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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

goodbye Qantas hello OneAsia « Previous | |Next »
November 1, 2011

Question Time in the House of Representatives yesterday was very Qantas-focused with the Coalition not being able to make much headway with its 'why didn't you pick up the phone to Joyce earlier' questions to Gillard. Gillard was able to brush them off with ease and the ALP appeared to find its mojo.

What was ignored in the blame game in the political/media hothouse was the way that the competitive pressures of the global market are impacting on Australian businesses and forcing Qantas to restructure. That means the Australian character of Qantas will be hollowed out as Qantas is turned into a low-cost Asian-based carrier.

wilcoxC Qantas.jpg

The long-term strategy for Qantas under Joyce is to move the private airline offshore--that is, to run the Qantas of old down, and to replace it with low cost offshore-based airlines. It appears that Qantas will be reduced to a legacy business carrier that flies a few remaining profitable routes.

The low cost offshore-based airlines will take a joint venture form, technically operating as local airlines, to get around the provisions of the 1992 Qantas Sale Act that prevents Qantas from conducting international operations under another name and from moving its ''principal operating centre''.

The low cost subsidiaries Qantas plans to set up in Asia (initially Singapore, Vietnam, Japan) are designed to seek a bigger share of Asia's leisure travel market, get a toehold in the China market, and to grab a share of the premium well heeled Asian executives.

At this stage Qantas wants to establish a low-cost carrier in Japan in partnership with Japan Airlines and invest in a premium airline based in either Singapore or Malaysia, likely to be called RedQ or OneAsia. The latter will have a separate identity from Qantas and its low-cost Jetstar. The implication is that the principal operational centre for Qantas international services will not be in Australia.

In Australia Qantas, under Leigh Clifford the Qantas’ chairman, is pursuing a premeditated strategy of open warfare with its unions in order to drive down wages, reduce conditions and grow profits.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:32 PM | | Comments (12)


Gee its snowballing isn't it?

The contempt that big business in Australia holds for the public and the elected government.

Numerous examples, not just Murdoch. Such as the anti minerals royalties increase campaign from the big mining companies, the anti carbon pricing campaign from the coal lobby, the anti-pokies campaign from Clubs Oz, the tobacco companies 'astro-turfing' and so on against plain packaging, lots of other examples, thinly disguised at best usually transparent and blatant and smothered, always, with self serving PR ... umm you know the word I want to use.
Has it always been so obvious, this manipulation and contempt of government and the public I mean, or has it, as it seems to me, reached a crescendo in the last few years?
Increased thanks to their success in ripping off the public during and since the GFC stage 1 perhaps?

It really has gone over the top.

though the Qantas dispute is about the pay and conditions of Qantas employees in the proposed new airlines, the subtext, judging from the conservative commentators (eg., Rebecca Weisser from the Australian on Q+A), is broader.

They see it as the first battleground in a looming war between big business and the federal government over workplace relations in general and the Fair Work Act in particular. The unions, says Big Business, have been given too much power.

fred asks
"Has it always been so obvious, this manipulation and contempt of government and the public I mean, or has it, as it seems to me, reached a crescendo in the last few years?"

it is a new phenomenon by the anti-democratic forces. They've picked up the tactics of the Republican noise machine in the US.

And yet they can blithely ignore the [incomplete] list I gave of where those in power, who are most definitely the unions, can babble on about their right to exploit the public whist poisoning our air and water, amassing personal fortunes of billions of dollars and caring not a jot for this country or the people in it.
It really is class warfare isn't it where the journos of the media are the paid mouthpieces for the rich.

Here, you may like this:

Ahem..."those in power, who are most definitely NOT the unions ..."
Sorry 'bout that.

Thanks for answering my question Nan, I sometimes wonder about my pereption, nice to have it verified.

Another useful perspective comes from here:
Here is the kicker line:
"Fair Work Australia was the counterpoint to Howard’s Workchoices, but based on the same premise, namely that the union movement was no longer a significant force on the industrial relations scene."

Thanks for the Chaser link, fred.

As far as your first ("snowballing") comment is concerned, I suspect most Australians are left way behind by the rapid unfolding of events, and that is probably deliberate.

The New Matilda piece linked in the post takes the issue a long way, far past where most people's heads are probably at. At the end NM says: "No, the real lesson of the Qantas dispute is about capitalism itself...". That is so incomprehensible to the great majority of the electorate that it may as well be in Latin.

It's no surprise that the media can't keep up either. Journalists these days know they're writing entertainment, and there's no point writing stuff way above the audience's heads. The idea of actually telling them something new died years ago.

Joyce and Clifford want a reduced Australian workforce willing to accept lower wages, and the capacity to put much of the international component of the business in Asia.

They are prepared to damage the Qantas brand --the flying kangaroo--to do it.

When, not if, the private portion of QANTAS moves out of Oz and into their preferred
Asian market one presumes they will compensate the Australian government and people for the commercial value of the QANTAS icon, safety record, customer satisfaction and goodwill [as shown by its ranking, until recently that is, as one of the very best airlines in the world] built up in previous decades.
That normally has specific solid dollars value assigned to a business that changes hands.
It is value from the past and present owed to the Australian people.

Actually I don't presume such.
I remember the privatization of public corporations and their non-valuing of such intangibles.
I call it "theft".

I expect that it will be a bit like Telstra

I bought my rural property 20 years ago.
The next nearest house was several kms away, still is actually [we like solitude].
Yet out the back a 100 metres away was a white plastic pipe sticking out of the ground and for the cheap price of $100 Telecom [remember them?] came and dug a ditch in solid limestone to our place connecting the underground wires under the pipe to our new telephone.
They had wired the region up for sound and had being do so for decades.
Telecom had its faults but gee they were better than their offspring.
Try geting a new connection now [I did about 5 years ago, it cost an arm and a leg].
The work of thousands of workers all over OZ for decades, pioneer type stuff, not just the lucrative urban centres, was vastly underrated when it was disposed of.
Too hard to assign a dollar value.
Same story with other govt corps eg water and electricity, here in SA.
Gives me the dry irrits.

In Qantas: a ten-point plan at Inside Story Tony Webber says that:

The root-cause of the shutdown is the sub-par performance of Qantas International. It’s this underperformance that has driven the new Asian airline strategy, the offshoring of jobs, the need to contain wages, and the shedding of labour in the pursuit of productivity improvements – all key issues over which there is union and management conflict.

The sub-par international performance has meant that the highly profitable domestic and regional businesses have had to prop-up the ailing international business financially.

Looking back at this thing a few days later, the most striking thing for me is the contempt Fred pointed out.

Globalised capital doesn't like having to deal with less compliant nation states. Nation states are, or should be, irrelevant as far as they're concerned.

It's a bit of a problem for right wing politics. They advocate in favour of globalised capital, but globalised capital would prefer it if the only function of the nation state was keeping the local labour pool compliant.

Normally right wing politics uses rabid nationalism as a counter weight, but in Australia, nationalism and high living standards go hand in hand.