Foreign Minister Murray McCully accused of attempt to resume live sheep exports

  • 02/07/2016

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Foreign Minister Murray McCully is being accused of making moves to resume live sheep exports to Saudi Arabia.

Live exports of the animals were halted in 2004 when 5000 sheep died on a three-week ocean journey to the Middle East, but new revelations show plans were being made in 2015 to send another 45,000.

Before 2004, Mr Al-Khalaf had imported up to five million live sheep from New Zealand to the Middle East for pilgrims to purchase as a sacrifice in Mecca. 

Prime Minister John Key says the Government has not considered resuming the exports.

But documents revealed to The Nation show Saudi businessman Hamood Al-Khalaf was getting ready to take at least 45,000 pregnant ewes in October 2015.

In 2015, the Government flew 900 pregnant ewes to Mr Al-Khalaf's farm in Saudi Arabia, under a loophole allowing sheep to be exported for breeding purposes.

Shortly after they landed, most of the sheep were reportedly killed.

Mr Al-Khalaf's business partner George Assaf has revealed to The Nation the planeload was only intended as a practice run.

"The aeroplane shipment was a trial shipment before one day they decide to take a bigger shipment by sea," he says.

It was also revealed that Mr McCully had authorised $6 million worth of New Zealand agriculture technology to be delivered to Mr Al-Khalaf's farm.