- Date published:
10:45 am, November 7th, 2016 - 66 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, corruption, john key - Tags: corruption, incompetence, matthew hooton, murray mccully, sheepgate, tim watkin
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.
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 –
(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?