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The dump of the #sheepgate papers

Written By: - Date published: 8:52 am, August 5th, 2015 - 97 comments
Categories: david parker, john key, national, same old national, slippery, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: ,

Strange sheep

There are a few tell tale signs showing when National is in trouble.

For instance dumping a huge amount of paper at the one time during a week when Parliament is not sitting and the responsible Minister is overseas apparently without access to a land line so that he is unable to give media interviews are all pretty good indicators.

Another sign is John Key claiming either Labour does it too or it is all Labour’s fault.  An example of the former is when he said that Labour also engaged in dirty politics.  The lack of any example of a parliamentary coordinated hit job on individuals using social media did not matter.  And he talked up allegations of Donghua Liu making large donations of money to the Labour Party despite the fact that the only verified political donation made by Mr Liu was one of $25,000 to National in August 2013.

So with events over the past 24 hours you can see that National is in trouble over Sheepgate.  Parliament is not sitting, McCully is overseas somewhere where there are no phone lines and Key is saying it was all Labour’s fault.

Radio New Zealand has reported Key as saying this:

“They were the people who put in the initial ban – they were the people who made, I think, assurances to the Saudis that they were going to find a response to that, they were the people who dispatched Phil Goff to talk to the Saudi ministers saying that they would find a way through.

And they were the people who deliberately, and I say deliberately, having changed their position, decide to do a complete 180 and not find a decision, made sure that the Saudis did not find out about it until they had made that decision public.”

But the only proof of a change in position is that by National ministers.  Again from the above Radio New Zealand article:

The documents show that in 2010, three National Government cabinet ministers met to discuss the restarting of live sheep exports two years later in 2012.

Ministers David Carter, Murray McCully and Tim Groser talked about a possible 15,000 to 25,000 live sheep being sent, as long as the shipment met World Organisation for Animal Health standards.

Those shipments never went ahead.

Get that?  The only sign of a change of position is that by National in 2010 when then Agriculture Minister David Carter began negotiations with the Saudis to lift the ban on live sheep export despite saying publicly that the ban would not be lifted.  The subsequent reimposition of the ban clearly annoyed the Saudis.  To use Key’s words Carter clearly changed his position, decided to do a complete 180 and not find a decision, and made sure that the Saudis did not find out about it until after the decision was made public.

The papers also reveal that the Auditor General was consulted about the proposed payments to the Saudi sheep farmer and expressed deep reservations.  From Stuff:

Doubts about the legality of live sheep exports were expressed by the Auditor-General, more than a year before the Government sent 900 ewes to Saudi Arabia.

In a major release of official documents, notes reveal in August 2013 Auditor-General Lyn Provost had concerns that the deal with an influential Saudi businessman at the centre of the long-running saga was “weak”.

She also registered significant concerns that the independence of her office could be compromised by the meeting, and the export of live sheep might be illegal.

The media is starting to see through Key’s lies.  Barry Soper has said this about Key’s claims:

It’s clear Government claims they were responding to a threat made to the Clark Government of a $30 million lawsuit over the axing of live sheep exports aren’t credible.

It would seem the $30 million was mentioned just once in papers from Murray McCully’s office, long after Labour was voted out and bearing no relation to a threat of that time.

David Parker has summarised the transaction with typical sharpness.  From Radio New Zealand:

Labour trade spokesperson David Parker told Checkpoint the deal was unscrupulous.

He said people were right to be incredulous that New Zealand would spend millions of dollars building a farm in the desert and flying sheep on Singapore Airlines.

“It just doesn’t make sense, and that’s why people are right to be suspicious that this is not what it seems,” he said.

“This wasn’t good business sense, this wasn’t settling a legal claim, this was to facilitate the – still – locked Saudi free trade agreement. It’s just unprincipled.”

National would have us believe that it has spent $11 million on setting up a sheep farm in a saudi desert where most of the lambs died to settle a non existent legal claim that was never lodged and was statute barred in any event.  The reality is that it is the payment of a bribe and there never was a credible legal threat at least one that Labour was responsible for.

In civilised nations Ministers are sacked for this sort of behaviour.  And Prime Ministers do not tell lies.

