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News - 07 November 2011

Qantas chief says law change will threaten airline

Proposed changes to the Qantas Sales Act, seeking to ensure that the Qantas airline remains owned and controlled by Australian parties, will threaten the firm’s viability and cause job losses, according to its chief, Alan Joyce.

Mr Joyce made the comments a week after the proposed changes caused the grounding of the entire Qantas fleet. The industrial dispute has been running since August, when Qantas announced an Asia-focused restructuring, which has led to the inquiry at which Joyce spoke.

He was being questioned by a senate parliamentary committee about the proposed changes to the Act, which would see, among others, changes such as all subsidiaries of Qantas being required to house their main central operations in Australia. If approved, the changes may have a significant impact on the airline’s plans to boost its international business by launching two new Asian airlines.

Joyce said: "This is protectionism. If you want to survive and succeed we must be free to pursue global opportunities. The vast majority of our operations are here and always will stay here."

He also added: "Would Australia seriously consider applying these principles to other great Australian companies such as ANZ, BHP or Westfield, who also invest and employ in overseas markets?

"Like Qantas, these are great Australian companies who have sought out new markets, created jobs, grown opportunities and wealth for this country."