Labour members of the Commerce Select Committee have put a motion on the agenda to request NZTE officials re-appear before the committee to answer more questions on suspension of funding for the Saudi agri-hub.
When asked directly if funding for the ‘Al-Khalaf agri-hub’ was suspended, NZTE chief executive Peter Chrisp told the Commerce Committee last Thursday, ‘no, there’s absolutely no reason to’.
That contradicts a board paper that states funding for ‘the Al Khalaf agri-hub’ was suspended days after the Auditor General commenced her inquiry.
“NZTE should return to the committee to correct their answer and explain why funding was suspended and if it remains suspended. Labour MPs have put this motion on the agenda for the committee this Thursday,” says Labour MP David Parker.
“It is a very serious matter to mislead a select committee. Their purpose to scrutinise government spending is to ensure taxpayers’ money is not being wasted or used to fund improper projects.
“This controversial deal has included a $4m cash payment, $1m on flying sheep to Saudi Arabia, most of the lambs dying, and concern over whether the abattoir being paid for by taxpayers will be owned by the Saudi government. It was always clear this would be the subject of questions by Labour members at select committee.
“Yesterday a spokesperson for Mr Chrisp disingenuously argued the funding was not suspended, but delayed until they sorted out who owned the abattoir, another issue that needs more answers.
“This deal gets murkier and murkier. The public deserve proper answers. NZTE must reappear to the committee as soon as possible,” David Parker says.
Contact: David Parker 021 922 211
Transcript from Commerce Committee questions relating to suspension of funding:
Clare Curran: Just going to the Saudi Arabian Food Security Partnership that was suspended. Spending was suspended in August 2015, why was that?
Peter Chrisp: The Security Partnership? Not aware of it.
Curran: So that has not been suspended?
Peter Chrisp: So there was the food security and agrihub partnership within the overall agreement, is currently being implemented and the final leg is the construction and shipping of the abattoir. Once that’s done the agreement will be concluded from the government’s point of view.
Clare Curran: You haven’t suspended funding?
Peter Chrisp: No there’s absolutely no reason to.
Chief Executive’s report to the Board, August 2015
16 February 2016 MEDIA STATEMENT