97 comments on “The dump of the #sheepgate papers ”

  1. Ovid 1

    For instance dumping a huge amount of paper at the one time during a week when Parliament is not sitting and the responsible Minister is overseas apparently without access to a land line so that he is unable to give media interviews are all pretty good indicators.

    The Silence of the Lambs.

  2. Macro 2

    In civilised nations Ministers are sacked for this sort of behaviour. And Prime Ministers do not tell lies.

    But this is “new seelind” where the sheeple worship our “aspirashunal” dear leader.
    This bribe was just an “aspirashunal” oiling of the wheels to make a “deal” !
    We don’t need to worry about sheeple, it’s our mates we need to consider.

  3. esoteric pineapples 3

    Live animal exports often lead to horrific abuse of animals.

    “Australia is the world’s largest exporter of sheep and cattle. According to Meat and Livestock Australia, 2.44 million sheep were exported to markets in Asia and the Middle East in 2012,[4] reduced from 4.2 million in 2008.[5] ” – Wikipedia

    There’s a few petitions on line asking Australia to stop live animal exports, sometimes accompanied by videos of the most appalling abuse.

  4. wyndham 4

    Nothing new in Key’s behaviour over this issue.
    1. Attack is the best means of defence.
    2. Blame Labour.
    3. Construct a web of untruths, partial truths, obfuscations and deceits.
    It’s what Key does. It’s the nature of the man and part of the reason he has risen to where he is. What a proud record for him to reflect on when he finally leaves this country. As he will.

    • RedLogix 4.1

      Ah pfffff … kiwis just love a good liar for a Prime Minister.

    • cogito 4.2

      Well said.

      Car maker Lotus have this motto – “Simplify, then add lightness” . By contrast Key’s motto is obfuscate, then add lies.

  5. Mike the Savage One 5

    Baah, baah, baah, one way fares to Riyadh, on sale now, at the McCully Flight Centre, book now, only $ 1,500 one way, economy class, or $ 1,999 business class, chopped beet and dry hay to chew for meal breaks. A nice desert resort is calling. Enjoy the warm temperatures in the 40s, and the views and sandy playgrounds between the palm trees here and there.

    Yes, indeed, one may laugh about it all, but when we look at this with sombre minds and give it some thought, it makes this country look like a modern day banana republic kind of state.

    And of course, dumping it on media in the afternoon, while the PM and others responsible are out of the country, when Parliament is in recess, and trying to blame the Labour government (that was last in charge in 2008!), that is a desperate effort to get out of the apparent mess.

    Add today’s news about the dairy prices dropping through the hole in the bottom of the bucket, add the Auckland housing crisis spinning endlessly out of control, add the threat of job losses all over the regions, the closure or sale of Solid Energy, the unavoidable bankruptcies and forced sales of farms, and what else is to come soon, and even the so far deluded middle class in suburban Auckland will have to wake up.

    I foresee a disaster hitting this country and economy very soon, one we have not seen for decades, possible one worse than the 1987 stock crash.

    John Key does not keep his mansion on Hawaii for no reason, I am waiting for him to put his St Stephens Ave one in Parnell for sale on the market soon, as he will want to head off soon, before the whole shit will hit the fan, something very hard and nasty.

    Just read this to perhaps get a clue about where we are heading:





    Even the Federated Farmers ACT Party friendly free market fans will soon not be able to put a nice “spin” on the disastrous situation, nor that idiot housing minister with that flat and ugly face.

    But welcome to the “brighter future”, wherever that is to be found.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      I am waiting for him to put his St Stephens Ave one in Parnell for sale on the market soon

      Yep, he’ll want to sell that one before the prices start dropping so that he can get his untaxed and unearned capital gain.

      Even the Federated Farmers ACT Party friendly free market fans will soon not be able to put a nice “spin” on the disastrous situation, nor that idiot housing minister with that flat and ugly face.

      True but I’m sure that they’ll try. They certainly won’t admit that their religion is a failure.

    • Skinny 5.2

      “Yes, indeed, one may laugh about it all, but when we look at this with sombre minds and give it some thought, it makes this country look like a modern day banana republic kind of state”.

      We are a banana republic by allowing these mugs to continue rorting us at every turn. The information release and the condemnation should have been headline news from all media outlets demanding heads should roll. NO typically hardly a fuss, like it is business as usual.

