Nathan Gets Nasty

Guy denies blame over meat fiasco, blames staff instead

By Alan Tristram (cartoon by Andy Tristram)

Nathan Guy, National MP for Otaki and Primary Industries Minister, has put all the blame on his own officials for the fiasco over NZ meat shipments to China.

But he’s now being accused by opposition parties of kicking his own staff when they’re down.

Guy has described it as ‘unusual’ when his ministry made the simple mistake that led to a multi-million dollar blunder, with meat exports left sitting on Chinese docks.

The wrong export certificates were issued but Guy has said he hopes the meat will start moving by next week at the latest.

Although he is blaming the blunder on his own staff for failing to provide the right certificates, Labour and the Greens say staff at the Primary Industries Ministry are suffering low morale as a result of job cuts and restructuring.

And Labour’s Damien O’Connor says the minister himself should take responsibility.

“Clearly kicking his own department like that when it’s the Government that has done the restructure of the Ministry of Primary industries. Clearly the Government should carry the responsibility of getting it all wrong.”

On the other hand, Guy says he still has confidence in his ministry, who he describes as usually being high-performing.

“I take responsibility for sorting this issue out. I didn’t get early enough visibility on this issue.

“I’ve been working very hard over the last week or so to get this issue sorted. This is my number one priority.”

The Greens say the buck stops with the minister, and Damien O’Connor agrees.

“It’s outrageous really. The minister carries the can, he gets paid the money, he’s responsible ultimately and he’s had well over a week, if not longer, to ask the right questions of both his department and of the Chinese officials to get this sorted out.”