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No Exit Strategy for Air NZ

Friday, October 5 2001 Richard Prebble Press Releases -- Commerce

Government press statements on the nationalisation of Air New Zealand show that Ministers have no exit strategy, ACT leader Richard Prebble says.

"On Wednesday, Dr Cullen told Parliament that any government shareholding would be temporary. But it's significant that when the purchase was announced, no exit strategy was included," Mr Prebble said.

"The Greens and the Alliance favour permanent state ownership of so-called strategic investments. Jim Anderton said on television this morning that that he believed the government's ownership of the airline would be long-term.

"The government is about to discover that airlines are bad investments, very risky and hard to exit.

"Recovering the $885 million in the short term will be impossible with the world-wide downturn in aviation and tourism. There's a risk that the government will have to provide the airline with even more capital. There's no prospect of a dividend for the taxpayer.

"Dr Cullen is about to discover that there are few things more permanent than a temporary solution.

"The government has not explained why Ministers rejected ACT's practical solution ' for the government just to guarantee Air New Zealand tickets. That's what the Howard government has done in Australia to get Ansett flying again.

"If Dr Cullen doesn't want to own Air New Zealand long-term, it would have been better to guarantee tickets for three months. It would probably have cost the government nothing and would have forced the airline's shareholders to fix their own problems," Mr Prebble said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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