Labour also wants sheep investigation

  • 11/08/2015
Labour MP David Parker (Simon Wong/ 3 News)
Labour MP David Parker (Simon Wong/ 3 News)

Labour has joined the Greens in asking for the auditor-general to look into the Government's $11.5 million investment in a Saudi Arabian sheep farm.

The party's trade spokesman, David Parker, says he has written to both the auditor-general and Treasury requesting investigations, saying it appears Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully misled them both over the sheep deal.

"Had his cabinet colleagues, the Treasury, or the auditor-general known the true nature of these payments, they would have been stopped."

Last week, Green Party co-leader James Shaw said he would again be writing to Auditor-General Lyn Provost because he believed the Government had "muddied the truth" about the deal.

Prime Minister John Key isn't worried and he says the Government is "totally comfortable" the deal was done in line with official advice.

"Of course it was creative, everyone accepts that," he told reporters.

"But we were also put in a position by the previous government that was a very challenging situation."

Influential Saudi businessman Hmood Al Ali Al Khalaf lost millions when a live sheep export ban was imposed in 2007 by the previous Labour government.

He threatened to sue for $30M, which led to the National government to set up a sheep farm on private property in the middle of the desert to showcase New Zealand agricultural technology. It cost $11.5M, which included a $4M payment to Mr Khalaf.

Last week the Government dumped hundreds of pages of documents about the deal, sparking renewed criticism it wasn't justified.

Labour leader Andrew Little says nothing has come out of those documents to suggest the previous Labour government did anything other than act properly.

"This sits entirely at the feet of this government and the foreign minister who has done a dodgy deal."

NZN

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