Qld in the running to bring thousands of Qantas jobs ‘home’
The Premier who lured Virgin Australia to Queensland two decades ago has backed an ambitious bid to lure Qantas home, demanding the national carrier "be loyal" to the state.
Qantas Group has floated a plan to move its headquarters and thousands of jobs from Sydney and Melbourne to the highest-bidding Australian state.
Its plan is expected to create a bidding war between Queensland, New South Wales, Canberra and Victoria to house Sydney's Qantas and Melbourne's Jetstar headquarters.
Former Premier Peter Beattie, who used payroll tax incentives to lure Virgin to Brisbane in 2000, urged the state government to work overtime and bring Qantas back to Queensland.
"I would love to see Queensland as Australia's aviation epicentre and it is worth fighting for," he said.
"Any payroll tax holiday, which was part of the Virgin deal, is jobs for nothing, in that, if the Virgin jobs hadn't come to Queensland, no payroll tax would have been paid anyway."
Mr Beattie, whose government provided financial incentives to Qantas to locate its maintenance facility in Brisbane, said it should "be loyal" to Queensland.
"Loyalty should still mean something in this ugly world in which we live," he said.
Qantas' plan could wedge the Queensland Government, which is already locked in negotiations to provide up to $200m to keep Virgin Australia's head office and its 1500 jobs in the state.
Treasurer Cameron Dick revealed the government would investigate providing incentives and support for Qantas.
"Queensland is the reason there's a 'Q' in Qantas," he said.
"We're more than happy to sit down with Qantas and talk about opportunities to support more jobs in Queensland.
"The Palaszczuk Government has built a strong relationship with Qantas to attract job-creating projects to Queensland, including the Qantas Group Pilot Academy at Toowoomba and the Qantas 787 Dreamliner base in Brisbane."
Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham slammed Qantas' plans as a "pretty blatant attempt to extract taxpayer dollars".
"I'd have to urge caution from the states. This bidding war won't create one extra job in Australia. It just shuffles jobs around Australia," he said on ABC radio.
"Our focus federally is how we save jobs across the country and try to start to grow those numbers again."
It is understood Qantas wrote to state governments on Monday afternoon informing them of its property plans and their chance to house the national carrier.
Up for grabs is Qantas' 49,000 sqm head office, currently located in Mascot, and Jetstar's Collingwood head office.
However, Qantas Group has also flagged the possibility of relocating Brisbane's heavy maintenance facility and 750 jobs to New South Wales or Victoria if those governments provide higher incentives.
"Some aviation facilities will be considered for possible relocation, such as flight simulator centres currently in Sydney and Melbourne as well as Qantas' heavy maintenance facilities in Brisbane - particularly if there was an opportunity to bring some or all of these facilities together elsewhere within Australia," a company spokesman said.
The move could wedge the Queensland Government, which remains locked in negotiations to provide up to $200m to keep Virgin Australia's head office and its 1500 jobs in Queensland.
Detail of its deal with Virgin Australia's new owner Bain Capital, and what form it will take, has not been revealed.
It is understood Qantas has suggested to the Queensland Government that 750 maintenance jobs could move south unless the state provides incentives to keep them.
It is understood the new Western Sydney Airport is the early favourite to steal the maintenance facility and house the Qantas and Jetstar headquarters as well as its flight training school.
About 5000 people work in Qantas' Sydney headquarters and 1000 in Jetstar's Melbourne base.
Insiders say the consolidation plan could create "tension between the states", with several already showing "good interest".
Originally published as Qld in the running to bring thousands of Qantas jobs 'home'