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National offers to help open door for Air NZ

Belinda Vernon National Transport Spokesperson

24 June 2001

National offers to help push foreign investment door open for Air NZ

"The Government's coyness on its willingness to raise the cap on single foreign airline investment in Air New Zealand is on the verge of teasing, National's Transport spokesperson Belinda Vernon said today.

Responding to Dr Cullen's comment that it will 'require a lot of pushing to get [the door] open any further' she said that National would add its weight to pushing the door open.

"While the Government needs to cover all bases, its lack of urgency in dealing with the foreign investment cap indicates there may be more at stake than just an evaluation of the implications on competition, air services agreements and tourism.

"The cap issue hardly comes as a surprise. The Government has had plenty of warning and should have its sources of advice at the ready.

"Jim Anderton's philosophical opposition to foreign investment is now rearing its head as a barrier.

"Selling Ansett Australia to Singapore Airlines is the other option on the table and would be the easy way out for the Government given its coalition partner. But retaining Ansett Australia is the preferred option of Air New Zealand's independent directors. The sale of Ansett would mean Air New Zealand loses the Australian feeder market, which is such a critical part of its long-term international strategy.

"The Government must act in the best interests of New Zealand and not let the Alliance's anti-foreign investment dogma distract them from a dispassionate assessment of the facts," Belinda Vernon said.

Ends

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