      • Melanie Scott 5.2.1

        For some time now I have ben thinking – more of a banana milkshake republic.

        • Skinny

          Not too many farmers smiling when I was driving out in the countryside today. Ya can’t give milk away shortly the rate the arse has dropped right out of the market.

          Banana milkshake nice 🙂 Melanie.

    • Anno1701 5.3

      “Yes, indeed, one may laugh about it all, but when we look at this with sombre minds and give it some thought, it makes this country look like a modern day banana republic kind of state.”

      what do you mean “looks like”……?

  6. Save NZ 6


    This disastrous shipmate is a good example to keep in the focus. It is clearly unscrupulous, involves farming free trade deals, cruelty and bribery.

    Good comments by David Parker
    Labour trade spokesperson David Parker told Checkpoint the deal was unscrupulous.

    He said people were right to be incredulous that New Zealand would spend millions of dollars building a farm in the desert and flying sheep on Singapore Airlines.

    “It just doesn’t make sense, and that’s why people are right to be suspicious that this is not what it seems,” he said.

    “This wasn’t good business sense, this wasn’t settling a legal claim, this was to facilitate the – still – locked Saudi free trade agreement. It’s just unprincipled.”

  7. Ad 7

    Keen to see whether Labour can work to orchestrate the full Opposition in Parliament tomorrow. This Saudi story has long peaked unless there’s some juicy dead-lamb footage to go with it.

    I have still not heard a full-throated attack by Labour on National’s failure to support either the dairy industry, or Fonterra specifically. This is going to be an almighty shareholders meeting.

    The Saudi story is interesting, but the Fonterra story is where they need to focus.

    The Opposition are not strong enough or United enough to handle a multiple-story attack. Fonterra’s Black Friday is what they need to prepare for.

    • Mike the Savage One 7.1

      Perhaps have a read of this investor’s info brochure from Harbour Asset Management. I remember also a discussion about certain risks that Fonterra faces with its high level investment in Mainland China on a recent Q+A panel. Fonterra is in China tied up in a kind of large joint venture, and cannot freely decide what decisions to make:

      “However, China is a relatively high-risk and expensive market to compete in (across sectors) and we believe it will take years before the financial returns of current investments can be reaped in these businesses. Short-term volatility in commodity prices could however sweeten margins in the Brands business this year as input costs are much lower than last year. We do see significant downside risk to the current farmgate milk price forecast of $5.30/kgMS, which is likely to increase the margins in the brands business as dairy ingredient prices go down.”

      Fonterra seems to be in between a rock and a hard place, with dairy prices heading down as they are, they will have to significantly lower the pay-out to farmers, as they will not be able to pay what they are paying now.

      Indeed, there will be very difficult discussions and decisions made, I reckon even more job cuts may be due.

      As for the whole of China, things do not look all that good for more NZ exports to there. For some commodities like dairy they have recently dropped a fair bit again.

      Perhaps McCully foresaw the need to get the Saudis offered a carrot, to get more access to the Gulf markets? The government is becoming desperate, and Groser with his talk about TPPA negotiations continuing, and there still being a chance for New Zealand to get something out of it, so they can sign, that sounds unconvincing to me. What can New Zealand offer Japan, Canada and Mexico? New Zealand has as free trade promoter already freed up and maximised access to its market here, there seems damned little else that the government can offer as a bargaining position, in return for better dairy access to other markets.

      It seems we have reached the end of what can be achieved, in some ways of selling this country out. But of course, there are still farms and houses in Auckland to “export”, I suppose.

    • freedom 7.2

      Hi Ad, Parliament sits again next Tuesday, 11 August.
      this link should save you tuning in to a non-existent transmission – like I did just yesterday 🙂

    • Draco T Bastard 7.3

      Keen to see whether Labour can work to orchestrate the full Opposition in Parliament tomorrow.

      I’m wondering if Labour or someone else can work to bring charges of corruption and bribery against the relevant Ministers.

  8. Karen 8

    The Herald online version has nothing about the Saudi sheep story, although the print edition had a small piece.

