So sheepgate was Key’s fault

Written By: - Date published: 10:45 am, November 7th, 2016 - 66 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, corruption, john key - Tags: , , , , ,

Fran O’Sullivan was late to the sheepgate party, but had an interesting gem to contribute – Ministers were played over Saudi sheep

This whole saga has been a convenient figleaf for a major point of contention between the Saudis and New Zealand: Prime Minister John Key’s decision to abandon his leadership of a business mission to the Gulf States in April 2010 and return home. Saudi anger over what was seen as an insult to the Kingdom was conveyed to business members of the mission which continued under the substitute leadership of then Trade Minister Tim Groser.

So much for blaming Labour.

After all, the Government has bent the rules in foreign corporates’ interests before as was displayed when it changed NZ’s employment laws in response to a Warner Brothers shakedown.

Refreshingly honest.

Nor did the documents – which are very carefully constructed – pass the smell test for a Government that has become rather too easy a prey for commercial shakedowns by aggrieved foreign investors.” This remains my view.

Groser and McCully were played.

And then came the payoffs and the lies. Tim Watkin at Pundit is angry – The shame of the Saudi Sheep deal, or democracy gone to the dogs

Occasionally, when it comes down to the abuse of power and a profound disrespect for the fragile system of democracy and governance that has made this country so strong for so long, we see politics at its worst. Or if not its worst, then at least in a very ugly form.

At that point, I can still get angry. And the Saudi sheep deal makes me angry. Angry with a government that, publicly at least, is in denial over its misuse of power and its casual attitude towards our constitutional infrastructure. Angry at the damage done to our global reputation as transparent and honest brokers. Angry with a media that doesn’t bother to research and think and critique nearly enough (although this story has been exposed by some top drawer journalism, others have woefully ignored, down-played or misunderstood it). And angry with an electorate that allows complexity to defeat morality.

The final findings are that corruption – defined as “an abuse of power for private gain or an offence against the Crimes Act 1961 by a Minister or an official” – did not occur. But it’s a spurious finding because no-one has alleged that McCully gained financially from the deal; rather, it was accused he paid off al-Khalaf for political gain.

I can accept that using public money for political purposes of this kind falls below a legal definition of corruption. I just find it repugnant.

What’s clear from the rest of the report is that the Auditor-General found “significant shortcomings” in the deal and a grave lack of transparency. She even went so far as to say McCully used a contract with private providers to settle a diplomatic dispute. Further, it’s clear from this report – if it wasn’t from media reporting already – that cabinet was to a greater or lesser degree in the dark as to what was going on.

That is simply remarkable and should be instantly condemned as an abuse of ministerial power. New Zealand’s Foreign Minister took it upon himself to give public money to a private individual in an effort to secure a trade deal.

So National’s spin is that “something had to be done”, so because McCully did something – however dodgy – he retains the Prime Minister’s confidence.

That makes me angry. The buck stops nowhere. And his cabinet colleagues who were misled by this rogue operator should be furious with him too. Instead, their silence is a stain on them all.

Matthew Hooton, if you believe him (never wise) is just as pissed –
hooton-transcript-sheepgate
(with thanks to whoever did the transcript [r0b: Interview seems to be from NewsTalk ZB not RNZ])

Update – Of course! – PM defends Saudi sheep deal as good use of taxpayer money. I’m a taxpayer, what did I get for my money?

66 comments on “So sheepgate was Key’s fault”

  1. In time to come, history will not view either McCully or Key , or in fact most of the inner core of this National govt favorably.

    It will be reviewed in University study papers as one of the most concentrated assemblages of corrupted and anti democratic individuals that this country has ever known and will be used as a historic case in point in the study of the devolution of a democracy.

    THIS is the results of neo liberalism , its deceits and the manner in which it forces those adhering to that ideology to have to use these tactics to overrule an open , transparent democracy.

    THIS is the John Key legacy.

    THIS is corruption.

    THIS is tomorrow calling.

    • NZJester 1.1

      If it keeps going the way it is, they will actually be touted as heroes in the school curriculum. The reason for that is because the schools will be run by the corporations that will brand the students of the poor as their property and get to keep them as indentured servants for life. They will be made to try to pay back their mandatory school fees while paying for outrageously overpriced company accommodation and being forced to buy necessities at even more outrageous prices from the company stores. They will even have to buy water, as getting free uncontaminated water will be impossible as the companies pollute the environment at will.

