Tony Abbott needs to take on Qantas

Responding to massive job cuts announced by Qantas today, Australian Greens Deputy Leader and Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt said:

“Today we’ve seen Alan Joyce announce he will sack more than 5,000 Qantas employees, almost one sixth of the total workforce, in response to Tony Abbott’s demands that he cut costs.

“Unless the government secures an agreement to protect local jobs, any government support could just underwrite the offshoring of jobs.”

“Alan Joyce and Qantas are a flight risk. Money and jobs could be on the next 747 flight to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, if foreign ownership rules are relaxed and no conditions are put on government support.

“Tony Abbott wants to weaken the Qantas Sale Act to allow for majority foreign ownership of the airline. What this means in reality is Qantas being sold off to airlines owned and backed by foreign governments like Emirates, Singapore Airlines and China Southern. Foreign governments want to own Qantas, but ours seemingly doesn’t.

“It’s incredibly disappointing to see Labor today suggesting that they are open to increasing foreign ownership in Qantas. The Greens have been firm in our commitment to government support of Qantas, but only with a guarantee to protect local jobs.

Australian Greens spokesperson for transport, Senator Lee Rhiannon said:

"The experiment in Qantas privatisation has failed. Since it was privatised in 1995 we've seen job cuts, declines in service quality and mismanagement.

“Most of Qantas' international competitors are government owned and backed airlines, because those governments understand the economic importance of a strong national carrier to protect jobs.

"As one of Australia's largest private sector employers there is a strong public interest argument as to why we can't just sit back and do nothing while it collapses around us.

"In 2002, the Labour government in New Zealand provided Air New Zealand with rescue package consisting of a combination of low interest loans and a capital injection, in return for an 80% equity stake. Today Air New Zealand, a majority publicly owned company, posted its highest ever profit.

"The Government needs to step in to support Qantas workers. But allowing more foreign investment or giving an unconditional debt guarantee will only accelerate the offshoring of jobs and decline of service quality. Far from ‘unshackling’ Qantas, the Coalition will cut out its knees.

“In the interests of a skilled and secure Australian workforce, the government needs to investigate a wide range of options including taking a full or part ownership stake in Qantas.”

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