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Committee: QANTAS Sale Act

Estimates & Committees
Lee Rhiannon 17 Jul 2014

I have been working with Senator Madigan on this aspect of the committee proceedings. We do have concerns with these schedules. We are endeavouring to keep the current foreign ownership requirements contained in the Qantas Sale Act. We need to strengthen the requirements in the Qantas Sale Act in respect of Qantas facilities being located in Australia. I think that is where we, hopefully, have agreement. We have also specified that it is important that any future subsidiaries of Qantas are covered. That is also a point we have included.

We are also preventing Qantas from creating any new subsidiaries in order to shift operations overseas. Under the current Qantas Sale Act the majority of Qantas's facilities are taken in aggregate and must be located in Australia. We are referring there obviously to maintenance, administration and catering. It is very important that the majority are located in Australia but, because they are grouped together, the Qantas Sale Act gives Qantas the potential to move individual facilities offshore as long as the majority of all facilities remain in Australia. You can see that this is a very unfortunate loophole that can be exploited. For example, Qantas could send 1,999 jobs from engineering overseas while keeping 2,000 administration jobs in Australia and satisfy the act. I do not believe that is what people believe is the intention of the act. That is why we believe this needs to be tightened.

The proposal by Senator Madigan, Senator Xenophon and me would mean the majority of each of the individual facilities operated must be located here. We have spelt out what they are—catering, flight operations, training, administration, maintenance and housing of the aircraft. We have heard many speeches here today detailing the importance of jobs being retained in Australia. Surely this greater clarification that our joint amendment would bring to this strengthens the important point that many senators have made.

I also want to emphasise a point about any subsidiaries created. The amendment applies to any subsidiary created by Qantas after 17 July 2014, so not current subsidiaries but those post, if this happens to be passed. We believe such a provision is necessary as any delay in it coming into effect will give Qantas the opportunity to create shell companies in order to avoid being caught by the provisions of the amendment. If you look at operations to date, that is something we need to be mindful of. As the amendment applies to only future Qantas decisions about where to locate facilities, it does not require Qantas or any of its current subsidiaries to shift facilities already located outside of Australia.

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