The Qantas debate is set to go nowhere for several weeks yet, as the Qantas Sale Act legislation languishes in the Senate. It has instead become a vehicle for broader political arguments.
The federal government is again intent on pinning a portion of the blame for the airline's troubles on the carbon tax, but Qantas initially disputed this analysis – not the first time a company had rejected such a reading.
Qantas said in a statement on Monday, "the major issues [it] faces are not related to carbon pricing".
But following a telephone conversation on Wednesday between Treasurer Joe Hockey and airline chief executive Alan Joyce, Qantas issued a quite different statement. The carbon tax had cost it $106 million last financial year and was "among significant challenges we face". Hockey denies pressuring Joyce.
Lenore Taylor (the Guardian) was rightly sceptical. When Taylor investigated, she found that "Qantas recovered all of that $106m through the ticket surcharge it imposed at the time of the carbon tax introduction. The net effect of the carbon tax itself on the airline’s bottom line was therefore zero."
Not that this revelation will have any impact whatsoever on the frequency or accuracy of government claims about the carbon tax.
One could easily forget that carbon pricing was ever related to the environmental damage caused by greenhouse emissions.
We will leave it to Clarke and Dawe to explore the absurdities of the ongoing debate.
"The federal government's sweeping review of Australia's workplace laws will put penalty rates, pay and conditions, union militancy and flexibility under the microscope. A leaked draft of the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission inquiry into the Fair Work Act, obtained by Fairfax Media, reveals the inquiry will examine the act's impact on unemployment and under-employment, productivity, business investment and the ability of the labour market to respond to changing economic conditions."
"Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos is under pressure to make companies publicly reveal how much tax they pay in Australia after previously signalling he wants to scrap transparency laws. Labor stepped up pressure on the Abbott government to retain a law forcing companies to reveal the size of their local tax bills."
"It turns out Qantas does not have a $106m “unrecovered” carbon tax bill at all. According to a spokesman, Qantas recovered all of that $106m through the ticket surcharge it imposed at the time of the carbon tax introduction. The net effect of the carbon tax itself on the airline’s bottom line was therefore zero."
Also: No, Treasurer, this is what’s holding us back (Rob Burgess, Busines Spectator)
"Less than two weeks out from the Tasmanian election, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is trying to reignite the long-running forest wars in a calculated bid to drive a wedge between the timber industry and environmentalists."
Also: Ross Garnaut: climate debate has become a Martian beauty contest (Guardian)
And finally: Peter Grests needs help - A call on Tony Abbott (The Monthly)