    The released papers show an extremely high level of National Party incompetence and dishonesty even for them. They bribed an billionaire Saudi businessman in the hope of getting a trade deal that has never eventuated, the Auditor-General says it was probably illegal, and Key has been shown to have been blatantly lying.

    Yet our biggest national newspaper barely bothers to cover the story. Disgraceful.

    • freedom 8.1

      This single piece from the National section seems about all they could manage. Must be tough to find time to cover this trivial topic with all the celebrity interviews to analyse and diet coke issues and my god have you heard about debt collectors chasing a TV star? Front page stuff if ever there was. How can we expect these professionals to belittle their profession by covering silly sideshow issues even if those issues are directly affecting our international diplomatic relations and exposing the incredible duplicity of our Government’s statements.

      • Karen 8.1.1

        Ah, I missed it. Surely this should have been included in the politics section?

        Imagine the Herald’s coverage if it had been Labour caught out like this.

    • Paul 8.2

      The Herald cannot seriously be described as a newspaper.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.2.1


        Tory Propaganda Rag would be more accurate

        • Charles

          The NZ Herald especially, and most other papers do 3 things:

          1) Advertisements.

          2) Propaganda (including the kind of waffle designed to garner sympathy and create mystique around Captains of Incompetence in the minds of the Aspirational.)

          3) Disinformation.

    • ianmac 8.3

      Karen. freedom pointed me to the Herald buried down in the Politics pages for some strange reason. Wonder why?:
      “Saudi farm deal: Warnings before sheep deaths
      By Nicholas Jones, Isaac Davison, Claire Trevett”

    • mary_a 8.4

      @Karen (8)

      However, had it been Labour …..!

    • linda 8.5

      What do you expect from the key media. Honesty?????? National runs the media

  9. thenthere'sme 9

    Isn’t it a serious offence to lie to Parliament?

    Shouldn’t this go to the Privileges Cttee?

    Hon MURRAY McCULLY : As the paper that I tabled yesterday makes clear, the New Zealand Government specifically resisted the concept of compensation to the Al Khalaf group. But no doubt they would have had in their minds the fact that the actions of the previous Labour Government had exposed the New Zealand Government to legal claims estimated to be up to $30 million.


    • mickysavage 9.1

      Yep. Completely impossible to reconcile as is Key’s claim that the papers show that the legal threat had been made.

      • freedom 9.1.1

        The Government’s ‘official’ lawyers, The Crown Law Office, have claimed legal privilege as the reason they cannot answer the question if Crown law advised the Government on the deal.

        Can anyone explain to us non-lawyers what would/could be the privilege they are protecting?
        This was a Government decision was it not?
        The process of which is meant to be a matter of public record?
        The simple question is not about what advice was or was not given by Crown Law, but if Crown Law advice was given?
        Some would be happy just to know if the Government even sought advice of The Crown Law Office.

        And let’s not forget this story which was never followed up on by the media, and was certainly thrown down a deep dark hole by The Speaker when it was raised later in The House.

        • Matthew Hooton

          Crown Law did not provide advice of any kind on the deal.

          • Skinny

            Probably thought it was so abundantly clear reasonable compo was justified and no need to waste time and money for Crown Law doing due diligence.

            • Skinny

              And the means justifies the end. The end being access to the market. Sweeten the sweaty palms of one royal abrab and Key probably assumed he would get the lot from the Saudi oil robber barons.

              • Stuart Munro

                For the end to justify the means you have to achieve it. Last I checked we don’t have a Saudi free trade deal. It’s like Groser’s WTO punt – money pissed away in a lost cause.

                According to Montesquieu, in a monarchical system honour flows downward from the crown, not upward from the many relations – and certainly not through overt bribery.

                Had the Gnats actually established a world class agrihub as they pretended, like Salmon Fishing in the Yemen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salmon_Fishing_in_the_Yemen , they might have obtained the approval they sought. But the mass fatalities suggests it was a cock up instead. Success has a hundred patrons but failure dies an orphan.

          • freedom

            What proof do you have they did not? Have you seen a statement stating such?

            Their public statements will not even state a position on that question either way. The Ministers’ answers to Parliament obfuscate the issue when it is raised and they did have a representative on RNZ recently who flatly refused to answer if they did or did not advise on the deal by citing “legal privilege”.

