For reasons known only to him, John Key continues to die in a ditch for Murray McCully over his dirty deeds done with sheep.
Mr Key said the deal with a Saudi businessman smoothed relations between New Zealand and the Gulf States which are discussing a trade deal.
Under the deal the government gave more than $11 million in cash, livestock and agricultural equipment to Saudi livestock importer Hamood Al-Khalaf, to appease him over New Zealand’s ban on live sheep exports.
A report by the Auditor-General found no evidence of corruption, but heavily criticised government processes. It found no evidence of the government seeking legal advice on a claimed legal threat by the Saudi businessman.
Mr Key told Morning Report the issue was very serious and had led to a breakdown in the relationship.
And who broke down that relationship? That’s right it was John Key ditching a trip to Saudi Arabia and leaving Tim Groser holding the baby.
“Without doing something there I don’t think we would have advanced the Gulf States FTA. ”
Saudi Arabia – one of the seven parties to the Gulf States free trade negotiations – had been opposed and were now moving towards the ‘yes’ camp.
“The relationship is back on a firmer footing,” said Mr Key and a trade deal with the Gulf States was “getting pretty close”.
“It’s going to happen. That’s the sign we see out of Riyadh.”
New Zealand will get access to a very large market and would benefit from the agri-business hub developed in Saudi Arabia as part of the deal.
Asked whether he thought deal was a good use of money, he said he did.
“We did do something that was novel, I agree with that, something that was a bit unusual, but equally we do get an opportunity to promote New Zealand.”
And where is this deal? Where is the legal advice to cabinet? Where is the Cabinet paper cover sheet?
There are no answers to any of those questions.
John Key misled parliament when he spoke of legal advice. He is wedded to Murray McCully for some reason and refuses to admit he might have got something wrong. Eventually, McCully will depart and then John Key soon after.
John Key has disappointed many. Other ministers have been sacked for much less, and if this was his first term then McCully would have been gone very early in the piece.
By choosing to defend McCully he has put his own reputation at risk.
– Radio NZ