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Govt's head in the clouds over Air NZ

Rt Hon Jenny Shipley Leader of the Opposition

Sunday 26 August 2001

Govt's head in the clouds over Air NZ

The Government should put their doctrinaire philosophical hang-ups aside by lifting the cap on foreign investment in New Zealand and letting Air New Zealand's board decide the airlines own future, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

"At a time when police, hospitals, schools and universities are all crying out for more resources, it is incomprehensible that the Government is considering putting taxpayers money in yet another risky business venture.

"The Government is already wasting enough taxpayers money on the People's Bank. Now the Government is considering wasting $500 million more of taxpayers money propping up Air New Zealand, much of which will be spent on the airlines investment in Ansett Australia. This is an outrageous misuse of taxpayers money.

"Labour promised to improve social welfare, instead they're spending that money on corporate welfare. They're repeating the mistakes of history. Corporate welfare hasn't worked before; it's not going to work now.

"Airlines worldwide are likely to change dramatically in the next ten years, just as they have in the past ten years. The suggestion that the Government should become the owner of an airline again at such a risky time is naïve on one hand and outrageously irresponsible in the use of taxpayers money on the other.

"Labour's dithering over the last three months has put the airline at risk and has further eroded international investors' confidence in New Zealand.

"Some time ago I wrote to Michael Cullen strongly recommending that the foreign ownership cap be lifted to 49%. Given that the Opposition would support an increase to the cap, Labour could increase it anytime it likes - instead Labour is allowing itself to be held to ransom by the Alliance," Mrs Shipley said.

ENDS

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