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ACT Welcomes John Palmer as Air NZ Head

ACT Welcomes John Palmer as Air NZ Head

Friday 30 Nov 2001 Press Releases -- Governance & Constitution

The Government's nomination of John Palmer to chair Air New Zealand is a good sign for the airline, ACT Commerce Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"He will have his work cut out for him, without previous airline experience, but I consider his chairing skills to be outstanding.

"He is not noted for toadying talents, so it will be interesting to see whether he can fend off stacking of the Board with politically-correct token appointees, if this Government's usual practice applies to Air New Zealand.

"Mr Palmer insisted on talent and performance at Trustbank and the Kiwifruit Marketing Board. The risk is that Dr Cullen will stack the Air New Zealand Board with Labour-friendly `passenger directors' in the name of `equal opportunities'. We've seen the Government do this at NZ Post and TVNZ. Dr Cullen must give John Palmer space to recruit competent members with relevant experience.

"This company will not be protected by the SOE requirements for transparency of political interference. Accordingly the company should demand a clear statement from the Government of its strategic expectations. Such a statement should also set out the manipulation safeguards that experience has shown Crown-owned companies need. Without them, commercial independence and integrity will be subordinated to political pressure for vote-buying and the pork-barrel demands of constituency MPs. Minority shareholders should also be asking for some tangible protection against political misuse of majority shareholder power.

"We also need to know the extent to which the Government is prepared to sacrifice Air New Zealand's interests in relation to Qantas, in the hope of repairing relations with the Australian government.

"John's appointment is a good sign. Let us all hope he is allowed to perform as he has in the past," Mr Franks said.

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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