1.1

        From the horses mouth, labour were the govt of the day whose officials made promises and assurances to Hamood. He would swear an affidavit on that point.

        • mickysavage 13.1.1.1

          Citation please old mickey. Hooton says that the only people who made promises were National MPs.

          • Old Mickey 13.1.1.1.1

            Wheres Hooton citation ?
            I heard it directly from Hamood, and George.

          • Old Mickey 13.1.1.1.2

            Can I also suggest that that you also ask Phil Goff.

          • Sacha 13.1.1.1.3

            Hooton only mentioned those – doesn’t exclude an earlier set of assurances as well.

            • Matthew Hooton 13.1.1.1.3.1

              Correct. But it is not a secret. David Carter spoke publicly about this at the start of the government’s term. http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/2287062/Live-sheep-exports-to-resume
              My understanding is that private promises were also made from opposition. I wrote about this (behind the NBR paywall) here: http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/gulf-games-fail-deliver

              • Karen

                See my comment at 12.1.1.1
                Just because a MFAT official said something to some Saudi businessmen that doesn’t necessarily mean the Labour government supported the resumption of live sheep exports.

                • Old Mickey

                  With all due respect, it will come out that it was more than an official who just “said something”. Our MFAT officials don’t say anything that is not aligned to policy, and carefully avoid creating mis-understandings. The assurances were significantly more, and reasonable to accept they were part of government policy.

                  • mickysavage

                    Well OM can you point to government policy? Discussing the possibility of a change in policy is not of itself actionable.

                    • Old Mickey

                      Have a quiet chat to Phil Goff. I am sure he will enlighten you as to how MFAT officials work. Failing that, I am sure Tim Groser will be happy to explain it to you.

                  • Crashcart

                    Just like when they let the Malaysian go home, because MFAT would never make a staement to an over seas government without ministerial aproval on the off chance it may lead to confusion over the message.

        • Matthew Hooton 13.1.1.2

          There may well have been assurances from the previous Labour government. Labour clearly wasn’t that concerned about the so-called animal welfare issues, because (if I recall correctly) there were live sheep shipments during 1999-2003. Do you know if this is correct? But even if Labour did make promises, I fail to see what cause of action Hmood would have had against the Crown – especially by February 2013 when he was briefing Cabinet. Surely even if there was a cause of action, isn’t there a six year limitation period?

          Also, I am pretty sure the delegation where Hmood spoke was in 2010 not 2011. This was after David Carter had announced through the media in August 2009 that there would be no resumption of the trade while he was agriculture minister, contradicting his public and private statements earlier that year. See http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/2287062/Live-sheep-exports-to-resume

          • Karen 13.1.1.2.1

            Don’t have time to check now but from memory there had been live sheep exports under Labour but animal welfare concerns caused a change in policy and they were banned. That’s why it seems odd to me that a Labour MP would have promised to reinstate them.

        • Tracey 13.1.1.3

          I repeat my question above… did you or anyone else explain to Hamood that in a democracy only so much stock can be put in assurance, due to change of government and sovereignty regarding policy implementation through legislation? And that governments/political parties are occassionally driven by public opinion leading to changed “minds”?

          • Matthew Hooton 13.1.1.3.1

            I believe David Carter’s political advisor made these points to the Saudi Agriculture Minister in a meeting at the FAO in Rome.

            • Tracey 13.1.1.3.1.1

              Thanks.

              It seems odd that no one would have pointed this out to Mr Hamood, either amongst his own advisors or ours.

        • Macro 13.1.1.4

          An official may have said that (if that is what the man claims) – but that official was clearly speaking out of line. It was not government policy, and could never have been, the government having banned the export of live sheep only 5 years previously!

  13. PhilDC 14

    bit of a warning here for the TPPA – sign it and get sued for non-existant claims by bullies, paid off by a bunch of chicken poop bureaucrats to curry favor. This is before a so-called agreement is signed – this was done to get it signed – maybe(?)
    and they gave away IP which can be copied – blindly arrogant shortsighted fuckwittedness.

  14. tinfoilhat 15

    McCully is a disgrace who has achieved nothing of any merit in or outside of parliament.