            On a related question Matthew. If you are so certain they did not seek any advice from Crown Law, what do you consider the proper action should be against a Government who claims they are facing a legal threat of $30 million dollars, pays out $11 million dollars to the people making the alleged threat yet at no time seeks the advice of the Government’s own lawyers?

            • dv

              What proof do you have they did not? Have you seen a statement stating such

              Jason Eade told him.

              • freedom

                Oh, well that makes it all legit then 😉

                As much as I would love to trust the word of someone who makes their living working in public relations, I have this niggling tingling on the back of my neck that says Mr Hooton should front up with proof after making such a definitive statement.

                What is weird, is seeing how “Matthew Hooton is New Zealand’s leading public affairs strategist and political commentator” you would think he knew the phrase ‘as far as I know ‘ or ‘it is my understanding‘. Failing that he could have tried to work in the PM’s new favourite – “ I think“.

            • lprent

              If you are so certain they did not seek any advice from Crown Law, what do you consider the proper action should be against a Government….

              A good question. Who does handle corrupt bribes by government officials misusing taxpayers funds?

              • Macro

                It would appear that McCully got no legal advice whatsoever as to the legality of the bribe apart from MAFT legal division:

                Hon David Parker : Thank you, Mr Speaker. Given that the Minister claims that the previously undisclosed $4 million initial payment to Al Khalaf was justified to settle Mr Khalaf’s $20 million to $30 million legal claim, did he, the Minister, receive legal advice from Crown Law or his own ministry as to whether Al Khalaf had any legitimate claim?

                Hon PAULA BENNETT : The answer I have here, on behalf of the Minister, is that I am advised that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s legal division provided advice on issues relating to the food security partnership, but I cannot answer further on what the member asked.

                Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That does not address my question at all.

                Mr SPEAKER : Order! No. It does not answer the question to the member’s satisfaction—that is accepted—but it certainly addresses the question.

                Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

                Mr SPEAKER : No. I am going to give the member—[Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. I have ruled quite categorically that that question has been addressed. Taking further points of order relitigating that leads to disorder. It means that I have to deal with that far more substantially. If the member has further supplementary questions, he is welcome to raise them or equally [Interruption]—I had not quite finished—if the member wants to raise fresh points of order that are genuinely fresh points of order, that is also acceptable.

                Hon David Parker : Is it not the real reason that the Minister has refused to answer oral questions, written questions, and select committee questions on this very issue that he never got that legal advice, but to concede it amounts to an admission that he misled his Cabinet colleagues?

                Hon PAULA BENNETT : I refute all of the question from the member.

                Hon David Parker : Is the reason the Minister is now talking about general trade risks rather than Mr Al Khalaf’s legal claim that, in truth, these payments were to advance the free-trade agreement and trading with Saudi Arabia?

                Hon PAULA BENNETT : Certainly, the truth that I have seen is a mess that was left by Labour, which this Government has had to pick up and actually fix so that we are in a position where we can discuss trade with that partner.

                Hon David Parker : Is it not the real reason that he continues to pretend the $4 million payment to Al Khalaf was to settle the non-existent legal claim because otherwise it is even more obvious that the multimillion-dollar payment was a facilitation payment, which in other jurisdictions is called a bribe?

                ex Hansard referred by freedom above
                So it would appear that Matthew is correct – The Crown Law Office was not consulted. This was purely an in-house thing, by a bunch of arrogant twits, who have no appreciation of ethical behaviour

                  • Macro

                    OMG it’s even worse than I thought.

                    You know Matthew that the NZ public and the Australian public view the export of live animals such as sheep to Saudi as abhorrent. We do have some sensibility remaining as a general public vis a vis cruelty to animals – although its not very well expressed in our purchasing from supermarkets – continuing to pretend that the caged eggs are produced by hens free to run around, and our bacon is free range, etc. But when presented with video footage of real animals under stress and dying in their hundreds, NZers are outraged! For McCully, or anyone else, to even remotely consider the possibility of the resumption of live sheep exports again to Saudi is political suicide. No matter that poor farmers might make a few more bucks getting rid of surplus stock, there is a moral principle here, and it concerns the humane treatment of live animals.

