Commonwealth Government documents released by the Federal Court last night show that the Howard Government could sabotage the Ansett Administrators’ plans to save thousands of jobs and rebuild a viable business.<

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet today said that a letter dated 7 October to the Administrators from Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson showed the Government was trying to tie the Administrators’ hands, thereby driving Ansett towards liquidation.

“John Howard is pretending to help Ansett workers with their employee entitlements, but this letter shows that the Government does not intend to put in any money unless the Administrators first sell Ansett’s assets. This threatens the Administrators’ rescue plan and 17,000 Ansett jobs.

“To save it from paying a single dollar in employee entitlements, the Government is also demanding that the $150 million agreed to be paid to Ansett from Air New Zealand be frozen. This could sabotage the Administrators’ chances of developing a viable airline. At the same time the Government is collecting the $10 ticket tax, which was supposed to fund the employee entitlements”, said Mr Combet.
“By attempting to tie the Administrators’ hands, the Federal Government is forcing Ansett closer to liquidation, with the loss of 17,000 jobs.

“The Court documents also confirm union concerns that the Federal Government has been on Qantas’ side since at least June this year, when the Government blocked Singapore Airlines’ investment plans and torpedoed the attempted recapitalisation of Air New Zealand and Ansett.

“John Howard owes it to thousands of Ansett employees and their families around Australia to let the Administrators get on with their job. Mr Howard should withdraw this grab for Ansett’s assets and instead do everything he can to save thousands of Australian jobs”, Mr Combet said.