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Increased Parliamentary scrutiny for Air NZ

Published: Thu 16 Oct 2003 12:45 AM
Increased Parliamentary scrutiny for Air NZ
“Air New Zealand will be required to appear before the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee for an annual financial review under proposed new accountability procedures,” Finance Minister Michael Cullen said.
“The increased scrutiny was recommended by the Office of the Auditor General to reflect the large investment the taxpayer has in the airline through the Crown as majority shareholder.”
To achieve the change, Parliament would have to resolve that Air New Zealand was a “public organisation” for the purposes of Standing Orders. A notice of motion to that effect was lodged in the House today.
“But it would not be appropriate to treat Air New Zealand as a Crown Entity because it is not. It is a publicly listed company which, although largely Crown-owned, has other shareholders and which is subject to the disclosure requirements and disciplines of the Companies Act, securities law and stock exchange rules both here and in Australia.
“This will impose limits on what Air New Zealand can tell the select committee because it would be at risk of breaching securities law and listing rules were it to disclose information that had not already been disclosed to the market,” Dr Cullen said.
“It could also place the airline at a commercial disadvantage to its competitors.
“For this reason, it is important that the rules of engagement are clearly understood. The procedure the government proposes is that the Minister of Finance will table Air New Zealand’s annual report in the House each year and that this will become the basis for select committee questioning.
“The committee could also seek to question the Minister of Finance about the Crown’s holding in Air New Zealand but not about Air New Zealand’s operations and performance,” Dr Cullen said.

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