Saudi sheep: McCully 'acted immorally, misled the public' - Labour

Felix Marwick,
Publish Date
Thursday, 3 November 2016, 5:29a.m.
Murray McCully said he will take both the credit and the criticism and isn't challenging the report's findings (Getty Images)

UPDATED 7.01AM The Labour Party is still out for the scalp of the Minister of Foreign Affairs over the Saudi sheep scandal.

An Auditor's-General investigation into the Saudi sheep deal has found significant shortcomings in the way the process was run, but no evidence of bribery or corrupt practice.

LISTEN ABOVE: Political commentator Matthew Hooton speaks with Rachel Smalley about the Auditor-General's investigation

However Labour MP David Parker remains scathing of Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully's handling of the issues.

"I think that is unprincipled, immoral, and that is proven by this report.

"He acted immorally. He acted improperly. He misled Parliament. He misled his cabinet. He misled the public. He misled the media."

SEE ALSO: Saudi sheep: No evidence of corruption, but concerns raised

The report doesn't say Mr McCully misled cabinet, although it does say the way he presented the multimillion dollar agri-hub deal to his colleagues was flawed.

Mr McCully said he will take both the credit and the criticism and isn't challenging the report's findings.

"All I can say to you is I've done my best, to the extent that the Auditor General's suggested there's room for improvement in any of these procedures. It's criticism we accept on the chin."

He said he's seen all sorts of florid stuff on social media that he got the lawyers in.

"I was never lawyered up. The Ministry obviously had its own interests to protect and they would have had their legal people involved. I did not consult their legal advisors. I did not consult any legal advisors."

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said the behaviour led by Mr McCully is clearly incompetent, unprincipled and rogue - and he finds it extraordinary he continues on in his role as a Government Minister.

"That is intolerable and he should stand down immediately."

But ACT Leader David Seymour, while highly critical of the Government's actions, is poking fun at the Green Party Co-Leader's push.

"He's a young pup. He's just practicing the art of oppositional politics. He doesn't have the sort of experience, that I for example bring."

Seymour is calling the deal corporate welfare.

"What's happened is symptomatic of activist government that tries to pick winners and throw money at business ideas they like, and this is just one time they nearly got caught."

Attorney General Chris Finlayson said after all the opposition's accusations of bribery and corruption, no evidence of it has been found.

"I think members who blandly and eagerly toss around phrases like bribery and corruption owe Mr McCully an apology."

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