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Saudi Hub Report ‘Disappointing’

Rt Hon Winston Peters

New Zealand First Leader

Member of Parliament for Northland
2 NOVEMBER 2016

Saudi Hub Report ‘Disappointing’

New Zealand First is disappointed in the report by the Auditor-General into the Saudi agribusiness hub.

“The perfect backdrop to this sordid saga is that our exports to Saudi Arabia fell 20.3 percent in the year to September 2016,” says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The Saudi trade relationship did not break down under Labour but it imploded under National. Why?

“So millions of taxpayer dollars have not oiled trade and we must ask how the Auditor-General did this report without picking the eyes out of the legal opinion. A legal opinion no one seems to have seen and that is a breathtaking oversight.

“If she never saw the legal opinion from the legal case being made out, then precisely what did she inquire in to. We were told for months there was a legal threat, so how come that was not substantiated.

“Going back to 2008, what promises did senior National Party figures make to George Assaf and especially the Saudi Minister of Agriculture, who visited Mr Assaf’s Hawke's Bay farm on 16 July before the election?

“We also have Official Information showing that the then Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, the Hon David Carter, physically met with George Assaf on 21 January 2009. That was during the recess and not long after the 2008 General Election.

“There are no details as to what they discussed but did Ministers or a Minister in the newly elected Key government make a promise that the ban would be gone by lunchtime?

“The Hon David Carter, as the former Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, told 3News in 2009 that the National Party Government intended to end the moratorium on live shipments only to do a backflip,” says Mr Peters.

QWA Primary Industries

Question: Since 2008, what contact, if any, has the Minister had with a George Antonios Assaf, Awassi (NZ) Limited or Awassi NZ Land Holdings Limited?

Answer Text: Officials advise that recently located records indicate a meeting occurred between my predecessor and George Assaf on 21 January 2009. Details for the location of this meeting has not been located. I have met George Antonios Assaf once at the Saudi Joint Economic Commission dinner in Wellington in April 2014.

ENDS


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