Fran O’Sullivan holds Labour and David Cunliffe to account over their silly scare-mongering over Air New Zealand.
Air New Zealand has frequently been a political football for politicians of all stripes who have wanted to calibrate its operations towards spurious “national interest” grounds which owe more to politics than this country’s future.
So it was no surprise that this week Labour politicians claimed all sorts of calamities potentially face the airline – including another financial disaster on the scale of the 2001 bankruptcy (yes, I’m thinking of you, David Cunliffe) – simply because the Government has reduced its stake. It is an absurdity.
It sure was.
There has been a lot of political hogwash about the sell-down by the National-led Government and the underlying philosophy of the mixed-ownership model.
But in essence, Labour invented the mixed-ownership model with its 1980s privatisation of the Bank of New Zealand and its later recapitalisation of the airline in 2001 which put it in the box seat with an 82 per cent stake (later reduced to 76 per cent after a rights issue).
It’s also worth recalling that the Clark Government wanted Air NZ to form an alliance with Qantas a decade ago, which would have resulted in the Government’s stake being reduced to 64 per cent. No Labour politician – including Cunliffe – raised a squawk then about how allowing another player onto the Air NZ share registry would result in the airline heading towards the knacker’s yard, though arguably (and in hindsight) given Qantas’ subsequent fortunes that prospect would have held more water than the subjects of this week’s politicking. Read more »