HOT ON THE HEELS of my column yesterday, suggesting the ALP and the union movement should get over themselves in relation to the pickle Qantas finds itself in, comes a view this morning that everyone — Labor and Liberal governments, the union movement, and Qantas management — has contributed to and exacerbated the ills afflicting the flying kangaroo; it’s a compelling argument, and I can’t dispute any of it.
I’m really only posting this morning to share an article I have read in The Australian; conservative columnist Janet Albrechtsen — who notes it’s 12 years to the day today since Ansett finally hit the ground forever — has penned a piece that makes so much good sense I simply couldn’t not share it with my readers.
Framed against the backdrop of the Ansett demise, Albrechtsen paints a compelling picture of the same mistakes being made now in relation to Qantas as were made all those years ago, and often by the same people (opposition “leader” Bill Shorten, please take note).
It goes without saying that the union movement comes in for the most savage kicking from Albrechtsen, although that’s as it should be; union tactics — combined with the ridiculous pay deals they force on large companies such as Qantas — are, in my view, the single greatest component of the malaise that currently afflicts the national carrier.
Refreshingly, however, others get it in the head too: Qantas management, effectively on a charge of being too gutless to stand up to the unions during collective bargaining sessions. The ALP, for being too busy playing cheap politics, along with displaying all the refined commercial acumen of a burst aircraft tyre. The Howard government, for failing to rectify the absurd anomalies around the foreign ownership restrictions Qantas faces and the fact foreign airlines (such as Virgin) can compete against the Australian carrier on domestic routes. The Keating government, for placing such a ridiculous set of strictures on Qantas in the first place when it was privatised.
And the travelling public doesn’t escape, either: Albrechtsen notes that 75% of departing air traffic from our shores now travels on (foreign) carriers other than Qantas; on one level, this can be seen as a positive of increased competition and consumer choice, but on another is reflective of the punitively high operating costs that ultimately make Qantas one of the most expensive airlines in the world for international travel.
Have a read. Feel free to comment. I’ll be back at some point later on in the day — and, probably, with a change of subject when I resurface.