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Price of PM's dithering and loose lips sky high

Jenny Shipley Leader of the Opposition

4 October 2001

Price of PM's dithering and loose lips goes sky high

New Zealanders want a strong and successful Air New Zealand - but that has been put at risk by the Government's dithering during the middle of this year. "That dithering starved Air New Zealand of funds, forcing a situation where a huge amount of taxpayer money is to be put at risk," Leader of the Opposition Jenny Shipley said today.

"On the 12th of July Singapore Airlines was ready to stump up $650 million to recapitalise Air New Zealand. Had that been allowed to proceed it would have avoided the September write-down of $1.3 billion in assets.

"Instead, what we have now is a deal that isn't a deal - rather a bumbling attempt by the Government to claim they have saved the flag carrier. In reality what it amounts to is an unsecured loan of $300 million, to buy time for the Government to dither some more.

"The package announced today has so many conditions attached that it creates no certainty. It is weighed down by conditions and any one of them could send the whole proposal tumbling to the ground like a house of cards.

"Taxpayers and shareholders could pay a very high price for the Prime Minister's dithering and loose lips.

"The Government is trying to sell this as a rescue mission, but because of their dithering it is more of a salvage job. There will be job losses, cuts to regional services, reductions in the number of flights and it will create a less competitive air market.

"Because of the Government's dithering and mismanagement, air travel in this country will never be the same again," Jenny Shipley said.

Ends

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