Parties divided over Qantas proposal

Last updated 09:30 04/03/2014

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Proposed changes to Australia's Qantas Sale Act allowing greater foreign investment in the business seem unlikely to find short-term parliamentary support, prompting the airline to call for immediate action.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to repeal a section of the Act, paving the way for majority international ownership of the company's domestic arm, generating much-needed capital.

The international division of Qantas would "remain in every sense an Australian airline", he said, with the Foreign Investment Review Board and the Air Navigation Act ensuring a minimum 51 per cent local stake.

Legislation will likely reach parliament by the end of the week.

But Labor and the Australian Greens strongly oppose the government's plan, claiming it will send jobs offshore.

Qantas said the government's proposal addressed an important long-term change, but noted it had a limited chance of passing the upper house where Labor and the Greens hold a majority.

"If this proposal by the government to change the Qantas Sale Act is not passed, we would expect the government and the parliament to consider alternative measures," Qantas said in a statement.

The airline wants to end an imbalance in the industry in which rival Virgin is able to access foreign capital from government-owned airlines.

"We need immediate action to address the imbalance."

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