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Questions in the House to PM on Air New Zealand

Questions in the House to PM on Air New Zealand
2 October 2001


Jenny Shipley [Opposition MP] – What outcome was she trying to achieve when she said on Monday 24 September that statutory management is "a very viable" option for Air New Zealand, which influenced a fall in the Air New Zealand B share price to 15 cents?

PM - what I was explaining in general was the implications of statutory management which… [do enable a company to trade back into financial health] after several days of media speculation which implied that statutory management would be the end of the airline and had damaged confidence in it.

JS - what was she subsequently trying to achieve when she said on
Tuesday 25 sept in relation to Air New Zealand shares that I recommend you hang on to them, I am absolutely convinced that Air New Zealand has a viable future?

PM - I have said for weeks that I think the airline has a viable future. I wish the opposition would join with me.

David Cunnliffe [Government MP] - what reaction has the PM had to her comments about Air New Zealand.

PM- not surprisingly great appreciation expressed by people across the community for the fact that the PM stood up for the airline

Prebble [Opposition MP] - Is statutory management still a "very viable option" for Air New Zealand and if not why not?

PM - I'm making no further comment on that.

Peter brown [NZ First MP] - will the PM care to confirm or deny that her and Greg Terry's attempt to talk up the share price of Air New Zealand were orchestrated and both aimed at ensuring that BIL are paid to the maximum when government buys the shares?

PM – to the best of my knowledge I have never met Mr Terry in my life or spoken to him but the mere suggestion that I would conspire with him in anything is simply laughable.

Jenny Shipley [Opposition MP]– Does she acknowledge that comments made by the Prime Minister halted the share trading in a commercial enterprise are unprecedented and some would argue were illegal and have led to a further diminishing of New Zealand's economic reputation because of the incompetence of herself personally and the Labour led government.

PM – the Leader of the Opposition knows where the only damaging comments about New Zealand have come from.

Richard Prebble [Opposition MP] – When she made her statement on 25 September, in relation to Mum and Dad Air New Zealand shareholders, that "I'd recommend they hang on to them because I am absolutely convinced that Air New Zealand has a viable future." What effect did she expect it to have on the share price of Air New Zealand?

PM - No more effect than that arising from the many other statements I've made in recent weeks expressing confidence in the viability of the airline.

Richard Prebble [Opposition MP]– is the reason that the Prime Minister hasn't given a reply to my question is because if she was to do so then the words " I recommend they hang on to them" will turn out to be the most expensive seven words ever uttered by a Prime Minister.

PM – I repeat that for weeks I have expressed confidence in the viability of the airline.

Jill Pettis [Government MP] Can the Prime Minister outline for the House when else she has expressed confidence in the airline?

PM – there has been quite a number of occasions in recent weeks; TV3 news on the 17th September for example I commented that we believe Air New Zealand is a viable business. A week earlier on 10th September I stated that we are continuing to work on finding a constructive solution which keeps our New Zealand airline viable and flying. I know, sir, of the value of the national flagged airline to this country and I make no apology for sticking up for it.

Bill English [Opposition MP]– if the community was so grateful that she stood by the airline last week with her comments to shareholders, why won't she make those same comments today?

PM – In light of the enquiries of the securities commission I do not consider it appropriate to comment further.

Winston Peters [NZ First MP] Does the Prime Minister understand the impropriety of her comments given that she was asked to make a recommendation and if she doesn't then will she compensate any shareholder that retained their shares because of her comments in the case of loss that they might incur.

PM – the Prime Minister speaks in the national interest. She makes no apology for sticking up for the airline.

ENDS

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