The Howard Government is keeping millions of dollars collected in its $10 air ticket tax from being paid to sacked Ansett employees, despite its own legislation specifying that the tax be used to pay Ansett employee entitlements.

The Federal Court was told this morning that not one cent of the millions of dollars collected for the express purpose of funding Ansett employee entitlements may be used for that purpose.

Robin Brett, QC for the Commonwealth, told Justice Goldberg that: “It’s wrong to assume that because it (the ticket tax) has been collected it will be passed on (to Ansett employees) . . . it may be that none will be passed on.”

Section 7 of John Howard’s Air Passenger Ticket Levy Collection Act says: “The purpose of the levy is to meet the cost of payments by the Commonwealth under the Special Employee Entitlements Scheme for Ansett group employees.”

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said the evidence before the Federal Court exposed Mr Howard’s plan to double dip into Ansett’s assets and force the company into liquidation as soon as the November 10 election was over.

“The Howard Government has indicated to the Federal Court that the ticket tax money will only be available after they have forced Ansett into liquidation, with the loss of 17,000 jobs,” Mr Combet said.

“Mr Howard is showing contempt for the life savings and the job security of thousands loyal and hard working Ansett employees by telling the Federal Court that the Government does not have to comply with its own tax legislation.”

Mr Combet called on Mr Howard to come clean on what he would do with the millions of dollars collected from the travelling public since the ticket tax was imposed on all air travellers on October 1.