A crisis forum of industry, trade unions and experts has heard a call for the Federal Government to take an equity stake in return for bailing out airlines.
The meeting also heard a call from Virgin CEO Paul Scurrah to “put rivalry aside” and focus on the national interest and a warning from ALP President Wayne Swan that the market would not solve the problem, that the Federal Government must step in. Qantas and the Federal Government declined invitations to join the roundtable.
Michael Kaine, National Secretary of the TWU, which co-hosted the roundtable along with the ASU, said the pressure was now on the Federal Government to step on with a plan for the industry, including taking an equity stake for any bailouts.
“The future of Australian aviation is currently being playing out through crisis phone calls between CEOs and ministers and this is no way to build a sustainable industry that serves the national interest. This approach leads the Prime Minister to make bizarre suggestions for a single superannuation fund to trash prudential standards and bail out Virgin. The Prime Minister must explain how he will keep two airlines in the sky and how he plans to serve those who really matter in this debate: the thousands of workers who depend on the aviation industry and the travelling public,” he said.
“At some point, Qantas and Virgin will both need a serious capital injection from the Commonwealth Government. It’s time face up to that reality with a realistic policy that serves and protects our national interest into the future,” Kaine added.
Other participants included: Dnata Australia CEO Hiranjan Aloysius, former IFM and Industry Super chair Garry Weaven, Prof Greg Bamber of Monash University Business School and Prof John Quiggin, University of Queensland and Senator Tony Sheldon. The meeting was chaired by the ACTU with all trade unions covering airport workers participating including, TWU, ASU, AWU, AMWU, ETA, ALEA, AIPA, FAAA, AFAP, UWU, VIPA and the International Transport Workers’ Federation.