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Repealing the carbon tax won’t help Qantas

The whole of question time today was devoted to the government saying “If you want to help Qantas then repeal the carbon tax.”

Has everybody forgotten what happened to Qantas before we had a carbon tax?

This is from May 2011.

“Qantas will have to raise international airfares to Europe from January next year after the European Union penalised the airline because Australia does not have a price on greenhouse gas emissions.

Under changes to the EU’s emissions trading scheme, Qantas would be forced to pay a tax on 15 per cent of its carbon emissions from its nearest port of call, the national carrier told a meeting of business leaders in Canberra this week.

This means flights to ports as far away as Singapore and Bangkok would be taxed under a “border tax” adjustment contained in the EU scheme.

Qantas confirmed it would be hit by the impost, The Weekend Australian reported on Saturday.

The airline is still calculating the likely impact on ticket prices and a spokeswoman said the carrier would face a second carbon hit on flights into Britain when Britain’s “green tax” took effect.

Qantas would be faced with the tax because its headquarters is in Australia, which does not have a price on carbon.

The charge would be levied on the airline’s last port of departure, which in Qantas’s case would be Bangkok or Singapore.”

And this from July 2011.

“To illustrate the risks facing us if we do not act, let’s consider the case of Qantas, who now faces an initial carbon tax penalty of 15% on its carbon emissions for any flights it makes into or out of Europe. This penalty will increase over time, and is payed directly into the coffers of the European Union. The reason for its imposition is specifically because Australian does not have carbon price in place.

Over the next few years, the European Union will expand its penalty regime to impose general sanctions on countries that do not meet its standards on carbon reduction mechanisms.”

No wonder Alan Joyce isn’t mentioning the carbon tax.

An article in the SMH from May 2011 said

“In the end climate change and carbon pricing is a debate we will have, in spite of Rupert Murdoch’s trained orcs and trolls scaring the bejesus out of people like Dick Smith.

Smith yesterday admitted he hadn’t joined Cate Blanchett in her pro-carbon tax ad, because he was scared of being vilified by the Murdoch press. Not just the Piers Boltbrechtson hive mind, but the journalists, and headline writers, the photographers and moderators and serried ranks of deniers and abusers who have gone to war with science and the future on Rupert’s whim.

I must admit, I think less of Smith for that, and a lot more of Blanchett. After all, her career and livelihood arguably depends more on maintaining a happy, unconflicted public image than his. And she would have known, as he did, what was coming when she shot that advert.

But she probably knew much worse was coming anyway, if Abbott and Murdoch’s goon squad get their way and this debate becomes less about science than it is about thuggery and wilful ignorance.”

When Globe International reported this week that

“Nations have passed almost 500 laws to tackle climate change, with emerging economies led by Mexico and China making the most progress last year. A total of 62 out of the 66 countries examined have passed or are working on “significant” climate or energy-related laws.”

you don’t really want to be the only country repealing action on climate change.

If we really want to help Qantas we will keep carbon pricing so they, and all other exporters, won’t be penalised by countries who are introducing emission reduction legislation.

Why do they never consider cutting GST to alleviate cost pressure?


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  1. PeterF

    In making these statements they are misleading parliament.

  2. Kerri

    When will ALP and Greens start challenging this campaign of misinformation and when will the media INCLUDING MY ABC start reporting on the facts that Abbott and co are deliberately hiding??? Alan Joyce’s deliberate campaign to promote Jetstar by shifting bills onto the Qantas accounts and his blaming the carbon tax are even bigger lies than Abbott and co can spin.

  3. Möbius Ecko

    Not with standing that nearly all Qantas (deliberate) problems are Jetstar and a CEO that should have been dumped a long time ago.

  4. Kaye Lee

    I can’t answer that question John. There are so many things they should focus on in question time but they are too busy with theatrics and repeating whatever catchy phrase they want to use in every question that day. It drives me insane. Get rid of the spin doctors and advertising consultants.

  5. Bob

    And ofcourse this year they would have been able to go some way to balancing their carbon ledger by be able to trade the carbon carbon credits they had accrued through the previous payments of the carnon LEVY. The petty minded nongs in the coalition put a stop to that one..

    Qanatas is either a public company or its not. If it not and the government is so attached to the ludicrous idea of a ” national flag carrier” then nationalise the damned thing again and pay the bills. If so, dispose of the stupid restrictions in the Qantas sale Act and let Qatanas get on with it how the board and their shareholders deem fit.

  6. VoterBentleigh

    The Government drones on about the carbon tax because the Coalition has not got anything else to offer. Every Minister has become the Minister for Carbon, because the Government has no positive policy on anything else (even the signature PPL is in limbo). They claim to have a positive policy on immigration, but they don’t want to talk about it and want everyone else to “shut up” about it. They spend their time belligerently and arrogantly telling the opposition to “get outta our way”. Despite the PM’s feigned sympathy with those who are losing their jobs and his interminable, vacuous, motherhood statements, the only things he wants to save with regard to Qantas are “the business” and Alan Joyce’s income. There is nothing else on his radar and he has not a care in the world for anything other than his own position.

