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Independent audit of Qantas needed: Delay take-off for Qantas changes



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27/3/2014

Independent audit of Qantas needed

DELAY TAKE-OFF FOR QANTAS CHANGES

Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has said the Government must not take any further action on Qantas unless the company allows an independent audit of its books, with a focus on any cost-shifting that may have occurred between its different business segments.

In a Dissenting Report to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee’s inquiry into Qantas and the impact on Australian jobs tabled today, Senator Xenophon said there were too many ‘known unknowns’ for the Government to make a decision.

“The ACCC itself said it didn’t accept Qantas’s claims that the international business was in so-called ‘terminal decline’ as part of the Qantas/Emirates alliance application,” Nick said. “But the Government seems to have accepted CEO Alan Joyce’s word that Qantas needs government intervention to survive.”

“The only thing that seems to be in ‘terminal decline’ is the reputation of Alan Joyce and that of his Chairman, Leigh Clifford,” Nick said.

In particular, Senator Xenophon said there should be no change to the Qantas Sale Act until the Government had closed the apparent loophole that would allow Qantas to become a foreign-owned domestic carrier controlling an Australian-owned international airline.

“If Qantas is able to replicate the Virgin Australia restructure, we could see an international airline that is technically Australian but doesn’t have any of its own planes or infrastructure, and is wholly supported and controlled by a domestic airline that is foreign owned,” Nick said. “Qantas would also potentially be able to offshore most of its operations, which would be devastating to Australian jobs.”

Senator Xenophon also acknowledged the problems in Australia’s broader aviation sector, including the much-debated ‘Open Skies’ policy, which has allowed a significant number of foreign carriers to flood Australia’s market.

“The Productivity Commission urgently needs to hold an inquiry into the aviation sector, because the Government simply does not have enough information to make good policy decisions,” Nick said.

“Jack Lang used to say ‘In politics, if you nurse a mug for long enough, he’s bound to die in your arms,’” Nick said. “It’s time for the Government to take a step back from Qantas and consider the bigger picture, or they’ll be the biggest mugs of all.”

For more information contact Jeremy Roberts on 0433 620 850 or Nick Xenophon on 0411 626 677