                • freedom

                  Thanks for posting that Macro. I was hoping someone would as I don’t enjoy appearing like some sort of obsessive with my Hansard posts 🙂

                  & it’s a pity the MSM seem oblivious to Hansard’s continued existence.

    • Tracey 9.2

      oia who wrote that for mccully

  10. Ffloyd 10

    Yes, I had to hunt for the small amount they had on Saudi dump. NZ Herald being as resolute as ever not to publish anything remotely damaging to the dishonourable, unprincipled, inferior National Party. Idiots!

    • joe90 10.1

      Conveniently off Stuff’s front page and buried in politics –

      Prime Minister John Key says the blame for a breakdown in the relationship with the Saudis lies with Labour.

      • greywarshark 10.1.1

        The right wing Hairy or Horrid as some have dubbed it, must have a coding system whereby the populist comes first, the opening of casinos and sports stadiums is second, the jibe against Labour is third, fourth is the latest housing prices, fifth is attending anything in regions that gives the impression of Notional interest, sixth is how disgracefully bennies are behaving (if there is a death or interesting accident or tragedy this would advance to first or second), then business takeovers, problems with workers, quarterly or annual profit or not critique, some notable conservative saying something or having a child going into drug rehabilitation and so on.

        They must have a template for checking off stories, with points for each level entered for each reporter that are monitored monthly.

      • mary_a 10.1.2

        @joe90 (10.1) Now there’s a surprise!

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    “It just doesn’t make sense, and that’s why people are right to be suspicious that this is not what it seems,” he said.

    “This wasn’t good business sense, this wasn’t settling a legal claim, this was to facilitate the – still – locked Saudi free trade agreement. It’s just unprincipled.”

    It was exactly what it seems – a bribe and it didn’t work so this government spent $11 million dollars illegally and got nothing for it. Of course, that’s the thing about bribes – you can’t then demand the product/service that you paid for.

    The minister should be going to jail for this and, if it went through Cabinet, all of them as well.

  12. Brendon Harre 12

    I am writing an article about political/economic Liberalism from the 1800s and the implications for the modern day. It is still work in progress but what I have so far seems relevant to this discussion.

    “8. New Zealand trade deals do not seem to have the impact that repealing the Corn Laws did, they do not seem to be lowering structural costs for the typical household. They do not allow a new industry to develop taking advantage of the latest technology. They are not a game changer.

    The TPPA which may or may not come to fruition seems to be designed to benefit multi-nationals more than the typical household. In particular Pharmac which allows NZ to negotiate better deals with monopoly patent holders seems to be undermined as described by Doctors for Healthy Trade. If the TPP trade agreement is passed New Zealand households would either pay more in prescription charges or more tax as the government needs to subsidise prescription costs by greater amounts.

    The trade deal with some Middle-East States also seems to have little upside and required appeasement of the local landed gentry which risks undermining New Zealand’s reputation of being corrupt free.

    It also set up the precedent that if you are a well-connected foreigner that has been disadvantaged by the NZ government’s changing the rules of trade –no matter what the wider benefits to NZ for making that change, then you can expect compensation.

    This approach to trade may be institutionalised by the TPPA under the investor protection provision. ”

    Note there seems to be a link between TPPA, American Oligarchy and our concept of democracy or Sovereignty

    American oligarchy

    • Mike the Savage One 12.1

      Well, New Zealand does have that “competitive advantage” or “edge”, you must remember. Have you ever tried residential and perhaps also commercial and rural real estate?

      With these many trade deals, which now appear to make it near impossible for government to stop foreign buyers buying real estate on the NZ market, the only remaining “commodity” that offers high rewards is real estate, certainly here in Auckland.

      Perhaps do a real estate course, and get stuck into it. Home owners, some of them at least, have discovered the “potential”, and are speculating and selling and making some huge windfall gains.

      Now there is one “advantage”, the many players we “deal” with may not have, where they come from.

  13. ianmac 13

    Brendon:”This approach to trade may be institutionalised by the TPPA under the investor protection provision. ””
    And that is so true. The taxpayer will continue to be forced to buy off disgruntled overseas interest under TPP, as the precedent has now been well and truly set by this Government v Saudis. Shame!

