Jun 29, 2014

Labor protects Qantas

Labor believes Qantas must remain in majority Australian hands and will move in the Senate to ensure that remains the case in the national interest.

The Opposition will propose changes to the Qantas Sale Act which would remove the so-called 25-35 provisions limits on Qantas foreign ownership.

The changes were first proposed in the 2009 Aviation White Paper and are in line with long-standing Labor policy. At that time this proposed change was rejected by the Coalition and the Greens.

The existing Qantas Sale Act guarantees majority Australian ownership and the retention of the majority of the airline’s 30,000 jobs in Australia.

It also limits ownership in Qantas by an individual investor to 25 per cent and by a foreign-owned airline to 35 percent.

Labor’s amendments would scrap these two provisions.

The Opposition will not support Tony Abbott’s proposal to eliminate the 49 per cent limit on foreign investors.

Nor will we support any elimination of requirements including that:

  • At least two-thirds of the Qantas board be Australians, including the chairperson;
  • Its head office must be in Australia and;
  • The majority of its international maintenance must be conducted in Australia.

Removing the 25/35 provisions is long-standing Labor policy and was proposed in the Rudd Government’s 2009 Aviation White Paper.

When the 2009 Aviation White Paper proposed removing the 25-35 provisions, this was opposed by the Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey and Shadow Transport Minister Warren Truss.

Mr Hockey and Mr Truss have since back-flipped on this position, having suddenly decided there is no national interest in majority local ownership of the national carrier.

If they are that serious about the need for greater foreign investment in Qantas, they should back Labor’s modest proposal to lift restrictions consistent with Labor’s view that Qantas must remain majority-Australian owned.