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Wake-up call for Govt over Air NZ

Bill English National Finance Spokesperson

18 September 2001

Wake-up call for Govt over Air NZ

"The Government needs to wake up to the fact that it has days, not weeks, to decide on a course of action over the Air New Zealand crisis," National's Finance spokesman Bill English said today.

"Air New Zealand is in a desperate state, but instead of offering immediate help the Government is dithering on about a 'six week due diligence process'," Mr English said.

"That is paralysis by analysis, and will be greatly detrimental to the prospects of our national carrier."

"Air New Zealand has been rushed into A&E haemorrhaging money, and Dr Cullen is prescribing an appointment with a consultant in six week's time. If the airline dies in the interim then it will be as a direct result of Dr Cullen's commercial malpractice.

"The situation with Air New Zealand is clearly deteriorating by the day, meaning the due diligence process could well be meaningless by the time it is completed. It looks like they're about to repeat the mistake they made in the past three months. While they were busy dotting the Is and crossing the Ts Air New Zealand's status got worse and worse.

"The Government should immediately lift the cap on overseas investment, as every sensible commentator thought they should in the first place. Air New Zealand urgently needs to be stabilised, and its situation will only get worse the longer Dr Cullen spends dithering over his calculator.

"The essential problem is that the Government is more concerned over political face-saving and blaming Air New Zealand than it is over protecting an airline which is vital to New Zealand's people, businesses and industries such as tourism.

"Providing leadership on this issue would take courage and leadership which Dr Cullen and his colleagues don't have. The cost of their inept approach could be enormous on our business sector and to our country," Mr English said.

Ends

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