  2. Marcus Morris 2

    This scandal must not be allowed to be airily brushed away – no pun intended.

  3. Richard Rawshark 3

    reading it makes my blood boil.. if there is no justice do we make justice, everything falls apart. everything.

    Without rules, without transparency without consequences anarchy is born, justice breaks down..

    it’s tantamount to treason against democracy and this is why National should just hold a snap election right fkn NOW.

    • adam 3.1

      Ah Richard the fact you used the word anarchy like the authorities want you to, means you already lost the argument.

      Oh well, better luck next time, not being a pawn.

    • billmurray 3.2

      Richard Rawshark, re: snap election,
      careful what you wish for Richard, I understand that there is some pressure on John Key to do just.
      The reasoning is that Labour will not keep their 30% position in the polls and this is the time to call a snap election to give Key a better chance at a fourth term.
      I would rather see Labour in the high 30’s or higher, before an election.

      • Barfly 3.2.1

        Snap election = % dip…unless the opposition are bleeding everywhere it won’t have a snowball’s chance

      • Richard Rawshark 3.2.2

        Muldoon.

        • billmurray 3.2.2.1

          Richard Rawshark,
          yes I see your point about Muldoon but in that time, as you know, it was FPP this is MMP, because of that fact I see the situation differently.

          • Richard Rawshark 3.2.2.1.1

            Re snap election..

            weighing it up, right now, yes I would, as the damage of having to call one, due to his errors would see Nats out.

        • Cinny 3.2.2.2

          was very boozey that night, i remember it well.

          • Richard Rawshark 3.2.2.2.1

            I was a kid, I remember seeing it..i can remember it now..i new he was drunk and I was a kid..

            when I think back..it must have been bad.. might watch it now as an adult.

            after,

            yes he kind of starts off ok, then the piss gets hold of him..crack up..

  4. NZJester 4

    When you write the rules and employ the umpires, everything you do in government is legal. It maybe corrupt, immoral or downright unethical, but they have made it legal for themselves. Anyone else does something similar and they would be in court.

  5. Gabby 5

    I’m sure Guyon knew nothing about the 2010 stuff and that’s why he didn’t bring it up and figured it prolly was down to previslabagump after all.

    • Richard Rawshark 5.1

      you gotta watch those previslabagump’s I heard they were responsible for the great flood, according to my sources in the PM’s office.

      blardy previslabagump’s

    • pat 5.2

      GE’s research and ability to think in the moment are sadly lacking for a journalist who is supposed to be of some repute….unless of course it is deliberate.

  6. Whispering Kate 6

    Why are any of us surprised by these findings, everything leads back to the head of the snake. The litany of lies and over-ups from this Government has become a new norm in this country. We only get what we deserve and the people who vote in this Government have lost their moral compass and think its just business as usual. We reap what we sow.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    I’m a taxpayer, what did I get for my money?

    We got shafted.

  8. ianmac 8

    The thing Key can be admired for is being able to twist facts to suit his agenda. He lies quietly and confidently and even Guyon finds it hard to find a chink in his Bland Grand Deception.
    It was Key’s deserting the Saudi Trade Deal signing that caused the rift.
    Blaming Labour is a barefaced lie.

    And the lack of an indignant response from Media leaves Key to treat Media and we the people with contempt.
    Angry? Sure am!

  9. Richard Rawshark 9

    I loved the way Fran let it all go on, quietly she sat on that information, for how long? to spring her article.

    I can hate that woman with such a passion, the next day she spins me round like a record.

    Just when you think she’s a paid off patsy she shows us how she played them at their own game gaining their confidence to expose their lies.

    Sign of a great orator and journalist IMHO.

    • tc 9.1

      Oshillivan is a blatant right wing hack supporting corruption and rorts.

      We live in an an era where there’s so much material on poor corporate governance, insider trading, dodgy takeovers, flaunted NZX rules, badly managed businesses like feltex, pumpkin patch, finance companies, solid energy etc.

      Fran writes the occasional wet bus ticket piece but on the whole is a complete boardroom trout enabling the plunder.

      • Richard Rawshark 9.1.1

        I think I had overcompensate as it’s so rare a sight to see, I lost control of my KB and in delirium started typing twaddle.

  10. Greg 10

    Is there anything key hasn’t lied about

  11. Ad 11

    An object lesson for reminding current and future Ministers that if you are going to intervene in an industry, do it with the full backing of both your own Ministry, Crown Law, and Treasury. And because it crosses more than one Minsitry, pull in DPMC as well.

