10,000 New Zealanders get answers to McCully-Saudi sheep deal
Today the Auditor-General handed down the results of a full investigation into a deal that saw Foreign Minister Murray McCully hand over $11.5 million taxpayer dollars to a Saudi sheep farming magnate. This investigation was initiated in response to a petition signed by 10,000 ActionStation members.
The Auditor-General found no evidence that the arrangements were corrupt, however she shares the concerns of many New Zealanders about the arrangements.
The Auditor-General expressed concern at the “lack of robust analysis and the quality of information that was provided to Cabinet on this matter”, and was “surprised” that a contract with a private individual's business interests was used to resolve a diplomatic issue between governments.
In June 2015 10,000 ActionStation members called for a full investigation by the Auditor-General into the $11.5 million deal between Foreign Minister Murray McCully and Saudi sheep farming magnate Al Khalaf.
It was a murky deal involving handing over millions of taxpayer dollars behind closed doors with little-to-no information made public.
The Auditor-General’s office launched a full investigation into the deal in response to a petition sigend by 10,000 ActionStation members.
Marianne Elliott, ActionStation Director:
“The report shows that the concerns of ActionStation members, and many other New Zealanders, were founded.
“Regardless of the outcome, a full investigation was exactly what this murky deal needed. Shining the torch on such opaque operations is a win for democracy.
“Backroom deals and multi-million dollar handouts undermine our democratic process. Let this be a lesson to all politicians - you can’t simply hide the details of deals you don’t want the public to see. Transparency is the cornerstone to our democracy.
“Thank you to the 10,000 ActionStation members who helped cast a light on this deal. As the Auditor-General herself says in the report: “Transparency is the best foil for corruption.”
For further background on the deal itself, and to see what ActionStation members have done, visit: http://www.actionstation.org.nz/saudisheep