Australia’s Treasurer Joe Hockey has told The Australian the Government is not interested in subsidising unprofitable companies.
The comments come after Holden and Ford decided they would close their factories in Australia despite receiving millions in taxpayer-funded assistance.
Qantas is the next company vying for some government help, with speculation it wants its debt guaranteed. Changes to ownership laws and a taxpayer investment have also been raised.
“We need to go through their balance sheets with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that when there is a cheque from taxpayers it’s going toward the restructuring of the company rather than just simply propping up shareholder returns.
“But that is a last resort. The starting point is we are not in the business of subsidising commerce.”
Hockey is not referring to Qantas specifically, though it is public knowledge the airline approached the Government for help.
And keep it in mind he’s not ruling out an assistance package, to any company, though the language represents an increasingly hardline stance.
And as The Australian’s article points out, Coalition sources have expressed frustration that Qantas boss Alan Joyce has brought his problems to the Government.
A deal to help the national carrier has not been announced, though Qantas has outlined a strategy which will see it streamline its operations and cut a number of jobs.
There is also speculation today in the Australian Financial Review that its lucrative Frequent Flyer program could be floated. All of which would certainly count as the “restructure of the company.”
There’s more here.