  15. ianmac 16

    Two questions for McCully today Question Time:
    JAMES SHAW to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Has a full and final settlement been reached with Mr Al Khalaf; if so, what is the total cost to taxpayers?

    Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Did he seek advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about whether, using the multimillion dollar payment for the benefit of Hamood Al Ali Al Khalaf – a Saudi Arabian businessman to cause the Saudi Arabian officials to advance the GCC FTA which had stalled, breached the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions?

    • Old Mickey 16.1

      The reply from McCully will be very interesting on the Parker question…..enough people know the answer to this one.

      • It’s got to be “no” I assume?
        (Especially as no bribe was paid to Saudi officials.)

        • Tracey 16.1.1.1

          It makes me wonder what the follow up question is?

          • Old Mickey 16.1.1.1.1

            Parker should split this line of questioning:

            Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Did he seek advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about whether, using the multimillion dollar payment for the benefit of Hamood Al Ali Al Khalaf – a Saudi Arabian businessman to cause the Saudi Arabian officials to advance the GCC FTA ?

            The answer to this is Yes

            If so, did MFAT provide an opinion on the view that the payment would breach the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions? If yes, what was their advice ? If no, why was this not considered by MFAT ?

            • Matthew Hooton 16.1.1.1.1.1

              What are the real answers to this one?

              • Tracey

                I suspect/guess that Old mickey is telling us MFAT told McCully that it would or could breach the Convention but that would be OIA-ble wouldn’t it, unless the MFAT official was a lawyer and then can they claim they don’t have to release it?

              • Old Mickey

                The real answers – try this:

                National inherited a very bad situation, and tried hard to create a better outcome for NZ in the long term. Given the delicate nature of the relationship & lack of trust due to an apparent backdown by the NZ govt, MFAT needed to be creative in order to create a win/win situation. To that end it is harsh to judge this now. If NZ does not get an FTA with the GCC, then this was a bad call. On the balance of probabilities this strategy was worth the effort and a rational response. Nothing to see here yet.

                • Macro

                  It’s only a bad situation if you are desperate to have a FTA with a corrupt government.

            • felix 16.1.1.1.1.2

              Yes Old Mickey that’s exactly what he should have done.

              I have no idea why Labour MPs insist on cramming so much into their questions, and then at the same time waste questions by asking questions that other parties are already asking on the same day.

              • Old Mickey

                At least he didnt start with “does the minister stand by all his statements ?”
                which seems to be the the question de jure of greens and Winnie First.

                • felix

                  Always worth having one of those per session though. Got to give them a surprise now and then 😉

            • Matthew Hooton 16.1.1.1.1.3

              He didn’t answer “yes”.
              He said “not specifically”.

            • Erling 16.1.1.1.1.4

              Add also “was Crown Law consulted on whether would breach domestic legislation prohibiting corruption/bribery.”

        • toad 16.1.1.2

          The New Zealand legislation implementing our obligations under that OECD convention is s 105C Crimes Act. This does not require the bribe to be given to the foreign official for an offence to have been committed. All that is required is that the bribe be given to a person with intent to influence the foreign official.

          Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who corruptly gives or offers or agrees to give a bribe to a person with intent to influence a foreign public official in respect of any act or omission by that official in his or her official capacity…

    • Sacha 16.2

      Ooh that last question is a doozie (though hard to parse).

  16. Given the growing public interest in this story, the NBR has put my two flying sheep columns on the free side of the paywall.
    http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/gulf-games-fail-deliver
    http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/flying-sheep-endanger-mccully

    • ianmac 17.1

      Reads as a credible record Matthew. Very interesting. The Question Time today will be even more interesting in the light of your record.

      • Matthew Hooton 17.1.1

        No doubt an error or two as had to rely on memory, and much more has now been revealed by others.

    • Tracey 17.2

      Has google earth updated, can you see buildings and sheep?

      McCully might have to fly emirates… so he can take the sheep with him to the opening?

    • mickysavage 17.3

      Cheers Matthew. I am going to do a Mike Williams and say I agree with you! McCully should be sacked for misleading Cabinet if not Parliament.

  17. Goodshepherd 18

    I was farming sheep (and beef) during those years.

    I supported the ban on the live sheep trade to the gulf for animal welfare reasons.