    Intervene, sure, but collective advice is the most defensible advice.

  12. shorts 12

    I was curious as to why Key cancelled his 2010 trip and found this – so Fran’s not the first to point this out and the damage Key did at the time… though good to see it reiterated

    interesting to note the trip wasn’t long after National voted to continue the ban of live sheep exports – I wonder if this was his motivation to stay home, fear of being asked hard questions after all but promising the Arab’s the trade would be reinstated?

    “The wheels came off the free trade agreement bandwagon when Prime Minister John Key cancelled his role to lead a trade mission to the Gulf states in April 2010.

    -snip-

    Things were to have been straightened out in April 2010, but Mr Key cancelled his visit to the region at the last minute to fly back to New Zealand for the funerals of three Air Force personnel killed in a helicopter crash near Wellington. The local emirs did not take kindly to the snub. Lest it be thought Mr Key deserves credit for prioritising the funerals of servicemen, it did not escape the notice of GCC diplomats in Wellington two years later when Mr Key skipped the funerals of two New Zealand soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan to watch his son play baseball in the US.”

    https://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/gulf-games-fail-deliver

    if only people took more notice of how badly run NZ Inc is under this team of bunglers

    • Sacha 12.1

      Baseball was the cover story. This was his trip to receive instructions from Hollywood bigwigs before the Dotcom raid. The PM knows who is more important for his future career prospects than the NZ military or citizens.

      • Draco T Bastard 12.1.1

        +1

        Yep, rich foreigners.

      • Anne 12.1.2

        Baseball was the cover story.

        It surely was. It transpired a few weeks down the track that lo and behold… John Key stopped off in Los Angeles to attend a “private dinner” with Warner Brothers bosses and… who else I wonder? Not one journalist had the nous to publicly join the obvious dots or conduct an investigation. Indeed, the silence from the NZ media was thunderous!

        The funeral was FOUR days before the baseball game which gave Key plenty of time to attend the funeral and then hop on a plane to watch his son play baseball.

  13. Marcus Morris 13

    Yes Shorts – the “helicopter” episode occurred at the time when photo “ops” for the leader were paramount.
    Re “Sheepgate” – wonder if it gets revisited by that arch sycophant Mike Hosking. Mind you, I will never know the answer to that one because I change channels the second the prat appears on screen!

  14. adam 14

    The pony-tail pulling hipster of a P.M now wants me to believe, we win in paying for his mistakes.

    If you believe the P.M then you really are just more than a little delusional, imprudent sycophant is probably the best description.

    • Richard Rawshark 14.1

      He should have resigned over the disgrace of pony tail gate, for so many reasons, but he totally blanked it, to survive you would have thought he’d be on his last strike, but several shockers later he’s still here.

      The nats will support a kiddy fiddler as long as it retains power..

      I mean how can any decent person support Tories or the man Key.. have some code of fucking conduct Nats kick him out get someone with the moral dignity and uprightness of virtue to lead you, if you can find one.

  15. KJT 15

    When is a bribe not corruption?

    When National does it.

    • Richard Rawshark 15.1

      There is no corruption or bribery when it’s a facilitation payment, haven’t you been listening to the spin, jeez mate.

      says Richard Rawshark in a sarcastic way..

      Lot of pasture land there, this will open doors let me tell you..

    • Leftie 15.2

      +1000

  16. doc 16

    I think the people of NZ should all get a leg of mutton and an apology from the keyster and mugs mcully in time for Xmas. If not, then fill the sheep dip it’s time for a cleansing.

  17. billmurray 17

    OMG, I believe NATWATCH is giving praise to Mathew Hooten.

    Mathew Hooten has been heavily criticising Key and McCully for some months now.

    So has Fran Wilde.

  18. Venezia 18

    As this sordid story changes, I hope someone can put together a timeline of what actually happened and the rationale given (ie the truth). For example – at what points in time were Treasury, Crown Law or McCully’s cabinet colleagues informed of this plan – before or after the payments were made? sheep loaded? contracts awarded for equipment for the “Farm”?

  19. Guerilla Surgeon 19

    Since when have cabinet ministers in New Zealand ever resigned, even after the most egregious “mistakes”. You can pretty much count them on the fingers of one hand. So McCully is staying – no surprise there.

    • billmurray 19.1

      Guerilla Surgeon, what you say may be hard to swallow but you are right, this is also old news given a lease of life by the Herald.
      I would be surprised if this does anything to the polls.

