The TWU has demanded the NSW government reveal “every detail” of any tax breaks it has given Qantas to keep its base in Sydney.
Earlier today, the flag carrier revealed it received incentives from state governments not to relocate its headquarters including “payroll tax relief, tourism marketing funding, property rebates, training support and direct incentives”. It is unclear, however, if the NSW government was one of those that offered the perks.
The TWU’s national secretary, Michael Kaine, said, “The government should release every detail about this special deal immediately.
“If taxpayers are paying for it, taxpayers have a right to see it. Qantas has been given $2 billion by the Federal government and appears to be getting some state governments to write blank cheques for it too.
“We demand full disclosure on what this involves.”
Kaine added that the airline had previously “gamed the Treasurer” into handing them a “no-strings-attached, taxpayer-funded handout”.
“Qantas has been playing an expensive game of chicken, and the Treasury blinked,” he said.
On Thursday, Qantas announced that neither of its major bases in NSW and Victoria would relocate, despite last year announcing it was mulling shifting its hubs to one city.
The only changes will see Jetstar move some heavy maintenance on its Airbus A320 fleet from Singapore to Brisbane as part of a trial in 2021. It also hinted its headquarters may move from Collingwood to another location in Melbourne “in the longer term”.
However, Joyce said moving one or both of its headquarters was “always a live option” and there were times it “seemed to be the most likely outcome”.
The announcement from Qantas came after the business in September sparked a state bidding war for its offices when it said “anything that can move” is “on the table”, including its facilities in Mascot, Collingwood and Brisbane.
Chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson even explicitly said the airline group was looking for “potential incentives” from states to relocate.
The three-month review of bases focussed on non-aviation facilities, including the company’s leased 49,000-square-metre base in Mascot, Sydney, and Jetstar’s leased head office in Collingwood, Melbourne.
However, it flagged that “some aviation facilities”, such as flight simulator centres in Sydney and Melbourne and a heavy maintenance facility in Brisbane could move, too.
“As well as simply rightsizing the amount of space we have, there are opportunities to consolidate some facilities and unlock economies of scale,” said Hudson last year. “For instance, we could co-locate the Qantas and Jetstar head offices in a single place rather than splitting them across Sydney and Melbourne.
“Most of our activities and facilities are anchored to the airports we fly to, but anything that can reasonably move without impacting our operations or customers is on the table as part of this review. We’ll also be making the new Western Sydney Airport part of our thinking, given the opportunity this greenfield project represents.”
Qantas last full-year financial results revealed a loss before tax of $2.7 billion and an underlying profit before tax of just $124 million.
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