News National Labor has ownership ‘red line’ for Qantas

Labor has ownership ‘red line’ for Qantas

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Labor promises to look sensibly at any proposal the government puts up to help Qantas, but shadow treasurer Chris Bowen says it would baulk at allowing majority foreign ownership of the flying kangaroo.

The opposition might support changes to limits on how much stock each foreign shareholder can hold.

“Certainly Qantas having access to more capital generally is not a bad thing, providing that 51-49 rule is maintained,” Mr Bowen told the ABC.

But he felt the government should have come up with an answer on how to help the ailing airline months ago.

“It’s not a shock, not a surprise,” he said.

“We will be constructive if they deal with it today.”

Cabinet will meet on Monday to consider how the government can help Qantas.

The airline is cutting 5000 jobs, freezing wages, retiring old planes, slashing capital spending and ceasing some routes over three years in a bid to save $2 billion.

Chief executive Alan Joyce wants the federal government to change the Qantas Sale Act to allow more foreign investment and has asked Canberra for a debt guarantee.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the legislative block on foreign investment is a “ball and chain” for the national carrier.

But he’s been cool on the idea of guaranteeing debts, saying if the commonwealth does that for one business it would have to offer it to everyone.

The Greens and independent senator Nick Xenophon both intend to ask the Senate on Monday to inquire into the state of Qantas and what help its needs.

They want the airline to open up its books.