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National Offers Way Ahead On Air New Zealand

27 June 2001

National has offered the Labour Government support in order to progress the recommendation by the board of Air New Zealand that Singapore Airlines should be allowed to increase its shareholding in Air New Zealand.

National leader Jenny Shipley says the Government must set political squabbling aside and put the best interests of the country first over the future of Air New Zealand.

"Comments reportedly made by Finance Minister Michael Cullen at a select committee this morning make it clear that politicking by the junior coalition partner has brought the issue of the overseas shareholding in Air New Zealand to a standstill," Mrs Shipley said.

"I have today written to Dr Cullen offering National's support on any legislation required to amend the regulations governing shareholding in Air New Zealand.

"The way forward needs to be determined by sound thinking and good commercial judgement. It must not be barred by the Alliance attempting to score points for its isolationist view of the world. The most important consideration must be ensuring Air New Zealand has enough legroom to continue meeting the travelling needs of New Zealanders, while staying in the black financially.

"The alternative proposal that Air New Zealand should sell off Ansett Australia is not the best solution. All that would do is leave our national carrier smaller and more vulnerable to the whims of a volatile global air travel market.

"My offer to Dr Cullen today is a sincere one - with no strings attached. Two-thirds of the elected representatives in Parliament favour allowing more flexibility in the rules governing shareholding in Air New Zealand. I call on the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to demonstrate strong economic leadership to progress this issue.

"It would be madness to allow the Alliance to subvert the will of a clear majority of this Parliament," Jenny Shipley said.

Ends


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