    Before, (and even after the ban was imposed because I feared the trade would be renewed one day) I docked and wethered all my surplus male lambs and put blackface rams over my ewes, because only entire white ram lambs were acceptable for the Muslim festivals. I was surprised to read yesterday that it was Suffolks (black face bred for cool climates) that were part of this latest breeding deal tbh; hadn’t realised things had changed so much.

    Yes, it cost me a considerable premium but it was the right thing to do.

    • ianmac 18.1

      Does that mean that the reason for setting the “farm” up is not for the festival?

      • Goodshepherd 18.1.1

        Ianmac, I don’t know.

        They say it’s a breeding operation and obviously it must be or we wouldn’t be sending pb ewes across. But black face rams are mostly used to produce meat animals; the wool is not high quality and there’s a black fibre that contaminates it too.

        So my guess is that this has been set up to produce meat for every day and someone else with another line of stock will be producing animals destined for the festivals or rituals.

        Never the less, meat animals must be slaughtered and, if it is as it was, back in my day, many of them will be slaughtered by amateurs with poor skills and little concern for their suffering.

  18. Draco T Bastard 19

    Government accused of wasting $11.5 million on wealthy Saudi farmer

    Mr McCully’s Cabinet paper says Mr Khalaf’s business had “indicated that they had received legal advice suggesting they pursue a claim for between $20 million and $30 million”.

    But a source has told ONE News the legal claim was withdrawn a year earlier, in February 2012.

    Mr McCully has confirmed there was no pending legal action at the time he took the paper to Cabinet.

    Deeper and deeper he digs the hole he’s in.

    • Tracey 19.1

      and the more it shines away from Key and Carter…

      • tc 19.1.1

        like the scene in Steven Soderburgh’s ‘Traffic’ where there are 2 envelopes to be opened in times of crises:

        the first letter is ‘blame the last guy’ and the second one is ‘sit down and write 2 letters’.

        Mccully needs to wake up to the fact maybe his time is up and Shonky needs some meat for the pack to feed off whilst he goes about flogging Nzild to his mates.

  19. finbar 20

    Of course,putting my boots on and running on the ground gives me 40 thousand pounds every time a game,got to be some tax relief their above the hundreds of millions transfer fee of my feets ability

  20. finbar 21

    look we believe in Labours belief,we do,just give us a chance.Mike, the voters rejected it back then,and the new pin numbered poverty will be left looking for a social change for their care.

  21. finbar 22

    Never happen here.How much now this rag head greed extortion have you payed Murry,for your governments control of free trading,how much was that ease paid .Never happen here in our Aotearoa,these bribes,its how they operate over there give millions and receive more,its not corruption as our knowing,its like a modern version of Oprah,give and receive.Dont think Opera understood the religious abuse of caliphate power dominance. Seems our corporation control governance is not shy of backhanding.

  22. b waghorn 23

    On one news they have just revealed that the threat of legal action had been stopped in 2012 a year before this dodgy deal was done.
    Another minister about to bite the dust??

  23. Michael 24

    David Parker’s legal skills ride to Labour’s rescue again. He will be difficult for it to replace, if not impossible. Still, it looks though he’s on the way out (straight, white male).

  24. NZSage 25

    This sordid episode would topple governments elsewhere but not in good old demure NZ.

    What depths does National have to plunge to make NZ’ers wake up?

    Ban iPhones perhaps?

  25. Good Oil 26

    Interesting that the Exclusive Brethren Brownriggs were ‘selected’ to provide the ‘sheepware’. I wonder if Don Brash provided consultancy??

  26. peterlepaysan 27

    Did not Bill English describe Mcully as a toxic gnome/dwarf that needed dealing to? (reference Hollow Men).

    No wonder he got MFAT. Out of the country, out of our hair. Some government did that to Winston (once). Heh.

    Mind you john banks is back to save the nats.

  27. Paul Robinson 28

    It seems to me that there is agreement that these payments were made a) either to prevent legal action in relation to live sheep exports and/or b) to facilitate a free trade agreement. If b) – it is a bribe, if a) then there should have been a formal claim lodged, and somehow all process of mediation followed. Prima facie – it looks like a), if b) then a complete and utter failure of due process.

