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Govt Must Put NZ's Interests First

The Government must ensure New Zealand's interests are put first in considering the future of Air New Zealand and not allow Australian agendas to push in, National's Transport spokesperson Belinda Vernon said today.

She was responding to the announcement that a joint officials' working party had been established to examine the various proposals affecting Air New Zealand.

"The establishment of a joint officials' committee, on top of yesterday's announcement of a special committee of ministers, indicates the Government is rudderless on this issue.

"If Dr Cullen was serious when he said that 'the most important outcome for New Zealand is to preserve the Air New Zealand brand and its global reach' then he needs to recognise the importance of the retention of Ansett Australia to Air New Zealand.

"Retaining Ansett Australia and maximising its feeder capacity is a fundamental part of securing Air New Zealand's and New Zealanders' best interests. Forcing the sale of Ansett Australia would limit Air New Zealand's growth potential. It's short sighted.

"Dr Cullen has acknowledged that the issue of Ansett is one of strategic importance to Air New Zealand. He must look at whether New Zealand's interests will be served by our national airline becoming an Australasian regional airline or whether his talk about the global reach of Air New Zealand can best be achieved by freeing up the foreign airline ownership cap.

"The Government must provide Air New Zealand with the capacity and grunt to expand and promote the koru to all corners of the world by opening up its investor base, without jeopardising our bilateral landing rights.

"New Zealand's place in the world has to be paramount," Belinda Vernon said.

Ends

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