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Coalition acts on Ansett while Labor flips and flops.

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Services Coalition Acts on Ansett While Labor Flips and Flops

15th October 2001

The Liberal-National Government has come to an agreement with the Ansett administrator on the distribution of $150 million provided by Air New Zealand, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, announced today.

The Government has also agreed to a further extension of the guarantee for tickets purchased on Ansett Mark II flights until 31 January 2002.

This will ensure that the Australian travelling public can book with confidence on Ansett Mark II over the Christmas-New Year and school holiday period.

Mr Anderson said weekend discussions with the Ansett administrator had resulted in the Government agreeing to the administrator’s request to utilise up to $50 million of the $150 million amount for employee entitlements. The Government will fund the balance of the employee entitlements in accordance with the Special Employee Entitlements Scheme for Ansett.

The remaining sum of $100 million will be directed by the administrator towards continuing the operation of Ansett Mark II. It will provide the best opportunity for the administrator to sell the airline and its assets, with maximum benefits to workers and creditors.

Mr Anderson reaffirmed that the administrator had not asked for a capital injection from the Federal Government. The Government has so far met every request put to it by the administrator.

"The administrator has applauded the continuing support of the Federal Government in getting Ansett Mark II up and flying, and in giving it a fighting chance of success," Mr Anderson said.

"Meanwhile, Labor has twisted at every turn. It has bowled up FIVE different versions of what it would do with Ansett, each as cockeyed as the last.

"Only last week, the Shadow Transport Minister, Martin Ferguson, revealed that the Labor Party was not prepared to bailout Ansett if the administrator failed, despite previous assurances from Kim Beazley.

"Labor has provided nothing but false hope to Ansett employees and bemusement to onlookers with its so-called ‘plans’. None could possibly succeed, something Labor and the ACTU know full well but would only reveal after the election.

"The Liberal-National Government has acted responsibly in considering every viable option for Ansett Mark II.

"The results so far speak for themselves - more than 60 flights per day on trunk routes, the ticket guarantee and loans and grants to regional airlines that have restored all of the routes that were only operated by Ansett and its regional subsidiaries.

"The Government has also guaranteed the entitlements of Ansett employees, including the community redundancy standard of up to eight weeks. For all the hand-wringing of the ALP and ACTU, this is something that was never done in the 13 years of the Hawke and Keating governments and should never be forgotten by those who might now think that Labor offers any form of ‘job security’.

"The Government has made clear that those responsible for the Ansett collapse will be vigorously investigated to the full extent of the law."

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will continue it investigations into the Air New Zealand group and its directors.

ASIC is examining whether the directors allowed the company to continue while it was insolvent. The maximum penalty for a criminal breach of this provision is five years’ imprisonment, or a civil fine of $200,000.

Media contacts: Paul Chamberlin 02 62777680

Robyn Bain (travelling with Mr Anderson) 0408 027839