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Greens reject increased Air NZ foreign ownership

6 August 2001

Greens reject call to increase foreign ownership in Air NZ

The Green Party today rejected the National Party's call for the Government to lift the foreign ownership cap on Air New Zealand.

National leader Jenny Shipley today said that Singapore Airlines should be allowed to increase its stake in Air New Zealand, rather than Qantas, because the Australian push for the Qantas bid "runs a grave risk of New Zealand becoming the Stewart Island of Australia."

"Why should New Zealand be any less likely to become a backwater under Singaporean control than Australian ownership?" said Green Party co-leader Rod Donald.

"The Government should reject any calls to allow even more of Air NZ, to fallen into foreign ownership," he said Currently 79 percent of Air New Zealand is effectively foreign owned: 25 percent by Singapore Airlines, 30 percent by Brierley Investments and 24 percent by other overseas shareholders.

"The Green Party believes that approving either bid would have serious negative impacts on regional economic development, employment, tourism and trade.

"Air New Zealand is an important investor in New Zealand tourism marketing. An increase in foreign ownership would put at risk this investment," said Mr Donald.

"Air New Zealand is already reducing its marketing emphasis on New Zealand and promoting Australia to generate business for Ansett Australia.

"New Zealand needs to be marketed as a destination in its own right and not as an add on to Australia or Singapore. That will only happen if we have a truly national carrier," said Mr Donald.

"This is why the Government should be trying to increase the proportion of New Zealand shareholding in Air NZ, including taking an equity stake itself. If it is good enough for the Singapore Government (through Temasek Holdings which owns 56 percent of Singapore Airlines) to invest in Air New Zealand, then it's good enough for the New Zealand Government to do the same," he said.

ENDS

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