  14. hoom 14

    It was interesting to hear the initial quote from Key on RNZ last night:
    He started by mumbling something about ‘depending on how much redaction’ and ended after the ‘all Labours fault’ line with something like ‘and if you can run with that it’d be great’.

    And the first News Headlines after ran that quote, then they went back to their earlier ‘The Auditor General had serious questions about the deal’ headline.

    The RNZ reporter this morning was like ‘I can’t find anything at all that points to Labour, everything points to National’.

  15. Karen 15

    Looks like there is more to come.

    “Andrea Vance ‏@avancenz 20m20 minutes ago
    Treasury papers (quietly published yesterday) reveal they objected repeatedly to the Saudi deal. Full details on @NZStuffPolitics soon”

  16. repateet 16

    And Prime Ministers do not tell lies?

    There are enough incidents, ample examples over such a length of time, to say that it is ‘custom and practice’ to have a Prime Minister who lies. And custom and practice for many people to accept and expect the same.

    Naturally the commonness of the practice means it spreads. The termites are eating away the house of truth.

  17. gsays 17

    surely amongst the opposition parties there is an oppurtunity to put prolonged pressure on this govt.

    4 from labour, 1 or 2 from greens and nz first.

    allocate these groups to certain weaknesses ( sheepgate, climate change, worker safety, tppa, inequality/child poverty, charter schools…) and appoint an appropriate big hitter to lead (turei, peters, parker, little).

    meanwhile there is an alternative vision offered by other groups; ubi, land sales to non residents stopped, future of work etc.

    not too radical i hope, but this is a weird time here in absurdistan, which calls for a new approach.

  18. Pat 18

    Guyon Espiner displayed a very poor understanding of the issues…thought he was better than that.http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/201765191/labour-says-saudi-sheep-deal-documents-are-embarrassing

    • Paul 18.1

      I didn’t.

    • Hanswurst 18.2

      I disagree. He didn’t display any understanding or otherwise of the issues. He was acting as an interviewer, not as a reporter. His job was to elicit David Parker’s understanding of the issues. A crucial component of that is pressing Mr. Parker on why his interpretation is more sound than any other. Mr. Parker had facts and analysis to back up his argument in response to every question Mr. Espiner put to him, and came away looking very competent.

      • Pat 18.2.1

        and i in turn disagree…yes he was acting as an interviewer however his grasp of the subject appeared sadly lacking…he was noticeably less than au fait with the facts and appeared to be taking a position….listen again.

        • mickysavage

          I’m with Pat. Espiner can be a bulldog but on this particular occasion he sounded disinterested and uninformed. Parker utterly dominated him.

  19. maui 19

    Can we sack the speaker now for his part.

  20. Karen 20

    And here is the promised article from Andrea Vance on the National government ignoring Treasury advice to not pay this bribe.


    • ianmac 20.1

      Andrea says: “As well as the $4m payment, the Government would invest $6m in al-Khalaf’s desert farm as a “showcase” for New Zealand agriculture.

      A further $1.5m would go towards freighting 900 sheep to Dammam for breeding, taking the total package to $11.5m.

      Despite some last minute revisions by McCully, Treasury officials were still unmoved by the merits, just before the deal was due to go to Cabinet.”

      • mickysavage 20.1.1

        Yep and no sign of the payment being to settle a legal dispute.

        This is ABC stuff. If there was any sort of legal dispute there would have been words saying something along the lines that the Saudi sheep farmer will not sue NZ Inc for being upset about the banning of live sheep exports.

        There is no trace of this. McCully was telling porkies pies when he said this. It was a verbal flourish but he should no longer be a minister because he is completely incompetent. Not to mention a liar.

  21. Tracey 21

    david carter part of possible illegal shipments… then became speaker…


    no wonder they got rid of smith

  22. Macro 22

    Watched an oldie but a goodie last night “Good Night and Good Luck”

    “Good Night, And Good Luck.” takes place during the early days of broadcast journalism in 1950’s America. It chronicles the real-life conflict between television newsman Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Permanent Sub-committee on Investigations (Government Operations Committee). With a desire to report the facts and enlighten the public, Murrow, and his dedicated staff – headed by his producer Fred Friendly and Joe Wershba in the CBS newsroom – defy corporate and sponsorship pressures to examine the lies and scaremongering tactics perpetrated by McCarthy during his communist ‘witch-hunts’. A very public feud develops when the Senator responds by accusing the anchor of being a communist. In this climate of fear and reprisal, the CBS crew carries on and their tenacity will prove historic and monumental.

