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Government Should Not Pump Money Into Air NZ

ACT Commerce Spokesman Stephen Franks is urging the Government to make an unequivocal statement now that it will not pump any money into Air New Zealand.

“The Government’s inexperienced Ministers could be sucked in by the airline owners’ stories and threats of job losses. Government Ministers can be notoriously easy pickings for experienced business negotiators, who can skilfully play on a sense of national pride and the political hope of being seen to ‘rescue’ an icon.

“As an Air New Zealand shareholder I would love to see the Government give us the money to pour into our Australian mess – but as a citizen I have to deplore Ministers’ ambiguous responses to the early reports that Air NZ may be seeking money from them.

“Ministers are often tempted by involvement in what is still seen as a glamorous industry – succumbing to the joy of playing with aeroplanes.

“Around the world, politicians of every stripe have tied national pride to owning a national airline, but few have found it any different to the Chinese Finance Minister who reported last month that owning state businesses was like feeding a sack of rice weevils.

“Our Government’s interest should be in having safe, reliable operators flying to, from and within New Zealand. There’s no shortage of companies wanting to do that.

“If Air New Zealand needs new capital to pour into Australia it can raise it overseas. Of course, the company’s ownership rules could mean it would at the same time also have to offer the same number of shares here, probably at a much cheaper price, to attract money from our small pool of saves.

“The ownership problem for Air New Zealand flows from antiquated bilateral landing agreements that are not the fault or responsibility of this Government.

“The Government should try to help minimise the impact of these agreements – but that is absolutely no excuse for putting taxpayers’ money at risk,” Stephen Franks said.


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