Saudi abattoir deal 'something unsavoury'

  • 04/12/2015
Sheep (File)
Sheep (File)

The Government is building a $2.6 million abattoir on a Saudi sheikh's desert farm and opposition parties are asking why.

The project was confirmed yesterday as part of the $11.5m deal with Hmood Al Ali Al Khalaf.

He lost millions when the export of live sheep for slaughter was banned and the Government is appeasing him because it wants a free trade agreement with the Gulf states.

Mr Khalaf's grievance was standing in the way of the FTA, which still hasn't been signed.

So far the Government has flown 900 pregnant ewes to the farm - nearly all the lambs died - and set up an agri-hub it says is there to showcase New Zealand equipment and expertise.

The abattoir project, confirmed yesterday, is part of the deal.

NZ First leader Winston Peters says it adds to the suspicion that "something very unsavoury" is happening between the Government and Mr Khalaf.

"What on earth has this Arab got on us?" he asked today.

"New Zealanders will struggle to find an example of any government behaving this way towards a foreign national."

Labour's David Clark says it's outrageous and Foreign Minister Murray McCully should stop it happening.

"All the spending has failed its sole purpose - to buy off a disgruntled Saudi businessman and secure a free trade deal," he said.

Mr McCully was the main player in the deal, which included $4m for Mr Khalaf.

His ministry earlier this year released thousands of documents which showed that while it was highly unusual the government hadn't broken any rules.