Bill English MP National Party Leader
18 December 2002
Black day for NZ air travel
"All New Zealanders should remember today as the day Labour gave our airline to Qantas," says National Party leader Bill English.
"The Government's predictable 'in principle' support for the proposed Qantas deal to buy into Air New Zealand consigns Kiwi air travellers to a future with higher fares, without competition," he says.
"It seems inevitable this deal will proceed, given the intense political pressure which is now being applied to both the Australian competition watch-dog as well as our own Commerce Commission.
"That's why Labour made this announcement before the Commission examines the proposal," Mr English says.
"The Government's made a rushed decision which the majority of New Zealanders oppose.
"How can Labour make a decision on National Interest in just 23 days, when the Commerce Commission expects its deliberations to take months? "There's something distinctly un-Kiwi about today's hasty clearance, which hands the Australian airline a stake in a New Zealand icon in the scramble before Christmas," says Mr English.
"It's exactly how this Government manages the media. Look at the raft of other unpopular measures being unveiled this week.
"You can be sure Qantas won't be shelling out half a billion dollars for nothing, Kiwi travellers will pay the price.
"Again I'm urging the Government to reconsider its position while there's still time, the National Party will certainly be keeping up the pressure," he says.
"Now the real question is, does Labour really want to be remembered as the mob that gave our skies to Qantas?" asks Mr English.