INDEPENDENT NEWS

Government Hides Behind Law That Doesn't Exist

Published: Mon 25 Nov 2002 05:51 PM
Government Hides Behind Law That Doesn't Exist
New Zealanders should not accept for one minute the Government's use of securities law to hide from answering questions about the delivery of Air New Zealand into Australian hands and the end of domestic competition, ACT Justice and Associate Commerce Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.
"On December 1, new rules will apply under the Securities Markets Bill rammed through last week. But until then, the relevant rules are insider trading law which encourages disclosure, and stock exchange rules, which I designed.
"I can say categorically that these rules would not prevent the Government - as major shareholder or as guardians of the public interest - from commenting on any aspect of Air New Zealand's announcement, if it wanted to.
"The claim of Crown Law opinions to the contrary cuts no ice. Even if they have been able to construct technical arguments, if they had wanted to comment and wanted to have it blessed, the Markets Surveillance Panel would have found a waiver application a no-brainer.
"The Government has ducked questions so far by saying, "We know nothing, and can not comment until the company tells us what it wants". Now the Government knows, it is hiding behind completely spurious securities law restraints. These restraints don't exist, and if they did, it would be a scandal in itself that a Government could construct a position where it need not answer questions about the creation of a monopoly because it will be a shareholder in the monopoly.
"Helen Clark ignored securities law to manipulate the market when it suited her a year ago. Now her Government is making up securities law in the hope that it will be a done deal before people have gotten over the Christmas holiday distractions," Mr Franks said.

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