      Just a thought, if Gareth Morgan keeps getting free publicity, hence membership, then that could cause some stirring in the polls.

    • ianmac 19.2

      Guerilla don’t you see? A Trade deal was ready for the signing but Key offended the Saudis. Key made a bad mistake. He had to avoid the blame/fallout.
      McCully moves in with the camouflaging story.
      Attention pours in on McCully. Dodgy dealing. Bribes. Sheep. Suspicion. A long delay.
      Enquiry “clears” McCully.
      Will Key fire McCully after he saved Key’s bacon?
      No way! McCully is Key’s fervent best mate now forever.

      • Richard Rawshark 19.2.1

        A script from ” Yes Minister”, it’s almost like National referenced it for how to deal with stuff ups. – i’d use coarser language but I am going to try to tone down the swearing..

        It’ll be difficult under this regime, as they really make you want to curse.

        • wyndham 19.2.1.1

          Delighted to hear you’re cutting down on the swearing, Richard.

          It becomes tedious at times and adds little to discussion.

          Just saying.

          • Richard Rawshark 19.2.1.1.1

            Yeah know that myself..i’ll give it my best effort, no offence taken, thanks for the feeback.

            I do have issues. I’m working on it.

  20. Keith 20

    The thing is with our Wall Street banker of a Prime Minister is that he and his fellow Nat millionaires and their dodgy toadying wannabe bum boys like McCully drag us ALL down into the moral and ethical sewer in which the live.

    They are trashing this country’s good name we once had.

  21. Gabby 21

    Not that there’s anyhing wrong with offending the Saudis, mind – it’s the grovelling making amends that sticks in the craw.

  22. Leftie 22

    So…. John key’s snub cost New Zealand, sheep and millions of dollars in bribes.

  23. Rosemary McDonald 23

    Is there a link to the 3rd November interview of Matthew Hooten on RNZ?

    Great transcript, but I would really like to hear the audio.

    • Richard Rawshark 23.1

      if your going to listen to him here

      =====================================================

      tie this around you and tug twice if you need help, or pulling out in a hurry.

      I’ll be here don’t worry. Oh, PS Do not look into his eyes.

      🙂

      • Rosemary McDonald 23.2.1

        Thanks for trying rOb…but I still can’t get to the audio. Link goes to the page, refers to the interview with Smalley….but….nothing. Oh well.

        Perhaps the text of the post needs an edit? it does state “RNZ”…..not a station I tune into.

        • r0b 23.2.1.1

          The “video” at the top of the page is audio over a still picture.

          Yes the transcript seems wrong on RNZ, I will amend post.

          • Rosemary McDonald 23.2.1.1.1

            Touch of embarrassment here. I was trying Linux (recently installed on my other laptop) and lo! No media player! No sound and vision….how will I cope? (Better, now free of MS tyranny)

            Thank goodness I am keeping this dinosaur for a while, else that rant from Hoots would have been denied me.

            Great stuff…..defamation suit on it’s way perhaps?

  24. Richard Rawshark 24

    PS Watch Hooten, he’s playing a political game, I suspect he knows national haven’t much left, he’s started positioning himself to be involved with the next government.

    I smell it like a sixth sense.

    • tc 24.1

      Yup matty knows the mood and probably Nats internal polling results also being well connected in that small spin world he habitates

  25. mosa 25

    This long National nightmare seems to go on with no end in sight and John Key is untouchable.

    This latest scandal is getting attention from some National media stalwarts who unlike all the others can spot wrongdoing and deceit in fact Hooten was sounding the warning bells about the PMs honesty after revelations that he and his office were complicent in the black ops being organised and run from his office in 2014.

    Then he went very quiet after directly criticising Key publicly after daring to accuse him of being dishonest and not being straight with the NZ public about what he was involved in and encouraging the destruction of Phil Goff , David Cunliffe and others.

    The irony in all of this is when kiwis are polled on on Keys trustworthiness and honesty they rank him down the bottom.

  26. Gangnam Style 26

    It’s Hooton.

  27. mosa 27

    Of course Gangnam.

    Hooton my apologies.

  28. Henry Filth 28

    In a way, it’s quite pleasing that the New Zealand government isn’t actually any good at corruption.

    Not pleasing that they were railroaded into this nonsense,mind you. Just pleased that they st*ffed it up – and that there was enough of a trail for the Auditor General’s office.

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