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Australia/New Zealand Relations

Media Release

24 September 2001

Australia/New Zealand Relations

“The serious rift which has developed between Australia and New Zealand can be attributed to the inadequate handling of the Ansett and Air New Zealand crisis by our Prime Minister Helen Clark, every bit as much as the inadequacies of a few corporate giants”, said Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The strain now appearing between the two countries, once very close and understanding of each other, has become quite serious and is testing the resolve of Australians as a consequence of our inability or unwillingness to front up to the Australian people.

It is unforgivable to have permitted such a sound and long lasting friendship with Australia to have become so fractured as the result of a number of inadequate businessmen and women failing in their responsibility to successfully administer a foreign owned airline using the New Zealand name and for reneging on its social responsibilities leaving the New Zealand taxpayer now exposed to $millions in claims for unpaid debts.

These rascals who created this situation, have shown total disregard for the good name and relationship between New Zealand and Australia and I feel very sorry for those New Zealanders currently living in Australia, who are bearing the brunt of Australians anger”, Mr Peters said.

“ But”, said Mr Peters, “it should not be lost sight of that this situation, created as it was by the incompetence of a small number of ‘high flyers’, is not the fault of New Zealanders per se and our Prime Minister must take every possible opportunity to stress this to Australians.

It is a pity that when faced with the opportunity, whilst her aircraft was held up in Sydney last week, that she did not seize that chance to explain the situation and to offer the sympathy and understanding of all decent New Zealanders to the situation Australian workers had been placed in through the antics of these New Zealand and overseas business tycoons, instead choosing to send for the NZ Air Force to come and rescue her from her isolated bunker, thereby reinforcing the Australian view that Kiwis don’t care.

We are at a very difficult phase in our relationship with Australia and every possible opportunity to widen the understanding of just who is responsible for the airline industry crisis in each of the two countries must be taken”, concluded Mr Peters.
ENDS

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