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Ralph Norris Declines To Debate Air NZ/Qantas Plan

Debate Air New Zealand

News release 16 December 2002


Air New Zealand managing director Ralph Norris has declined an invitation to appear at a public debate in Wellington tomorrow to defend the proposed Qantas-Air New Zealand deal. Ministers Michael Cullen and Paul Swain have not replied to their invitations.

However the debate, scheduled for 12.30 pm Tuesday at the National Library, will go on without them. A wide range of people opposed to the deal have agreed to speak, including former Wellington mayor Mark Blumsky, community organiser Dennis O’Reilly and party leaders Bill English, Peter Dunne and Rod Donald.

“We are disappointed that Ralph Norris was not able to front up and debate the issues,” spokesperson Mark Blumsky said. “We appreciate that his pre-Christmas diary will be full, just like mine is, but surely this highlights that they should not be pushing ahead with decisions at this time.”

“I have never been stopped so often by people in the street as I have been in the last week. Wherever I go, people are saying they support my stand on trying to slow down the deal.”

The debate is occurring the day before Ministers to due to make a decision on whether to commit New Zealanders to the deal under the Kiwi Share. The organisers of the debate – a new group called Debate Air New Zealand – are urging the Government to defer any decisions until after the Commerce Commission investigation into the deal that will occur next year. This will allow time for informed debate and also will ensure that a hasty Government decision does not pre-empt the Commerce Commission.

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“Our argument is simple: the Government should slow the process down and start listening to other views. New Zealanders do not want a return to the steam-roller politics that marked the 1984-1990 Labour Government.”


“Slow down, look and listen to the public before any decision on the Kiwi Share approval of Qantas’ investment into Air New Zealand” Debate Air New Zealand, PO Box 1702, Wellington

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