The Office of the Auditor General’s (OAG) report into the Saudi sheep deal makes it clear that Murray McCully has misled the New Zealand public and Cabinet, and for that reason John Key should ask him to resign, the Green Party said today.
The OAG’s report, released this afternoon, considered numerous complaints about the Saudi Arabia Food Security Partnership and found significant shortcomings in the purpose, process and outcome of the deal.
“This report is a damning indictment of Minister McCully’s rogue behaviour and his total disregard for transparency, due process and the respectable use of public funds,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.
“According to the OAG, McCully’s plan to pay out Mr Al Khalaf was a ‘convenient mechanism’ to achieve objectives that the Minister did not clearly identify.
“Minister McCully has repeatedly claimed that the legal threat was a ‘'$20 or $30 million problem', which he purportedly solved by pushing this dodgy deal. But the OAG’s report shows that there was no legitimate evidence of this threat, meaning that McCully misled Cabinet, the Prime Minister and the New Zealand public.
“McCully has previously said ‘we don't deal with Mr Al Khalaf on issues of free trade, we deal with governments of the Gulf countries directly’. Why then, does the OAG’s report say that the dodgy payments were made to Mr Al Khalaf as a contract which would get New Zealand a trade deal with Saudi Arabia?
“The Minister may not have financially benefitted from this deal, but he covered up many of the dodgiest aspects from the public and his colleagues in order to push it through.
“New Zealanders should be able to expect more from a Minister than they’re ‘not legally corrupt’, and we deserve better. Minister McCully has got to go,” said Mr Shaw.