  28. Nathanhanes 29

    It seems Paul Robinson that the payments were made

    B) to facilitate an FTA,

    but it was dressed up and sold to cabinet as

    A) to prevent legal action.

    In common speak it was a bribe but to get around legal issues was dressed up as a neccessity to avoid legal recourse. I can see that Hooton and HDA now understand there was no legal threat, a point McCully has admitted himself.

    The question is who was involved in the dressing up? I am pretty sure MFAT staff have enough nous not to go near this sort of thing – so who did the dirty work?

    • felix 29.1

      Probably not a good idea to use a name so similar to the name of a well-known New Zealander.

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    14 hours ago
  • New Zealand Wind Energy Conference
    Tēnā koutou katoa Tēnā koutou i runga i te kaupapa o te Rā No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa  Thank you Grenville for the introduction and thanks to the organisers, the New Zealand Wind Energy Association, for inviting me to speak this morning. I’m delighted that you ...
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    16 hours ago
  • Speech to New Zealand Drug Foundation 2021 Parliamentary Drug Policy Symposium
    Speech to Through the Maze: On the road to health New Zealand Drug Foundation 2021 Parliamentary Drug Policy Symposium Mōrena koutou katoa, Tēnei te mihi ki a koutou, Kua tae mai nei me ngā kete matauranga hauora, E whai hononga ai tatau katoa, Ka nui te mihi! Thank you for the opportunity ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Govt to deliver lower card fees to business
    Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark has today announced the Government’s next steps to reduce merchant service fees, that banks charge businesses when customers use a credit or debit card to pay, which is estimated to save New Zealand businesses approximately $74 million each year. “Pre COVID, EFTPOS has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Government support boosts Arts and Culture sector
    Government support for the cultural sector to help it recover from the impact of COVID-19 has resulted in more cultural sector jobs predicted through to 2026, and the sector performing better than forecast. The latest forecast by economic consultancy ‘Infometrics’ reflects the impact of Government investment in keeping people in ...
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    1 day ago
  • Govt takes further action against gang crime
    The Government will make it illegal for high risk people to own firearms by introducing Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs) that will strengthen action already taken to combat the influence of gangs and organised crime to help keep New Zealanders and their families safe, Police Minister Poto Williams and Justice Minister ...
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    2 days ago
  • Thousands of MIQ spaces allocated to secure economic recovery
    Five hundred spaces per fortnight will be allocated in managed isolation facilities over the next 10 months, many for skilled and critical workers to support our economic recovery, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor say. “The Trans-Tasman bubble has freed up more rooms, allowing us to ...
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    2 days ago
  • New Zealand Sign Language Week a chance to recognise national taonga
    This week (10 – 16 May 2021) is New Zealand Sign Language Week (NZSL), a nationwide celebration of NZSL as an official language of New Zealand. “We’re recognised as a world leader for our commitment to maintaining and furthering the use of our sign language,” says Minister for Disability Issues ...
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    3 days ago
  • Economic resilience provides more options in Budget 2021
    Securing the recovery and investing in the wellbeing of New Zealanders is the focus of Budget 2021, Grant Robertson told his audience at a pre-budget speech in Auckland this morning. "The economy has proven resilient in response to COVID-19, due to people having confidence in the Government’s health response to ...
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    3 days ago
  • Pre-Budget speech to BNZ-Deloitte Auckland Breakfast Event
    Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today, and to share with you some of the Government’s thinking leading into this year’s budget. This will be my fourth time delivering the annual Budget for the Government, though the events of the past year have thrown out that calculation. ...
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    3 days ago
  • Rotuman Language week affirms language as the key to Pacific wellbeing
    The first Pacific Language Week this year  makes it clear that  language is the key to the wellbeing for all Pacific people said Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio. “This round of language  weeks begin with Rotuman. As I have always  said language is one of the pillars of ...
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    3 days ago
  • Budget delivers improved cervical and breast cancer screening
    Budget 2021 funds a more effective cervical screening test to help reduce cervical cancer rates A new breast screening system that can proactively identify and enrol eligible women to reach 271,000 more people who aren’t currently in the programme. Budget 2021 delivers a better cervical screening test and a major ...
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    4 days ago
  • NZ-France to co-chair Christchurch Call Leaders’ Summit
    New Zealand and France will jointly convene the Christchurch Call Community for a leaders’ summit, to take stock of progress and develop a new shared priority work plan. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and President Emmanuel Macron will co-chair the leaders’ meeting on the 2nd anniversary of the Call, on 14 ...
