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PM must heed advice and lift cap on Air NZ

Jenny Shipley Leader of the Opposition

5 August 2001

PM must heed advice and lift cap on Air NZ

The Prime Minister should demonstrate her commitment to the overwhelming call from the Catch the Knowledge Wave conference for the Government to set rules that allow it to get on and build the economy, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

"It was a consistent call from many conference speakers that foreign investment release was an important ingredient in a successful economy. The Government must heed this by lifting the cap on foreign investment in Air New Zealand so the airline can decide on its future ownership.

"National strongly supports the Air New Zealand board's right to decide what is in the best interests of the company. We also believe Singapore increasing its stake, rather than Qantas, is more likely to retain strong competition in the domestic market and provide more opportunity for international tourists to access New Zealand.

"Australian Ministers' push to have Qantas as the preferred investor runs a grave risk of New Zealand becoming the Stewart Island of Australia. The Australian Government's pretence that what is in Australia's interests is in New Zealand's interests is completely wrong. "More importantly, the technology for long range aircraft is almost with us. It is critical that Air New Zealand's investment partners are likely to use Auckland as a long range port of entry and exit rather than accepting Australia to be the main port and New Zealand simply receiving the scraps.

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"The Prime Minister claimed on Friday that the recommendations of the Knowledge Wave conference were consistent with her Government's economic approach.

"Having said that she must now demonstrate her willingness to deliver on the advice of speakers by opening up the rules for foreign investment so New Zealand's airline and tourism businesses can get on with the job," Mrs Shipley said.

Ends

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