    Thought – we need a broadcaster like that here and now. Morrow in a speech to in 1958 t the Directors of Broadcasting in the States said this:

    During the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: Look now, pay later

    A certainly perceptive man

  23. Clemgeopin 23

    This is a very serious issue. The taxpayers have not only been financially shafted but a serious corruption episode and government lies have been exposed here.

    The government should resign immediately or be dismissed by the Governor General and fresh elections called. There is no other way.

    • Tracey 23.1

      yes and by the person responsible for upholding standards of behaviour. the Speaker must resign. And some Nats need to stand up and say so.

      • Clemgeopin 23.1.1

        Yes, I think that all the National government’s ministers and officials who were part of this crooked decision to stupidly molly cuddle a desert Sheik should be made to pay back every cent of the millions of dollars of taxpayer government money that they secretly squandered without parliament’s knowledge or authority, in spite of very good advice from responsible officials of integrity and sense, not to do so.

        These stupid dumbarse crooks should not be let off to get away without any consequences.
        Don’t you agree?

  24. ianmac 24

    New header in the Herald under National News this time.
    “Nicholas Jones
    Saudi farm deal was opposed by Treasury – documents.”
    “It remained unclear what the benefits to New Zealand companies involved in the agri-hub would be, Treasury said….”
    “In 2009, Agriculture Minister David Carter began negotiations with Saudi Arabia for a resumption of live-sheep exports…..”
    “In 2010, the National Government extended the ban….” (Note that by then it was a National problem and not Labour’s.)
    So the annoyance from the Saudis was that National were on again off again.

    • Paul 24.1

      What is Key doing in Rarotonga?

      • mary_a 24.1.1

        @Paul (24.1) – um (apart from celebrating the Cook Islands anniversary of independence), trying to avoid being held accountable perhaps over sheepgate I’d say.

      • Anne 24.1.2

        Golf with the local PM. Bit of a come down from Barack Obama.

        And as mary_a says. Innit amazing, all the protagonists are out of the country. At the rate the bombshells are dropping they’re never going to be in the country.

  25. Ad 25

    If National Radio keep up this crusade, they will find this National government slitting their throats faster than lambs entering Mecca. Nat Rad are the only people really covering it.

    English specifically singled National Radio out as a business the state does not need to own.

    Cruel game, but nothing is sacred, and National are playing for keeps.

    • thenthere'sme 25.1

      Yes, the lights of independent journalism are going out, all over New Zealand. This is a dangerous, proto-fascistic government that must be fought.

    • Paul 25.2

      So they should go down fighting.

    • Hanswurst 25.3

      What should National Radio do then? If you are correct, then as far as I can tell, the two alternatives they have are either to court the wrath of National, as you claim they are doing, and risk being neutered, or to neuter themselves to pre-empt being neutered. Assuming you’re right, it’s like imploring a batter to retire hurt before taking the pitch, because every ball they face risks their getting out. Accurate, but pointless.

      • Ad 25.3.1

        I wouldn’t usually advocate crossing the line between Studio and News, but this is one of those times. National Radio have gone too far out on a limb.

        They need to shift to the Fonterra story, and lost kittens, fast.

        • Pat

          maybe they are going out with a flourish…

          • Pat

            and I desperately hope my offhand comment is exactly that….they are about the last remaining bastion of public interest journalism

  26. keyman 26

    there is a case for a commission to go after national and john hey but it cant happen until there removed from power until then the key god will rule

  27. Drowsy M. Kram 27

    Hey! Hey! JPK! How many lies did you tell today?

    John Key’s told some whoppers, but how to raise the public profile of this long list of deliberate lies to show that our Prime Minister of the last 7 years is a dishonest John?

    Maybe the message that he is a liar will turn people off, but if you can’t trust the Prime Minister who can you trust? And he’s tasked himself with combating corruption in the ranks! Yeah, RIGHT, what a DIRTY joke.

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