  7. mikestasse

    Everyone seems to conveniently forget that one of the quickest ways to curb emissions is to stop flying….

    I give QANTAS four years. Peak Oil, Peak Debt, catastrophic climate change……

  8. John Kelly

    One would have thought Bill Shorten would know this and have replied accordingly. Did he and if not, why not?

  9. VoterBentleigh

    With regard to the changes to the Qantas Sales Act, the Coalition’s aim is not to save jobs, but to achieve their ‘Animal Farm’ ideology of “private good, public bad”.

  10. Stephen Tardrew

    Three is a point at which we simply need to let this government hang itself. With such a weak and ineffective opposition nothing much is going to change. They will do what they want to do and it is going to be up to the next government to develop a comprehensive plan for the future.

    Use the Senate to prevent overreach however without a comprehensive plan for the future the public is just going to turn off. My feelings about maintaining employment and manufacturing are well known however that is not going to stop these corporatist from feeding the pockets of the elites. That does not mean that these discussions are not important or that people should not give there opinions. I learn heaps from this site. However where is the foundational architecture that will lead progressives into the future.

    It seems to me this is a critical question. A coherent mission statement backed up by core policies and objectives that are easily accessible to the general public. I don’t really think many, at the moment, know what Labor stands for due to the continual comprise and shift to the right.

    The factions just turn people off.

  11. Graeme Rust

    Qantas passed on the carbon price to it’s customers, (fact) Joyce is a liar, (fact) abbortt is a liar (fact) Qantas is paying jet star’s bills and lending them planes for no charge (fact) a very big need to sack Joyce & the board (fact)

  12. VoterBentleigh

    Bill Shorten is right when he claims that the Government are creating a new export industry – Australian jobs – by changing the Qantas Sales Act. This decision by the Government could be given that frequently used Coalition term: “un-Australian”.

  13. bronwyn griffin

    keating/hawke LABOR sold off Qantas – it is a private company Qantas paid $109mil in carbon tax last year (THANKS again to labor/green) Union wages for Qantas workers $92,000 pa, Virgin $50,000. Now you are all complaining.

  14. Kaye Lee

    Bronwyn you are missing the point, which is understandable when you get your information from Andrew Bolt.

    The rest of the world is taking action on climate change. if we don’t we will be subjected to tariffs and penalties as happened to Qantas before we had the carbon price. Now would you like that money to go to the EU or to go to our government to be invested in clean energy?

    And the last time I looked there were many different jobs filled by airline employees. Would you like to be a bit more specific about wages for what. Are the two jobs you are comparing identical in hours, conditions etc? or did Andrew just say…unions bad, carbon tax bad, Labor bad…in his usual analytical way?

  15. VoterDrouin

    Can anyone tell me if the 25%, 35% or 49% caps in the sale act have ever been an impediment ? Is there any single person wanting to control more than 25% or any single airline 35% or is Qantas anywhere near 49% foreign owned. If not then what will changing the sales act achieve for Qantas in the short term?

  16. Kaye Lee

    Not a direct answer to your question…

    “The amendments would leave the carrier with little option but to follow rival Virgin’s example and split its operations into a domestic business which could attract foreign owners and an international business that would have to remain majority Australian-owned in order to benefit from government-negotiated international landing rights.

    Qantas is deeply concerned the decision leaves it in the middle of a political fight, but without any short-term solution to what it says is an “unlevel playing field” due to Virgin’s ability to attract foreign capital.”

    and this

    “The Government wants to strip away legislation that force Qantas to house and maintain its planes in Australia and keep catering, flight operations, training and administration facilities based here, too. That would allow Qantas to move facilities – and jobs – offshore where costs and wages are cheaper. It currently employs about 32,000 people.”

  17. Kaye Lee

    Someone needs to tell Tony….

    “Qantas’s current issues are not related to carbon pricing. We have been clear that levelling the playing field is the most important policy measure that needs to be fixed and with some urgency,” they told the newspaper.

    “We need immediate action to address the imbalance that has been allowed to persist for almost two years – namely Virgin’s unlimited ability to access foreign capital from government-owned airlines to fund a loss-making strategy against Qantas,” Qantas said recently.


    I’m not sure why we can’t give them a loan guarantee. It doesn’t cost us anything and it allows them to borrow money at a cheaper interest rate. Virgin has this ability because it is part foreign government owned.

  18. olddavey

    Labor needs to agree to repeal the carbon tax so that Abbott and co can’t use it to beat them up every time ANYTHING is mentioned.

