Perspective – November 2011
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Remedy worse than the disease?
ELSEWHERE in this issue you can read why Senator Nick Xenophon suspects Qantas Group management is juggling costs attributable to Qantas and Jetstar in pursuit of a strategy of “private equity sell-off by stealth”.
Frankly, I have no idea how accurate the Senator’s comments are. I don’t have a sufficiently detailed knowledge of the inner workings of the Qantas Group and I certainly don’t have the contacts within the airline that he seems to enjoy. But his allegations are clearly well-informed and they are sufficiently serious to warrant serious consideration.
Sadly but not untypically, Qantas declined an invitation by travelBulletin to answer the allegations made by Senator Xenophon in a parliamentary speech.
Senator Xenophon, himself, is so concerned that he has introduced a Private Member’s Bill into Parliament.
Known as the “Still Call Australia Home Bill” it seeks to impose a series of obligations on Qantas designed to ensure the core airline business is not shifted offshore under names other than Qantas.
Qantas has issued a statement from chief executive Alan Joyce strongly opposing the provisions of the Bill. (See inside story)
It must be said that the past record of Qantas management provides plenty of evidence that its view of what’s best for the airline carries no special imprimatur.
The previous administration’s unbridled support of the Allco Finance-backed bid for a private equity takeover of the carrier – with the chairman berating shareholders’ lack of support – would have led to disaster.
That said, it is difficult not to agree with Joyce’s argument that the Bill’s conditions are excessively restrictive and would never be imposed on non-airline companies such as BHP or Westfield expanding overseas.
Senator Xenophon’s Bill would, on the face of it, be worse than the disease.
Which is not to say that Qantas management does not have some hard questions to answer.
They need to convince Australians that they are not hell-bent on winding down anything with a red tail to get around the law.
Your editor experienced a brain snap while writing last month’s Perspective and as a result I owe a sincere apology to Jenny Lorkin of Avis. Yes, that’s Lorkin.
For some unfathomable reason I managed to refer to her as Jenny Lourey in my article praising the contribution which she and fellow Avis executives have made to the travel industry with the work they have done on the Avis Travel Agent Scholarship of Excellence.
Response to the article underscored the positive impact which the Avis scholarship has had on our industry – with the first winner, Robin Sinfield, making contact to tell me how her prize of a study trip to the US had a transformative effect on the way she ran her travel agency business.
Jenny Lorkin has graciously laughed off my mistake but it is only right that she should be acknowledged for the key role she has played in developing the scholarship into the institution it is today.