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Greens call for public ownership of Virgin

Media Release
Janet Rice 15 Apr 2020

Greens leader Adam Bandt and transport spokesperson Senator Janet Rice have called for public ownership of Virgin in light of reports the airline is considering going into administration.

Before handing over any public money to the major airlines, the Greens are calling for conditions to be attached:

  • Government support being provided as an equity stake, not a loan. Given the financial position of the airlines the required equity stake would almost certainly result in public ownership. 
  • Workers remaining employed and fully paid
  • A pay cut and no bonuses for executives
  • A ban on share buybacks or dividends
  • A seat for workers on the company board
  • Board seats (proportional to the equity stake) for government
  • Paying a fair share of corporate tax

Quotes attributable to Greens transport spokesperson Senator Janet Rice:

“If public funds are used to bail out Virgin then the airline should be brought into public hands. 

“Keeping airlines afloat is important to guarantee essential transport and protect jobs during and after this crisis. But the government must attach conditions to any bailout money to ensure a fair outcome for workers and some return on investment for the Australian people, rather than another handout for corporate investors. 

“Privatisation has failed us. While corporate profits for the major airlines have soared over the years, the public has been paying more, and now most of Qantas and Virgin’s workforce have been stood down and left in the lurch.

“The Greens plan ensures that the government does not write a blank cheque to the airlines without prioritising our essential transport workers.”

Quotes attributable to Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP:

“If Virgin is about to go into administration, the government should bring it into public ownership.

“Public ownership of Virgin may be the only way to save jobs and ensure Australians can remain connected as we travel in a carbon-constrained world.

“If we’re spending public money, we should be getting public ownership. It’s as simple as that.

“Private companies shouldn’t feel entitled to public money when they need help, only to turn around and abandon workers in their hour of need. 

“Our government likes to pretend they’re good economic managers, but forking over billions in public money without getting an ownership stake is a bad deal.”

 

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