Both sides of politics seek to embarrass the other during Tuesday's question time by quoting their opponents' past positions on allowing foreign ownership of Qantas.PT6M36S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-342uo 620 349 March 4, 2014
Labor is ready to team up with the Greens and independent Senator Nick Xenophon to launch a Senate inquiry into ailing national carrier Qantas.
This comes as the national carrier backtracks on earlier statements about the carbon tax, releasing a statement on Wednesday saying that the tax was ''among the significant challenges we face''. Earlier this week the company said its problems ''were not related to the carbon tax''.
In its statement, the company also reiterated its support for changes to the Sale Act and warned that the distortion in the aviation playing field would remain, even though both sides of politics accepted that the distortion existed.
''We have said that the price on carbon is a cost to our business that we have not been able to recover through fare increases,'' the statement said.
Opposition transport spokesman Anthony Albanese has prepared the terms of reference for the inquiry, which will be launched as soon as the next 24 hours after a series of meetings in Parliament House on Wednesday morning.
The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee will examine what options the government has to provide additional assistance to Qantas and ensure it remains a viable national carrier.
Those options it will consider include the possibility of the airline receiving a debt guarantee – a move the Abbott government has ruled out – and the government taking an equity stake in the airline.
It will also examine what other steps could be taken by the government to protect Australian jobs at the airline.
Earlier this week, the Greens and Senator Xenophon flagged an inquiry, but Labor shunned the proposal as it looked to keep political pressure on the government ahead of a cabinet decision on assistance for the airline.
The move comes as Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce prepares to meet unions on Wednesday to discuss the airline's plan to cut 5000 jobs and make $2 billion in cost savings to help shore up the airline's future.
The move also comes as it emerged the federal government knocked back Qantas Airways' request for a debt guarantee or unsecured loan facility based on the advice of two investment banks, federal Treasury, the Department of Infrastructure and accounting firm PwC.
The Australian Financial Review reported the company asked for a guarantee on all new debt or a $3 billion unsecured loan facility.
The federal government considered Qantas' request for assistance until Monday's cabinet meeting.
A decision was then taken to attempt to repeal part of the Qantas Sale act, a move which would free the airline of foreign ownership restrictions but which appears set to founder in the Senate.
with Jonathan Swan