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    4 days ago
  • New South Wales travel pause to be lifted tomorrow
    COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the current travel pause with New South Wales will lift tomorrow – subject to no further significant developments in NSW. “New Zealand health officials met today to conduct a further assessment of the public health risk from the recently identified COVID-19 community cases in Sydney. It has been determined that the risk to public ...
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    4 days ago
  • March 15 Collective Impact Board appointed
    The voices of those affected by the March 15 mosque attacks will be heard more effectively with the establishment of a new collective impact board, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment Priyanca Radhakrishnan announced today. Seven members of the Christchurch Muslim community have been appointed to the newly established Board, ...
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    5 days ago
  • More young Kiwis supported with mental health and addiction services
    Nearly quarter of a million more young New Zealanders will have access to mental health and addiction support in their communities as the Government’s youth mental health programme gathers pace. New contracts to expand youth-specific services across the Northland, Waitematā and Auckland District Health Board areas have been confirmed, providing ...
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    6 days ago
  • New hospital facilities mean fewer trips to Auckland for Northlanders
    Northlanders will no longer automatically have to go to Auckland for lifesaving heart procedures like angiograms, angioplasty and the insertion of pacemakers, thanks to new operating theatres and a cardiac catheter laboratory opened at Whangārei Hospital by Health Minister Andrew Little today. The two projects – along with a new ...
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    6 days ago
  • Fair Pay Agreements to improve pay and conditions for essential workers
    The Government is delivering on its pre-election commitment to implement Fair Pay Agreements which will improve wages and conditions, as well as help support our economic recovery, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today. Fair Pay Agreements will set minimum standards for all employees and employers in an ...
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    6 days ago
  • Establishment of the new Māori Health Authority takes first big step
    Sir Mason Durie will lead a Steering Group to provide advice to the Transition Unit on governance arrangements and initial appointments to an interim board to oversee the establishment of the Māori Health Authority. This Group will ensure that Māori shape a vital element of our future health system, Minister ...
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    6 days ago
  • Cycle trails move up a gear in Central
    Work on new and upgraded cycle trails in Queenstown, Arrowtown and Central Otago is moving up a gear as two significant projects pass further milestones today. Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has announced new funding for the Queenstown Trails Project, and will also formally open the Lake Dunstan Trail at Bannockburn ...
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    6 days ago
  • Government gives households extra help to reduce their power bills
    Nine community energy education initiatives to help struggling New Zealanders with their power bills are being given government funding through the new Support for Energy Education in Communities (SEEC) Programme.   “Last year we committed nearly $8 million over four years to establish the SEEC Programme. This funding will help ...
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    6 days ago
  • Picton ferry terminal upgrade consent fast-tracked
    The planned upgrade of the Waitohi Picton Ferry terminal has been approved under the fast-track consenting process.  Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the decision by the expert consenting panel to approve the Waitohi Picton Ferry Precinct Redevelopment Project.    The project will provide a significant upgrade to the ferry facilities ...
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    6 days ago
  • Quarantine Free Travel with New South Wales paused
    COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has announced his intention to pause Quarantine Free Travel from New South Wales to New Zealand while the source of infection of the two cases announced in Sydney in the last two days is investigated.  Whole genome sequencing has linked the case yesterday to a recent ...
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    6 days ago
  • Covid-19 immigration powers to be extended
    The passing of a bill to extend temporary COVID-19 immigration powers means continued flexibility to support migrants, manage the border, and help industries facing labour shortages, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said. “Over the past year, we’ve made rapid decisions to extend visas, vary visa conditions and waive some application requirements ...
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    6 days ago
  • “Supporting a Trade-Led Economic Recovery”
    Trade Policy Road Show SpeechManukau, Auckland   Kia ora koutou – nau mai, haere mai ki Manukau, ki Tāmaki.   Good morning everyone, and thank you for this opportunity to discuss with you current global challenges, opportunities and the Government’s strategy in support of a trade-led recovery from the economic ...
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    6 days ago
  • Building consent numbers at an all-time high
