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Opposition lashes govt over Saudi deal

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/11/2016

Opposition MPs have lashed the government in parliament over the Saudi sheep deal following the release of Auditor-General Lyn Provost's inquiry report.

Ms Provost said the government didn't do anything wrong, but she found fault with the way it went about putting $11.5 million into a desert sheep farm owned by wealthy Saudi Arabian businessman Hmood Al Ali Al Khalaf.

"It's a terrible state of affairs," said Labour's David Parker, who asked the auditor-general to investigate along with Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

"The minister's incompetence has been shown up, millions have been wasted, our reputation has been sullied and parliament and the public have been misled."

Mr Shaw said the report displayed a litany of incompetence.

"Something may be legal but that doesn't mean it isn't dodgy," he said.

"Not guilty isn't the same as being innocent ... surely we have higher standards for our ministers than not being crooks."

Mr McCully urged the public to read the report.

"I welcome it, because I have been on the receiving end of colourful accusations including bribery and corruption," he said.

"Those allegations have been shown to be completely baseless."

Mr McCully acknowledged the attorney-general had found some aspects of the deal had been "less than perfect" and he accepted that.

"We accept there are matters that could have been undertaken better. I will take that on the chin."

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