ACTU Secretary Greg Combet has praised the courage and determination of Ansett staff to get their airline flying again following a Federal Government back down that will allow some Ansett staff early access to the Government’s Ansett employee entitlements scheme.

Despite ruling out any such a move in a letter revealed in the Federal Court last week, Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson today issued a media release committing the Federal Government to provide up to $195 million to partially fund an initial round of redundancies for Ansett staff.

“This is an extraordinary backflip from John Howard and John Anderson,” said Mr Combet.

“Less than a month ago Mr Anderson was describing Ansett as a ‘carcass’ and ridiculing proposals to put money into a rescue plan. Now he wants people to believe that he has always been committed to supporting the airline.

“Ansett staff and their families have experienced great hardship and uncertainty. For weeks now unions have been calling on the Federal Government to provide funds so that some payment could be made to those Ansett staff who don’t believe they have a future with the airline.”

Mr Combet welcomed the Government’s apparent change of heart on Ansett employee entitlements but raised concerns about the lack of detail and clarity surrounding the Government’s commitment.

“Today’s announcement by Mr Anderson has all the hallmarks of policy on the run. To the best of my knowledge the Government has not provided any detail or documentation to the Ansett Administrators confirming the commitments outlined in Mr Anderson’s media release.

“If Mr Anderson is fair dinkum about assisting Ansett staff and their families, and not just scoring points in an election campaign, then we need to see the detail of his proposal.

“The last thing Ansett staff need from the Federal Government is more broken promises and more uncertainty,” said Mr Combet.