    A record 41,028 new homes have been consented in the year ended March 2021 March 2021 consent numbers the highest since the 1940s Record number of new homes consented in Auckland The number of new homes consented is at an all-time high, showing a strong and increasing pipeline of demand ...
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    6 days ago
  • Whānau-centred support for parents and tamariki
    Up to 60 whānau in Counties Manukau will be supported through the first three years of their parenthood by a new whānau-centred model of care, said Associate Health Minister, Hon Aupito William Sio. “Providing this support to young parents is something we have to get right. It’s a priority both ...
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    7 days ago
  • NZ backs moves to improve global access to COVID vaccines
    New Zealand welcomes and strongly supports the announcement made by the United States Trade Representative to work for a waiver of IP protections on COVID-19 vaccines at the WTO, Trade Minister Damien O’Connor said. “New Zealand supports equitable access to COVID vaccines for all. No one is safe from the ...
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    7 days ago
  • Tourism communities: support, recovery and re-set plan
    TIHEI MAURI ORA Tuia te whakapono Tuia te tumanako Tuia te aroha Tuia te hunga ora Ki te hunga ora Tihei Mauri ora Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa. Thank you, Hilary and thank you, Chris, and everyone at TIA for this ...
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    7 days ago
  • Support, recovery and re-set plan for tourism communities
    Five South Island tourist communities targeted for specialist support Pressure on Māori tourism operators and Conservation facilities recognised Domestic and international-facing tourism agencies put on more secure footing Long-term plan to re-set tourism with a focus on sustainability, industry standards and regional economic diversification A plan to ensure the immediate ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Speech on NZ Rail Plan
    Check against delivery E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karanga maha o te wa, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa. Ki ngā mana whenua o Taranaki Whānui anō nei aku mihi ki a koutou. Nōku te hōnore kia haere mai ki te whakanuia tēnei huihuinga whakahirahira. Nō ...
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    7 days ago
  • Government hits massive milestone in Violence Prevention & Elimination
    Minister for Family and Sexual Violence Marama Davidson announced a major milestone at a hui in South Auckland today, with the launch of the national engagement process on the prevention and elimination of family and sexual violence. “There is no room for violence in our lives – there is no ...
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    7 days ago
  • Fee waiver extended for conservation tourism businesses
    Tourism businesses operating on public conservation land will have another six months of fees waived to help them adjust to the downturn in international visitors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Acting Minister of Conservation Dr Ayesha Verrall has announced. "We acknowledge it has been a difficult year for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • ‘Lua Wave’ to future-proof Pasifika Festivals in Aotearoa
    Pasifika festival organisers will receive additional support to adapt to the COVID-19 environment thanks to the Government’s newly launched ‘Lua Wave’ component of the Pasifika Festivals Initiative, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni announced today. “This initiative has not only been to support festival organisers to recover from ...
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    7 days ago
  • Crown accounts show confidence in Govt economic plan
    The Government’s financial accounts continue to reflect the resilience of the economy and confidence in the Government’s economic recovery plan. The Crown accounts for the nine months to the end of March 2021 show both OBEGAL and the operating balance remain better than forecast in the Half Year Economic and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Energy Trusts of NZ Autumn Conference
    It’s a pleasure to be here today. Thank you Karen [Sherry] for the introduction and thanks to the Energy Trusts Executive for inviting me to speak at tonight’s event. It is an exciting time to come to speak to trustees of distribution companies. For many decades the electricity industry was ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New partnership to grow Māori success in STEM
    A new partnership with the Pūhoro STEM Academy will support thousands more rangatahi Māori to participate and succeed in the fields of science, technology, and innovation, Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis announced today. Since 2016, Pūhoro has worked with Māori students to build their capability and create pathways to employment ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Rail builds platform for economic recovery
    Transport Minister Michael Wood and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dr David Clark today released the Government’s long term vision for a sustainable rail network that supports our economic recovery. New Zealand Rail Plan lays out how the Government is building a resilient, reliable and safe network, as well as the indicative ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • NZ and UK agree to lift the pace of free trade talks
    New Zealand and the United Kingdom have agreed to rapidly lift the tempo of talks, as the two countries enter a new phase in free trade negotiations, Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. “UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, and I spoke today about ...
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    1 week ago