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Attack On Shareholder Responsibilities Incredible

The call on television last night by Chamber of Commerce chief, Michael Barnett, for Qantas New Zealand owners to front up with more money than they have already lost is incredible, says Alasdair Thompson, the chief executive of the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern).

"New Zealand business will be appalled," Mr Thompson said.

"The statement is an attack on the very basis of our free enterprise system by attacking the nature of the limited liability company.

"While extending our sympathy to people who have lost jobs and money, any solution will not be found in questioning the centuries old principle of limited liability.

''Mr Barnett's comments undermine how risk capital is made available by investors to create businesses and generate employment.

"Furthermore, the statement gave Transport Minister Mark Gosche an opportunity to suggest minimum redundancy levels be provided in law secured over and above other creditors, including small businesses and their staff, who supplied the bankrupt company with goods and services.

"If Mr Barnett was alleging that Qantas NZ directors or officers acted contrary to their obligations under the Companies Act which may lead to a claim against them by any creditor, then that is a different matter. In that event directors and officers of the company would be held accountable. But he said nothing about that.

' Mr Barnett owes the business community at large an explanation of what exactly he did mean!"

Further comment: Alasdair Thompson tel 09 367 0911

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