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Independent gets hopelessly over-excited

31 July 2002 Media Statement

Independent gets hopelessly over-excited - Cullen

Finance Minister Michael Cullen today flatly denied a suggestion in The Independent that the government had signed a “some form of preliminary agreement” for a deal between Qantas and Air New Zealand.

“I have not even seen a proposal yet and have signed nothing. I made it clear in the economics debate on Sky last week that my approval will not be automatic and that the government will test any proposal it receives on three criteria: our interests as clear majority shareholder, the national interest and competition issues,” Dr Cullen said.

He dismissed the tone of the rest of the newspaper report as “hopelessly over-excited.”

“The meeting, hosted by the head of ABN Amro and the Chairman of the Stock Exchange, Simon Allen, on 17 June was one of a series of meetings with business to discuss the 2002 Budget.

“As Finance Minister I maintain a constant dialogue with business leaders through meetings such as these. Generally they are held under Chatham House rules to permit a free and frank exchange of views.

“If the issue of Air New Zealand came up, it would have been by way of question from one of ABN Amro’s guests. I cannot remember whether it did or not.

“But to suggest that the meeting was “secret” and that it was held specifically to discuss Air New Zealand is rubbish,” Dr Cullen said.


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