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Not for sale signs must go up on Auckland Airport

27 February 2008

Not for sale signs must go up on Auckland Airport - Greens

The Government should come right out and say that Auckland Airport is not for sale because it is essential infrastructure and a key strategic asset, the Green Party says.

The party is applauding the Government's move to close a tax loophole that could have enabled the Canadian Pension Fund to gain a major 40 percent stake in Auckland Airport.

"But what is needed is for the Government to make it plain that they consider Auckland Airport to be a key strategic asset which they don't want to fall into foreign hands," Aviation Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"The Green Party sees no reason why a Canadian pension fund should be allowed to gain control of the gateway to New Zealand. The Canadians have tried for eight months to buy a 40 percent stake and then put the assets into a new company. This is no more acceptable than the controversial takeover bid by Dubai Aerospace.

"Auckland Airport is central to New Zealand's tourism strategy. New Zealand cannot afford the economic, environmental, biosecurity and security risks of letting control of our main aviation gateway pass into foreign hands."

Ms Kedgley had a private members bill, the Overseas Investment (Restriction of Foreign Ownership) Bill, that put a 25 percent share ceiling on foreign ownership of key strategic assets, but her bill had been blocked from being debated in Parliament by the National Party.

"If my bill was supported in Parliament, overseas investors would know clearly that they cannot control more than a 25 percent shareholding in these key assets

The fact that New Zealand has one of the most permissive regimes in the world, and is one of the only countries in the developed world without any rules on the foreign ownership of key strategic assets, lies behind the ongoing foreign interest in gaining a controlling share in Auckland Airport, she says.

"Most other countries have rules on the foreign ownership of key strategic assets and we should too. We need to make it clear to foreign bidders that they cannot hope to achieve a controlling interest in Auckland Airport," Ms Kedgley says


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