The coalition says the first job of government is to take the burden off businesses, and not prop them up.
Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos says the government would open a “Pandora’s Box” if it put public capital into Qantas.
Treasurer Joe Hockey earlier in the week called for a national debate on whether to loosen the airline’s foreign-ownership rules, which doesn’t allow foreign investors to hold more than 49 per cent of the airline.
Senior Labor MP Anthony Albanese on Friday said the government should consider taking a small equity position in the airline, but Senator Sinodinos believes such a move would create an unlevel playing field.
“Virgin are now saying that if money was put into Qantas they would like to see that money as well,” he told ABC on Saturday.
“You do open quite a Pandora’s Box when you seek to subsidise one firm as opposed to another in the market place.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the first job of government was to take the burden off businesses, and not prop them up.
“This is why it’s so important to repeal the carbon tax, because the carbon tax is adding tens of millions of dollars to Qantas’ costs,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“If the Labor Party are fair dinkum about trying to help companies like Qantas, they would not stand in the way of the carbon tax repeal legislation.”
Mr Abbott said there were a number of proposals being debated in the community and he wanted to see how it played out in a careful manner.
“The government doesn’t have to make a decision today or tomorrow or next week on this,” he said.