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Questions For Air New Zealand

Friday, September 7 2001

ACT New Zealand Commerce spokesman Stephen Franks has today written to Finance Minister Michael Cullen seeking answers New Zealanders need before any decision is made on a government bail out of Air New Zealand.

"We can spend hours in Parliament debating trivia, allowances for SOE staff or TV presenters' salaries. It is appalling that we have not had Parliamentary answers to serious questions. With an airline the government could commit us to exposures that grow, like the BNZ rescues, into the billions of dollars," Mr Franks said. The questions include:

1. Will the money just be siphoned off to Australia to prop up Ansett?

2. Will New Zealand management be allowed to reform Ansett work practices without creating an anti-foreigner backlash?

3. Was it just incompetence that seems to have left the Ansett board not knowing the true state of the business?

4. Can Air New Zealand simply walk away from Ansett if necessary?

5. Has Air New Zealand guaranteed Ansett's debt, and if so why?

6. Is any guarantee secured giving Australian creditors claims over Air New Zealand's essential New Zealand operating equipment?

7. What market research or other comfort have we that Australians will fly with an Ansett closely identified with New Zealand?

8. Has the Air New Zealand board and management delayed acting because they were led to expect a government bail out, or was it unlawful foreign control, pursuing a wider strategy aimed more at inheriting Australian assets, than New Zealand's interests?

9. If it was the latter, why were the government's Kiwi Share powers not used to kick out the shareholders exercising that influence?

"The government may refuse to disclose these things to New Zealanders, but eventually it must all come out. I just hope our pressure helps the cabinet faction which wants to leave business to sort itself out.

"Politicians inexperienced in business can get sucked into postponing the inevitable, throwing good money after bad", Mr Franks said.


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