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Government goes to ground on Ansett.



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STATEMENT

12 September 2002

Government goes to ground on Ansett

One year on from the Ansett collapse, the Howard Government’s silence and inaction has left workers and creditors wondering who was responsible for the loss of their jobs and entitlements.

BEFORE the election, sniffing the public mood, the Howard Government was falling over itself to blame the managers.

John Howard said

“Once payments have been made by the Commonwealth Government, we will stand in the shoes of the individual employees and we will seek recovery from Air New Zealand.” (Hansard 19/9/01)

John Anderson said

“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.” (Press release 15/10/01)

Peter Costello said

“I think if you want to look to the real causes behind what happened to Ansett, I think the managers there, have a pretty heavy responsibility. Now, this is obviously going to be worked out in the courts. … I think when the full facts are known, the courts will be able to tell us whether or not they observed all of the things that they should have been doing.” (Press conference 3/10/01)

Tony Abbott said

“I can very much understand why Ansett workers feel very angry indeed because they have been badly let down by their management. The idea that senior management in Ansett should be paying themselves huge bonuses at the time that they were flying their airline into the ground borders on the obscene. This government believes that Ansett and Air New Zealand have a heavy legal and moral responsibility to workers.” (Hansard 18/9/01)

Shadow Attorney-General and Shadow M inister for W orkplace Relations

Robert McClelland MP

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AFTER the election, the Government hasn’t had a word of criticism for the corporate bosses.

John Howard said

“ Any of the reported differences between Australia and New Zealand over Air New Zealand and Ansett are now things of the past.” (Press conference 15/2/02)

Peter Costello said

“Let's leave aside the question of how Ansett collapsed.” (Interview with Alan Jones 30/7/02)

On 11 July this year, corporate watchdog ASIC closed the legal book on the Ansett collapse, without launching a single prosecution, citing “legal and logistical obstacles”.

Yet the Howard Government still refuses to debate Labor’s Corporate Responsibility and Employment Security Bill, which would give ASIC, workers and creditors new avenues to pursue holding companies guilty of mismanagement.

The Howard Government’s silence and inaction on corporate mismanagement is an insult to the workers and creditors who were left without a secure future by the Ansett collapse.

For further information: Robert McClelland 0408 118 995 Jonathan Kirkwood 0425 231 690