    In return they must insist LOUDLY that the govt legislate for their crazy direct action nonsense, including all costings, satisfactory start dates and all other details as per the election promises.

    That would be a fair compromise, but as Abbott has no intention of going ahead with his loony plan he will have to grin and bear the carbon tax until if and when the LNP gets control of the senate, which hopefully won’t happen.

  19. jasonblog

    QANTAS is ponderous beast. It reflects the best of us, and the worst of us. It probably encapsulates perfectly the political confusion felt by many and the rapidly changed sense of Australia that has occurred over the last 20-years.

    QANTAS was half-heartedly privatised by Hawke / Keating. Why should the present-day ALP cling to those piss-ant restrictions? Change the QANTAS SALES ACT – at this stage of the very late day it is not a big deal. The battle has probably been lost. Keating gloats.

    My natural instinct is to say re-nationalise, but, honestly, isn’t that just a desperate game of “business as usual” and perhaps trying to relive the glory days of yesteryear? I suspect @mikestasse is probably closer to the truth with his observations than many of us feel comfortable in acknowledging.

    I suspect in 20-years-time the government of the day will be forced into recreating the public utilities that I grew up with and watched get sold off to incompetent profiteers. If the SEC had been retained in public hands then the supply of cheap electricity to drive industrial endeavour wouldn’t have been a problem & the switch to renewables would have just naturally occurred.

    If Telstra hadn’t been privatised then we would have just had an NBN equivalent made available to all Australians as part of its Universal Service Obligation (The USO that the IPA despise so much) –
    I remember a different Australia. A country of promise and opportunity. Long before it felt as though it was on its knees. Pleading to put out of its misery.

    QANTAS will never be what it was. At some stage in the future a government will recognise the need for some sort of national airline carrier. And we’ll start making automobiles again. Life is a cycle. It’s the wars and catastrophes in between our disremembering that we never learn from.

  20. JC

    All the countries taxation problems could be saved with a 1% tax on the stock exchanges. Hundreds of billions of dollars move through the stock exchanges daily, by automated programs written by the investment banks and trading houses, and a 1% tax on all of them would generate more income than anything else in the history of ever.

    Even a 0.05% tax would make a MASSIVE difference to the budget.

  21. DC

    Typical Murdoch/LNP answer to any criticism of their shocking economic record:
    “Labor needs to help us by letting us repeal the carbon tax”

    Logical Response: But wouldn’t that just mean that more money would have to be raised in other taxes such as income tax or company tax or the GST?

    Typical Murdoch/LNP answer:

    “No because the Liberal party know how to live within our means so we will spend less and therefore not have to tax as much”.

    Logical Response:

    Even if we ignore that the highest spending/GDP ratio was actually under John Howard not Labor. Even if we take Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey at their word that they will make enough spending cuts to offset their $5.5 billion/year gift to relatively wealthy mothers and $3 billion gift to our biggest polluters yet still come off with a lower spending to GDP ratio (this would be terrible by the way). Even if all this is achieved, the following will still be true;

    Once spending commitments and fiscal policy have been finalised, with all other things being equal, the repealing of a carbon price (and mining tax too for that matter) will mean that more money will need to be raised now or in the future by other means of taxation (income tax, company tax or an increase to the GST, take your pick).

    It is easy to ramp up fear that a carbon price will ruin Australia’s international competitiveness but to say this is to ignore the fact that all Australian businesses are also exposed to company tax and payroll tax and the GST. To say that a carbon tax by definition is any worse for a business or jobs than the other taxes is intellectually dishonest. Nobody wants to pay tax for the sake of it but we understand that some common goods must be paid for this way so we accept it.

    How can anyone honestly call the carbon tax a “job destroying tax” when it is capable of offsetting;

    INCOME TAX (a tax applied directly to workers for working) or;

    COMPANY TAX (a tax applied to businesses for making a profit) or;

    PAYROLLTAX (a tax applied to businesses for employing people) or;

    THE GST (the real “great big tax on everything”).

    Typical Murdoch/LNP answer:

    Assuming they would even listen to an argument that takes more than 30 seconds to explain, they would probably turn around and say that Australia shouldn’t have a carbon price until the rest of the world does otherwise we will be “going it alone” and our polluting industries will be offshored to countries with even less environmental regulation

    Logical Response:

    Even if the rest of the world were not moving towards carbon pricing (which as Kay points out they are), trade exposed industries can apply for company tax offsets if they can show that they have to compete against countries who have no carbon price (weather they be competing abroad or in Australia competing against importers). Remember all of those nations who do not have carbon pricing need to also make up for it with other types of taxes so there is no reason to suggest that carbon pricing will adversely affect our international competitiveness. It will however affect the competitiveness of coal fired power plants from locally harvested renewable energy.

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