Premier Denis Napthine has been questioned on what evidence he has to back up a minister’s claim the federal government helped Tasmania to win Qantas jobs.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has declined to reject a claim by one of his ministers that the federal government helped Tasmania poach hundreds of Qantas call centre jobs from Victoria.
Qantas will close its Melbourne call centre by mid-2015, with 250 full-time equivalent positions lost, as the airline consolidates its Melbourne and Brisbane call centres in Hobart.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy said his government didn’t “like the idea of the feds taking sides in a state-by-state battle” to help Tasmania secure the call centre.
“It’s utterly unhelpful for the federal government to be assisting Tasmania to move jobs out of Victoria to Tassie,” Mr Guy told reporters on Wednesday.
Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman has denied any knowledge of federal assistance, while a spokesman for Deputy prime Minister Warren Truss said no federal assistance was provided.
At a press conference on Thursday, Dr Napthine was asked repeatedly what evidence he had of any federal government involvement.
The premier said he could only say that Victoria made a substantial financial offer, but Qantas wanted substantially more, with some job losses, and no guarantee how long it would stay in Melbourne.
“There’s a number of commentaries over the past six or 12 months where the federal government has outlined that Tasmania is a special case, and you only have to look at the commentary from the federal government in regard to their decision with Cadbury versus the decision in respect to SPC Ardmona,” he said.
Spokespeople for Mr Guy and Dr Napthine declined to comment further.
Qantas has denied claims it sought more money for a refurbishment of its call centre and for new ICT infrastructure.
A source says Tasmania’s budget position would have made it difficult to trump Victoria’s bid and that the federal government may have directly assisted the bid or indirectly assisted by providing money in other areas.